On June 11, the crew of M/Y Slipstream was presented with the Yachts du Coeur award in Cannes for exemplary charity service by a superyacht.
The award — designed by artist Sylvia Wohlgemuth and depicting Ceres, the goddess of nature and abundance — was presented by Eco-Mer, an organization that regularly collects donations of food, clothes, and linens from yachts on the French Riviera. Eco-Mer works with charities such as YachtAid Global (YAG) and the Superyacht Aid Coalition to distribute donations. According to its website, Eco-Mer has donated 22 tons of food, around 44,000 meals to the French Food Bank, 15 square meters of clothes and linen to the French Red Cross, and 28 square meters of global aid to the hurricane-devastated Caribbean.
Slipstream was recognized for its November 2017 relief efforts. The vessel was in Palma for its “Autumn mini yard works” and the crew were clearing cabins. “…Rather than throw [everything] away, I suggested we start collecting these items and donate them somewhere in the Caribbean when we eventually arrive there,” says Capt. Phil Stevens, one of two rotational captains aboard M/Y Slipstream.
“As we were committed to going over to the Caribbean, we knew that we had to try and assist in some way,” says Capt. Steve Osborne, the other rotational captain on board. “Having spent so much time over the years in and around these islands, we all felt particularly impacted by the scenes of devastation.”
This aid effort snowballed — word spread and vessels all over joined the cause. By the end of November, the vessel had collected a van load of aid. Eco-Mer reached out to assist with the crew effort, collecting donations in the South of France and Italy. YachtAid Global also got involved to help with distribution in the Caribbean. Capt. Osborne applauded the efforts of YAG, who coordinated the distribution process and helped with logistics in Dominica and turned their attention to Dominica, one of the islands hit hardest by the hurricanes. “Through their vast experience in disaster relief, they provided invaluable advice in what were the most crucially needed items and how they would be distributed,” Capt. Osborne says. “These included lighting, portable generators, tools, tarpaulins, plywood, and other items that would help in the rebuilding process in Dominica.”
The vessel traveled to Palma, the South of France, and the Italian Rivera to gather donations, which it then transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean islands affected by the hurricanes. Once the donations were unloaded in Dominica, the crew continued on to St. Maarten to help with rebuilding projects on the island.
“While it is humbling to receive recognition from this, that was never what we set out to achieve,” says Capt. Osborne. “…I feel the best that will come out of this is the exposure of the cause,” says Stevens. “Already, the hurricane is last year’s news and mostly forgotten by the mainstream, but this wakens the issues that these islands face and will continue to face for years to come.”
Stevens hopes that, if anything were to come from this award, it would be for any vessel heading to the Caribbean to help by getting involved and delivering more aid to those affected areas. Doing so will also save companies like Eco-Mer the cost of transport logistics, money that can be better used elsewhere.
Capt. Osborne is also quick to point out that Slipstream was not alone in their efforts, with other vessels joining the cause, like M/Y Kathleen, M/Y Utopia, and M/Y Mary Jean II, to name a few. He also recalls the efforts of M/Y Big Fish and M/Y Dragonfly delivering relief in Fiji and Vanuatu in previous years. “Hopefully this will motivate more yacht crew to get involved in some form of charitable work,” Osborne says. “It doesn’t take much time and effort to make a massive impact to those who need help.”
Slipstream and the crew aboard are no strangers to charitable giving. In fact, all crew on board donate 2.5 percent of their gratuities into a pot. Together, they decide what to do with that pooled money — they recently donated $5,000 to a couple in Antigua to help rebuild their house. Capt. Stevens also explains that they intend to go to Barbuda when they return to the Caribbean and offer any help they can. “Crews have many skills on board that can be utilized and if these were offered, the changes [would] start to happen far more quickly,” he says.
Slipstream has a history of supporting projects and charities over many years, and there’s no plan to change that. “I would like to encourage other yacht crew to think about how they might be able to get involved,” Osborne says. “It doesn’t have to be purely financial donations. If each yacht (crew) donated a day of their time to go off and work on a charitable project in some part of the world that they visit, you could make a huge difference to someone less fortunate.”
“We certainly don’t profess to be on any mission with what we do, but it is SO easy to do something!” says Capt. Stevens. “Collecting 2.5 percent from the already generous gratuities soon adds up and if all charter yachts did something similar, the effect could be fantastic, literally life changing for some people. We are extremely privileged to be doing what we do and giving something back is pretty easy, really, it just needs the initial push and then to ensure the momentum is continued.”