Bitter End Buzz

Bitter End Buzz

Author Archives: Bitter End Editor

Bringing Back Bitter End | The Shops

November 1, 2019 4:12 pm

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Dear Friends of Bitter End,
It’s hard to believe that just over two years ago Hurricane Irma ripped through the BVI, her eye passing directly over Bitter End. The recent devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas is a chilling reminder of the destructive power of these storms, and the damage and heartache that they can cause to a community. Thankfully the human spirit is resilient, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the BVI’s recovery; we are heartened and inspired by our partners, friends, and neighbors who have rebuilt (and are rebuilding) homes, schools, docks, restaurants and hotels, and more.

As many of you know, we have been on the road this summer and fall with the Bitter End Rambler—our “land yacht”—hitting regattas, boat shows, and other events along the Eastern Seaboard. It’s been great to connect with so many familiar faces and meet new ones! Along the way, we often get the question “what’s taking so long?” Rest assured, we’re at it! This project is a lot more like rebuilding a small town than a hotel…it’s a big job!

The property is now totally cleaned up and we’ve built new roads, infrastructure, a building pad for the village, and a new Quarterdeck dock. At the same time, we’ve helped mother nature along to reestablish the natural shoreline (our beaches are awesome) and we can say that it’s a great joy to see our magical island outpost coming back to life. All exciting progress that brings us closer to the much-anticipated day when we can look out on our anchorage filled with friends, old and new, from around the globe.

We’re approaching Bitter End 2.0 in much the same way Myron & Bernice (our parents/grandparents) developed the property 50 years ago—our initial focus is on the waterfront including the marina and village. This phase will include watersports, docks, moorings, and marina facilities, alongside shopping and dining. And there will be plenty of cool spots to enjoy Painkillers and killer sunsets.

The shops that dotted our nautical village have always been an important part of Bitter End, and cultivating that shopping experience with unique finds and hidden treasures was a favorite pastime of the matriarch of our family, Bernice, and her spirited sister-in-law Zelma.

As those who have spent time at sea well know, thoughtful provisioning is key to a happy crew and successful voyage. As part of Bitter End 2.0, we’re excited to introduce our new and improved general store, the Bitter End Market. We’ll feature garden-grown produce, fresh caught local seafood, and Chef Henry’s prepared dishes, punctuated by gourmet treats and an array of wines, spirits and other beverages, all topped off by Winston’s world-famous key lime pie and other bakery magic. 2.0 will also see the return of the Reeftique boutique featuring island-style fashion alongside Bitter End’s own line of seaworthy goods.

During the past two years, with your support, we have invested a lot in helping our local community get back on its feet and become stronger and more resilient. We’ve provided grants for job skills training, youth enrichment and education, environmental stewardship and other programs critical to the long-term success and vitality of the BVI. We’ll provide a more detailed review of our philanthropic activities later this fall, but in the meantime many thanks to all who have supported us and the Bitter End Foundation, a US 501(c)(3).

Whether you’re a past resort guest, boat visitor, social media follower, or Provisions purchaser, thanks for being our mainstay during this journey – we could not make this comeback without you! The Bitter End family looks forward to welcoming you back! #BringBackBitterEnd

Until then…Fair Winds,
The Hokins & the Bitter End Crew

Introducing BVI Youth to the Undersea World

August 6, 2019 3:44 pm

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It’s no secret. Tourism in the BVI revolves around being in, on, under, or around the water. But it’s less well known that many people in the BVI, despite living and working on or near the water, can’t swim. And therefore can’t snorkel, can’t dive and often don’t truly understand the importance of the wonderful underwater world to their country. It is important that we in the marine sector (scuba, watersports, sailing, etc.) expose the young people of the BVI to diving and maybe even create future dive masters or instructors.


With that idea in mind, BEYC-based Sunchaser Scuba (with the support of UNITE BVI, BEYC, and host Leverick Bay) set up a kids snorkel/dive program throughout the month of July. Sunchaser Scuba organized a scuba camp for kids aged 8 and up which consisted of 3 intensive (but fun) afternoons.

The first day the participants were introduced to snorkeling, starting in the pool, then in the shallows along the shoreline of Leverick Bay. This was a day dedicated to emphasizing the importance of our ocean and how amazing being in and under the water can be.

