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In the wake of an unprecedented 2017 hurricane season where back-to-back catastrophic hurricanes battered many of the Caribbean islands we know and love, the yachting industry has come together and stepped up in a big way to bring desperately needed help to the widespread areas of devastation. In many ways, the Caribbean is the heart and soul of the yachting world as so many vessels include these islands in their itineraries year after year, forging unbreakable friendships with some of the most welcoming locales you can find and certainly because the scenery found throughout the region is as breathtaking as it gets. With economies that are heavily reliant on tourism, it is important to help these islands recuperate as soon as possible so that they can continue to call visitors to their incredible shores. While we've seen governments scrambling to execute responses to this crisis, yachting organizations paired with generous owners and hard-working crew have pooled their resources and simply acted on the behalf of the Caribbean in their time of need.
Leading the charge of these remarkable humanitarian efforts is YachtAid Global (YAG), a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 by Captain Mark Drewelow. Since its inception, YAG has evolved into an international charity with the inspiring mission of "providing agenda-free aid and leveraging vetted strategic partners and proven processes to ensure timely, needs-verified, ethical and responsible delivery of aid". Thanks to a vast network of vessel owners and yachting organizations, YachtAid Global is able to rapidly deploy mass amounts of critical donations to coastal communities reeling from disaster with no cost to the communities themselves. Now more than ever YAG is needed to help Caribbean friends rebuild their lives and economies. “The contributions and assistance coming from the yachting industry in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria are unprecedented,” says Drewelow. One of YAG's primary tasks is finding, coordinating and mobilizing yachts worldwide to deliver goods. If you are the owner, captain or crew of a boat that wants to help, click here for YAG's list of questions.
Joining YachtAid Global in the effort is the Superyacht Aid Coalition (SAC), an organization formed at the Monaco Yacht Show in immediate response to news of the huge devastation caused by Irma in early September. SAC is comprised of 80 members including superyachts, businesses and yacht support services and its role is to marshal the resources of as many yachting partners as possible, providing public relations and fundraising. “When the yachting industry unites, we can make big things happen,” Norma Trease, founding member of SAC, said at the 15th Annual Westrec Marinas press conference at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
Here are some of the volunteer superyachts that have transported and deployed vital supplies to hurricane-stricken Caribbean.
In collaboration with YachtAid Global, 157' Expedition Motor Yacht DOROTHEA III arrived in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos on September 26th delivering 12,000 pounds of food and vital relief supplies, drinking water and communications. The yacht regularly frequents remote destinations throughout the year so the crew on Dorothea instinctively knew help was needed in these hurricane-ravaged areas so they made a plan in partnership with YAG and instead of heading back to Florida, they charted a course to Grand Turk to provide as much assistance as possible.
Sailing Yacht ENZO set sail for the Caribbean on November 3rd with a main goal of providing as much clean water as possible to people that don't have any access to it at this time. When fully optimized the 750 filter and bucket combinations can generate enough daily drinking water for 75,000 people, this is the entire population of Dominica for example. In addition to water filtration systems, 62' Sailing Yacht Enzo is loaded up with 7000lbs of supplies. It's first stop will be hard-hit Puerto Rico with a potential stop in Bermuda depending on weather. After Puerto Rico they be off to the BVI's, Antigua and Dominica. To stay updated on the great work team Enzo is doing, follow their dedicated Facebook page: Operation Enzo - Hurricane Relief.
Motor Yacht KATHERINE departed from France to Anguilla with 5,200 jars of donated baby food and a good amount of plywood for construction materials. The crew stated on their Facebook page "We cruise to the Caribbean every year and are always given a warm welcome by the locals, and so the crew are eager to give back and to do our part to help the communities on Anguilla and other islands to recover from the devastating hurricanes, and we challenge all other yacht crews to do the same."
Motor Yacht SLIPSTREAM has also joined forces with YachtAid Global and EcoMer launching an initiative to round up donations of materials such as carpentry tools, construction equipment and machinery which are desperately needed by the islands for the rebuilding efforts.
Motor Yachts VA BENE and GREY MATTERS arrived in the Caribbean in late October after a two week Atlantic crossing to deliver much needed aid to the island of Dominica.
For more information on how you can get invovled in the Caribbean hurriane relief effort please visit YachtAid Global's website here.
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