On the 14th October 2014, Hurricane Gonzalo raced through St Maarten in the Caribbean and Richard Branson’s yacht Necker Belle has recently been on-hand to provide much needed support.
Islanders were expecting a tropical storm and with only 30 minutes’ notice prior to landfall learned the storm had grown into a category 3 hurricane. With very little preparation time, the island residents did not have proper protection in place as the storm hit.
Once again the superyacht and yachting industry has shown its strong sense of community in helping out with the post Hurricane Gonzalo efforts, providing the population of St. Maarten with much-needed supplies.
Learning of this and at the time about to attend the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Dhardra Blake, volunteer event advisor of YachtAid Global sought out which yachts would be headed south after the show and could assist in delivering much needed supplies to either St. Maarten or Antigua.
Blake commented, “YAG’s mission was simply to seek out and find like-minded captains and owners to participate in our humanitarian efforts. There are so many yachts which travel close to areas in need—whatever the cause. It’s our suggestion to deploy private yachts as a transport vehicle for donated aid and relief supplies. With YAG assisting in disaster relief, literally any region is accessible.” Blake has been volunteering for YachtAid Global since 2009.
Jessica Price from H20 Yachtwear connected Ms. Blake with Captain Beez Evans of the luxury yacht Necker Belle who was keen to assist and participate in his first YAG delivery. With a short turnaround time prior to the yacht’s departure from Rybovich Superyacht Marina, relief aid supplies were solicited from local yachting industry firms including Yacht Chandlers, Medical Offshore Support Ltd, MedAire and The Ditch Kit.
Yacht Chandlers generously picked up the donations from YAG’s donated storage facility at RoboVault in Fort Lauderdale and arranged delivery to the yacht at Rybovich Superyacht Marina in West Palm Beach. A team of volunteers then transferred the supplies to Necker Belle.
IGY Marinas in St Maarten is also donating a slip for the offloading of aid/supplies as well as an overnight stay for the crew.
Beez Evans, captain of S/Y Necker Belle stated, “Working with YAG on disaster relief is a welcome opportunity for us and a meaningful philanthropic endeavour.”