Update Oct. 1: M/Y Axis continues to make deliveries to the northern Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama. Capt. Les Annan and the yacht’s crew have loaded and unloaded many donations in conjunction with the local Rotary.
“We have four 20-foot containers – everything from 50 kilo bags of rice to a brand new fancy golf cart, trash bags, roofing materials, and wheelbarrows,” Capt. Annan said in a video to The Triton on Sept. 27.
A spokesman for the Rotary of Grand Bahama Sunrise, James Sarles, was onsite in the Bahamas for an offloading of M/Y Axis and offered gratitude for the donations in a video sent on Sept. 25.
By Dorie Cox
The numbers are bigger than usual for the crew on M/Y Axis since Sept. 1, when Hurricane Dorian hit the northern Bahamas. That means more supplies, fuel, water and provisions. As soon as the 185-mph winds of the Category 5 storm began a path of destruction, Capt. Annan figured the 182-foot Damen support yacht would make a relief trip. That plan came together when marine businesses, shipyards, marinas, yacht captains and crew, yacht owners and longtime visitors to the islands began to collect money and supplies to donate to people in need on Abaco and Grand Bahamas.
Fifty-nine is the number of tons of donated generators, chainsaws, construction materials, tools, medical supplies and food that were delivered for the people of the Bahamas on Axis’ first trip after the storm.
Typically stacked with tenders, a submarine, a seaplane, small sailboats and jetskis, the boat’s decks were cleared and by Sept. 6, the hurricane relief supplies were loaded on board at Dania Cut Super Yacht Repair in Dania Beach, Florida. By early afternoon the next day, four shipping containers and countless pallets were offloaded in the Bahamas.
The crossing from Dania Beach to Freeport, Grand Bahama, was smooth, Capt. Annan said. A dock was intact for tying up and the local Rotary Club was on hand to take the donations to distribute.
“We offloaded in two hours,” he said. “It only took that long because I had to turn the boat around to reach the containers on the other side. They are taking them [the donations] to the warehouse and we’re bringing them [the containers] back empty.”
Eight is the number of lines M/Y Axis can run to offload liquids to waiting containers on the Bahamian islands. The yacht can make 10,000 gallons of water a day and carries a lot of fuel.
“I’m running four water, two gas and two diesel hoses,” Capt. Annan said of the yacht’s capabilities.
Bosun Rob Crot helps manage 52,000 gallons of diesel, a 150-gallon gas tank in the lazarette, a 2,500-gallon tank on deck, and six 55-gallon drums.
“We make water and have two big jugs on deck, and we’re taking two water towers over on this run,” Crot said of a trip planned for late September.
Other relief vessels and Bahamian boats have been organized to refill their tanks from Axis’ stores, including large water tanks, small jugs, and large plastic cubes mounted on all-terrain vehicles for delivery to people in difficult-to-reach areas. There have been a couple of businesses that used fuel and water from Axis, including two fast food restaurants now open and feeding people.
Twelve is the number of crew onboard for M/Y Axis’ mission to help after Dorian. The yacht has taken on two volunteers, along with the 10 regular crew.
“It’s hard, hot work,” Capt. Annan said. “Hauling cargo is a lot more work than yachting.”
Everyone wears steel-toe shoes, gloves and eye protection, and there is armed security on every trip.
The crew have been told to move carefully. They rigged cargo net on deck for shade, and there are coolers with ice and drinks everywhere.
As time passes, the priorities of disaster relief efforts change, Capt. Annan said in late September.
“Now we’re over the emergency response phase – now we’re not rescuing people,” he said.
But Capt. Annan and the crew keep in mind that many of the Bahamian people they encounter have lost homes and loved ones, so emotions may run high. To help keep situations calm, Capt. Annan said, the crew often first offer water and a sandwich to people they encounter. This can slow down the urgency and keep deliveries orderly.
“You can see in their eyes they are excited,” Capt. Annan said. “We have to tell them, ‘Please, wait your turn, relax.’ And they do.”
M/Y Axis expects to continue running relief trips through October. And that is all right with the crew.
“Everyone is excited to help, because as yachties, we all love the Bahamas – it’s like our second home,” Crot said.
That’s why Capt. Annan tells them, “Slow and smooth. Smooth is fast. We have to be safe.”
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comment at email@example.com.