By Dorie Cox
It is hard to see M/Y Global. The 220-foot Shadow Marine boat is on the facedock at Pier 66 South in Fort Lauderdale, tied below the looming 17th Street Causeway Bridge. Blocking the view are two 18-wheeler fuel trucks, a forklift, several hand trucks, and more than 20 pallets stacked high with boxes of food.
Capt. Kostas Andreou steps off the yacht, over the heavy black hose running fuel to the boat, and walks past people ferrying supplies. The expedition yacht just travelled up from Hollywood where the boat tied during Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 storm mostly impacted Florida with rain and winds, but caused catastrophic damage in the northern Bahamas. And that is where Capt. Andreou and his crew will soon head.
A yacht crew member catches up with the captain to give him a car ride to the U.S. Customs office in preparation for the charter for the non-profit relief organization, World Central Kitchen (WCK).
Throughout the afternoon, a total of six fuel trucks bunker 40,000 gallons onboard the steel-hulled vessel. Bosun Elvis Arturo Gonzalez and deckhands Owen Almeida and Ben Grobler load about 10 red fuel cans onboard to pour 60 gallons into the yacht’s tender. Several workers install another lifeboat onboard. And workers from WCK continue to move pallets of food.
As soon as Capt. Andreou returns from customs, he makes his way back onboard and climbs up to operate the onboard crane. The first load is a 3,000-pound all-terrain Sherp vehicle purchased by WCK. It can drive over a 40-inch obstruction and is designed to operate in swamps, bogs and marshes, conditions that may now be in the Bahamas, according to Sherp dealer Loren Edwards of San Angelo, Texas. He plans to teach several people to drive the vehicle, which will be used to carry 2,000 meals at a time to people in the worst hit areas.
In about 12 hours, all of the loading will stop, the passerelle will be pulled, and the yacht will navigate out of Port Everglades for passage to Abaco and Grand Bahama. With just a day of preparation, Capt. Kostas organized a full crew for the trip, plus all the other details for at least a seven-day charter.
“We have done relief work in St. Maarten, St. Vincent, and Tortola,” Capt. Andreou said of previous trips.
Jason Collis has also done relief work, including Hurricane Michael, as director of procurement with WCK. About 13,000 meals have been served in the Bahamas since the hurricane tore through, he said as he monitored loading of supplies.
“Yesterday, we sent 3,000 meals to Abaco by helicopter,” Collis said. Founder of the organization, José Andrés is already in the Bahamas where the group will organize kitchens in multiple locations to prepare hot food near the most needy people.
“We have found kitchen space in Abaco and will go to Freeport next to assess,” Collis said.
M/Y Global left this morning as Hurricane Dorian began to reach South and North Carolina on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
“We’re already getting ready for Wilmington,” Collis said yesterday.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.