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Hurricane Irma — How You Can Help with Relief Efforts

Sep 14th 17
By Hillary Hoffower


One of the strongest storms ever recorded in Atlantic, Hurricane Irma barreled through the Caribbean and Florida last week and weekend. At her strongest, she was a Category 5 storm with winds around 185 miles per hour and left much destruction in her wake, major yachting communities not excluded. From the ravaged British and U.S. Virgin Islands to the destruction of Barbuda, here’s how you and your fellow yachties can assist with relief efforts.  


The Caribbean 

Chief Stewardess Megan Runyon of M/Y Dorothea III has been working with her fellow crew and YachtAid Global (YAG) in trying to coordinate a way to provide resources to those in desperate need. “YAG has worked hard to facilitate communication to assess the needs of the islands and has staged cargo in various locations around the Caribbean as well as in Southern California and Fort Lauderdale,” she says. “The issue is getting these resources to the islands in an orderly and effective manner. Currently, we are attempting to help these efforts by bringing supplies to some of the less populated, often forgotten about, islands in the Southern Caribbean.” 


If your yacht can help transit cargo ready to go to those in need or donate to YAG so they can properly allocate those supplies, head here. YAG is also looking for on-the-ground volunteering for those who wish to aid a specific location. 


You can also support the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund.


St. Kitts 

Cristina Bernardini, director of business development at Christophe Harbour, told Boat International, “The marina at Christophe Harbour is open and available to provide fuel for vessels in need as well as berthing services for those displaced by the storm. We have also partnered with YachtAid Global and are its regional base of operations for helping our neighbors in need.” 


They have received an outpouring of support, accommodations, and transport services requests from neighboring islands and are coordinating relief efforts with the government and other stakeholders, including the Department of Maritime Affairs and St. Kitts Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce. 


St. Barths 

Former yachtie and owner of Mango Yacht Services Kevin Lawrie says, "There is a lot of devastation everywhere on my little rock of St. Barths. Yes, there a lot of wealthy people who visit, but the reality is...hardworking individuals who are not millionaires have lost some or everything due to this hurricane."  


To help, donate to this fundraiser that Lawrie is working with. "They were the first group on the ground with generators, food, water, work gloves, solar chargers, etc.," he says. "More stuff is arriving today [September 15] and then another load with myself next week...whatever you can is appreciated."


Virgin Islands 

The U.S. Marines Twitter page stated, “More than 1,100 Marines are providing support to the victims of Hurricane Irma. They’re armed with 35 aircraft, 54 wheeled or tracked vehicles, and 28 Zodiacs. They are able to support with search and rescue operations, providing purified water, aerial reconnaissance, and distributing medical technicians and equipment.” 


After spending a lot of time in the Virgin Islands, having a lot of friends there, and hearing firsthand about its destruction following Irma, crewmember Lizelle van der Walt decided to create a fundraiser for St. Thomas and St. John. “I am sure a lot of yacht crew are also feeling that they want to help the people affected there,” she says. Proceeds from the fundraiser will send a shipping container of emergency donations on Wednesday, September 20, to the VI Relief Organization in St. Thomas. Email if you would like to donate. 


You can also donate to this GoFundMe; the organizers are establishing a transportation chain to get supplies to St. Thomas and St. John from St. Croix via Caribbean Sea Adventures, QE4, Big Beards, the Crucian Navy, and Water Spirit. “They are doing a great job, even packing hundreds of lunch boxes a day!” says van der Walt. 


Former crewmember Jody Olson, former deck/stew on M/Y D’Natalin IV and M/Y Arioso and former deckhand on M/Y Harle, is from St. Thomas. She has designed #VIstrong t-shirts to purchase — $25 for short sleeves and $31 for long sleeves. One hundred percent of profits will go to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands to help rebuild what was lost. Buy one here. 


Meanwhile, U.S. Virgin Island national and retired NBA star Tim Duncan is organizing relief through by chartering a plane full of supplies to St. Croix, the largest town in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He donated the first $250,000 to the campaign and pledged to match every donated dollar up to the first $1 million. 


Richard Branson also set up a fund to help small, isolated communities of the British Virgin Islands that are difficult to provide aid to. Branson and the Virgin Group are covering all overheads for the fund, which means 100 percent of donations will go toward relief effort. Visit 


St. Maarten 

Yacht agent Earl Wyatt told Boat International Media, “Do not give up on St. Maarten as yet. We have done this before and bounce back quicker than a lot has imagined.” 


