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BWA Yachting and the Ark 2: relief for devastated Caribbean islands

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BWA Yachting and the Ark 2 are bringing relief aid to devastated Caribbean islands

In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the 63 m explorer yacht M/Y SURI is bringing much-needed supplies and support to the worst-affected islands of the Caribbean as part of the Ark project supported by BWA Yachting. 

M/Y SURI has been designated as Ark 2 and is currently en route to St Maarten carrying essential supplies and equipment. Piloted by volunteer Captain Juan Koegelenberg, Ark 2 has collected aid in Barcelona and is heading to St Maarten where it will deliver the essential supplies before heading on to the Fort Lauderdale boat show.
Ark 2 is following in the wake of Ark 1 and is the culmination of the efforts of a number of people who came together to help after the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria last month. 

One of the driving forces of the Ark concept was Captain Lucille Frye of BWA Yachting St Maarten. She created the initial impetus, and she has been assisted by many other active volunteers, along with family and friends and volunteers throughout yachting community. Their efforts are reflective of the voluntary charitable ethos of the yachting industry worldwide, and BWA Yachting is part of the Super Yacht Aid Coalition working with Yacht Aid Global. 

Ark 1 was the yacht S/V LORENA, which was chartered from RM Croisiere and repurposed for the journey with the help of Douglas Rapier’s Yacht Services Agency, which offered ground support to set the yacht up for the task. Dominica resident Andy Sinkey volunteered to captain LORENA after seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.

The original plan for Ark 1 was to make regular journeys between St Kitts and St Maarten to bring continual aid. Under Captain Sinkey’s guidance, LORENA was able to bring 4 tons of aid relief on her first journey, including essential supplies of gas and diesel, food, water and medical equipment. Upon arrival, the supplies were handed over to K1 Britannia who were able to ensure that they reached those most in need on St Maarten. 

Sadly, shortly after LORENA had unloaded the essential supplies, she was left stranded in St Maarten, and at the same time, Dominica was hit by the Category 5 Hurricane Maria, devastating the island. Captain Sinkey was forced to ride out the hurricane, keeping LORENA in port, while he waited for news of his family back on Dominica. 

As soon as was possible, Captain Sinkey put to sea from St Maarten and travelled to Dominica carrying another 4 tons of essential supplies, including urgent medical equipment donated by the St Maarten Medical Hospital. Arriving in Roseau, Captain Sinkey was able to unload the vital supplies, which were distributed by the military and USAID airlifted Captain Sinkey to be reunited with his family in a cut-off area of Dominica. 

The heroic efforts of Captain Sinkey and Ark 1 inspired a second relief effort known as Ark 2. Lucille Frye, along with her BWA St Maarten team gathered information on which items were most needed, while Antonella Della Pietra and a team at BWA Yachting Spain set out to find the tons of essential supplies required to replace equipment lost at vital facilities including care homes, children’s homes and animal rescue centres. The mountain of supplies that they amassed includes equipment such as beds, cots, bedding, school supplies and animal food, all of which will help the people of St Maarten recover a normal life. 

The spirit of Ark 1 was to react first and raise the funds later, and in this spirit, BWA Yachting is asking for help and donations to support this vital and ongoing relief effort. A month on from the impact of Hurricane Irma, the islands are still suffering, with many small businesses and essential services still not functioning. Although the overall picture is one of general recovery, there is still a shortage of essential supplies, and this is where the targeted aid provided by the Ark project will be most useful. 

The organisers of the Ark project are also asking for help from anyone running a yacht that is crossing to the Caribbean, through The Super Yacht Coalition Group (SAC). SAC is helping to coordinate the future transport of supplies across the Atlantic with the help of yachts returning to the Caribbean during the upcoming charter season. 

Any interested yacht owners can help towards the efforts of the SAC by seeking donations of goods or financial donations from crew, family and other vessels, and carrying these across to the Caribbean. A list of essential items put together by charity organisations working in the region is available from the SAC to help determine what items to solicit from donors. 

BWA Yachting are also urging anyone who can offer any donation to do so, in order to support their ongoing efforts. BWA Yachting has expressed their gratitude for all of the donations so far received and offered their assurance that everyone who has donated has been able to help them make a difference to the lives of people in the Caribbean who have been so badly affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.