Author Archives: Theresa

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (Left, March 2015 and Right, March 2018)

ST. MARTIN – SIX MONTHS AFTER HURRICANE IRMA – by Theresa

The cruisers’ forums have been reporting that in the six months since  St. Martin took a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Irma, recovery efforts have been, not surprisingly, slow and arduous. Countless wrecks had to be removed from the navigatable waters and docks needed to be repaired and/or replaced. Repairs to the marine infrastructure were secondary to repairs to individuals’ homes, businesses and land infrastructure. With all of that in mind, we approached the island trepidatiously and with an eye towards assisting in the recovery efforts.

We had heard through the coconut telegraph that Fort Louis Marina, in Marigot Bay, had partially reopened. We had enjoyed our stays there previously in 2015 and 2016 [see St. Martin (2015) and St. Martin (2016)], so we were glad to learn that they had survived the storm. We contacted the marina in advance of our arrival to determine what marine services were available. They informed us that fuel, water, electric and floating docs were all available. We spent the first night in St. Martin on the hook in Marigot Bay, astonishinly, one of only a few boats in the entire bay.

Pilots' Discretion Position Report (March 2018)

Pilots’ Discretion Position Report (March 2018)

We picked up fuel in the marina first thing the next morning and then tied up to a floating dock. The dock staff were fantastic, setting up brand new / movable cleats exactly where we needed them to hold the boat.

Pilots' Discretion in her slip (floating docks), Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Pilots’ Discretion in her slip (floating docks, Moorings sailboat pulling in port side, astern), Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

After securing the boat, we headed towards the office to clear immigration  & customs, and to check in to the marina. It was then that we got our first glimpses of the devastation that Irma had bestowed upon the island. Six months after the hurricane had past, one might justly have concluded that it had just blown through the day before. As boaters, it was hard for us to look upon vessels, sunken in their slips.

Ryan looking over the sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan looking over a sunken vessel (snapped of mast lying on the dock), Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan looking over the sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan looking over a sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessle, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessel, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Half of the marina was closed as the docks and water and electric pedestals were in complete disrepair.

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

It was both evident and comforting to see that efforts were being made to repair the docks, including rewiring the electric.

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Looking past more sunken boats and mangled docks, we saw hotels that were still without roofs and windows.

Damaged docks, sunken vessel, missing roofs, Fort Louis Marina / Marigot Bay St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, sunken vessel, missing roofs, Fort Louis Marina / Marigot Bay St. Martin (March 2018)

The old Fort Louis Marina office, had not yet reopened, because it, too, suffered the wrath of Irma. We were told the windows blew out and the wind and water destroyed everything in side.

Old marina office, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2108)

Old marina office, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2108)

Old office, Fort Louis Marina, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Old office, Fort Louis Marina, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

The new office and the immigration & customs clearing-in computer have been relocated to the building directly accross the street from the marina.

Once outside, we saw more remnants of Irma. Streetlights and signs were bent over and concrete sidewalks were torn up. There was hardly a car in the parking lot that did not show some sign of hurricane damage.

St. Martin (March 2018)

St. Martin (March 2018)

Random boat debris and road or sidewalk hazards were roped off with caution tape. A disconnected center console hardtop (with seats and rear fridge) on the sidewalk was an unusual sight. However, the backdrop of the beautiful yachts in the water, directly behind the still visible signs of Irma’s destructive powers, showed clear signs that the marine community is recovering.

St. Martin (March 2018)

St. Martin (March 2018)

Many of the European candelabra style streetlights just outside the marina were damaged. LED floodlights atop the poles provided adequate interim lighting.

LED floodlight - temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

LED floodlight – temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

LED floodlight - temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

LED floodlight – temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

After clearing in, we strolled around the area. The Saint Martin Yacht Club, just outside and to the left of the marina, was open. While it suffered some damage to its glass balcony, it is a great waterfront spot for a waterside sundowner or a meal.

