Wish You Were Here!
15 April 2018 | Beef Island Tortola B.V.I.
Butterflies, goats and broken boats , Tortola 7 1/2 months after hurricane Irma the water to our rented villa on the steep hillside of Cane Bay just received water a day after
My husband Ted and his friend Steve arrived. After traveling down to the Virgin Islands in February to look at hurricane ravished catamarans they are returning. Boat after boat strewn about, tossed , tumbled upside down and torn apart. The disarray of damaged boats I mind boggling, one after another they look like an angry toddlers tinker toys tossed about. On the water front eye witness accounts from people hunkering down for the storm tucked away in houses up on the hill side over looking Sopers Hole the Voyage Charter Marina. Flying debris started as the wind picked up causing the waves to build. They were coming in as sets of threes, building on each other reaching 20 feet plus causing mass insanity. A 60 foot cat was seen kiting across the sky following another kite born cat. These are not just any cats but 3 ton catamarans. Surveying the debris pile after the storm it is said that the anchor lets loose on the second boat and hooks onto the leading flying ! The people in the near by brown house were in the direct line of fire to be smashed by these enormous boats. The anchor some how hangs up on something stopping the leading cat a few feet from the house. God’s miracle is seen. Across the street another 60 foot catamaran landed on top of a second story building. After the storm the area was unrecognizable similar to homestead after hurricane Andrew. Devastation, one word a “catastrophe” to the island and her people. One man was blown out of his house found days later bleeding, mud covered, and in shock but alive. The intense fear experienced has not stopped the beautiful people of Tortola from smiling and moving forwards.
Hurricane Irma her path of destruction has lead us to our next adventure, which is the redemption of “Wish you were here” being transformed by “Moon Struck” . Both are catamarans who were battered by Irma. The plan is the two will one day make one.
Ted and Steve looked at many boats looking for one to restore from the storm. Coming across “Wish you were here” who was flipped by Irma winds upside down in the muck of the bay , barnacle covered and filled with leaves, mud, and salt water had a certain appeal to our men of the sea. Standing pretty on the hard is Moon Struck, her issue is a crushed main salon and starboard aft crushed by a large flying mono haul causing the rudder to have more than a slight tilt but jammed up into the hull causing structural damage but the interior looks fresh as a daisy on a sunny day. The thought of two becoming one is born here.
After insurance claims were settled our contract came through for both Wish you were here and Moon struck .
The second visit to Tortilla brings us to April 5th , 2018 the return to purchase. Our adventure starts out with a big surprise. Ted and Steve arrived Beef Island airport by private plane and were handed a bill for the landing and a few other fees which amount close to 1000 USD even after the discount! The dream to make one good boat out of the two 47 Voyage catamarans has begone. Myself, Gail, and Steve’s wife Carmen arrive two days later. It is a challenge to see past the debris of the storm. Walking under the crushed Bimini top through the trashed fiberglass, bent lines, barnacle covered decks , the colors of green and brown opposed to the usual white seen on sailboats is prominent none the less. The smell is of mold and sea aboard and increases the deeper you climb especially into the hulls. I thought Adonai our last Catamaran was too much this one takes the cake. Hope is here , attitude is our attitude roll up your sleeves and start scrubbing.
Relief comes by looking out and above across to the horizon. I see the island peaks above the now hushed sea, the wind whispers above the lapping of waves filling the air with hope. Across to my right a rainbow appears dropping its rays of color over Wish You Were Here. In the back ground on the hillside billy goats are baaing looking for water and butterflies are fluttering while the distant rooster crows. Life is for the living an adventure to be had. We are meeting many nice people working here in the Voyage yard. A crew of 10 men have arrived from South Africa and other parts of the world to restore the charter fleet. This is where we met Kemo, Truc, Ed, Rane , Shawn Tom, and many more. I love what Truc said “ We are working as a team, we now sing one song.” The first account stories of the storm gives perspective on life and the many experiences we are blessed to life through. Kemo has been with the Voyage company for 30 years making 43 crossing delivering these beautiful South African catamarans here to the West Indies and England. He now lives on the hillside above the marina. His account of the storm “ It sounded demonic the sound was the howling of demons” he sat in one spot with his cats for 4 hours as the pressure built up in the house. It started shaking with the sound of an earthquake causing painful pressure as if he was diving at 100 feet, feeling as if his ears would burst. By opening the window slightly a calming came over the house settling everything down as the pressure equalized. He gives account of 4 inch truck tie down belts on the travel lift holding down a 6 ton, 50 foot catamarans which snapped like yarn as the building seas crash in the cove. “Between the white out of sea spray and howls, the building seas coming in were breaking like the bottom of Niagara falls.” Kemo looking out his jalousie windows in the storm witnessed with his eyes catamarans kiting through the air. Now it is time to piece them back together.
