Tag Archives: Hurricane Irma

Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

CANE GARDEN BAY, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – by Theresa

Last post on the British Virgin Islands, and then on to Puerto Rico. Our last stop in the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) was Cane Garden Bay, a large sheltered bay, on the nortwest end of Tortola. The bay was full of mooring balls, and several beachside restaurants and shops were open for business. The dinghy dock was missing some boards but was still usable.

Dinghy dock, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Dinghy dock, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Quintos, which use to be located at the base of the dock (to the right), regrettably did not survive the storm.

Quintos Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Quintos Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Like the other islands we visited in the BVIs, new construction and repairs take place right alongside the damaged structures.

Construction, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Construction, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

We were thrilled to see that our favorite spot in Cane Garden Bay, Myett’s, had reopened for business.

Myett’s is open in Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

Myett’s is open in Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

Myett's Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Myett’s Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Randy at Myett's Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Randy at Myett’s Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Ryan at Myett's Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Ryan at Myett’s Restaurant, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs (March 2018)

Myett’s is Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

Myett’s in Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

In addition to great food and ambiance, Myett’s is a prime spot for catching spectacular sunsets.

Sunset view from Myett’s is Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

Sunset view from Myett’s (looking out towards Jost Van Dyke) in Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

Ronan, sunset, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Ronan walking the beach at sunset, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

Cane Garden Bay, BVIs (March 2018)

In sum, the BVIs suffered significant damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, however, no amount of hurricanes can take away the intrinsic beauty of these islands or the strength and fortitude of the people who live in these islands. The turquoise blue waters, the magnificent sunsets and the friendly hospitality of the people all remain and make cruising these islands well worth the visit!

New marina at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

NANNY CAY, TORTOLA, BRITISH VIRGINGISLANDS, SIX MONTHS AFTER HURRICANE IRMA

When we arrived at Nanny Cay, we realized that the marina that we have known for many years was no longer there. In a separate and newly constructed sheltered basin, Nanny Cay has built a brand new marina with very substantial, state of the art floating docks, complete with 50 & 60 Hz power, potable water and high speed internet.

New marina at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

New marina at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

A walk of a few hundred yards takes you to where the previous docks once were. In their place are many hulks and partially sunken boats of every description.

Old marina docks at Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

Old marina docks at Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

Old marina at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

Old marina at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

For us, Nanny Cay quickly became the dichotomy that is the current maritime industry in the BVIs. Many new and gleaming boats and support facilities standing next to boats and structures that have been irreparably damaged beyond recognition.

New fleet of Marine Max Power Cats in new Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

New fleet of Marine Max Power Cats in new Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

Salvaged vessel in the boat yard, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

Salvaged vessel in the boat yard, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

New cell tower, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

New cell tower, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

Flowers blooming in front of destroyed Peg Legs Reestaurant, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

Flowers blooming in front of destroyed Peg Legs Restaurant, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (March 2018)

That said, there was fuel available at the fuel dock and the boat yard, shops and restaurants were open for service. There was also a well supplied chandlery on premises. We were met with smiling faces of the staff that have now become our friends, their strength through adversity is both humbling and reassuring.

During our stay in Nanny Cay we discovered a stow away aboard Pilots’ Discretion.

Stow away, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Stow away, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

It turns out our stow away “Truffles” actually resided on a neighboring boat, and just liked spending time on our boat.

While at Nanny Cay we also encountered another creature, unlike any that any of us had ever seen before. It was about 6′-8″ in diameter and glided through the water with wing-like grace, bobbing its upper extremity up and down out of the water.

Aplysia Morio

Aplysia Morio

Unable to determine is species, we posted a video of it online, soliciting the input from of our Caribbean diving buddies to help us identify the curious creature.

We were subsequently informed that it is an Aplysia Morio, the Atlantic Black Sea Hare or Sooty Sea Hare, a species of sea slug. It is a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Aplysiidae, the sea hares. It lives in warm waters in the Caribbean Sea and off the south and southeastern coast of the United States, where it feeds on seaweed. seaweed.harehttps://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aplysia_morio

After spending a few days at Nanny Cay, provisioning, tending to boat maintenance and generally relaxing, we welcomed aboard one of Randy’s fellow pilots and friend “Scott” for a quick visit. Scott had previously visited us in the BVIs several years ago so we were curious to see what his reaction would be to the post hurricane islands. Day 1 with Scott aboard, we departed Nanny Cay for Gorda Sound on the north end of Virgin Gorda (and the site of some of the most devastating Hurricane Irma damage). More on Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda in our next post.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – SPANISH TOWN, VIRGIN GORDA, SIX MONTHS AFTER HURRICANE IRMA – by Theresa

Our family has been traveling to the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) for many years, beginning with bareboat charters in 2011 and 2013. In fact, it was during these bareboat charters that we first began discussing the possibility of cruising the Caribbean in our own boat. Making that dream a reality and returning to the BVIs in our own boat was one of the countless surreal moments that we have  encountered during our Caribbean cruising journey [See British Virgin Islands (2015)].

