Hurricane Irma Update – How You Can Help

Posted: Fri, Sep 15, 2017

Firstly, thank you to everyone for understanding why we have not been able to publish regular updates about the British Virgin Islands.

With this blog I hope to get everyone up to speed and provide a couple of options for those who feel they would like to help.

Once Hurricane Irma had left the BVI, she had her sights firmly set on Florida. Initially this was to be an east coast event, but the model plots kept shifting west until a direct strike somewhere around our home town of Sarasota was forecast. While still dealing with all of our responsibilities in the BVI, we scrambled to get our homes and our office prepped for the storm. Once complete, most of our staff then evacuated from Florida. We got lucky; very lucky indeed, returning to homes that were whole on Tuesday so that we could get the office open on Wednesday.

While Irma has gone, the scars she left are deep. The BVI has been heavily damaged and every day more heartbreaking photos of the places we love surface. The good news is that injury and loss of life is minimal, but so many of our extended BVI family have lost everything. Travis and the Ocean Star crew are still in the Territory, splitting their time between cleaning up Ocean Star and our other gear, and assisting with humanitarian aid. They have cleared land, cut roads and effected medical evacuations. They also succeeded in navigating Ocean Star around the wreckage out of Road Harbour last night, returning to our home in West End.

Many of you have reached out to us asking how you can help, so one of the things I have been doing is speaking to those on the ground to determine what will make the biggest difference in the shortest time. Food, water and medications are starting to make their way into the community, and security is also improving with the increasing numbers of British Forces. With basic needs starting to be met, we want to focus our efforts on the local community of Sopers Hole and, in particular, those small businesses that have lost everything. Sopers Hole has been our home in the BVI since 1987 and this area has sustained huge damage, so weve set up a small fund where 100% of those donations will go directly to those people hit hardest. Our goal is to help get their livelihoods rebuilt. Without them, the vibrant, friendly waterfront community of Frenchmans Cay would be nothing.

If you would like to give financially to our Helping to Rebuild Sopers Hole fund, here is a link to the You Caring website:

For those of you who would like to support wider relief efforts, The Red Cross site is taking donations:

Ive also been contacted by many who say they would physically like to help. Although we dont have specifics on this just yet, one opportunity that may arise is to help our friends at Sunsail and Moorings start to salvage their vessels and clean up the waters. Tourism will kick start everything back to life and the BVI is the charter yacht capital of the world. If we can help get people back out on the water, then the communities that support those yachts can also start to rebuild. Additionally, working alongside a company such as the Moorings provides a solid infrastructure for those on island. I will have more information on this a little later on, but for now anyone interested in donating their time can register that interest using the following form on our website:

And what of GoBeyond, AQ, and Sea|mester? Well have Ocean Star repaired and ready to go by the end of January 2018, and with nine months ahead of us we expect our 2018 summer season to be as strong as ever. As most of you know, our programs are very self sufficient in the BVI while on the water, so even if all of the leaves have not grown back by this coming June, well still be able to contribute to the BVI while providing fantastic programs for our students.
Well try to update you all when there is more news to pass along. In the meantime well keep our hearts aimed towards our friends in the British Virgin Islands.

– Mike

Wind Shadow Staff Update Day 17

Posted: Tue, Aug 15, 2017

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Simon, Kayleigh, and Ben
Session three has flown by and it is now the last day. The staff and shipmates on Wind Shadow have had an amazing time sailing around the beautiful islands of the BVI, where shipmates were able to receive new qualifications. As well as sailing, our shipmates also squeezed in some diving along the way. Some completed their PADI Open Water Diver course and others were able to complete their Advanced Open Water Diver Course, including Boat and Fish ID specialties. Congratulations to our new PADI Divemasters. They were fantastic DMTs and are now on their first step of their professional diving career. Big shout to all the shipmates on board Hannah, Parker, Mat, Caroline, Jonny, Jack, Ale, Soleil, Ewa, Morgan, Jessica, Leela who have become a little family on board our home away from home, bringing constant laughter and adventure the entire trip. We will be very sad to see these amazing shipmates leave. Everyone worked incredibly hard whilst making the most out of this experience. Until next year, session three Wind Shadow signing out! date: Aug 15, 2017

