Hurricane Dorian became the strongest-ever storm to hit the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas this past weekend. In addition, it became the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record. Even while it was still pounding the islands, yacht owners, crews, and industry representatives were mobilizing aid. The effort continues, too. In fact, yachting is helping the Bahamas in large part not just because of industry efforts, but also because of yacht and megayacht owners and crew, too.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall Sunday afternoon at Elbow Cay with 185-mph winds, as a Category 5 storm. The pace was just 8 mph prior to landfall and slowed to a standstill on Sunday. This meant the high sustained winds and higher gusts, the latter exceeding 200 mph at times, lashed the islands for more than a full day. Furthermore, storm surge exceeded 20 feet (6 meters). Because of the storm’s duration, Bahamian officials still have not assessed the damage throughout the Abaco Islands as of press time.
Regardless, they have been collaborating with aid agencies, in preparation for assistance. Furthermore, yachting organizations and individuals with contacts in the islands have been coordinating aid as well. Here are a few ways yachting is helping the Bahamas, and how you can play a key role.
YachtAid Global. The well-known non-profit headed by a former megayacht captain is working with the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). It’s also working with security and disaster authorities in the islands. YachtAid Global specializes in these types of responses, providing superyacht disaster relief in the Caribbean last year, for example. Operation Topaz, YachtAid Global’s current effort, will be one of the most visible ways yachting is helping the Bahamas. Fresh water will flow from the watermakers of megayachts from 150 to 200 feet (46 to 61 meters) in the islands in several days. In addition, these same yachts will load aid supplies and carry disaster and recovery teams to the affected regions. One is Loon, a 155-footer (47-meter). In fact, she will transmit images and video from the affected areas, to help NEMA. The connectivity company e3 Systems is boosting her bandwidth purposely for this.
Hope 4 Hope Town. Yachting-industry veterans created this Facebook group, open to those wishing to assist. The mission is to provide much-needed supplies, as well as transportation of these supplies by air or water. Supplies in need range from water to non-perishable food, baby formula, toilet paper, personal hygiene products, towels, bug spray, sleeping bags, batteries, and flashlights. Also needed: generators, tarps, chainsaws, and other tools. As for transportation, already, Hope 4 Hope Town has an unnamed 185-foot (56-meter) megayacht as well as two 300-foot (91-meter) barges ready to go to the Bahamas this coming weekend.
Hope 4 Hope Town has a handful of drop-off locations in South Florida. One is Jetscape, a fixed based operator at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. The Jetscape Alpha facility staff will load aid onto planes, as well as transport them to yachts heading to the islands. The FBO is well-versed in these efforts, having provided aid to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Three additional Hope 4 Hope Town drop-off locations are the Riverside Markets, specifically two in Fort Lauderdale and one in Plantation, Florida.
Tropic Ocean Airways. This charter seaplane operation offers regular flights to the Bahamas. It’s popular among yacht owners and guests, as well as industry representatives. Tropic Ocean Airways will conduct reconnaissance missions to assess the damage after the storm. It’s additionally working with Hope 4 Hope Town to deliver aid and communicate ongoing needs.
YachtAid Global yachtaidglobal.org
Hope 4 Hope Town facebook.com/groups/495049037962870
Tropic Ocean Airways flytropic.com