Well, I'm now on the lovely 'Froesie' and only going as fast as the boat bums want to go, which is not fast! The last week or so we've been island hopping, bay to bay, through the British and US Virgin Islands and are now in Puerto Rico. It's the first time i've come face-to-face with the destruction caused by September's Hurricanes Irma & Maria, which is breath-taking. Needless to say, the luxury resorts and second-homes are making quicker progress with reconstruction than the small towns i've seen - and progress in the USVI is also significantly quicker than in the BVI.
You can google Hurricane Irma damage and see the devastation wrought throughout the Virgin Islands, St Martin & Puerto Rico.
I spoke to someone who'd weathered the storm who said it was like having a jet engine outside your door for 8 hours, that you had to hold your nose and swallow to re-pressurise every minute or two and that the automatic toilet was flushing itself every now and then due to the pressure changes. But watching the windows flexing was more alarming than the toilet flushing.
On Monday 26th I woke up anchored in The Bight Bay, Norman Island. There's nothing on Norman Island other than an overpriced beach bar (presumably the famous 'Willie T' bar-on-a-boat sank - they're bringing a new, bigger one down from Canada), so we'd gone to bed early and I got up determined to go for a walk, check out the local wildlife and see if I could get wifi on land. In order to do this, I'd decided to pack shoes, phone, glasses and towel in a dry bag and snorkel to the shore. All fine, apart from the dry bag became a bagful of sea by the time i reached the shore, so there's a lack of photos accompanying this story! We washed the phone with freshwater, but after 2 days it was still dead. It's going to impact my ability to communicate a little bit.
But back to the walk. Having laid out everything to dry on the rocks, i found a track (now that I've got internet, I can see it's the only track on the island) and set off walking. There are butterflies everywhere - we'd already noticed them flying over the sea while we sailed around and it became less surprising when i came across clouds of them on land, feeding on the most amazing smelling aromatic bushes. The air was filled with the smell, it was fantastic.
Irma/Maria basically stripped the islands of practically everything green, palms were broken and uprooted, trees & bushes lost all their leaves. The islands went from being lush and verdant to stripped, brown, scrubby hills. And the beaches are covered in a thick layer of bleached coral that's been washed up. It's both beautiful and heartbreaking. And the next hurricane season is looking pretty scary already.