By Dorie Cox
Capt. John Crupi had to shift ballast onboard M/Y Dorothea III after more than 10,000 pounds of relief aid were loaded by the crew last month. The lazarette is full. When weather allows, the yacht will make its way to deliver it in Turks & Caicos.
“It brings goodwill where we travel,” Capt. Crupi said by phone from Panama. “We don’t want to sound like goody two-shoes, but we’ve been doing this for 15 years.”
The idea of yachts and crew spending time and money to deliver supplies is a hard sell, he said.
“When we post things online regarding humanitarian efforts, it gets one or two hits compared to a party that gets 4,000,” Capt. Crupi said. “Yes, it’s inconvenient. But people need to remember when looking at these islands, the core people responsible for accepting and welcoming us to their country are the locals. If we don’t take care of them, how will they take care us?”
Helping is the right thing to do, he said.
“These people are really struggling; we owe them something,” he said. “And all we do is fill the lazarette with rice, beans, diapers and evaporated milk? The islands are not just destinations, they are home to people. Our effort is so very small in comparison to what is needed throughout the region, but I hope our actions will inspire others to act.”
Chief Stew Megan Runyon was the impetus for the current relief trip, he said. She saw posts on social media that crew were upset about the impact on the charter season and their tips.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Runyon said by phone. “I love to have fun, but at the same time we enjoy their resources. The Caribbean won’t rebuild itself.”
She loves the zip line at the Loterie Farm on St. Martin, riding around the island by Jeep and going out for a crew day after the charter guests are dropped off.
“Just reminisce on your stories,” she said as a message to crew. “For us, workwise, loading was no big deal, just one day out of so many days. We thought we had down time but we ended up loading the supplies and no one complained, everyone put themselves aside.
“Yes, it messes up the salon,” Runyon said. “But I’ll clean the salon all day if this is the benefit.”
To join other yachts including Capt. Brad Baker and his crew on M/Y Rena, who will deliver supplies to San Juan, Puerto Rico, or St. Thomas on their way to charter in St Lucia, contact YachtAid Global at +1 619-630-4626, @YachtAidGlobal, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.yachtaidglobal.org.
UPDATE Sept. 27
The crew of M/Y Dorothea III was met at the dock by the British Army yesterday in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. And Chief Stew Megan Runyon was happy to see them.
The yacht arrived ready to unload more than 10,000 pounds of donated supplies for locals after the recent hurricanes hit the area.
“They helped us unload and properly distribute all our provisions and donations while we pumped 15,000 liters of fresh water to distribute to the island,” Runyon said in an email today. “While we were docked, we were able to provide internet, generously provided by Station 53 and Speedcast, to locals and workers at the dock.”
The yacht crew also made a side trip to one of the smaller, less populated islands, Salt Key, where they delivered canned goods, baby wipes, diapers, propane grill and tanks, fuel and fresh water, she said.
“There are currently about 60 residents who have returned to Salt Key to assess the damage done to their property and hopefully return home,” Runyon said. “Yet, they didn’t have food or water.”
Eng. Aaron Drake went back to Salt Key today to help get the island’s generator and desalination plant working, Capt. John Crupi said. The islanders seem at a loss for words with the assistance.
“Their eyes are as big as their head,” he said by phone. “They are extremely grateful. They did not think anyone would help them. I don’t think they understand what to say or do. It’s like when you were a kid and Santa Claus came.”
With so many areas in need, Capt. Crupi said he is concerned that people will forget about some of the earlier hit areas.
“This area is off the radar screen and it will get further and further off radar,” he said. “I think they’ve moved on to Trump, North Korea and other things.”
He understands crew have to work and will lose track with preparations for the upcoming Fort Lauderdale boat show, parties and events.
“People will lose interest; I’m going to lose interest,” he said. “But there is a slew of boats that don’t know where they’re going yet, that can help. We’re providing a real service. It’s not too little. Yes, a cruise ship could do more, but they’re not here.”