Marigot Bay Yacht Club, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot Bay Yacht Club, St. Martin (March 2018)

While walking along the waterfront, we saw more than the usual amount of Iguanas. Perhaps there homes, too, were disrupted by the storms.

Iguana, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Iguana, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Iguanas, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Iguanas, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

A short walk outside, and to the right, of the marina, we found the West Indies Shopping Mall open for business.

West Indies Shopping Mall, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

West Indies Shopping Mall, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Down by the ferry docks, people were taking pictures in front of the infamaous “I love SXM” sign. The ferries to Anguilla and St. Bart were running on schedule and most of the restaurants in the square by the ferry docs were open.

Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

On previous visits, we had hiked to Fort Louis, at the top of the mountain just outside the marina. See St. Martin (2015) and St. Martin (2016)

Fort Louis, St. Martin

Fort Louis, St. Martin

The fort always provided stunning views of the marina and Marigot Bay below. The views were still stunning, however, the cautionary tape at the eroded precipice was yet another sign of the damage Irma left behind.

Fort Louis, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Fort Louis, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Looking out from the fort, we saw many blue tarps providing shelter to those structures still without roofs.

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

The most stunning view was that of Marigot bay. The lack of vessels in the bay below was a stark juxtaposition to our previous visits to Marigot Bay and a strong signal that the level of marine tourism in St. Martin has declined precipitously.

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2015)

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2015)

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2015)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2015)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2018)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2018)

We did not travel outside of Marigot Bay, as we have on previous visits [see St. Martin (2015) and St. Martin (2016)], so we cannot report on how the rest of the island is faring. What we can say is, what we saw in Marigot Bay was the strength and resolve of the people to rebuild their beautiful island. Everyone we met was warm, friendly and inviting. In sum, St. Martin is still a beautiful cruising destination.

Our next port of call, The British Virgin Islands (BVIs), also took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. More on what we encountered in the BVIs in our next post.

ST. EUSTATIUS (a.k.a. STATIA) – DUTCH CARIBBEAN – by Theresa

St. Eustatius (Statia), a Dutch Caribbean island in the  East Indies, is not a popular tourist destination, however, it is every bit as beautiful as her Caribbean tourist-destination counterparts. In fact, the lack of tourist(s)/tourism adds to the island’s overall charm.

Quill Volcano & Oranje Bay, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Quill Volcano & Oranje Bay, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Since we began cruising, in 2014, we have not missed an opportunity to stop in Oranje Bay in Statia. See Statia (2015/05/14). When we first pulled into port, in 2015, the boys had been learning about volcanoes in science. Picking up a mooring ball at the base of the Quill Volcano brought their lessons blazing to life!

Ryan & Ronan hoisting courtesey Statia flag (March 2015)

Ryan & Ronan hoisting courtesey Statia flag (March 2015)

Hiking to the top of the Quill Volcano in 2015 was an amazing experience and not one any of us will soon forget. Statia (2015/05/14). Each time we have pulled into Oranje Bay since then, with the Quill Volcano ominously towering over the Bay, I have marveled at the island’s natural beauty. This time (2018), I couldn’t help but notice the towering figures of the boys in front of the volcano. I guess the sea air has been good for these growing young men these past three years!

Ryan & Ronan hoisting courtesey Statia flag (March 2018)

Ryan & Ronan hoisting courtesey Statia flag (March 2018)

Among the things we love about Statia are her historical ties to the United States. On November 16, 1776, the guns of Statia’s Fort Oranje were ordered to return the salute of the U.S. Brig Andrea Doria, thereby becoming the first salute by a foreign power to recognize the sovereignty of the United States of America during the Revolutionary War.

First Salute Plaque

First Salute Plaque

Statia Day Plaque

Statia Day Plaque

Fort Oranje is just a short walk up the hill and is rewarded with sweeping views of the Oranje Bay.

Oranje Bay, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean), Piltos' Discretion in the center of the bay below (2018)

Oranje Bay, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean), Pilots’ Discretion in the center of the bay below (2018)

Cannon, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean), Pilots' Discretion on the left in the bay below

Cannon, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean), Pilots’ Discretion on the left in the bay below

Over 242 years later, the fort still stands strong.

