Since our last update on September 28th we have moved forward in so many positive and encouraging ways. Firstly, so many thanks to those of you who donated to our TMM Staff Relief fund through our You Caring web-site. Due to the overwhelming generosity of our clients, yacht owners, and many personal friends, we have raised over $68,000 in support of our loyal and dedicated TMM BVI staff. We were able to purchase 10 generators, which have now been delivered to our employees, distributed much needed cash to those without housing, clothing, money to purchase food and basic supplies, funding for their children’s education, and much much more. The support was simply amazing and we are so grateful to each and every one of you. There will be more needs in the future so please continue to share our web-site with others: www.youcaring.com/tmmtortolastaff-952274
Our marina at Road Reef is certainly looking much more like a proper marina due to the tremendously hard work our TMM staff “on the ground” have been tirelessly undertaking. The roof has been replaced above the Doyle Sail Loft in the TMM building, the yachts have been “unpiled”, surveys are being completed, a repair schedule is in the works, plants are growing back, the grass is green and the water is blue!
WE ARE OFFICIALLY OPENING FOR OUR FIRST CHARTER POST-IRMA ON DECEMBER 7!
TMM IS BACK IN BUSINESS!
Following is a very informative link that continually is updating the opening dates for many of the bars and restaurants throughout the islands: https://www.bvitraveller.com
Please continue to check the TMM web-site for yacht availability. We will have some brand new yachts joining the fleet over the next few months, our yachts that suffered damage in Irma will be repaired as soon as possible, and we currently have 5 new “undamaged” yachts that we are chartering NOW!
Last but not least, more GREAT news! After seeking permission from the authors today, I would like to share with all of you a first-hand account below on the state of the entire BVI cruising ground (written earlier this month), by the owners of “Allende”, Kristiann and Graham Gips. “Allende” is a crewed yacht catamaran operating out of Dream Yacht Charters in the BVI. After reading the article below in its entirety you will immediately wish to return to our beautiful islands. It is very uplifting and so very encouraging! “BVI Strong” is truly an understatement! Many thanks to Kristiann and Graham for documenting such a fantastic account of their recent journeys through our beautiful BVI.
We all look forward to seeing you in the BVI in the near future. TMM will be better and stronger than ever thanks to the hard work, patience, and support of many.
“It’s no secret that the Virgin Islands have been hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It will be impossible to visit this season without being reminded of the storms. But that doesn’t mean that your long-planned vacation has to become a tour of devastation. The geography of the British Virgin Islands means these are still spectacular cruising grounds.
The physical damage in the islands is worst in areas of heavy development, whereas the natural wonders are mostly unaffected. Roadways on Tortola are in poor shape and you should allow extra time for taxi transfers. In Road Town, provisioning is unaffected; the local grocery stores and liquor stores are very well stocked. This includes fresh produce, imports and specialty items.
Bareboat charterers in the BVI should consider planning a slightly different itinerary than the ‘classic’ sailing routes. Our personal opinion follows:
Norman Island has long been a favorite stop for a night or two on charter, and this should not change. Neither The Club or Pirate’s Bight restaurants are currently open in The Bight, but construction crews are working on the restaurants during daytime hours. Another team is working to move the wrecked Willy T off the shore; it’s so deeply buried in the beach that it’s almost more of a marvel than an eyesore.
The Caves and the Indians are both still great snorkel spots. Mooring balls are available in The Bight, Kelly’s Cove, Privateer Bay and Soldier Bay. For those comfortable anchoring in deeper water or anchoring and tying a long line to shore, Benures Bay remains a peaceful spot.
There’s no change to Great Harbor’s many moorings, and it’s still a convenient stop near bareboat bases on the south side of Tortola. While Deadman’s Bay is still beautiful, the damage to Peter Island Resort property there is extensive. Crews are actively cleaning the property and we expect the view to improve quickly. The marina in Sprat Bay is currently closed.
Whelk Bay, White Bay and Key Bay are still nice, quiet anchorages in which to take cover from a northerly swell.
