Re­flec­tions on vist­ing the BVIs post-Hur­ri­cane Irma.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE - Daniel Hard­ing Jr. dhard­ing@aim­me­dia.com

The sound of a table saw tear­ing through a sheet of ply­wood pierced the si­lence of Jost Van Dyke’s Great Har­bour. From our moor­ing in the mid­dle of the bay it was the first sign that some­thing was amiss in the post­card­pretty cruis­ing des­ti­na­tion that is lit­er­ally right out of a Kenny Ch­es­ney song. Af­ter pulling up to shore in our dinghy, we saw a very dif­fer­ent pic­ture. My col­leagues, Dig­i­tal Di­rec­tor John Turner and Pas­sageMaker mag­a­zine’s Man­ag­ing Edi­tor Brian Lind, glanced at one an­other while try­ing to hide their shock. It was as if we were tele­ported into a war zone.

This visit to the BVIs had been in the works for months. We dis­cussed go­ing down to the is­lands with two of the largest char­ter op­er­a­tions in the Caribbean—MarineMax and The Moor­ings—and brain­stormed how Power & Mo­to­ry­acht and the en­tire Ac­tive In­ter­est Me­dia Marine Group (pub­lish­ers of An­glers Jour­nal, Sail, Sound­ings, Sound­ings Trade Only, Yachts In­ter­na­tional, Pas­sageMaker and oth­ers) could help the re­cov­ery ef­fort. “Come. See the is­lands. See that we’re back open for busi­ness,” was the re­ply.

In an un­prece­dented part­ner­ship, MarineMax and The Moor­ings (fierce com­peti­tors un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances) agreed to work to­gether to each lend us a boat and an itin­er­ary that would al­low us to re­port back on the cur­rent state of the is­lands.

We found a fair share of de­struc­tion. In Tor­tola, near The Moor­ings base, 50-foot-plus power cats were piled up­side down atop one an­other. Look­ing closely at the dam­age-free hull­sides, I came to re­al­ize these boats didn’t sim­ply roll over but rather were sent air­borne, flipped in one fell swoop, like a coin be­ing tossed through the air. Car win­dows, on the ve­hi­cles not com­pletely to­taled, were re­placed by Saran wrap and any other scraps of plas­tic their own­ers could find; Irma’s winds sent de­bris fly­ing through them like shrap­nel.

Rem­nants of Irma were ev­ery­where; the storm left a scar that may fade over time but will likely al­ways be vis­i­ble. There were sure signs of re­cov­ery, too. Ev­ery day we were there fuel docks, mari­nas, restau­rants, and ho­tels were re­open­ing. Our last day in the is­lands was the first day The Moor­ings base in Tor­tola opened to the pub­lic and wel­comed a ca­pac­ity crowd.

Part of me was sad to be leav­ing the is­lands, but mostly I was glad to see the fleet get­ting back out on the wa­ter. I knew the boaters aboard those power cats were go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence a unique level of soli­tude, sure, but also what lo­cals are calling the clean­est, clear­est wa­ter they’ve seen in decades. I knew they were go­ing to gain a new, spe­cial kind of con­nec­tion that comes with hav­ing seen a place at its best and at its worst. I knew they were go­ing to meet some in­cred­i­ble peo­ple with in­fec­tious pos­i­tiv­ity.

Dur­ing our week cruis­ing the is­lands I had the chance to speak with every­one from bar­tenders and busi­ness own­ers to school teach­ers and politi­cians. Al­most all con­ver­sa­tions ended with them thank­ing us—from a place in their hearts—for vis­it­ing, for re­turn­ing to the is­lands, and help­ing restart their econ­omy. Our dol­lars would go di­rectly to help­ing them re­build their cars, their homes, and their lives. “Please let peo­ple know that we’re here,” said a nurse on Jost Van Dyke, “and we’re back open for busi­ness.”

For more on the Caribbean Come­back I in­vite you to read my full re­port on page 52. I’d also like to leave you with this chal­lenge: Whether you’re a Caribbean char­ter vet­eran or some­one who had this des­ti­na­tion on your bucket list for some time— now is the time to go. Sip a Painkiller at Pusser’s, en­joy a meal at Foxys, climb the boul­ders at The Baths, and re­dis­cover what makes the Caribbean spe­cial. Re­dis­cover the one thing stronger than a cat­e­gory 5 hur­ri­cane: The spirit of the peo­ple.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.