Ryan & Ronan running around Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean) (2018)

Ryan & Ronan running around Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean) (2018)

Walkway, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Walkway, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Sundial, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Sundial, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Some of the more recent (roof) additions to fort did not fare as well after hurricane Irma.

Missing roof on building in Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Missing roof on building in Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Other parts of the island also seemed to have been adversely impacted by Irma and Maria.

Missing roof, Waterfront restaurant, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Missing roof, Waterfront restaurant, Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean)

Grounded sailboat, St. Eustatius (2018), Piltots' Discretion anchored in the background

Grounded sailboat, St. Eustatius (2018), Pilots’ Discretion anchored in the background.

We were glad to see one of our favorite restauarant/hotels, The Old Gin House, was still standing.

Old Gin House Hotel & Restaurant, St. Eustatius (2018)

Old Gin House Hotel & Restaurant, St. Eustatius (2018)

Old Gin House Hotel & Restaurant, St. Eustatius (2018)

Old Gin House Hotel & Restaurant, St. Eustatius (2018)

A rare 0-1′ weather window had us continuing our journey north to St. Martin.

Passing Saba, 0-1 foot seas

Passing Saba, 0-1 foot seas

Ryan & Randy at the helm - Statia to St. Martin (2018)

Ryan & Randy at the helm – Statia to St. Martin (2018)

St. Martin took a direct hit from hurricane Irma. More on what we found there in our next post.

Season 4: Post Irma – Cruising Martinique, Dominica & Guadeloupe – by Theresa

February, 2018, we readied the Pilots’ Discretion for sea, which included, among other things, the boys assisting Gaza (a dear friend and our ‘go to guy’ in St. Lucia  for a wide array of boat projects) polishing the Eisenglass. They did such an amazing  job, when they were done, the Eisenglass looked brand new! Additionally, we finished upgrading our inverter/battery chargers, serviced our main engines and genset and made one final run to Mega Massey to provision the boat.Ronan, Gaza & Ryan - Eisenglass done!Ronan, Gaza & Ryan – Eisenglass done!

Randy & Gaza finishing up the Eisenglass, St. Lucia (2018)

Randy & Gaza finishing up the Eisenglass, St. Lucia (2018)

A few days prior to departing St. Lucia, Ronan and I encountered a famous St. Lucian Soca/Gospel singer, Denver Pierre,  filming a music video at Rodney Bay Marina, where our boat was. He asked Ronan to be in the video. In the final video Ronan is shown 19 seconds in & again at 1:58.

It is a positive message themed song and video and it also shows a lot of nice video footage out and about in St. Lucia.

February 25, 2018

The day we departed St. Lucia was bitter sweet for us. In addition to the melancholy feelings associated with leaving an island where we had spent a significant amount of time and made many friends, it also marked the day that Patton would have turned 16. After setting out to sea, we had a moment of silent memorial and paid tribute to the greatest boat dog there ever was.

MARTINIQUE

Our first stop on our northern course was in Fort de France, Martinique. We had been there several times in prior cruising seasons, and had written about our experiences after those visits. See Dominica, Martinique & St. Lucia (2015/06/04). Martinique was fortunate to have escaped the brundt of the wrath of Irma and Maria. While we did see some minor damage (missing roofs on some structures in the fort), overall, the small metropolitan city seemed as beautiful as ever.

Fort de France, Martinique

Fort de France, Martinique

We were pleased to see that the renovations on the central cathedral, which was covered in scaffolding during our last visit, were completed. The results were magnificent.

Fort de France, waterfront cathedral, Martinique

Fort de France, waterfront cathedral, Martinique

With cruise ship season in full swing, it was no surprise that, the day we pulled in to port, there was a cruise ship picking up passengers and getting underway herself.

Cruise ship in Fort de France, Martininque

Cruise ship in Fort de France, Martininque

DOMINICA

Our next port of call on our northward bound journey was Dominica.