Capt. Lucille Frye of BWA organized a boat to bring supplies in and will be purchasing supplies and collecting donations from other islands to ship in to assist with medical supplies, food, clothing, and bedding. Along with her co-fundraisers, she plans to use the money as directly as possible to buy the most needed supplies, which will be distributed to St. Maarten first. Donate here. 


Communications company Axxess Marine also started an emergency relief fund, and you can help the animals of St. Maarten by donating to SXM Paws relief.


The K1 Britannia Foundation has been working tirelessly to aid in whatever way they can, from food and water distribution to helping rebuild daycares and schools. They will be raising awareness at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show about the state of the islands and the foundation's projects to help the communities get back on their feet. To get involved or donate, head to or


Antigua and Barbuda 

Antigua got away with minimal damage, but Barbuda was essentially devastated — Prime Minister Gaston Browne cited to the media that it will cost no less than $150 million to repair infrastructure and the homes on the island. 


They are raising a significant amount of resources to rebuild the island. Aid for Barbuda arrived in Antigua on September 8 in the form of three cargo planes carrying more than 54 tonnes of hurricane relief.  


The San-Diego-based Waitt Institute has set up a trust to help restore its partner community of Barbuda. The trust received an initial grant of $100,000 from the Waitt Foundation and is collecting further funds to help with emergency humanitarian relief and long-term restoration. One hundred percent of donations will help the community, and the Waitt Foundation will match all donations. Visit 


Turks and Caicos 

According to the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME), the process for engaging the TCI Government to donate relief items is as follows: 


“1. An official letter providing the list of items, quantities, values, port origin, and proposed schedule time for arrival in the Providenciales Port 

2. An official letter providing names of all persons, along with copies of his/her respective passport bio-data page 

3. Any other supporting information” 


Once receiving the information, the DDME will process the documents and respond with necessary clearance. Contact for any additional clarification. 


Cuba and Haiti 

CARE International is providing drinking water, soap, mattresses, towels, tarpaulins for emergency shelters, and hot meals for shelters as well as materials to help families rebuild their homes. Donate at 



While not affected by Irma, Barbados is serving as a distributing hub for delivering medical reserves, rations, clean water, and emergency shelter kits to islands in need, thanks to the help of the Royal Marines. 


Betty Cathrow, marketing manager of Blue Sky Luxury, told Boat International, “As an organization, we are gathering what we can and working with some of our homeowners who are making donations to support the rebuilding of these islands. We are also putting together an appeal to allow any of our incoming guests to contribute to the relief effort by way of bringing a small ‘pack’ of items with them when they visit, which we will ensure goes to one of the relief organizations.” 


The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and the Barbados Hotel Tourism Association, as well as other individuals, are also banding together to gather needed supplies for the islands. 



While Grenada remained untouched, Camper & Nicholsons’ Port Louis Marina in Grenada is actively helping in a relief effort with supplies leaving the marina to reach destinations in the north. While they are no longer taking in donated goods, linens, clothes, non-perishable foods, bottled water, first aid supplies, nappies, and baby formula are being collected at a number of points, including the True Blue Hotel and the SSU Camp at Point Salines International Airport. 



The American Red Cross is seeking volunteers to help coordinate on-the-ground relief efforts, from serving food and providing comfort to unloading supplies and setting up emergency facilities. You can also donate $10­ to 1,000 online and via mail or phone. Visit 


The Hurricane Irma Appeal is dedicated solely to those affected in Florida, using 100 percent of donations to provide emergency shelter, deliver short-term food parcels, and help those who lost everything. Visit 



The following charities are taking donations for Irma relief efforts: 


The British Red Cross will match up to £3 million for every pound donated by the public. Local Red Cross volunteers are already stationed to provide first aid, shelter, and drinking water. Visit 


Oxfam allows you to donate any amount and will use the money to provide hygiene kits and clean drinking water and build toilet and wash facilities for families without a home. 


Save the Children is taking donations to help support its Emergency Health Unit in the Caribbean caring for those injured by the storm. Donations will go towards support across all areas for the four million children living in Irma’s path. 


Best Friends Animal Society is providing help for the animals of Hurricane Irma. 


If you are working on relief efforts not mentioned above, please email 


Photo: Facebook/SMN News

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