|Virgin Gorda in Irma's eye|
Two weeks ago Hurricane Irma made landfall on Barbuda as a Category 5 storm and went on to decimate parts of the northeast Caribbean and southwest Florida. Earlier this week Hurricane Maria made landfall on Dominica as a Category 5 storm, just two years after Tropical Storm Erika devastated the island. The first reports are of terrible destruction as would be expected. Likewise the destruction on Puerto Rico. Not much news yet from the islands in between.
Most of the northeast Caribbean, many islands and many countries, were affected by the storms. 'Affected' isn't quite the right word, but again I'm at a loss for words. The damage has been catastrophic. Photos coming from the islands show apocalyptic scenes. Friends on Tortola say the island is unrecognizable. The sheer scope of destruction across the islands is hard to comprehend and it's difficult not to feel a sense of despair seeing the photos and hearing about the enormous losses people have experienced. But there is plenty of optimism and a healthy dose of dark humor on the islands and in the sailing community and I will keep my focus on that.
Firstly, our island friends are accounted for. We don't know what their situations on each island are but we know they are OK. There is precious little communication from the islands which is frustrating beyond belief. We are starved for information and getting only the smallest bits. There was a bit of contact after Irma, but Maria seems to have knocked out the fragile recovery of communications at least for now. This is very much the case for Virgin Gorda, which is especially difficult for us, because that's where we left Saralane.
I find I want to focus on each island that's been devastated by the storm - Barbuda, of course, which we love so much. And Dominica, which we love equally for her breathtaking beauty. St Martin where we spent so much time in the company of friends. The whole of the BVI and also St John in the USVI where we spent our last month before hauling out in Virgin Gorda. But for now, I mean only to update you on Saralane. The long and short of it is that we don't know anything other than she's been knocked onto her starboard side and her mast has snapped.
This comes from the few photos we've been able to find online after Hurricane Irma, as there's been no communication from anyone at the yard in Virgin Gorda. They haven't been allowing anyone onto the island except for relief purposes and we don't know if Hurricane Maria caused additional damage. There are plenty of rumors and plenty of speculation about what's happening on the ground there, but none of it bears repeating.
Here's the last shot we have of Saralane in her spot in the yard pre-Irma. We hadn't yet taken off her canvas but otherwise we were almost finished prepping her for a few months on land. Skip took this shot because we were amused by the size difference between Saralane's narrow stern and the super wide stern on Baxter to our right. The Beneteau being moved in to our left had an equally wide stern and watching the yard guys back her in next to Saralane was impressive.
|The small but mighty Saralane between two big boats.|
|Boats in a bad way|
This next photo is an aerial shot taken by Caribbean Buzz Helicopters, who've been working overtime doing evacuations, delivering aid and supplying images to assess the aftermath of the storm. For years we've seen their bright yellow helicopter flying overhead looking like a happy little piece of the sun that went off on it's own. Without their efforts we would all know much less than we do. We don't know you guys, but thank you!
|John H, covered with a blue tarp, is still (partly) on deck. Beneteau with the wide stern is on SL's port side|
Also Dive BVI, based in Virgin Gorda has been front and center getting relief supplies moving to the BVI and getting information in and out of the islands. If you are inclined to participate in relief efforts, and there are countless ways to do so, definitely check them out. They are getting things done.
Kudos too to the affectionately named "Puerto Rican Navy", the many sportfishing boats that blast over from PR to the Virgins on long weekends with no fewer than three generations of family per boat, great pool toys and lots of laughter. In the early days after Irma, when no aid was getting to Virgin Gorda, they loaded up their boats with supplies and once more blasted over to the island to help. Don't know whose photo this is, so I can't give credit, but I love it.
|Puerto Rican Navy to the rescue in Virgin Gorda|
One side note: all of our log books from the past seven years and most of the boat cards we've collected from those we've met along the way are on the boat, so if you don't hear from us or want to be in touch, please send us an email at the EMAIL US link on the right side of the page.
Best case scenario is that Saralane is salvageable and we can float her and stay on board when the time is right to go there and help in the recovery effort. Worst case scenario is that she's sailed her last sail. Until we know more there's nothing we can do except think of our island friends and hope that each day gets better for them. That's all I have for now. Thanks so much to everyone checking in with us - it's been good to hear from you all.