By Capt. Patrick “Doc” Connelly
This question could be asked and commonly expected from most Americans, and for that matter, world travelers at large. But the yachting community and maritime industry of Florida address this question with heartfelt purposefulness by asking it on a much deeper level.
The question for us is: How close are the Bahamas?
The answer comes from South Florida and fellow mariners throughout the world. From Britain’s Royal Navy to our own U.S. Coast Guard, there are private yachts, marinas, and many maritime companies contributing time, materials and volunteers to help alleviate the suffering and pain of this tragic natural disaster.
As the yachting community and international maritime industry address the long-term challenges of recovery and the overall plans of rebuilding anew the infrastructure and private homes, there is without question in my mind the special qualities of character, hard work and vision for the future that will lead the Bahamian people to an even greater level of prosperity and happiness through the generosity of all.
The Bahamian people will rebuild themselves through our encouragement and benevolence. They know they are not alone, for there has been a special bond between us mariners and islanders throughout the world since the time our world was first circumnavigated.
We know the Hopetown lighthouse still stands, and so does the resilience and determination of all Bahamians. This is a special place for so many people who travel to it and through it.
My kudos and heartfelt esteem to each and every individual that has given and shared in the hardships and triumphs of the human heart, standing hand-in-hand and standing strong with our Bahamian brothers and sisters, assuring them of hope and blessing them with our fellowship and dignity, for it is our actions that show our love. I now hope we all can realize the gift of knowing just how close we are to the Bahamas.
One final thought, and please slowly smile like an easy sunset as I share the Bahamian national motto: Forward, Upward, Onward, Together.”
Capt. Patrick “Doc” Connelly is 100 ton USCG captain, certified royal butler, and avid private yacht owner for 30 years.