Superyachts sail to the aid of cyclone-hit Vanuatu

Links between the yachting industry and philanthropy do not frequently make the headlines, however, in the wake of a natural disaster, industry players have stepped up to make a difference in oceanic nation, Vanuatu.

Yachting Pages recently reported that yacht services company VYS claimed the country would be ready to receive superyachts in a month, and currently Kaleva Yachting Services (KYS), a yacht agent based in the island nation’s capital, Port Vila, is assisting in recovery and rebuilding efforts in the region after Cyclone Pam hit the nation last month.

A South Pacific nation of 80 oceanic islands, Vanuatu was hit with gusts of up to 320km per hour when the cyclone passed overhead on March 13th 2015.

Cyclone Pam is the largest ever cyclone recorded in the area, leaving widespread devastation in her wake, with reports indicating that an estimated 3,300 people were left homeless, with a further 24 losing their lives.

Founded in 2009 by Sam Bell and his wife Jess to service yachts visiting Vanuatu, KYS has harnessed resources in order to lend a hand. 

In the wake of the cyclone, the business arranged for two private superyachts to deliver some 85,000 litres of fresh water to citizens in need as they moved their way through the islands. On-board, teams also provided medical assistance and assessed damaged that they reported to Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office.

Bell said, “We assisted with both of the superyacht that travelled to Vanuatu to help with the relief. Jess did the shore support from Port Vila, and I was on-board talking to locals and assisting with the day-to-day efforts.”

The remote nature of the islands has meant that other organisations and aid charities were unable to reach parts of the nation when they were most in need. The KYS teams were therefore able to offer assistance while aid agencies focused their efforts on the easier-to-access areas.

Bell continued, “In the short term we believe we helped very much as we could get out to where help was needed very quickly. This quick response made a huge difference to locals who has been left with nothing.”

Over a month on from the disaster, KYS and the Bell’s are still assisting in the nation’s recovery, shifting their focus to projects that help locals to repair their own water catchments and clean their water tanks.

Bell believes that it is the culture of the island nation that draws yachts to visit. He said, “We see Vanuatu as a growing superyacht destination. At the start of our business our goal was to help Vanuatu develop gracefully. Now, this is more important than ever. It is crucial that the locals keep their art and culture intact, especially now with so much outside influence coming in.

“This is why yachts want to come to Vanuatu. Yachts can reach the outer remote islands and are a huge asset [by] providing income throughout the country, not just in the population centres.

“Right now the locals need water, medical treatment, repairs… so that is what we will do. When they are back on their feet, we hope we can help them develop gracefully through better education and preservation of core values and culture.”

For more information, visit Kaleva Yachting Services.

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