Prepping for sailing across the Atlantic seemed daunting. Was Alembic ready? Were we ready? You can have adverse weather or boat problems in any harbor or sea, but we wanted to be ready to be completely self sufficient for a month, even though the longest passage, Bermuda to Açores would probably only take fifteen days. One concern was that we may need a third person if either Bill or I were to become fatigued, injured, or seasick.
After many emails and Skype visits, we decided that Liz seemed the best fit. We invited her to sail with us for a week to try it out. She would fly into St Martin and depart from St Thomas, giving her a chance to experience Alembic at sea as well as in harbors.
When Liz arrived, we barely gave her a chance to get to know us or Alembic before leaving the calm lagoon and sailing two hours to Anguilla. Here we anchored in a very rolly anchorage for ten hours and tried to sleep before a 3am departure for the Virgin Islands. Knowing that the trip would take about 14 hours, we left early enough to ensure a daylight arrival. This was quite a test for Liz. The wind was perfect but we had a huge swell coming from storms well to our north. Even though this was a rough ride, Liz remained eager to continue. First test: Passed!
Coming around Virgin Gorda was a sweet ending to our tiring day. Here we found calm water and Planet Waves! A few minutes after anchoring, we invited Johnny and Shelley to join us on Alembic for a dinner. Of course, Bonnie was invited as well.
The rest of Liz’s week was much calmer as we sailed around the BVI’s, visiting places we all had enjoyed previously with our families. First we sailed to Spanish Town to clear into customs, then on to the Baths, Marina Cay, Scrub Cay, Jost Van Dyke, Soper’s Hole, Nanny Cay, Cow Bay, Normans, Maho, Caneel, and Red Hook. Saddened by the constant evidence of devastation from Hurricane Irma, we managed to have a lot of fun and were grateful to these communities who are working hard to rebuild. Patronizing the shops and restaurants is what they need most right now, so we did just that!
Liz headed for the airport eager to return in a month for a much bigger adventure!
We had a few days between Cay and George’s departure and Liz’s arrival. While we at times felt overwhelmed with the projects we wanted to do on Alembic, surveying our neighbors’ vessels put everything into perspective. We were doing preventative maintenance and boat improvements, while so many other folks were facing far larger tasks.
Bill and I had heavy hearts when we dinghied around the lagoon and witnessed the devastation of so many boats and land structures. People had thought this landlocked lagoon would provide protection from the storms, but Hurricane Irma could not to be tamed by mountains or seawalls. Winds of almost 200 miles per hour slammed the island and in the next two weeks Hurricanes Jose and Maria dumped heavy rains on all the damage. Many people are still waiting to see what insurance is available. Huge amounts of debris, on land and in the lagoon, still sits untouched.
Hearing the stories of the locals was moving. Everyone was affected. Neighbors were helping neighbors, schools had resumed, businesses were being rebuilt. But some folks were simply giving up. Those with money could walk away and start again here or elsewhere, leaving their ruined properties where they lay.
One woman, Leandra, lost her family restaurant and found out that the insurance didn’t exist after all. With her husband, two year old, and baby on the way, she made the best of it and started a wonderful business selling food and drinks on the beach! Leandra was full of positivity and hope for her beloved island.
Alembic sits among the destruction and we are so very grateful for all we have.