Ronan, Ryan & Randy at the helm

Ronan, Ryan & Randy at the helm

Unlike Martinique, Dominica was hit hard this past hurricane season.  When we arrived, six month’s after the hurricanes, the damage to the landscape and structures was still readily apparent.

Damaged roofs in Dominica, (Feb. 2018)

Damaged roofs in Dominica, (Feb. 2018)

Equally apparent was the strength and resolve of the people to carry on and move forward. Tourism and agriculture are the two main resources in Dominica. While the island continues to work towards recovering the agricultural resources, tourism was abundant. In Portsmouth harbor, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS) was up and running, guiding boats to mooring balls and offering other yacht services.

PAYS member guiding sailboat to mooring, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

PAYS member guiding sailboat to mooring, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

PAYS member offering services (tours, food, beverages, trash removal) to cruiser, Portsmouth, Dominica

PAYS member offering services (tours, food, beverages, trash removal) to cruiser, Portsmouth, Dominica

The mooring balls and lines all looked new and the harbor was as full as we have ever seen it. The VHF was full of chatter from yachtsmen arranging river and rainforest tours. Once again, with cruise ship season in full swing, we saw a sailing cruise ship in the harbor ferrying passengers to and from the island. She was a beautiful sight to see, sails up, departing at sunset, just off our stern.

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting uderway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting underway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting uderway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

Sailing Cruise Ship, Star Clipper getting uderway, Portsmouth, Dominica (2018)

GUADELOUPE

We refueled in Rivière Sens, at the southern end of Guadeloupe, before continuing north to Deshaies.

Ryan supervising fueling up in Riviera Sans, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ryan supervising fueling up in Riviere Sens, Guadeloupe (2018)

Theresa & Ryan running the boat to Deshaeis, Guadeloupe (2018)

Theresa & Ryan running the boat to Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

We pulled into Deshaies to the sight of yet another sailing cruise ship.

Club Med 2 Sailing Cruise Ship, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Club Med 2 Sailing Cruise Ship, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ronan & Ryan playing chess on the bridge, Sailing Cruise Ship Club Med 2 off our stern, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ronan & Ryan playing chess on the bridge, Sailing Cruise Ship Club Med 2 off our stern, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Deshaies seemed to have fewer mooring balls available than we had seen on previous visits, so we dropped our anchor and settled in for yet another fabulous Caribbean sunset.

View from the galley, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

View from the galley, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Sunset, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Sunset, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

In Deshaies, boats come by to “take your morning order,” and the next morning, we had fresh baguettes delivered right to our boat.

Ryan picking up baguettes delivery to the boat, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

Ryan picking up baguettes delivery to the boat, Deshaies, Guadeloupe (2018)

In sum, it seems this past year’s hurricanes have not dampened the cruise ship / cruisers / tourism enthusiasm in the Easterrn Caribbean. In fact, we spoke to many who said they were purposesfully visiting hurricane hit island nations because tourism dollars are needed to assist in the speedier recovery of the islands. We will not sugar coat it, there have been significant physical and economic consequences for the Eastern Caribbean islands but for the most part these islands and their people have proven resilient and will thrive again.

In our next series of posts we will be reporting on what we found on some of the islands that had a more direct encounter with Irma or Maria or both.

HURRICANE MARIA (SEPTEMBER 2017) – by Theresa

Hurricane season has arrived in full force. As cruisers, we spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring weather systems. The latest shows Hurricane Maria intensified into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph), as it surged toward islands in the eastern Caribbean.

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia (where Pilots’ Discretion is currently located), Martinique and Anguilla. Many of these islands are still recovering from direct hits from hurricane Irma. (See http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/cat-5-hurricane-maria-threatens-storm-battered-caribbean/ar-AAs6sKy?ocid=spartandhp.) We are continuing to keep all those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We will post additional updates after this storm passes.

Willie T's, Norman Island, BVI (Before and After)

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – BEFORE AND AFTER HURRICANE IRMA (2017) – by Theresa

Before & after photos of the British Virgin Islands, culled from various Facebook pages and cruiser forums, which highlight the damage to the beautiful islands so many of us cruisers have had the pleasure of exploring.

