By Dorie Cox and Lucy Chabot Reed
Two days after Hurricane Dorian’ s 185 mph winds and relentless rains hit the northern Bahamas, Capt. Paul Clarke and the crew of M/Y Loon arrived in the Abacos to help.
The 155-foot Christensen, loaded with a 28-person disaster aid team and donated relief supplies, was the first yacht into the region. Each department on board went straight to work.
The captain and deck crew took soundings of the waters and reopened the harbor. They went ashore to document damaged buildings and broken docks. They ferried doctors, paramedics and medical supplies to the islands – up to 300 miles in the tender each day.
The engineering crew restored power to the generator so the airport could reopen, made water and ice, and offloaded fuel. And using the boat’s satellite connection, they enabled displaced Bahamians to contact loved ones. Then, as other relief began to arrive with aid, the bosun monitored marine radio as temporary harbormaster.
Wednesday night, Capt. Clarke and the 10-member crew of M/Y Loon were honored with the Distinguished Crew Award at the 29th annual International Design & Leadership Awards gala.
“We didn’t do it for an award,” said Capt. Clarke, accepting the award on behalf of his crew. “We did it to do our part. We spent seven weeks in the Abacos this summer, and when the storm came, we said – pardon my language – holy shit.”
Yachting-based charity YachtAid Global put out a message looking for volunteers. Within an hour, Capt. Clarke had made contact and began making plans. A charter had canceled so the yacht was quiet. This was three days before the storm hit.
“My biggest message today is that we can all do it,” Clarke told the assembled guests of the ISS gala. “Honestly, I burned a bit of fuel. There was no damage to the yacht, no damage to the tender. There should have been 20 of us there, not one.
“Our insurance company had no problem with it; our owner had no problem with it,” Capt. Clarke said of the voyage into the area. “So the next time this happens – and there will be another storm, in the Bahamas or the Caribbean – let’s get there.”
Others honored with ISS awards
Leadership Award: Yacht designer John Munford of John Munford Designs in Southampton, England.
Technology Award: Voith Linear Jet for its first application in a yacht.
Business Person of the Year: Joe Farrell, founder of Fort Lauderdale-based Resolve Marine Group.
Artisan Award: Marco Moeller of Abeking & Rasmussen.
Fabien Cousteau Blue Award: 4Ocean.
Several yachts and designers were also awarded, including the 85m M/Y O’Ptasia, built by Golden Yachts, for best power yacht over 65m; the 63m M/Y Utopia IV, built by Rossinavi, for best power yacht, 40-65m; the 38m M/Y Vista Blue, built by Custom Line, for best power yacht, 24-40m; the 56m S/Y Aquarius, built by Royal Huisman, for best sailing yacht over 40m; and the 31m S/Y Seatius, built by Southern Wind Shipyard, for best sailing yacht, 24-40m. Aquarius also won for best interior design. Best refit was given to the 39m Vitters S/Y G2, which was refit at Pendennis.
Dorie Cox is editor and Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of Triton Today. Comments are welcome below.