Thirty hours after the storm, Bitter End's owners, Richard Hokin and his daughter Lauren Hokin, were on a plane to the islands. "We made up our minds on the way down that we would make this an opportunity, not a catastrophe," Richard says. The rebuild began with a massive cleanup that left the area as virgin as Richard and his parents found it in the mid-1960s. Richard Hokin remarks, "My theory is that mother nature thought we were messing the place up, and she came along and said, 'I'm the reset, and I'm going to make sure you do it." he says. "We are putting it back together in a way where we are better stewards of the land."
"We're trying to be very sensitive to our environmental footprint, returning as much of the shoreline as possible to its natural state," Lauren adds. "The beach is coming back in a really beautiful way; wildlife is returning."
Following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma, the Hokin family launched The Bitter End Foundation and, with it, Bitter End Provisions and the Hammock Adoption Program, which not only helped fund conservation and restoration efforts for the community but also symbolized the collective effort to restore the Bitter End Yacht Club to its former glory.
The program quickly gained traction, capturing the hearts and support of those who shared a connection with the Bitter End Yacht Club.
Kimberly Milnes, who sponsored a hammock through the fundraiser, expressed her deep emotional connection: "The devastation of the Sound and the lives of the people who depend on it broke our hearts. The opportunity to be a part of bringing one of our favorite parts of the world back to its true glory by adopting a hammock was an immediate 'yes' on our part."
Michael Hearle, who also adopted a hammock says, "After watching with the world as Hurricane Irma decimated Virgin Gorda's North Sound in 2017, our family was moved to help in any way. When we heard about BEYC’s program to help restore and preserve this fragile ecosystem and waterway which we have enjoyed for generations, we were honored to do our small part. We hope that future families and sailors will continue to enjoy the beauty and tranquility as we have."
The success of the Hammock Adoption Program exceeded all expectations, raising over $60,000 to fund conservation initiatives and support the local community, showcasing the compassion and resilience of those who value the preservation of our natural treasures.
These funds were utilized to implement projects aimed at rejuvenating the natural ecosystem, supporting sustainable livelihoods, and restoring the beauty of the North Sound. Through their efforts, the Hokin family and the program's supporters have restored the Bitter End Yacht Club and breathed new life into the local environment and community.