On the second day the kids learned the precepts of scuba diving much like a visiting guest would, and then practiced what they learned in the pool with dive equipment and instructors.

On the 3rd day the participants went on a real dive to a maximum depth of 40ft.

The photos here capture the enthusiasm these children came away with.

And BEYC was proud to partner with Sunchaser – the plan is to continue this wonderful initiative when the resort re-opens.

A New Beginning for Bitter End. Chapter 1. The Quarterdeck Marina

May 21, 2019 3:43 pm

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Dear Friends of Bitter End,

Myron and Bernice Hokin, my grandparents, sailed into North Sound in the late 1960s aboard their North Sea ketch, Alianora, and headed for the Sound’s best anchorage. They were surprised to find that, since their previous visit in 1964, on its shoreline stood a tiny yachting outpost consisting of a small dock, a rustic bar and restaurant and a handful of simple, sparsely-finished “cottages” whose minimal amenities did not include hot water. The place was called The Bitter End. It had been established by Basil Symonette, a pioneer Virgin Islands charter skipper.

Over several years, Grandmother and Granddad returned to North Sound and Bitter End many times in Alianora; sometimes my dad, Richard, and my uncle Will were aboard. Each time they fell more and more in love with North Sound and Bitter End – its remoteness; its pristine deep-water anchorage protected by miles of untouched reef and uninhabited islands and shoreline; and its friendly local community, Gun Creek. After several years of discussion with Basil over cocktails leading up to somewhat unorthodox negotiations, our family became Bitter End’s new owner.

I arrived on planet earth a few years after my family had staked out this slice of paradise—I’m pretty sure that my first visit to Bitter End was in utero. Growing up in such a wondrous place remains an awesome gift to this day. At Bitter End, my siblings (Dana, Ali & Justin) and I were free to explore far-and-wide. We spent hours upon hours searching miles of sandy shoreline for shells, crabs, and other critters; and more hours snorkeling the endless reefs surrounding North Sound where we discovered an amazing world beneath the sea. I spent many afternoons crouched on the back of a windsurfer while my brother and I drifted downwind, all the way to Gun Creek, where we would be picked up by local friends and safely returned to BEYC (lucky for us, no one ever seemed to notice when we went missing). For us kids, Bitter End was and still is nirvana.

We kids were far too busy messing about in boats and poking around North and Eustatia Sounds to notice that Bitter End was growing—adding more buildings, docks, and crew members—and that many more visitors were catching on to what a magical place we had been sharing with our family and friends. (For all of you nostalgic Caribbean and Bitter End aficionados, you can learn more about the history of Bitter End and the Quarterdeck Marina recalled here by my dad.)

Fast forward to September of 2017. Back home in Connecticut on the shores of Long Island Sound, our team watched anxiously as the dangerous tropical system, which would become “Irma,” developed in the Eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Irma continued to grow in strength as she barreled down on the Lesser Antilles and eventually made a direct landfall in the BVI. Her eye scored a direct hit on Bitter End. In about five hours on the morning of September 6, 2017, Irma levelled what had taken our family and our community nearly 50 years to build. Thankfully, and most importantly, every one of our Virgin Gorda team safely weathered this harrowing experience.

Even though Irma was a devastating blow to us and so many others throughout the BVI and elsewhere in the Caribbean, we remained steadfast in our determination that no storm of any category could extinguish Bitter End’s spirit. From the moment we set foot ashore at Bitter End, a day and a half after Irma, we were determined to turn a disaster into an opportunity; to do things smarter, better, and in a way that would make all of us better stewards of Bitter End’s exquisite natural environment; to create a more resilient and sustainable Bitter End well into the future; and, most important, to do all this in a way that sticks to Bitter End’s history, traditions, character and extraordinary spirit.

Thus we began to plot the course for Bitter End’s future. Getting underway meant that the course’s first leg would be to focus on the well-being of our team and the local community struggling with devastation and hardship on a scale that no one, not even true “old-timers,” could get their arms around. Our first objective was to embark on a major fundraising campaign and begin to identify ways in which we could help the recovery process. We remain grateful to all those who supported that effort and continue to support our efforts to repair and to strengthen the Virgin Gorda community. You can find updates on our latest philanthropic projects and our Provisions for Good program here.

