VIRGIN GORDA, BVI – Millions of lives have been impacted by Irma, with loss of life, and loss and damaged property almost beyond belief. You can get the big picture from mainstream news, and we hope our Dear Readers will consider helping via the Red Cross and other reputable relief agencies.
At Sailing Illustrated we will of course focus in the days and months ahead on the heart-breaking impact the Irma was wrought on our sailing family and friends.
As we reported with that dramatic video on Friday, the Bitter End Yacht Club was, unfortunately, completely destroyed. BEYC management posted this message on Sunday:
It has been a heartbreaking week for all of us. We wish we could tell you today that the videos and photos you have seen of Bitter End are not real. The reality is that Bitter End Yacht Club and the community of Virgin Gorda have been devastated by Hurricane Irma. In response to the overwhelming outreach received, we have set up a fund to support the employees of Bitter End and the Virgin Gorda community rebuild their lives. Since 1973 when we were founded as a family retreat, what has made Bitter End so unique is the people that work and live there. These are the people who have been hit the hardest by this storm. They have lost their homes, their schools, their neighborhoods. If you would like to provide a donation, please click on the link below and learn how to help Bitter End Employees, their families and the entire Virgin Gorda community rebuild. Thank you all for your love and support of Bitter End. We feel it.
Virgin Gorda before and after Irma. The devastating hurricane wiped the greenery off the island. According to NASA science writer Kathryn Hansen, the visible browning of the islands could have been caused by fierce winds, which reached speeds of 185 mph and tore plants and trees from the earth. The salt spray whipped on to the island by the hurricane also likely dried out the leaves on trees — causing them to turn brown. Satellite photo: NASA Earth Observatory via Business Insider.
The US Virgin Islands were horrifically impacted by Irma as well, and we will be following that story closely. According an article just out on Business Insider, "US Virgin Islands residents feel abandoned after Irma: 'Everyone in our neighborhood is walking around with sharpened machetes and guns.'" And we hear from our longtime sailing/judging friend and former AC colleague, Henry Menin (USA), who with his wife Fredelle lives in St Thomas, that the St Thomas Yacht Club did not take Irma well. "It was devastated," Henry said by text from Philadelphia this morning. Thankfully, they were not in STT when Irma struck.
A view from St Thomas, yesterday.