Crew with a Cause: Rebuilding the Heart of Maewo

24 May 2016 By Hillary Hoffower

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and if therewere one village that could prove this saying true, it would be the communityof Maewo in Vanuatu. Capt. Sean Meagher of M/Y Latitude, who has spent time with the village firsthand, knows thisall too well and is trying to rebuild the heart of the island’s community,which was destroyed in the wake of Cyclone Pam in 2015.

“From 2008 to 2011, I spent a lot of time in Vanuatu, andout of all the islands, this one in particular was probably the most special,”says Meagher, adding that the community’s leader, Chief Nelson, who died abouta year ago, was a great and special man.

“Nelson made yachties feel welcome with his ‘yacht club,’which was actually a large hut that was the community’s center,” says Meagher,whose GoFundMe page added that many flags of visiting boats hung in the raftersof the hut. “He’d arrange for tribal dances and the only thing he asked for youto bring if you came back was books for children in the village. He schooledchildren in this one particular building and he produced several people to goon to college.”

In fact, Chief Nelson’s son Nixon wound up working forMeagher when he captained Blue Gold.When Cyclone Pam devastated the community, Nixon went to Meagher for help. Atthe time, Meagher was busy completing back-to-back Northwest Passages (the third private yacht and ninth vessel to transit the passage in both directions in consecutive years), but promised that as soon as he had thechance, he’d help raise money to rebuild the “Yacht Club.”

Well, that time has come. Meagher is hoping to raise $20,000to rebuild the Yacht Club, ship supplies to Maewo, and buy schoolbooks for thechildren with any leftover money. Anyone who donates will have their namecarved into the archway leading into the club, which will be provided by alocal French craftsman.

According to Meagher, a lot of locals are involved in theproject. “Everyone was hit so hard, [so] getting the locals to pitch in hasbeen difficult, but many are donating their time and expertise.”

Meagher hopes to raise the money within the next few weeksas the water is currently “pretty calm,” making it easier to get supplies fromisland to island. To donate, visit

Photo courtesy of Capt. Meagher's GoFundMe page.