Once the community began to stabilize, our mission shifted to planning for our property’s future starting with our roots as a yachtsman’s hangout. Our plan for Bitter End 2.0 begins with a focus on the heart and soul of Bitter End – visiting yachts, yachtsmen and yachtswomen. Our moorings and docks will be back, along with an all-new marina lounge with amenities. The Clubhouse will return as a casual waterfront restaurant and one-of-a-kind beach bar. There will be watersports and beach services with a new Club Fleet. The Reeftique fashion boutique will return to Bitter End Village along with a General Store offering gourmet provisioning, and we have other fun surprises up our sleeves for the 2019-2020 season.

The marina’s centerpiece will be an open-air, two-story marina building with outdoor seating and a lounge with fabulous views of the comings and goings in North Sound. This gathering spot will be a one-of-a-kind venue where our marina guests and yacht club members can gather for rum punches, sunsets and celebrations of all stripes. There will be an array of full private bathing facilities for the exclusive use of our marina guests, enhanced WIFI, shore power and other amenities to make sure your stay at the marina or in our mooring field will be convenient, comfortable and, above all, fun.

We have been asked many times, “Is Bitter End going to be different?” or “Is Bitter End going to be exactly as it was prior to the storm?” Hurricane Irma didn’t leave us with an easy answer to either question. What Irma left us with was an unwavering commitment to Bitter End’s spirit and character. We also know that following every storm the sun shines again, and a new horizon reveals itself, or as Myron liked to say, “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.” We share with you a passion for Bitter End’s history and its unique vibe and character. You are our community, and we’re all on the same page. We have and always will be a welcoming and inclusive port of call and adventure-land for everyone who loves nature, the sea, messing about in boats and the camaraderie that goes with adventure and exploration.

Our family looks forward to the fourth generation of Hokins growing up at Bitter End, and we hope that you and your kids will sign on as shipmates for this exciting voyage! — Lauren Hokin

The Quarterdeck Marina…Eye on the Past, Looking to the Future!

May 14, 2019 5:14 pm

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Even before it was Bitter End, North Sound’s breezy, calm northeast corner was a hardcore yachtsmen’s hangout, the indisputable best anchorage just about anywhere. The only requirements to hang out were being able to sail there from somewhere else and competently deploy proper ground tackle; to have the resources on board to make cocktails, plus a galley equipped and provisioned to feed the crew; and finally, to have a dinghy along that could be beached on the nearby deserted shore.

Then, a renegade charter skipper, Basil Symonette, came along and started to change everything. He got his hands on 30+ acres at John O’Point, built a proper bar and restaurant a few meters from the shoreline and added a short jetty that could accommodate his own boat and a few visiting dinghies. He also put down a handful of moorings, totally eliminating any need for self-reliance. He called it Bitter End and its shock waves would lead to immutable changes in BVI yachting.

When we Hokins showed up in Alianora at Bitter End and unsuspectingly bought the place, our expectation was simply to have a family retreat in a spectacular place with awesome opportunities to do what we loved. We fully expected to maintain the Basil-era status quo. What Basil cunningly had forgotten to disclose to his credulous buyers was the existence of a cabal based in Tortola, led by Jack Van Ost (CSY Charters) and Charley and Ginny Cary (Moorings). They collectively sensed that Basil’s Bitter End portended the breakdown of BVI yachting’s old order.

Striking swiftly, they invented something that would forever change BVI yachting – the bareboat charter industry. Bareboating was indeed iconoclastic. One now could cruise the BVI without first having your own boat and beating it up during a 1,500-mile open ocean passage; or without taking the expensive chance of a traditional Virgin Islands charter yacht that came with 20 years’ worth of mildew, leaky decks, a disagreeable skipper, a surly crew and a terrible cook. It suddenly became possible to be your own skipper in paradise for a week or two, no strings attached. Proof that Jack, Charley and Ginny were on to something was the BVI bareboat fleet’s hyperbolic growth during the late ‘70s. More and more sailors were discovering North Sound and the anchorage in its northeast corner.

