Gavin and Nicola met back in their mid-twenties in Cape Town, South Africa. Gavin was working as a sailing instructor for the Yachtmaster Sailing School and Nicola was road tripping the Garden Route with a friend after attending a friends wedding in the North of the country. After a brief meeting, the couple kept in contact over social media and a few odd texts here and there.
They reconnected in the UK for a long weekend and realised there was great chemistry and a possible relationship, were it not for the long distance and very different lifestyles they both lead.
After years apart and the occasional email here and there, they once again reestablished communication and Gavin invited Nicola to come and visit him in the British Virgin Islands where he had just started working at the time.
Two weeks in paradise and a great holiday romance, turned into Nicola returning back to the UK, quitting her job and moving out to the islands with Gavin.
The couple worked together for a charter company as a Captain/Chef team for two years doing live aboard charters. They lived on land in between charters enjoying their time off by the beach or in the surf, together with their little dog, Ben, who accompanied them every step of the way.
Nicola shortly fell pregnant with their first child. They carried on working on the boats for another 7 months until the work became to strenuous.
They were engaged for one short month and planned their wedding on the island in just two weeks, between charters. It was a small, intimate ceremony which took place on a nice secluded beach.
Their daughter was born in the UK in the summer that same year. Unfortunately Gavin missed out on the birth due to her arriving 5 weeks early. Gavin jumped on the first flight home as soon as he had heard Nicola’s waters had broken and got to meet little his little girl the following day.
In early September, Hurricane Irma, the strongest storm on record to exist in the Atlantic swept across the Caribbean with a direct hit over Tortola, BVI. It was an extremely powerful and catastrophic hurricane causing widespread damage across the islands. Hurricane Maria followed two weeks later causing more damage and flooding on the islands.
With a new baby, a damaged home and no job to go back to, life was a struggle for a few months. With the uncertainty of where to go and what to do next, they took a few months off visiting family and friends in the UK and South Africa, with a few days in Dubai as a much needed honeymoon.
Luckily, we were in the UK when the hurricane hit, unfortunately it wasn’t the same story for our beloved dog, Ben, who was left in the BVI with friends for that period of time. He had a traumatic time with the hurricane in the BVI, he sailed to Puerto Rico with a friend who then left him there, which then unfortunately got hit badly by a second hurricane. We desperately needed to get him out of harms way and back to safety.
As soon as it was safe to return home, Gavin booked a ticket back to the islands to check out the damage, he got Ben to safety and we then needed to decide whether it was time to pack up our lives over there and head somewhere else, or stay and re-build our lives on Tortola.
We decided to return to our home in the British Virgin Islands. Gavin was there for several months alone before Léna and I decided to join him. He found us a new home that was slightly less damaged than our original one, bought and set up a generator and tried to make our living conditions as comfortable as possible. It was going to be difficult bringing up a 4 month old baby over there, but it is where we wanted to be and we decided we could make it work.
Whilst most of the island has been restored with power, unfortunately 5 months on we are still living with a generator for power, a hosepipe with cold water for showers and living with limited lighting in the evening. It was tough to begin with, but we have adjusted to life as it is for the time being. The baby is growing up strong and loves living by the beach and listening to the waves crashing from our balcony.
We are awaiting Ben’s return in a few weeks time and cannot wait to be reunited.
Gavin is back working with the charter company re-building the marina and the boats and doing the odd charter here and there as work on the sea is very limited at the moment.
We continue to live and work in the BVI until we can plan our next adventure. Our future goal, which is hopefully in the not too distant future, is to buy our long awaited vessel and set sail exploring the world with our little family…