Squeakybrat Staff Update Day 17

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Griffin, Andy, and Emma
Griffin, Emma, and Andy have ended the summer at AQ sailing around the BVI onboard with 11 shipmates, who have all come together to form the Squeakybrat family. We’ve been on the water for 17 days now, running two programs- Vega and Quest. Ali and Max have done amazing things on Quest, joining GoBeyond to go turtle tagging, and also doing projects like painting a local school in need of some TLC. Oliver and Ben brought their small boat sailing knowledge and continued to learn and grow on the bigger boats, always with big smiles on their faces. Liam has kept everyone onboard laughing with his great impressions and big wealth of knowledge. Jack’s big personality has brought everyone together, bringing the fun to everything from scuba diving to washing the dishes. Ava has a caring nature that helped this boat to become the family it has become, always with a smile on her face and her famous laugh ringing around to pick everyone up. Grace has found a new passion for Pico sailing, and has taken that passion to all the watersports we have done. Tessa and Loriane have become junior open water scuba divers, taking naturally to the underwater world. Mikki has showcased her skills on program, trying everything we have to offer her and leading the way on beach acrobatics. We can’t believe these 17 days have gone by so fast, they have been action-packed with adventure. We now have certified scuba divers and certified sailors exploring all the sights around the BVI on land and underwater- we’ve been sailing, diving, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, Pico sailing, snorkeling, and hiking. We’ve had beach BBQs in between race days, we’ve woken up for sunrises and fallen asleep under the stars. We’ve cooked, lived, and laughed our way through these truly beautiful days. As we finish up and say our farewells, we sure can say we gave it our all, and we walk away with amazing experiences. date:Aug 15, 2017

Sambamba Staff Update Day 17

Location: West End
Author: Shannon, Ashley, and George
We can’t believe Sambamba is back on the dock in West End and our adventure is over! It’s been a wild ride with a ton of happy memories shared and experiences gained. We have grown together as a team and a family. The three of us will miss our 12 awesome shipmates! Jared joined us having already done a session this summer and has been helping everyone from day one. We have enjoyed Carolina’s sense of humor and Luna’s eagerness to learn. Kenny’s amazing wakeboarding will be remembered, as well as Emmi’s cheerful nature and singing. We will miss Rachel’s happiness and smile, Alex’s favorite parts of the day, Callie’s cooking skills and Pharaoh’s expert sailing. Throughout our journey, the team loved playing Ariela’s games and hearing Gabe’s funny words of wisdom. We loved hearing about Nolan’s pies and hope to try them one day. A huge thank you to everyone on board Sambamba for an incredible 17 days…feel the rhythm, feel the ride, come on Sambam it’s sailing time! date:Aug 15, 2017

Sailing Curls Staff Update Day 17

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Gwen, Kelly, Austin
Session 3 on Curls has been quite the adventure. We had so many personalities who shared great stories and created even greater memories. We will miss each shipmate dearly. Sofia B., Sofia C., Eric, and Carson all completed their open water certification with flying colors. Ian, Kaleigh, Gaby, and Adam accomplished their advanced open water certifications, plus three specialties. Cason, Kai, and Chloe earned their advanced open water certification plus two specialties. Chloe, our advanced sail student, led the crew on sail raises and man overboard drills. We are so proud of all of them!. All in all, we can’t believe it has been 17 days. We will miss the Curls third session crew dearly. date: Aug 15, 2017

Bella Vita Staff Update Day 17

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Shona, Mike, and Hannah
Here we are back in West End! It’s amazing how quickly the past 17 days have gone by. It seems like just yesterday we were pulling off the dock with 15 strangers, but here we are saying goodbye to our happy, crazy family. Ella- the past three days haven’t been the same without your vibrant smile. Natalie, your knowledge, and helpfulness were always appreciated onboard. Kyle, your leadership, and shenanigans constantly brought a smile to our faces. Alex, your positivity, and photography skills have saved our butts on multiple occasions when we forgot to take them ourselves. Chrissy, your singing always brought joy to the boat and we hope to hear you on the airwaves someday. Russell, your inquisitive nature, and questions always made us rethink the things we thought we knew. Declan, your kind heart, and storytelling brought us through a lot of the early rainstorms. Rayyan, your goofy attitude, and easy laugh always lightened the mood onboard and your love/hate relationship with the ‘cudas was always hilarious. Heather, your love for your shipmates was inspiring, and you were such a strong shoulder for them to lean on. Nate, your jokes were fantastic and even though your Questing may have taken you away from us at times, you were always such a huge presence for us onboard. Jackson, your easygoing attitude, and love for diving and sailing were contagious onboard. AJ, you’re such a great friend and companion to all of us onboard, it wouldn’t have been the same without you. We all started this trip unsure of ourselves and each other, but it only took a few days, a little rain, and a whole lot of fun for us to come together in a way we’ll never forget. With love, the Bella Vita crew. date:Aug 15, 2017