The seeds of Bitter End’s marina already had been planted when Myron decided Alianora needed a berth alongside Bitter End’s waterfront. That called for a dock that could handle a 72-foot, 100-ton yacht with 9-foot draft, the first iteration of what’s now known as “A” Dock. Around the same time, the first “marina building” was built as a combination boat-shop/storeroom plus a marine laboratory searching for the organism that caused ciguatera. After a few years, the structure was enlisted to house Bitter End’s Trading Post, a career cut short by Irma.

It didn’t take long for us to discover that Bitter End was and always would be a work in progress; and that only added to the fun factor. We remodeled Bitter End’s five original cottages to accommodate the extended family. Early on, many nights saw more Hokins than visiting sailors frequenting the bar and the restaurant. That all began to change with the surge in bareboating. It would be years before the bareboat fleet’s amenities included hot showers, mechanical refrigeration or AC power; and there were no cell phones to keep in touch with the world beyond the BVI. We quickly discovered that our yachting visitors often were seeking more than rum punch and grilled lobster.

Along with early charter visitors and globetrotting cruisers, a handful of sportfishing boats would make the trek over from Puerto Rico to fish the nearby North Drop and to spend quality family time in what they called “Gorda Sound”. The boats would be on Bitter End’s moorings or at anchor and they joined in Bitter End’s shoreside life along with resort guests, transient cruisers, and charter visitors. It was a melting pot of people messing about in boats. But one thing the fishing crowd really wanted was a place to dock, hook up to shore power and wash the fish scales out of the cockpit. This loyal group of friends surged with the 1982 addition of the QD docks and the Quarterdeck Club.

The Quarterdeck Club provided dockside membership features that would appeal to boaters whose Bitter End visits were frequent and usually longer than one or two nights, just the ticket for our Puerto Rican friends. Among the earliest members were the Bacardi, Cabrer, Vicente, Santiago, and Rodriguez families, many of whom became the true “first responders” for Virgin Gorda and North Sound in the days following Irma.

By the late 1980s, bigger motor- and sailing-yachts became more numerous and what’s now called “A” dock became their preferred berths. We responded to these larger yachts with a plan to replace the wood dock with one constructed of concrete. The project was accelerated when an out-of-control a freight barge delivering a cistern took out a big chunk of the wooden dock. The new concrete dock became a solid berth for the bigger Browards, Burgers, Bertram and Hatteras that shared the dock with freight barges and Bitter End’s ferries.

As we neared the millennium, peak demand was stressing the Quarterdeck, its docks and other facilities; but we were able to figure out how to shoehorn 50-plus boats into 25 berths during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents’ Week, Easter, not to mention our Puerto Rican friends’ “Christmas in July” holiday week. Slip reservations were in high demand, and visitors didn’t seem to mind rafting with their neighbors. Hurricane Luis in 1995 provided an opportunity to reconfigure the Quarterdeck dock, to extend the fuel dock, and to make the South End’s Carvery Dock a viable berth for regular visitors. Hurricane Earl visited in 2010 and that was curtains for the wood pilings supporting the Quarterdeck dock, which opened the door for the current reconfigured concrete structure. Along with “A” Dock and the fuel dock, the Quarterdeck dock successfully rode out Irma and Maria; and all will be up and running for the 2020 season.

Nick & Jenny Trotter were the Quarterdeck’s first managers. They recall that the best part of their experience was the enormous variety of people that visited Bitter End’s docks and mooring field. There were school teachers, dentists, circumnavigators, billionaires and celebrities, all messing about in boats one way or the other. How many people ever got to see Walter Cronkite come alongside in his 64-foot Hinckley, Wyntje, wearing shorts and Topsiders rather than his CBS News coat and tie?

Jenny recalls, “Sure, we saw a lot of really nice boats over the years. But it was more about meeting a lot of really nice people…during one exceptionally busy Thanksgiving holiday, a dock guest brought with him on his private plane a fully cooked 18-pound turkey for the Quarterdeck staff.” And on another occasion, “a Quarterdeck member offered to airlift a sick staff member out on his private helicopter. There was no shortage of warmth and camaraderie amongst Quarterdeck members, staff, and the local community”. Nothing speaks better to the spirit that has been and always will be Bitter End’s lifeblood and the energy that no hurricane of any strength can extinguish.

