Hurricanes and People

It has been so difficult watching the pictures online. The wake Hurricane Irma left behind is a sad, sick image revealing broken boats, uprooted trees, smashed cars, lost homes and destroyed towns. The upheaval that the people in the Caribbean are experiencing is unfathomable. They’re hardy people, and they’ve been here before. We heard their stories firsthand when we traveled there last year. They told us how previous storms shaped their landscape and their lives.

But this time it’s different because I recognize these places. I can look through my photos and see the warm colourful streets and beautiful beaches in a time when they were idyllic. The broad smiles and friendly welcomes of the Caribbean people. I know people who live there year round, families who keep their boats here, who have businesses and family homes, year-round.

Looking at the pictures and knowing what they looked like before Irma rolled through, is eye opening and humbling. As cruisers, we romanticize life in the Caribbean. We show our friends and family ideal sailing conditions, constant sunshine, 29 degrees everyday, beautiful beaches and lovely restaurants and bars. There’s obviously a downside to living in this part of the world and nature showed us why this week.

I cannot tell you how sad I feel for the friends who have lost boats, businesses, houses and livelihoods. It’s hard to watch the videos and pictures that are seeping into social media. At 2am on Tuesday night I awoke and searched every app I had access to to see what was happening in the Caribbean. The image that sticks in my mind is the radar picture of Irma swallowing the small island of Barbuda.

My mind constantly returns to a family who was moored in front of us in The Lagoon in St. Martin many times this week. There was six of them living aboard and they had been there for a while. The young boy would take his dinghy out everyday and hoist his sail, teaching himself how to handle a boat. I talked to his 14-year old sister at Lagoonies and she told me about her life and her plans of the future. She told me about her family too, where they’d been, and where they planned to go. She was worldly, yet naive, but so sweet! I’ve thought about them often this week and wonder how they fared. Their boat was their home, their refuge. It’s all they had to call their own. It’s probably not there anymore but I hope they managed to find a safe place somewhere to wait out the storm.

I’m not sure why I had to write this blog, but maybe it’s a reminder to me and the rest of us that behind all the horrid pictures and the media stories and the social media posts, there are people like you and me, who are experiencing a hellish time, and they may need a prayer or a kind thought, or a donation to get them through.

Author: tess

We, Al my husband, Filbert my cat and I, sailed our 37-foot Tartan to the Caribbean from Newfoundland in 2016-2017. We documented it on our blog, Today I continue to write about sailing, improve my photography skills, practice graphic design and dream about sailing.

5 thoughts on “Hurricanes and People”

  1. Re: hurricane Maria

    Tess, I met you in Dominica, travelled with friend on s/v Tovarish. I, too have fond memories of Dominica and our trip to market and local food prep. I came across this page which has provided some info of aftermath from Hurricame Maria. Little info is getting out but Apparently it is very bad. Cruisers know many of P.A.Y.S. boys (Alexis, Martin & Floriann and others) so hope we hear they are all safe.


    1. Hi Lorraine, I remember you well😊 Thanks so much for the link. I have such fond memories of Dominica and feel so sad for the people. They were so warm and welcoming to Dominica. And proud of their beautiful island. It was my favourite of all the islands we visited. I hope they can rebound quickly. Best regards

  2. More and more, these disasters help us to realize how blessed we are, living in our wonderful country. Really, most of us have no idea what it’s like to live through a disaster like Irma. As Canadians, we complain, “too hot, too cold, too windy, too dry…
    I pray that your little boat family and friends were given ample warning and found a safe refuge.

  3. Tess I feel your emotion and can understand the feeling of looking back and realizing how life can change so quickly. Travelling in Christ Church, New Zealand, a few years ago I witnessed an earthquake one day later while sitting in an airport; the same street where I had walked the day before. It was completely destroyed. We are living in God’s country where these disasters are so far from reality.

    God Bless Gladys

  4. Yes, Tess – it is, indeed, sad! Ed and I were in Nassau, St. Thomas’s and St. John – those were so beautiful places – feel so sorry for them – and now Florida – nature can be beautiful but yet a beast! Keep praying no lives will be lost.

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