Crew with a Cause: Do It For the Children

27 March 2020 By Laura Dunn
Photo: Courtesy of Tahiti Private Expeditions

Since kids are the future, providing the best education and overall quality of life for them is crucial. That’s what Tahiti Private Expeditions (TPE) and the captain and crew of M/Y Dorothea III believe. As a result, they partnered together at the end of October 2019 to launch Single Use Plastic Awareness — Children of French Polynesia, an initiative of the local NGO Te Mana O Te Moana.

The project is carried out in primary schools with the teachers’ support and educational material. “The concept was to raise awareness to the island children about the threats and issues related to single-use plastic to the ocean, its marine life, but also our health while educating them about finding ways to find sustainable options in their everyday life,” says Christelle Holler, managing director and co-founder of Tahiti Private Expeditions, which provides private luxury yachts with customized, exclusive diving services, logistics, and itinerary planning.

“French Polynesia is made of 118 islands, and most of them are off the beaten track. Superyachts can assist during an itinerary to bring the speaker/scientist, plus the educational material and metal flasks to the schools in coordination with Te Mana O Te Moana and ourselves,” Holler says. Yachts, crew, and their owners play a critical part by transporting materials and resources to remote islands, especially since some of these islands don’t have an airport and only occasionally get provisions by sea. To join them in their quest, write to Funds and flasks are the most helpful contributions.

“Further to discussions with Capt. John Crupi of expedition yacht Dorothea III, we decided to support the project together where superyachts would assist in the remote islands of the country. Funds were collected from industry donators to buy metal flasks for the kids to replace their daily plastic bottle at school as there is usually drinkable water in the schools,” Holler says.

For Capt. Crupi, the overarching concern was that French Polynesia’s total volume of territory is covered by water. “And what ends up happening is that a lot of the old timers and a lot of the people of the island communities, they just sort of use the ocean as a garbage.” He emphasizes the need to educate the kids. “You know, going back and trying to retro-learn a forty or fifty-year-old Polynesian guy, it’s pretty hard to do. But, children are more open-minded, so we circulated a reading curriculum throughout.”

After a few weeks of fundraising, they distributed 100 reusable water bottles (sponsored by Headhunter Inc., Major Yacht Services, and Elite Marine Yacht) to a primary school. “The idea was that the children, instead of going to the local convenience store and buying a plastic bottle of soda, they would have a reusable water bottle so that they could A) drink water, and B) didn't pollute the ocean with yet another plastic water bottle.”

Christelle notes: “I wish we had had more money to buy more than 100 but it was very tight. Given the success with the pupils and children, we feel we should carry on! The smile on the kids face and their interest was incredible!”

They live in a very remote part of the world on small islands where recycling is an issue — as in, not available in the country, so recyclables need to be shipped overseas, according to Holler. “We feel it is a necessity to educate the new generation to protect their environment and make it sustainable.”

TPE is working on several other projects to help spread awareness and action toward helping with environmental initiatives and projects. One such example is the funding of small plastic recycling units that would help the most remote islands.

TPE is in discussion with The International Superyacht Society about how to encourage superyachts to turn greener and especially go single-use plastic-free. They also have the support of the International SeaKeepers Society, “who promoted the project widely and presented it at their yearly Founders dinner in Fort Lauderdale last November,” Holler gushes.

“Without the ocean and its wonders, our company would not exist,” says Holler. “Even though we have been involved in other conservation programs for many years, mostly for shark protection, this one was special as it is local and involves children but also because we would like to give back to the ocean at a time where it critically needs it. It may only be a drop, but oceans are made of drops.”

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