A Blank Canvas

November 26, 2018 7:56 pm

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Mother Nature delivered a very blunt message when she sent Irma to tell us just what she thought of the “improvements” that we had made over the past 40-plus years to her 64-acre masterpiece that we call Bitter End. And, for punctuation, she left us with 3,000 tons of debris. Today, Irma’s footprints no longer dominate the scenery, North Sound and its environs are as beautiful as ever, but Mother Nature’s message still rings loud and clear along our path to BEYC 2.0.

During my recent visit to the property, charter yachts cruised along the shoreline, crews probably reminiscing about the BEYC that was etched into their memories – the Clubhouse, the Lobby Building, the Watersports Kiosk, the Pub, the Emporium… – all now replaced by open space, a blank canvas, and Mother Nature’s challenge to stay on her good side.

Many of you have kept up with BEYC through blog posts, social media and visits with us at the fall boat shows; and many of you generously have pitched in to support our team and the BVI community through these trying times. So, it may come as no surprise that the Hokins and the team have been working enthusiastically and diligently to remediate the 64 acres and its shoreline; and to launch BEYC 2.0. You also should know that from the moment they arrived at Bitter End 36 hours after Irma passed through, the Hokins were determined to turn Mother Nature’s fury into an opportunity.

You may ask, “why?” It’s because, along with you, the Hokins share the belief that Bitter End is a place and a state of mind that transcends manmade structures. We recently reached out to over 20,000 past resort and yachting visitors with a very comprehensive survey, seeking their thoughts in shaping BEYC 2.0’s course. Many of the responders have written lengthy and heartfelt comments attesting to Bitter End’s transcendent place in their lives. From the beginning, our guests always have been the energy that drives Bitter End, shapes its future and makes it constantly an exciting work-in-process. That won’t change with Bitter End 2.0.

Soon, we thoughtfully and carefully will be placing brush strokes on that blank canvas, so keeping in touch with you will become even more important. The imminent introduction of our lifestyle brand, Bitter End Provisions, is a harbinger of things to come as BEYC 2.0 takes shape. Please join us at #BringBackBitterEnd, keep wearing your Bitter End gear wherever you go, and be on the lookout for the exciting BEYC apparel and gear that’s coming with the launch of Provisions. Still, the best day of all will be when we can welcome you back ashore at Bitter End.

–John G

We be ‘Ramblin…

November 14, 2018 8:31 pm

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When Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit Bitter End, our property was devastated, and so were we. Nothing makes us happier than welcoming our family and friends (and friends who are family) ashore. But the support we received from our community worldwide was incredible. And as the well wishes rolled in, so did the questions:

Would Bitter End Yacht Club rebuild?
You bet! Say hello soon to Bitter End 2.0.

When can we come back?
It’s looking like we will have the marina and waterfront open in 2019 with the remainder of the property to follow!

How can we help the Bitter End and Virgin Gorda community?
Via our Bitter End Foundation. 

And perhaps most pressingly…

How can I get my hands on a BEYC hat?

The last query got us laughing—and thinking. Our friends couldn’t come to Bitter End, but we could still bring Bitter End to them. Plus, producing Bitter End gear would be a great way to continue to support the Virgin Gorda community.

And thus, Bitter End Provisions was born. Aiming to provide our crew with gear for their next adventure, our launch collection includes everything from tech apparel to pet accessories, custom SUP boards and more. Most importantly, every piece is tested at sea and is designed to work hard. “Seaworthy goods” that have been approved by our crew.

Still, we needed a home for Provisions. Sure, we knew we would eventually launch online, but that didn’t solve the problem of missing our friends. Always up for a new adventure, we decided to DIY a 1973 Holiday Rambler—a vintage cross-country camper—and we filled it to the brim with Bitter End gear. Then, we traded the high seas for U.S. highways. We sought out our kindred spirits at boat shows up and down the east coast.

And we had a ton of fun doing it! Our mobile home away from home has quickly become the place to swap stories and talk sailing. We’ve poured rum with Don Q. in Newport and Dogfish in Annapolis (yes, they have rum and of course their tasty beer too!). We’ve fielded an endless number of thumbs up through windows as we roll down the interstate. If it can’t be Bitter End, then we’re awfully lucky to have the Bitter End Rambler.

