By Lucy Chabot Reed
When Capt. Tim Forderer tells the story about helping a school on Komodo Island build a fence to keep the dragons from attacking the kids, he stops to rub his upper arm. When he talks about how a woman he met there was inspired to create 40 libraries in remote villages, he rubs his entire arm.
These stories happened to him years ago but he still gets goosebumps when he talks about them. That sense of making a difference, of really changing lives, stays with him and helps drive him.
“When you get on this path of doing good along the way, it just keeps going and going,” Capt. Forderer said during a news conference yesterday at Yachts Miami Beach, recounting his nine-year relationship with YachtAid Global and their efforts to help people in communities all over the world.
Capt. Forderer has taken the owners and S/Y Vivid, a 27m Jongert, around the world twice, reaching the polar ice caps at both ends of the Earth.
“A month after my interview, we were sailing between icebergs as large as these yachts,” he said, pointing to the largest yachts in the show, most nearing 200 feet. “I wake up every morning so incredibly grateful to be able to do this. And I know that the moment I stop being grateful it will all go away.”
A big believer in karma, Capt. Forderer said his interaction with the San Diego-based charity of YachtAid Global has changed his life. Friends with YAG founder and former captain Mark Drewelow, Capt. Forderer once asked for his advice about how to help an impoverished community he was visiting in Indonesia. Drewelow’s advice was to find the village elder and tell them what he wanted to do.
When he did that in Komodo Island, a simple task of dropping off school and medical supplies became a request from the school headmaster to help them build a fence to keep the dragons out.
“The law of karma tells us that the more we give, the more we do, the more of service we are, then the more enhanced our experience will be,” he said. “We know we are going to super impoverished countries. A blow-up football, some books, a bar of soap can go a long way.”
A woman Capt. Forderer met in Komodo, Nila Tanzil, was so inspired by the fence event that she created Rainbow Reading Gardens and there are now libraries in 40 remote places in eastern Indonesia. She’s done a TED talk and has just written a book, he first chapter dedicated to her experience with Capt. Forderer.
“Through YAG, we’ve supported all her libraries with clean drinking water.”
These filters cost about $50 each and will provide clean drinking water for 100 people for about five years.
“It’s a game changer,” Capt. Forderer explained. “So much of their day is spent finding and making fresh water that when we can set these up, it’s a game changer.”
They come in packages about half the size of a pillow.
“When I get back to California, I put about 30 of them in a duffle bag and take them with me.”
He figures over the past decade that he’s distributed more than 70 filters, giving more than 70,000 people access to clean drinking water.
More than 40 yachts and their crews have participated in YAG missions in the past decade, including Capt. Winston Joyce Clark of M/Y Big Fish, Capt. Mike Gregory of M/Y Dragonfly, Capt. Brendon Pomeroy of M/Y Beija Flor, and Capt. Aaron Abramowitz of M/Y Mine Games.
Capt. Forderer was honored with YAG’s first Humanitarian Award yesterday during Yachts Miami Beach.
“This is the first time we’ve stopped and tallied it all up,” he said in accepting the award. “It’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Capt. Abramowitz, who oversaw delivery of emergency relief items to West End in Grand Bahama after Hurricane Matthew last fall, attended the press conference to support YAG’s efforts and came away a fan.
“I was impressed by his level of commitment, not only to YAG but also to his own thing,” he said. “I’ve never heard of anyone doing what he’s done. I just wish more captains knew about YAG and were willing to help out. It’s not that difficult and the rewards are enormous.”
Capt. Forderer’s advice for other crew traveling the world is to simply look for opportunities to help. When something is identified, visit village elders and offer to help. Contact the yacht’s agent or YAG, which can help make connections immediately or arrange for supplies to follow.
“This is not a story about Tim and Vivid,” Capt. Forderer said. “We just represent boats around the world that have done this. I hope that in telling our story, we can inspire others to get involved.”
To see a well-done video of the Dragonfly crew’s efforts after Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, click here.