Bitter End Yacht Club Helps Rebuild the BVI

As it recovers from Hurricane Irma, the Bitter End Yacht Club is using its product line to raise money to help across the BVI.

Bitter End Yacht Club classic shirt
The classic tee in sky-blue cotton, has been a staple of the Bitter End Yacht Club since the 1970s. Courtesy Bitter End Provisions

Thirty-six hours after hurricane Irma smashed into the BVI in late 2019, Lauren Hokin was standing on the property that used to be instantly recognizable as the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. She was with her father, both of them part of the family that had owned and built up the property for about 50 years.

“The place was just decimated,” she says. “We were used to storms, but this was orders of magnitude worse.”

It took a full year just to clean up what used to be about 70 buildings on 65 acres, with all the debris needing to be burned or sent off by barge. Then, it was time to think about how to rebuild—which was going to take even longer.

Men’s sailing team Dri-Tek shirt
The men’s sailing team Dri-Tek is a patriot-blue shirt made of Suntek with UPF 50 protection. It’s fast-drying after water comes over the rail. Courtesy Bitter End Provisions

Meanwhile, fans of the Bitter End Yacht Club wanted to help. The family created Bitter End Provisions, a line of “seaworthy goods for salty people,” with $1 from every sale going to the Bitter End Foundation. The money supports the broader BVI community as well as the marine environment.

All the items for sale harness the spirit of the original Bitter End Yacht Club, which is what Hokin says the family is trying to do with the reconstruction as well. The marina is there now, and phase one of rebuilding along the waterfront is expected to be done soon, with the property reopening in early November.

To start, there will be a new marina building with a sunset-view lounge on the second floor; a multiconcept restaurant; a formal dining room; a pizza-and-wine bar; and a sports pub with foosball and a pool table. There also will be a market with prepared foods, groceries, beer and wine, as well as a shop with Bitter End Provisions products and more.

Telltales tumblers and quick-dry crew vest
Telltales tumblers come in sets of two and are available in four colors. The quick-dry crew vest is water-repellent and wind-resistant. Courtesy Bitter End Provisions

“All of these buildings are in a pedestrian plaza,” Hokin says. “We have gotten rid of—as much as possible—vehicular traffic. There won’t be any golf carts by the water. It will all be pedestrian. Having a meal when a golf cart drives by as you’re enjoying a sunset—that’s not ideal.”

From the wreckage, the team also was able to salvage some of the original building beams, ship lanterns, signs and other meaningful items.

“We can put it out on display in the redeveloped property. It can help to tell the story and contribute to the character of the place,” she says. “The last thing we want to do is plunk down a brand-spanking-new, inauthentic, shiny bunch of buildings.”


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