National Park Moorings are still in place at the RMS Rhone. The wreck of the Rhone is untouched. This is a great year to earn your scuba certification and put it to use.
Because of the amount of debris ashore we have struck this from our list of easy hikes for the time being.
Cooper Island Beach Club does not plan to reopen until April, as of now the property and the beach at Machioneel Bay is a construction site. Mooring balls are still available; we would favor the Cistern Point side for snorkeling. You can also anchor and enjoy the natural beauty at Hallovers Bay.
Bareboaters can reprovision at RiteWay East End—and use their convenient dinghy dock. Many wrecks ashore make this a practical but unattractive anchorage.
Support the local dive operators by arranging a dive at Ginger Island. Underwater life throughout the BVI are in good shape, with dive sites faring better than shallow snorkeling sites.
National Park moorings are for 90-minutes of day use only; but Fallen Jerusalem is worth a stop to snorkel. It’s an underwater version of the Baths, and the sea life here is spectacular.
Hurricane Irma washed Trellis Bay’s long-term live-aboards and abandoned boats ashore in Trellis Bay. While this renders the beach unusable, Trellis Bay is still a practical spot for airport pick-ups and drop-offs. Trellis Bay Market is serving both lunch and dinner and their convenience store will reopen in next few weeks.
Marina Cay is currently closed; no fuel, water or ice is available on the dock. The mooring field is untouched, but until the island is cleared and cleaned there are more attractive anchorages available. Scrub Island’s marina appears in relatively good shape but they are currently closed for assessment and repairs to the resort.
The Baths remain a 5-star attraction, as beautiful now as ever. Top of the Baths restaurant and bar is open and would make a great lunch stop.
We have not personally visited Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor but we understand that no resources (dock space, power and water) are currently available for cruisers.
Anchorages up the leeward side of Virgin Gorda are still pleasant. These include Savannah Bay, Long Bay and Mountain Point.
Leverick Bay Resort & Marina has made a big effort to reopen the bar, restaurant, Chef’s Pantry supermarket and the spa. Leverick Bay is the only attraction currently open in North Sound. No word yet on Michael Bean’s legendary “Happy Arrr” show. The Sandbox, Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the Fat Virgin Café are all currently closed. Unless you have an appetite for viewing hurricane damage, we recommend sailing around Prickly Pear island to the North to visit Eustatia Sound.
At this date, Eustatia Sound is a good alternative to North Sound. It has several stunningly beautiful anchorages. Cruisers should transit this area slowly, in good light and with a lookout posted on the bow.
Anegada was spared the worst of Hurricane Irma and is quickly repairing the damage. The channel markers are not on their pre-storm station but do mark a safe channel into the mooring field.
We’re giving Anegada two thumbs up and recommending that visitors spend two nights here to allow a full day exploring ashore. Almost every bar and restaurant plans to reopen for the Anegada Lobster Festival in late November.
Damage to the structures on Guana Island is visible from White Bay, where overnight moorings are available. National Park moorings are still in place at Monkey Point and snorkeling there is top-notch.
There is lots of clearing up left to do in Cane Garden Bay. Myett’s is scheduled to reopen by December, until they do we are not aware of any services open for cruisers.
Sandy Spit is both a beautiful stop, though it’s too exposed for an overnight anchorage. The mooring balls at Diamond Cay are still present, though building debris from the site of Foxy’s Taboo and B-Line Bar can be seen over the land.
Your friend Foxy is ready for your visit, and other establishments on Jost Van Dyke are working hard to do so. Current residents of the BVI are gathering in White Bay each Sunday for a flotilla and beach party—the home of the Painkiller lives on.
Soper’s Hole suffered significant damage to homes and marinas. Mooring balls are present and BVI Customs and Immigration services are available. Omar’s Cafe and Pusser’s Landing are both open; between the two restaurants you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
It’s only been a few weeks since the storms and the islanders have accomplished so much so far. Locations reported here will continue to change and improve. If your trip is planned in December 2017 or onwards, please search for current reports before adjusting your plans.
