Well, sort of. We have sailed the BVI's a few times, the first was on our honeymoon 36 years ago. Pictures in our heads and the guide books on board in no way prepare you for the shape the islands are in. Most of the restaurants, bars, resorts and marinas on shore have been destroyed to varying degrees. The island's natural treasures have fared much better than the man-made ones though. The caves at Norman Island are still a great snorkeling destination, the Baths, a group of huge rocks with hidden pools were all intact, and we could still hike to the Bubbling Pool, we did have to pick our way through fallen mangroves and piles of debris from destroyed buildings, but we got there. Willie T's, a barge that was turned into a bar in the middle of Norman Bight is washed up on shore and is once again a ship wreck. A favorite stop was always Sydney's Love and Peace Bar on Jost Van Dyke, now there is a ferry boat on it's collapsed roof. Just the bar remained at Foxy's Taboo, although it did look like someone had been there recently to enjoy drinks. The original Foxy's around the corner was just a shell of it's former self but they were working hard to get the place up and running by the holidays, a recovery concert is planned for New Year's with Kenny Chesney. We were not even allowed on shore on Peter Island where we had the most expensive Thanksgiving dinner ever with our kids year's ago, the resort was torn apart but they were hoping to have it rebuilt in a couple years. Virgin Gorda was hit extremely hard, they haven't started construction at the Bitter End but they were working on Saba Rock near by. We had heard there was a place to provision and eat in Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda so we decided to go there for a night out. Calling in on the radio we got a very lively response for our request for a slip, "oh bless your hearts, you're really coming in to visit us? We're so happy to have you!" That was a first. The only other boat at the dock was a huge yacht that we were sure was coming over to ask us to join them for a drink, when in reality all they really wanted to know was if their music was playing too loud. Anegada is a flat island away from the rest and was pretty well left intact from the storms. We had a great time touring the island on a minibike (and the helmets were such a fashion statement). Enjoyed visiting the wide, sandy beaches and eating lobster with our feet in the sand.
We thought we would only be sailing the BVI's for a short time before we traveled further south, but life has kind of been put on hold as we wait for parts to come in to fix the water maker on board (which is exactly what it sounds like, a contraption that makes fresh water from salt water). As we circle the BVI's in a holding pattern we are always on the look out for opportunities to help out as we go, sometimes the most useful thing we can do is to support the local businesses as they re-open. So in that spirit we have attended the Lobsterfest on Anegada, the Full Moon Festival in Trellis Bay, Sunday afternoon flotillas organized at various bars by the bartender at Foxy's, and visited as many establishments as possible as they re-open their doors, sometimes without water, electricity and a ship wrecked boat or two on their beach. We have had our share of Rum Punches all for the benefit of the rebuilding efforts in the BVI's.
This year we truly missed celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, but were reminded of all that we have to be thankful for. We are thankful that we wake up each morning to the sounds of goats in the hills, roosters on the beach, fish jumping in the water, and birds diving for food. I personally am thankful that Tony won the argument about putting in air conditioning, we have had many comfortable nights thanks to that. We are thankful for the locals that have shared their stories with us and remind us each day of how little we really need to be happy and the things that are truly important. We are thankful for the new friends that have shared dinner, drinks, sailing experiences and were nice enough to adopt our American tradition of a Thanksgiving meal. And we are especially thankful for all of you, the song is corny but true, make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and you all are definitely gold.
p.s. It is really difficult to document your daily life, we don't want to miss out on living life by spending too much time taking pictures of it. So in that light, we are hoping you will use your imagination. We will try to give you a sense of what life is like and you can fill in the rest with pictures in your mind (please picture Tony and I at least 10 years younger)