Sabba Rock, BVI (Before & After)

Sabba Rock, BVI (Before & After)

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI (Before and After)

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI (Before and After)

DeLoose Mongoose, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

DeLoose Mongoose, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Foxy's Taboo, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Foxy’s Taboo, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Last Resort, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Last Resort, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Willie T's, Norman Island, BVI (Before and After)

Willie T’s, Norman Island, BVI (Before and After)

Cane Garden Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Cane Garden Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Corsairs, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Corsairs, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (Before and After)

Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (Before and After)

The Facebook group page “BVI Abroad – Hurricane Irma” has provided a lot of useful, and consolidated, information regarding the British Virgin Islands. Richard Branson’s “Virgin Unite” and “BVI Volunteers”  are two, of many, groups coordinating relief and volunteer efforts (See https://www.virgin.com/unite/bvi-community-support-appeal and https://www.bvivolunteers.com/.  See also: http://mailchi.mp/487269e6b930/bvi-volunteers-weekly-update.)

Click here for additional photos, and to see several prominent business owners (including the infamous Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, Corsairs, and Willie T’s) who have already vowed to rebuild!

ARC Caribbean 1500 Will Arrive in Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI as planned

World Cruising Club director, Jeremy Wyatt, has announced that the ARC Caribbean 1500 will continue as per the published schedule to Nanny Cay, Tortola this November, commenting

“The best way as sailors that we can help the communities rebuild, is to visit and spend in the economy. The communities need and want visitors; World Cruising Club are encouraging participants to be sympathetic to the efforts of the communities in the BVI and give their support by sailing to the islands, this Fall. The islands may still bear the scars left by Irma, but the welcome will be as warm as always once crews step ashore.” See: ttps://www.worldcruising.com/arc_europe/newsarticle.aspx?page=S636410969472923870&CategoryID=190&src=

Cameron McColl, of Nanny Cay Marina, responded

“Nanny Cay took a major hit from Hurricane Irma, but within 7 days our team has restored power, water, septic systems, and the Beach Bar is already open serving cold beer! We have plenty of brand new docks in the new outer marina and we expect to be open for business again within the next two weeks. We look forward to welcoming the Caribbean 1500 and to running a full series of yachting events throughout the upcoming winter season.” See: ttps://www.worldcruising.com/arc_europe/newsarticle.aspx?page=S636410969472923870&CategoryID=190&src=

For our part, we are planning on stopping in the British Virgin Islands as we cruise north after the hurricane season ends. It will, of course, be with a different mindset than previous visits, with an aim towards rendering assistance in the community as best as possible.

We are continuing to keep the BVIs, and all of the Caribbean, in our thoughts and prayers as Tropical Storm Maria, makes her way up the Caribbean chain in the coming days.

Tropical Storm Maria

Tropical Storm Maria

Hurricane Irma (photo from Marine Weather Center's post)

HURRICANE IRMA – 2017 – by Theresa

First, thank you, to everyone, for reaching out to see how Pilots’ Discretion, and her crew, fared as Hurricane Irma tracked through the Caribbean. In preparation for the storm and in accordance with our hurricane plan, we spider tied Pilots’ Discretion, with doubled lines, in a double slip, on a floating dock, alone with no other boats, in St. Lucia. Irma was set to track north of St. Lucia, however, to be on the safe side, we left the boat in St. Lucia and flew to Florida to stay out of harms way!

As predicted, Hurricane Irma passed north of St. Lucia. We were incredibly grateful to learn that our pre-hurricane preparations were sufficient, and that St. Lucia was spared from the ferocity of the storm. The island received some rain and wind from the outer bands of the storm, but on the whole, the island and our boat, weathered the storm and are fine.

Having flown to Florida, we then holed up with family in Spring Hill, just north of Tampa, on the west coast of Florida. Having just gone through the hurricane preparations drill in St. Lucia our crew was ready and able to  assist with preparations for the “high impact” potential hit headed for our relatives in Spring Hill.