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it was with a heavy heart that we viewed the before and after photos of the BVIs. [See British Virgin Islands – Before & After Hurricane Irma (2017)]. Like everyone else, we were shocked by the images of destruction that made their way into the news.  We tracked the Islands’ recovery efforts closely, knowing that we would be stopping there on our journey north. Six months after Irma, we returned to the British Virgin Islands, unsure of what we would find.

VIRGIN GORDA – SPANISH TOWN

From St. Martin, we set a  north westwardly course, across the 80 mile Anegada passage, towards the BVIs.  During our  previous channel crossings we routinely encountered dozens of other vessels. On our most recent crossing, we passed only one other vessel, a magnificent 100 foot sailing yacht. After seeing Marigot Bay in St. Martin nearly deserted, we were not sure what to expect as we sailed past Necker Island, unofficially marking our entrance into the waters of the BVIs.

On previous westbound visits to the BVIs we had cleared in at the closest point of entry, Gun Creek, on the east end of Virgin Gorda, in North Gorda Sound.

Map_BVI

Map_BVI

Since North Gorda Sound was hit hard by Hurricane Irma, the Gun Creek Customs and Immigration was no longer a clearing-in option. Instead, we headed down to the next closest clear-in office located in Spanish Town, on the north shore of Virgin Gorda, almost to the west end of island.  We had been there on previous visits to the BVIs so we were familiar with the port. We called ahead to confirm slip availability and to see what marine services were available. When we arrived, the marina was barely recognizable.

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Tying up to the dock was a challenge because cleats were either missing or broken in half. Tying off to a half cleat required quick knot tying adjustments. The marina’s power distribution grid and associated dockside power pedestals had been totally destroyed. The only potable water available to boats in the marina is via a single fresh water spigot. Again, the dockside water distribution lines have been totally destroyed. The marina did have a functioning diesel fuel pump so refueling at the VGYH remains an option.

Once Pilots’ Discretion was secure in her slip, we set out to clear immigration and customs. Irma’s destruction was readily apparent. We saw cleats with lines still tied to them, but with no boats attached to the snapped lines, a sign of just how strong the force on the line and it’s now missing boat  was.

Cleat with snapped line still attached, Tortola (March 2018)

Cleat with snapped line still attached, Tortola (March 2018)

All that remained at the end of the dock, where the marina restaurant once stood, was a flat wooden platform.

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor old dockside restaurant, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor old dockside restaurant, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old dockside restaurant, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old dockside restaurant, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

The small shopping center, that use to house the dive and gift shops, was all boarded up and missing its walls and roof.

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor old shopping center, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor old shopping center, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old shopping center (missing roof, walls & windows), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old shopping center (missing roof, walls & windows), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

The grocery store was likewise destroyed.

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old grocery store (missing roof, walls & windows), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old grocery store (missing roof, walls & windows), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old grocery store (missing roof, walls & windows), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, old grocery store (missing roof, walls & windows), Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Immigration & Customs was housed in a building a short walk  through what used  to be a grass field. That field has since been converted into a boat grave yard for the multitude of damaged and salvaged vessels.

Boat grave yard in the field next to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Boat grave yard in the field next to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Boat grave yard in the field next to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Boat grave yard in the field next to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Boat grave yard in the field next to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Boat grave yard in the field next to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

We were repeatedly told that damaged buildings and boats remain untouched six months after the hurricane because of pending, unresolved insurance claims.

Despite all of the damage, everyone we encountered was warm, friendly and inviting. Everyone thanked us for coming. Signs of recovery could be seen in the numerous new charter boats pulling into the marina.

Marine Max charter arriving in Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Marine Max charter arriving in Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Moorings charters arriving in Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Moorings charters arriving in Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (March 2018)

Taxis were lined up in the parking lot waiting to take passengers to the popular tourist spot nearby, The Baths. Many of the shops and restaurants that had previously been a part of the marina grounds have relocated a few blocks away.

In sum, Spanish Town remains a viable choice to clear customs and immigration and to pick up a taxi to the “The Bathsnational park or nearby shops or restaurants. There is no way to stop at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor without being confronted with the dramatic destruction left in the wake of last hurricane season. We spent one night in Spanish Town before moving on to Nanny Cay Marina, in Tortola. Nanny Cay served as the headquarters for the post-hurricane Irma relief efforts mounted by the British Royal Marines. We had received reports that Nanny Cay had just installed a large section of new floating docks and that they had water, electricity and fuel available. As a result, we were comfortable that we would be able to secure adequate services for our floating home. More on Nanny Cay in our next post.

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!