Amid the widespread devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria when they swept across the northern Caribbean in September 2017, the destruction of the iconic Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands was particularly keenly felt by sailors.
The popular destination had been a magnet for visiting cruisers, racers and charterers since the 1960s, and a stopover there to enjoy a few rum drinks and a fine dinner was almost mandatory for passing sailors.
Such was the damage that the docks and waterfront buildings were swept away and the cottages sprawling down the hillsides to the beach all had to be demolished. It took some 20 months just to clear the 64-acre property of more than 100 ruined structures, and restore the beachfront and vegetation.
The good news now, though, is that work has finally started on “Bitter End 2.0,” as owner Richard Hokin nicknames it. By the end of the coming winter a rebuilt marina complex featuring docks, a restaurant, a market, retail store and a watersports center will be open for business, and in 2020 work will commence on rebuilding the resort accommodations.
Much of the debris from the hurricanes has been recycled into the new Bitter End, which is being designed to have a minimal environmental impact.
The impact of the hurricanes on the many local people who were employed at the Bitter End was mitigated by the Bitter End Foundation, which raised over $1m to help the community. The re-opening of the marina and resort is a big step forward in the regeneration of the BVI economy.