In 5 days the transformation has gone from night to day. Our first night on the once sea soaked, mud slimed, Wish you Were Here we felt is our best option. Our rented villa up in Cane Bay is not available past Wednesday night and the other rental we found is 489 a night , this mind you is the summer discount rate. Rooms are scarce and at a premium. More houses are blown out than those intact. Need is a great motivator so the scrubbing is double time. We also have one working engine now installed! The men pulled the motors out of Moon Struck and are using them to replace the ones in Wish You Were Here. The mast on moon Struck is also good which is now in place on Wish You Were Here. It is amazing how much one can accomplish when you put your mind to it and are diligent with your hands. The human heart of desire is a powerful source of energy. Despite the mud, grime and discomfort from being in distorted positions cleaning mud slick hulls or wrenching in tight cabinets , mold encrusted bulkheads staring you in the face, rusted out hinges and door handles in need of removal it is rewarding to the heart.
While driving into Road Town to look for engine parts with my husband a snow flurry of butterflies is in front of our windshield. They are mainly white sprinkled in with an occasional orange adding beauty to the rock lined winding lower road, which borders the deep blue waters of Tortola. White caps on the water are dazzling in movement as far as I can see. The hillside is green with mixtures of brown from the storm in some places I fell like I am in California around another curb I see the Colorado Rockies but when I see the sunken boats many flipped and demolished its a constant reminder of ravishing Irma and I remember I am in Tortola. Despite the stacked high debris piles, roofless, doorless and windowless homes the people smile and are kind, leaving a testimony of who they are. Our environment changes but what is in our heart remains. Love is the greatest gift of all and that is what I see remaining. I love looking to the road side and seeing the constant butterflies dancing around the tiny flowers. It reminds me of the goodness and beauty which is present in life. Find the pearl, as an oyster deep in the mud will bears much beauty.
Out in the bay here is Silver Lining. She was the original boat that caught my husband interest a 52 Voyage. She was purchased by Ryan after the storm de-masted crushed in areas and in need of extensive repairs. He made a make shift mast with fencing pipe supported by lines and powered her with a couple of small out board motors determined to set sail for the Florida Keys. We waved and blew the conch horn as he left the harbor. What a sight on the ocean the crippled boats from the storm are being loved back to life. We received word , 2 days out he decided to put up a larger spinnaker. The force in the sail was too much. The mast bent like a bow and the line holding her steady snapped with so much force it propelled forwards spearing his extra motor. God watches out for crazy sailors. We are wondering where he is now and will continue to look with expectation of his arrival to Key Largo in the days to come.
Ten day has come and gone by. Much has been accomplished, two running motors, rigging ready for the sail, and two berths for resting. The stove well she is a bit rusty, but I did find some nice white dishes covered in mud in the drawers and drinking glasses now sparkling clean. The silverware was way to rusty so sandwiches it will have to be. Our work is done for a few weeks. Both boats are secure in Sopers Hole at the marina until we return to continue restoration and the delivery back to the Florida Keys.
I invite you to stay tuned in and follow us in the goodness of which is yet to come. To sail the seas of adventure, to say yes to your heart, and a reach into what looks impossible for with God all good things are possible. I encourage you in your desires to go for it with gusto to live a life of goodness blessed my a mighty God despite your circumstances look out and look up calling on the love of God to be your guide. Invite his spirit to dwell and grow with in you this is where your joy will be made complete.