The natural disaster has swept relatively under the radar considering the international focus on managing the Covid-19 pandemic, however the effects of the Cyclone have been devastating for Vanuatu. Category-5 Cyclone Harold became the strongest ever storm to hit Espiritu Santo, the largest island in Vanuatu, when it made landfall on April 6. Heavy rainfall, flash flooding, life-threatening storm surges and reported wind gusts of over 300 kph have caused extensive damage to the island. The total destruction of buildings, homes and schools as well as power, food and water supplies has left over 159,000 people deprived of basic human needs.
Despite the superyacht industry being impacted severely by the Covid-19 crisis, YachtAid Global’s efforts to coordinate a relief fund show the strength of the industry and its ability to lift the nations that make superyacht travel so special.
Captain Mark Drewelow, Founder and Executive Director of YachtAid Global, stated: "YachtAid Global's work in Vanuatu, as Operation Nasama, is a collaborative effort with Port of Call Vanuatu, Seal Superyachts Vanuatu, Fruit of the Pacific New Zealand, Noumea Ocean New Caledonia and Yacht Help Fiji. This Operation is successful because of what we all bring to the table—together our different skill sets equal a whole.
"Around the world, YachtAid Global is constantly working on expanding our vetted charity partner network in areas that yachts cruise. This network then becomes the first responders during time of crisis like in Vanuatu. The pre-planned conservation and humanitarian work during blue sky times, not only improves lives and the planet, but sets us up for successful work during high stress times.”
YachtAid Global is acting strictly as a communications and funding mechanism within Operation Nasama during the initial phases of relief efforts. Unfortunately, unlike other initiatives it has spearheaded YachtAid is not able to organise vessels to help with distribution or physical aid due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. When Cyclone Pam hit the South Pacific in 2015, YachtAid Global was able to work with superyachts such as 73.30m Dragonfly to deliver supplies to Vanuatu.
The preventative measures enforced as a result of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the logistics of distribution relief to Vanuatu. However, YachtAid, along with its partners, is using local relief organizations in the country to provide short and long-term support for survivors of the natural disaster. This does mean that emergency water, food, hygiene, medical and shelter supplies can get to those affected by the Cyclone, with aid reaching Vanuatu under a controlled measure.
YachtAid Global is one of six founding partners involved in Operation Nasama, which is named in honor of the native word for Vanuatu’s outrigger canoes. Among the other partners is SEAL Superyachts, an international yacht services agency which has expertise in humanitarian aid. SEAL is currently working closely with all the outer island communities and is facilitating direct aid from donor partners to support those in need.
The untouched natural beauty of Vanuatu has made the nation a favourite yachting destination in the South Pacific, offering a unique experience that is enhanced by the amazing hospitality provided by the locals. For such a long time, the country has welcomed visiting superyachts wishing to explore the islands, and now they need the support of the yachting community to rebuild their lives, homes and communities. We encourage those who can donate to do so via the secure payment gateway on the YachtAid Global website, with all donations going directly to the disaster relief efforts under careful vetting and placement to maximise the impact for donors and the receivers.