“We believe that in this time of crisis we cannot stay spectators … so, we decided to practice empathy by taking action! Yachties United for Ukraine is our call for action, to all yachties,” says Margarita Amam, co-founder of Yachties United and the founder of IMS Interior Management Systems. To date, thanks to their website and Facebook group, they’ve helped at minimum 20 to 30 displaced individuals, as well as five yachtie families with things like organizing transportation, itinerary, accommodation, food, and information to help with leaving Ukraine.
Answering a Vital Need
Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine took place on February 24, Petra Selena Untea created the Facebook group called Yachties United for Ukraine on February 25. She is the co-founder of Yachties United as well as the founder and CEO of Vibrant Yachting Consultancy and Crew Recruitment Agency.
“Yachties United for Ukraine is the brainchild created by four dynamic women. It started out as different projects by the different individuals,” says Untea. She came together with her friend Iulia Mic, an ex-chief engineer who is currently in Romania at the border with Ukraine. Together, they organized donations and assisted fellow ex-crewmembers, other refugees, and their family of refugees while transiting Romania — border crossing, free accommodation/food, travel itineraries, etc.
Alongside the two friends were two ex-crewmembers, Nineke Pretorius and Margarita Amam, who were working for the same cause trying to raise funds to support the yachties of all nationalities affected by the situation in Ukraine.
Since February 24, the two have been fundraising “while intensely campaigning on social media and one-on-one conversations with crew to protect their interest — salaries, employment — by educating them on Nautilus Seafarer Union,” Pretorius says.
They negotiated with Nautilus to make an exception and cover all crew who sign up right away despite their actual company policy. “Crew of the superyachts from 50 to160 meters were reached out to and thus far, Nautilus registered over 200 new registrations especially from now already sanctioned yachts, which could mean that over 1 million euros in salaries could be recovered (e.g. based on wrongful dismissal), but only time will give us the exact numbers,” Amam says.
The four women contacted each other on the Yachties United for Ukraine Facebook group “as we realized we are all doing similar work; however, our end goal was the same: humanitarian support.”
Each woman has a different approach to the project. Each has almost 10 years of experience in the yachting industry in different departments and on vessels ranging from 30 to 143 meters. “We then realized our paths have crossed in the past. Petra being a recruiter placed Nineke in one of her previous roles on the same yacht where Margarita was the consultant for the interior operations. Further in the past, Margarita worked with Iulia on one of their first yachts,” Untea says.
How to Donate
On their website, www.yachtiesunited.com, you can either register as a helper or helpee.
- Helpers can become a host, donate, pick up or drop off, organize donations, or help with different skills (e.g. driving, hairdresser, dentist, lawyer, cooking, etc.).
- Helpees are Ukrainian crew representing their families, acting as liaisons, translators when their families find shelter at a yachting household.
Some of the donations they’re asking for are:
- Unused warm clothes
- Bedding and pillows
- Excess toiletries
- Non-perishable foods
- Medicine and medical kits
- Dental hygiene items
- Excess stationery
- Pet food
They’ll distribute donations where needed the most.
Other Ways You Can Help
They also suggest some ways to help, including packing and loading trucks, being a co-driver during your days off, or a fitness instructor (to bring a semblance of routine), even for two hours a week. They also encourage European crew to open their home to displaced crew and their families.
“We believe that in this time of crisis we cannot stay spectators … so, we decided to practice empathy by taking action! Yachties United for Ukraine is our call for action, to all yachties.”
“All donations will go to ex-crewmembers currently located at the borders with Ukraine being our POC in the affected areas. They will distribute the donations where needed the most. We are also asking our fellow crewmembers in Europe to consider opening their homes to displaced crewmembers and their families," says Untea. "We are raising money for transportation of donations and also for the families who opened their homes to feed families of crew and others. An NGO is also being created so companies can claim receipts,” Amam says.
“Our main mission is for all to understand that we want to assist ALL individuals affected by the Ukraine crisis. This group is not just for assisting Ukrainians but assisting all nationalities affected by this crisis whether it be directly or indirectly. We want to offer humanitarian aid and try and make it easier for all affected.”