Aeolus Staff Update Day 17

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Ian, Jay, and Maddy
It has been 16 days since we met one another on the docks at West End. In that time we have circumnavigated the island of Tortola and dove beneath its breathtaking waters. Jake and Caleb have been exceptional leaders on board and really got into commanding the crew and pressing as much speed from the sails as possible. Kavya has been a fantastic sailor as well and has kept morale among the crew high with delicious pancakes. Sean was equally as adept at keeping morale high with his humorous attitude. He took after Jake’s “two and a Rick Flair” cheer and always looked for opportunities to get the crew going. Jackson and Trey were the energizer bunnies of the group and took to the winches to grind out all of that extra juice. Madison was the expert on the trendiest new hit songs of the summer and had some fantastic suggestions. Lauren and Sam became the closest of friends and shared many laughs, even at 11 pm. Brandon and Vincenzo made a bond early on. They became excellent divers and loves staying up into the late hours of the night swapping stories and learning from each other. Alexa was our skipper on the beach final sail and brought us across the finish line in Boston style. All become great divers over the course of the trip and have experienced their first breaths underwater, as well as their first shipwreck. It has been a delightful voyage full of growth and adventure. date:Aug 15, 2017

Last Day At Sea

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Loriane B.
We started the day by eating cereal and oatmeal. We then quickly prepared for our final sailing race. All the boats lined up on the starting line before sailing away. Unfortunately Squeakybrat came in last. After the race we began to clean the boat. Everyone worked hard to make the boat look as good as it did when we first arrived. The day ended with our last ActionQuest BBQ at West End. Everyone is excited to come back home and see family, but sad to leave this amazing place. date:Aug 14, 2017

The Finish Line

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Jessica M.
Today is our last full day together! We woke up and ate a wonderful breakfast and started to get ready for our race. We began our race in Norman Island and finished in third place at the finish line at Peter Island. We headed to West End, but we had to pack and clean on the way there. We had a great lunch together and realized this is our last lunch as a boat family. Later we started to break down the program. After a fantastic dinner, we did our last squeeze. It was a wonderful experience and everyone is going home a changed person if they know it or not. date:Aug 14, 2017

Our Final Day

Location: West End, Tortola
Author: Kaleigh O.
Today was the last full day of our trip, which means it was time to pack up and clean the boat. We started the day around 7 am with oatmeal for breakfast, then proceeded to prepare for the final sailing race. Everyone made a team effort to lift the mainsail and then get the jib out. We sailed from Norman Island to the channel markers in front of Road Town and then to Peter Island. After the race, it was time to clean the boat. I cleaned the head as the rest of my cabinmates cleaned the cabin. As we were cleaning we motored over to West End to drop off the ActionQuest gear and give Sailing Curls a nice spray down. Once we arrived at the dock we had a nice pizza party on the boat. Let’s just say it was nice to have some pizza after going about three weeks without it. We then had some shore time which was followed by a BBQ at Pusser’s. Towards the end of the day, everyone started to realize that it would soon be time to say goodbye. Throughout the trip, everyone made so many new bonds and memories and it seems crazy that we will all be on a plane ride home in a few hours. We shared moments together just simply getting to know each other, or moments when Ian officially got his nickname. And the time Eric almost fell off the boat while setting up hammocks and Gwen opened up a hatch to tell us all to be quieter. Good times. Now that the trip is coming to a close, I can look back and appreciate all the memories that we’ve made and all the new friends I have. So the last day was a good one, especially since we had an opportunity to give back to Sailing Curls by cleaning the boat together. I’d say the trip was a major success. date:Aug 14, 2017