This is a post that has taken far too long to write, but given the enduring nature of events it is just as relevant now as when I meant to write it over a week ago.
One of the most heartwarming experiences of our expedition was the overwhelming hospitality and generosity of the very many people we came across along the way. So many people helped us out, took us in for a night, fed us, replaced broken kit, bought us a drink, gave us advice or just stopped to say hello that we both felt unbelievably humbled by the kindness. We also know that these experiences were not exclusive to our expedition but are a welcoming respite of explorers and travellers visiting new communities across the world.
We experienced great acts of kindness from start to finish, but in particular in St Martin and the BVIs. Sadly, in the past week these beautiful islands have been devastated by Hurricane Irma. Our thoughts go out to every single person on all of the islands that have been hit, The power of a category 5 hurricane is like nothing any of us can image and the destruction even more so...
There is something special about the island communities. The 'Island Factor' is very real and very strong. For example, after kayaking 50nm (casting off at 1am) from the Turks and Caicos through a rather breezy stretch we landed on the Family Island of Mayaguana - our port of entry into the Bahamas. After checking in at the customs office we made our way back down to the beach to start setting up our hammocks for the night. Soon after, a local walking along the beach asked what we were up to and after we had finished explaining insisted we could not possibly stay on the beach - "yeel be eaton alive mon" - and took us in, gave us dinner, a bed and sent us off with breakfast in the morning. He lived in a one bedroom bungalow with very little income but did not think twice about pulling us off the beach and ensuring we were well taken care of.
So many friends lives have been devastated by the storm...
The Bitter End, who very kindly let us stay after crossing the Anegada Passage, was devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Nanny Cay, who took very good care of us in the BVIs as well as replacing lots of our damaged and lost kit, despite suffering a lot of damage, have now taken in the HQ for the British Forces who have delployed to the islands to help with the relief effort and maintain order through this difficult time.
As Hurricane Maria develops and develops into another Category 5 storm, our thoughts are with you all.