The Virgin Islands are still struggling to regain some kind of normalcy after the worst hurricane year in history, 2017. It was exactly 12 months ago that I wrote my tongue in cheek story about Global Warming and the fact that increasing sea temperatures are not only threatening small, low-lying nations like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands but are spawning more and more tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricane Donald may not be on this year’s list of named storms but if the Caribbean is hit again as badly as 2017 it should definitely be on the list, especially as the POTUS denies the existence of global warming, climate change and even air pollution. After all, ‘What do scientists know?’
There have been many lessons learned from Hurricane Irma. Many of the larger, crewed yachts have already made plans to sail away from projected tracks of impending dangerous storms. Large charter boat fleets don’t have that option but owners will be hit with increased insurance premiums, no doubt, and dry storage yards will likely increase fees, as will insurance companies. All of this will fuel inflation. We are already seeing huge increases in apartment rents through lack of availability, and price gouging in some restaurants is evident. What can we do? We either bite the bullet or leave. Charlie is in favor of the dual option – part time here and part time there. Charlie has been a Caribbean hand for over 40 years and it’s been fun. Hurricane Hugo, Gilbert, Andrew, Luis, Marilyn, David, Mitch. Earl and Frederick were all challenging with rain often being the biggest threat. That the islands all come through is a testament to the resiliency of Caribbean people. The ultimate test has been Irma and Maria and it may well be years before pre-Irma conditions are arrived at but we already see signs of carefree Caribbean life – the Spring Regatta in March/April was a resounding success. The Willy T (floating bar in the BVI) is back. Full moon parties are happening and sailing visitors are singing the praises of welcoming islanders and the great sailing conditions that are the hallmark of the Virgin Islands. Sailing holidays are almost like a drug. Even if the weather is terrible, winds high and the seas huge folks fall in love with the sailing lifestyle and just feel they must return – witness the yacht name Never Again 2. Shared adventure, even fear, builds strong bonds, and when all is over there’s a sense of achievement.
Recently Charlie was cruising the islands with a family, the principal couple and parents were not of the same ethnicity. During a very modest happy hour and trying to be discreet Charlie inquired of their heritage already assuming that Dad was from the Middle East and Mum from the Orient. “Are you from Mexico, Charlie asked?” A slight pause, “No I’m from Persia,” he said nebulously, and my wife is from Korea.” Eventually it transpired that Persia was actually Iran – they were both naturalized Americans and had been anxious for the promised freedoms of US life, which for them had not transpired. Sailing and eventually cruising was the perceived answer. It’s the answer for many of us!
Julian Putley is the author of The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI, Sunfun Calypso, and Sunfun Gospel.