Memories of the BVIs: dancing with my girl, Betty

Hurricane Irma has brought devastation to the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), decimating many of the areas that we enjoyed earlier this year. Cruisers have posted photos of boats crushed together. It is difficult to imagine how this once thriving group of islands will recover.

Six months ago I arrived to the customs dock in Road Harbour, BVIs. It was a bustling, happy place. My son, Paul, had an eye infection and we needed to see a doctor. Paul had no trouble scaling the high wall designed for ferries. Being nine years old, he jumped up to the customs dock and quickly distanced himself from me, taking in the scenery, as I assessed the best route to clamber.

I could create a collage of photos that focus on my skills at entering and exiting our dinghy. You could see me arriving on all fours in Puerto Rico, or face planting on my dinghy in the chic harbour in St. Martin. I’ve been told to “take it slow” or been encouraged “nearly there” by other cruisers.

The BVIs offered me a slightly more graceful entrance as two local men assumed the ready position, braced their sneakers, and each extended a burly arm to haul me from my dinghy.

From the onset, in the BVIs, I put my trust in two local strangers. Each man took one of my arms in his grasp and hauled. Even as I straightened myself from an ungainly squat position, and my son cast a side glance (with his good eye) in my direction, I felt immediately welcomed to the BVIs.

My son and I walked straight to immigration. Our customs agent began our paperwork, but quickly bypassed formalities and sent my son to the Peebles Hospital. He was diagnosed with acute conjunctivitis and was prescribed some eye drops. We returned to the customs office to finish our paperwork. Paul’s eye quickly improved, and we enjoyed our stay in the BVIs.

I adored the BVIs. Some cruisers complained that the BVIs are chock-full of charter boats, captained by people with limited experience. But, who on earth is happier than a bunch of holidaymakers? Sure, we saw some boats anchor in 25 feet of water with 30 feet of chain, but people seemed as happy as football fans at a tailgate party.

The BVIs saw me dancing with my oldest child, Betty (11) in a beach bar – busting my best moves in my ‘mom’ shorts. Here are some pictures from our night out with the kids at the Full Moon Party in Trellis Bay.

You can see the smiles fading in the last photograph. We are often in bed by 8:00pm. A night out is a rare event in the lives of the Escher family.

Here is a picture of our boat at the Marina Cay anchorage. I can’t recall exactly why we put out all of our fenders.

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I’m going to miss the BVIs. Hurricane Irma has affected these beautiful islands and the vibrant tourism business in ways that are difficult to comprehend.

Our family is now in Tobago. Before we left Grenada we seriously considered returning to the BVIs to bring donations and aid. But, the climate is unsettled. Desperate people do desperate things. Local people cautioned us that there is too much of a risk to safety, especially that we have four young children. The BVIs was fantastically beautiful and we feel fortunate to have experienced these wonderful islands and to have been met such amazing people.

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