We personally envision many weeks of pleasant cruising in the BVI this season. Although there’s no denying that a massive hurricane season has knocked the islands down, they’re not out. Our interactions with service staff and local residents and have been incredible and you will surely feel a lift in your spirits when BVIslanders recognize you have chosen to spend your holiday with them.”
Prior to the storms we had 14 of our boats secured and ready at Road Reef and another 19 boats secured on our hurricane moorings in Paraquita Bay. Despite our efforts, a direct hit from Category 5 Irma caused catastrophic damage to the entire BVI. To add insult to injury, two weeks after Irma, Hurricane Maria passed just south of the BVI, also as a Category 5. Fortunately not much additional damage was caused, however Puerto Rico, our life-line to supplies and transport since Irma, has now suffered the same fate as the BVI.
Most of the boats in the TMM fleet are damaged, some more than others. The good news is that since the storm we have already managed to extract 10 yachts from Paraquita and another 3 that should come out once heavy equipment has moved some of the other charter companies’ boats that were destroyed. Nine boats in our marina are floating but unfortunately all boats in our marina lost their rigs. We hope that at least 8 boats will be repairable within a relatively short period of time. We were also fortunate that we had one new Lagoon 450 down island that is fine and 4 other new boats that will be arriving in the BVI to join the fleet in the next couple of months. We have already heard from interested charterers who wish to book yachts in the future through TMM, which is great news!
We are currently working towards re-opening the TMM base at Road Reef. It is our goal to start sending out charters by mid-December. We understand that electricity and water will soon be restored to our Road Harbour location, thus enabling businesses to rebuild and function properly as soon as possible.
We have kept a core team of 9 TMM employees in the BVI to deal with the aftermath of the hurricane damage and they have been working tirelessly to salvage the yachts and begin the necessary works to enable TMM to be fully functional. TMM Managing Director, Barney Crook and I have evacuated temporarily to TMM’s USA Stateside Office to direct operations from there as communication thus far in the BVI has been severely hampered. Future charter bookings, cancellations and the rearranging of yacht schedules are currently being dealt with by Barney and Karen in the USA office. We can be reached at 1-800-633-0155 Monday – Friday. Additionally, Barney and I, along with Don Pietrykowski, our yacht salesman, will be at the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis October 5 – 9 so please stop by and say hello.
Barney Crook has owned TMM and been contributing to the BVI community for over 3 decades. The TMM team has been a significant force in the development of the tourism industry in the BVI. You can rest assured that TMM will be moving onward and upward to once again be one of the leading charter companies in the charter industry.
Many of you have asked how you can assist TMM. Two of our TMM yacht owners have set up a YouCaring TMM funding site to help support our dedicated staff, some of whom have been employed by TMM for over 25 years. Pre Hurricane Irma, TMM employed 20+ people, most of whom have lost their homes and possessions in this storm, and with the devastation of the tourist industry, have also now lost their livelihoods. Please consider contributing to this cause: www.youcaring.com/tmmtortolastaff-952274 We have now assessed our staff’s needs and will begin distributing funds and many essential items to our staff this week. xsTo those of you who have already donated, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Many of you have asked about our Joyce * (who is the only staff member we have not been in touch with), and as soon as we hear from Joyce we will be letting everyone know. She was on holiday in St. Maartin during Irma staying with friends. We remain confident that in true Joyce fashion, she will magically appear at TMM in the near future and be ready to make her "infamous" coffee and look after our charter guests with her ever-present beautiful smile and kind-hearted nature. Please continue to keep Joyce in your prayers.
Despite TMM Yacht Charters tireless efforts to prepare for Hurricane Irma, no one could have anticipated this unprecedented storm and the catastrophic damage it would cause, not just to the BVI, but to many of our neighboring islands. Please keep the people of all of the islands affected in your thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for your patience as we move forward towards our goal of re-building TMM. Please continue to check our website www.sailtmm.com to review the yachts and their schedules as they become available for charter. As we progress we will do our best to keep you updated, please be patient.
Rest assured TMM will be back, better and stronger than ever!
TMM Yacht Charters