Naturally, when people spot us at the shows, there are more questions. “What is the status of BEYC? When will you be open again?” Big questions with long answers. In brief, we are hard at work on phase 1, with an eye toward having the waterfront open in 2019. That would include the marina and mooring field, beaches, watersports center, and of course a beach bar. As a starting place, we’re are heading back to our roots as a yachtsmen’s retreat, geared toward the needs of boat visitors. Further hotel and resort development will take place through 2020.

Until then, we’ll be on the road and on our new website, www.bitterendprovisions.com, bringing seaworthy goods to our friends around the land. And we’ll be sure to keep you posted with all BEYC 2.0 updates and future Rambler sightings here on the blog. Posts, like our gear, are guaranteed to pair well with a bit of rum.

Ok, time to ramble on. See you soon.

–The Bitter End Crew

Irma Update, One Year Hence…

September 6, 2018 5:37 pm

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To the Friends of Bitter End,

It is hard to believe that one year ago today, Hurricane Irma made landfall at Bitter End causing catastrophic damage to our property and that of our friends and neighbors throughout the BVI and Caribbean. For the past year, we’ve been focused on helping our community recover while at the same time investing significant resources in the remediation of and planning for the redevelopment of BEYC. While all good things take time, we know that Bitter End 2.0 (as we like to call it) will be even better than before, and we can’t wait to once again share the BEYC spirit with all of our friends and family!

We are profoundly grateful and humbled by the care and concern of our community, a group that has demonstrated great generosity and steadfast support during the past year. With your help, we have raised over $800,000 for projects to assist in the recovery of Virgin Gorda and the BVI, and while the territory has shown extraordinary resilience and spirit in the face of enormous hardship, there remains need for ongoing support and aid. We are committed to the long-term wellbeing of one of the most special places on earth and we will continue to invest in initiatives focused on education, the environment, healthcare and the stewardship of our oceans and surrounding communities. Your generosity is instrumental in making these initiatives possible.

During our clean-up, we came across a bunch of BEYC loot that we know is near and dear to all of our hearts. So in the spirit of marking the one-year anniversary of Irma, on September 17, we will launch our first ever online auction of treasured Bitter End memorabilia; 100% of the auction proceeds will support projects to restore and enhance the lives of Virgin Gordians. We’ll offer our classic, oxidized copper room numbers as well as some very cool wooden breezeway signs…if you have a strong affinity for cottage 14 North, it can be yours, while at the same time you’ll be giving back to the community! Check out our Facebook page here for the inside scoop on what may be included in the auction.

We remain eternally grateful to the Bitter End family of guests and friends from around the globe. Thank you for your support and we look forward to welcoming you ashore again soon. Now…let’s get bidding!

Fair Winds,

The Hokin Family

P.S. And don’t forget, during the run up to BEYC 2.0, please help us at #BringBackBitterEnd by getting out your favorite Bitter End gear, wearing it and using it on the water. Then share the fun with us on Facebook and stay tuned for updates on Bitter End’s comeback and some exciting new announcements!

A Message from the BEYC Crew!

July 26, 2018 2:58 pm

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Greetings from the Bitter End team. We hope you’re all having a great summer on, in and off the water, wherever you may be. It soon will be a year since Hurricane Irma scored her direct hit on North Sound, with her sister, Maria, visiting a handful of days later. As most of you know, their unladylike behavior left virtually every structure at Bitter End smashed beyond repair and wrecked most of BEYC’s large and small boats.

As I write this from Bitter End, we’re in the midst of Phase 2 of the cleanup project, which is focused on dismantling structures and disposing of debris. There are 60+ workers on property, supported by heavy equipment and dump trucks. We have acquired a low-emissions, environmentally-friendly incinerator to dispose of organic debris, mostly wood; and we will remove other debris for appropriate offsite disposal.