We listened to reports, and observed, painfully, the pictures of the devastation from the direct hits on Barbuda, St. Barthélemy (St. Bart), St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have travelled to all of these islands in previous cruising seasons, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm.

Paraquita Bay, British Virgin Islands (Before and After)

Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands, post hurricane Irma, 2017

Isleta Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, post hurricane Irma, Sept. 2017

Foxy’s before (2016) and after (2017)

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma, Sept. 7, 2017

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma originally had her skirting up the east coast of Florida, Sept. 7, 2017

In Florida, the original forecasts had the storm tracking up the east coast. Slowly, the storm edged west with the later predictions indicating she would run up the middle of the Florida peninsula. Finally, within the last day prior to Florida landfall, the forecast consensus had Irma tracking up the west coast of Florida. We weathered the storm just north of Tampa. The eye passed just to our east during the middle of the night. We were extremely fortunate that a slight variation in the actual track of the storm placed us on the weak side of the circulation at the same time the storm was beginning to fall apart. We had a few hours of heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds mostly in the 40 knot range. Like most, we lost power and had a few downed trees to deal with but for the most part we came through the storm wiser for the experience but without taking any direct hits. We are all very aware of the potential devastation that just barely sidestepped us.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected by the storm. Florida, the islands, and those living and cruising in Florida and the Caribbean islands, are a resilient bunch. Communities have already banded together to address immediate needs and start the lengthy rebuilding process. Click here for additional photos, and to see several prominent business owners (including the infamous Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, Corsairs, Willie T’s) who have already vowed to rebuild!

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

SUMMER IN ST. LUCIA – PART 2 – by Theresa

AQUATICS CENTER

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center

With school out for the summer, we enrolled the boys in a summer swimming camp at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, located just outside Rodney Bay Marina. The Aquatics Center has an Olympic-short (25 m) sized pool, a karate studio, a gym, a soccer field and weekly field trips to various fun places on the island, including horse back riding and Splash Island Water Park! The boys are looking forward to the end of August, when there will be an island wide swim meet with competitors from all over the island.

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, St. Lucia

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, St. Lucia

OPEN WATER DIVER SCUBA CERTIFICATION

While the boys were in camp, I decided to finally take the plunge and get my Open Water Diver Scuba certification. Fortunately, Dive St. Lucia, one of the nicest dive facilities that we have seen throughout the Caribbean, is located right next door to the marina. My instructor for the course was “Mary,” and my dive buddy was “Dwight.” Coincidentally, Dwight is also one of the Captains of the Dive St. Lucia dive boats, who, like me, decided he wanted to see what life was like under the boat.

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

After completing the preliminary online testing, and confined water diving exercises in the pool, we set out to complete the open water diving portion of the course.

"OK" signal, Mary, Theresa & Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

“OK” signal, Mary, Theresa & Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

The first day we completed two tank dives and multiple underwater exercises.

Theresa & dive buddy, Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa & dive buddy, Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Our second day open water diving was extra special since Ryan, who already has his open water diver certification, came along with his Go Pro to dive with us.

Theresa & Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa & Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Mary, Dwight & Theresa preparing to dive, St. Lucia

Mary, Dwight & Theresa preparing to dive, St. Lucia

Ryan diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Dwight, Theresa & Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Dwight, Theresa & Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan & Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan & Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

SEGWAY

Since Ronan was still not cleared to go scuba diving (due to his recent tonsillectomy), he and Randy opted for a land based Segway adventure. Since Ronan had been sewaying on the island before (See, This is How we Roll, February 24, 2017), he had fun showing Randy around the trails.

Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Nigel, Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Nigel, Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break at beach side cafe, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break at beach side cafe, St. Lucia (2017)

As the day came to a close, both sea and land adventures intersected on the bay!

Randy & Ronan Segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Randy & Ronan Segway in St. Lucia (2017)

As the end of the summer and hurricane season approaches, we are continuing to monitor the Caribbean storm systems, all while enjoying all that the beautiful island of St. Lucia has to offer.