There’s no doubt that it’s a daunting task to clear our 64 acres of an estimated 3,000 tons of debris from the nearly 70 shattered buildings; to prepare the property for new construction; and to get Bitter End back up and running. But, for us, it’s a very special and exciting opportunity that the entire team is tackling with enthusiasm and optimism. We are working with our architect, Matthew Falkiner of Simplemente Madera, to make sure “BEYC 2.0” will reflect its 50-year legacy of laid back fun and that it will personify the welcoming and friendly energy, vibe, spirit and respect for the natural environment that always has been Bitter End’s lifeblood.

We’re focused on having our mooring field, marina and harbor-front operations, including food, beverage and retail, in full swing by spring, 2019. By then, we will be on our way to building out the rest of Bitter End’s Village center as well as planning and mobilizing for follow-up phases across our 64 acres and along our mile of shoreline. Each day’s progress brings us closer to welcoming you ashore at Bitter End once more.

Bitter End 2.0 will continue its commitment to the Virgin Gorda community, which remains very much in need of support. Aided by the generosity that our guests and friends have shown over the past year we have been able to:

–Respond, within 48 hours of Hurricane Irma’s passage, to the acute needs of Virgin Gordians for emergency evacuations, food, water, medical and other critical supplies. This only was possible through the kindness and generosity of friends in Puerto Rico and North Sound.
–Bring timely and sustained post-hurricane emergency financial assistance directly to Bitter End’s 170+ employees.
–Sponsor a Holiday Party featuring Santa and toys for the local Virgin Gorda Community.
–Continue our support of “VISAR” (Virgin Islands Search and Rescue).
–Contribute meaningfully to the BVI Tech Ed Project, which through a grant in partnership with other BVI hospitality industry participants, has facilitated donation of 650 Chromebooks to the Ministry of Education & Culture of the British Virgin Islands; and has resulted in a follow-on grant for additional Chromebooks that will ensure that BVI high school students in private and parochial schools have access to this technology as well.
–Conduct, along with Sunchaser Scuba, World Oceans Day shoreline and seabed cleanup in North Sound.
–Sponsor the non-profit Saira Hospitality School’s training initiatives for Virgin Gorda and other BVI residents.

Your support and generosity continue to be instrumental in making possible these and future initiatives to assist our community. Fundraising and support for the community will remain a key feature as we ramp up BEYC 2.0. We continue to be amazed by the Bitter End community’s inexhaustible compassion and the persistent energy, strength, support and generosity that reinforces our resolve every day to turn this challenge into the exciting opportunity of bending on new sails and continuing with the remarkable voyage that has been and will continue to be Bitter End.

So please stay tuned! During the runup to BEYC 2.0, please help us at #BringBackBitterEnd by getting out your favorite Bitter End gear, wearing it and using it on the water this summer. Then share the fun with us on Facebook and check for updates there on Bitter End’s resurgence, including some exciting new things that we’ll share with you very soon.

Thanks to every one of our treasured Bitter End friends for your incredible support and your devotion to Bitter End and the BVI over its 50-year history and especially during the past tough ten months.

Jerome Rand Visits BEYC on Epic Voyage

June 18, 2018 9:46 pm

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June 14, 2018 — We write this BUZZ entry as BEYC’s beloved watersports director, Jerome Rand, has just passed thru the BVI, 28,000 miles into an epic, solo non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. His sail-thru North Sound, lingering just off of BEYC brought tears to the eyes of Virgin Gorda locals, and inspired thousands stateside via his “Sailing into Oblivion” Facebook page. But did we mention that this solo circumnavigation is on a 40-year old 32 foot sailboat?

Jerome is not one to shy away from challenges. In 2012 he hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail. A pretty cool accomplishment for mere mortals, but child’s play compared to circling the globe, alone. Less than 300 people have done this. Subtract out those who have done it as part of a supervised race, or those who transited thru one of the canals, or stopped for repairs, and the number comes down under 30. And those who have done it on a boat less than 33 feet, you can count on the fingers of one hand – an elite club.

Bitter End is no stranger to solo circumnavigators. In 1971, a teenage named Robin Lee Graham (of the book and movie “Dove” fame) stopped at BEYC and helped build the original Hillside Villas. He stopped many times during his voyage, but was most notable for circumnavigating at such a young age. In 1990-91, the Hokin family sponsored Captain Bill Pinkney, the first African American to circle the globe solo. An amazing story, relayed to millions of inner-city school children across America, as it was happening. Sailing’s first “internet sensation” if you will. But Captain Bill stopped six times during his voyage.

Jerome has slowed, but never stopped during his months at sea. He left with enough supplies to last him the length of his voyage, or so he thought. But a 32-foot boat would burst at the seams with food for eight months. So arrangements were made for a “hand-off” in the Falkland Islands (and some treats in the BVI). His boat, named “Mighty Sparrow,” is sturdy as they make them, and Jerome made sure she was up to the task. To his mates at BEYC (who affectionately call him “Zookeeper”), and for those of you guests who know Jerome, you know that on the surface, he comes off easy going, and relaxed. But behind the scenes, he sweats the details. He’s a “can do” kind of guy. There’s an old saying: “it takes a lot of work to make things look easy.” And Jerome always makes things look very very easy, even this voyage.

To date, the Zookeeper and Mighty Sparrow have passed by all five Great Capes, skirting South Africa, crossing the unforgiving and unpredictable waters of the Southern Ocean, and passing south of Australia and New Zealand before sailing across the South Pacific and around Cape Horn at the bottom of South America. His sail north from the Falklands to the Caribbean seemed frustrating – one day painfully light wind, the next day brutally heavy. But as he approached the Caribbean, he could smell land, and see the sahara dust – the finish line was not far off. Just some friends to see in the BVI first!

He’s in the home stretch now, just 10-12 days from finishing. After leaving Virgin Gorda he wrote: “I’ve never wanted to put down an anchor more than when I was in North Sound.” We think he could sense how much support and love was behind him.

We once asked him why he was embarking on this voyage. Amidst all the standard non-committal answers like “I’ve always wanted to do this,” and “it’s an accomplishment,” and “because it challenges me,” he also let on that he feels most at home on the open water. We asked if he meant “solitude?” He shook his head as if that word didn’t really cover it. He never settled on the exact “why.” Perhaps inner peace. Perhaps just because he needed to know that he could. Deep down, we think that’s the crux of it. Self reliance. And when he sails into Gloucester Harbor in late June, he will have accomplished what few sailors and adventurers can say they’ve accomplished. And he will have done it, relying entirely on himself. We are proud that Jerome is part of the BEYC family, and we look forward to welcoming him home with open arms!

BEYC Collaborates on BVI School Chromebook Program

June 6, 2018 5:05 pm

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Virgin Gorda, BVI (June 6, 2018) – The Bitter End Yacht Club is delighted to announce that they are collaborating with the Guana Fund/Jarecki Family, Unite BVI, and the McLain Association for Children (MAC) on the donation of 650 Chromebooks to the Ministry of Education of the British Virgin Islands.  The aim is to empower public high school students with enriched educational opportunities, in particular following the devastation to public school buildings and classrooms caused by the hurricanes of the Fall of 2017. 

The Chromebooks Project is intended to provide a laptop style computer to every senior public high school student in the BVI.  In addition, teachers will receive professional development through expert trainers from Kiker Learning, a partner of Google Education. “This program, born of less than ideal circumstances, will support elevating educational standards in the BVI.” said Richard Hokin, Operating Owner of Bitter End Yacht Club.

Since the hurricanes, the Ministry of Education and teachers of the BVI have overcome tremendous challenges, working tirelessly to get students back to school with as little disruption as possible.  Innovative structures and solutions have been embraced, including a new emphasis on educational technology.  Laptop computers specifically provide resilient access to education despite classroom locations that will need to transition over the next year as the country rebuilds and recovers. 

“The Ministry, the teachers, and the students have all done yeoman’s duty, and should be commended for rising above the challenges brought by the hurricanes,” said Hokin. “We as collaborating contributors hope that the Chromebooks and associated training will enhance the learning environment for both students and teachers, with access to educational resources and enhanced learning programs not currently available in the BVI,” he added.

The implementation of the program is well underway. And after day one of training, students and teachers were able to virtually connect together on a project, and create a collaborative slide show on Climate Change! The Chromebooks will be uploaded with location devices and administered exclusively by the Ministry of Education.  These laptops will be accessible only to students and teachers with public school domain names and will be available for the territory’s first e-testing roll out during the CXC examination period in June 2018.