In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Victoria Fine and Jon Vidar could not sit by and do nothing. Jon and Tory are full-time liveaboards and cruisers who were passing the off-season in San Juan, Puerto Rico when Irma decided to wreak havoc on the islands. They immediately started mobilizing their friends and fellow boaters to bring supplies to their neighbors.
In the first week, what started as a few emails turned into a Facebook group of more than 1,000 people and a team of amazing volunteers across the country.
in just the first few days SAILORS HELPING:
- Coordinated two planes, three flights, and all associated clearances for more than 16,000 pounds of immediate aid to Anguilla and Tortola (including more than $5,000 worth of supplies from Sailors Helping donations, in collaboration with Ameriflight and YachtAid Global)
- Coordinated two palettes of donations from the PR Navy onto S/V Manna bound for JVD, Road Town, Tortola
- Coordinated $2,000 of supplies from Sailors Helping donations and two planes of immediate aid to Vieques in with Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico
- Coordinated airplane evacuation for a group of young women out of St. Martin
- Coordinated water and additional delivery donation from Jost van Dyke charity to be delivered to JVD
- Coordinated boat pickup evacuation for family in St. John
- Work with the PR Navy, sailing groups and Airbnb to provide details of free housing via AirBnB for displaced persons as people evacuated
- Met with Virgin Unite to help coordinate on-the-ground communications in Tortola
- Met with Banco Popular about providing matching funds for all donations raised
- Provided forum and up-to-the-minute information on clearances, safety and needs for boats and planes attempting to provide aid to the islands
- Secured table space at both the Newport & Annapolis Boat Shows
- Directly raised nearly $20,000 for Sailors Helping initiatives and more than $200,000 through our immediate sailing network of friends' fundraisers
And then Hurricane Maria hit... Our HQ in Puerto Rico went from massive coordination of supplies into our neighboring islands to run and hide. Puerto Rico, along with many of the islands Irma missed, has been devastated. As we post this updated website from the FEMA HQ at the Sheraton Convention Center in San Juan, the country still remains without power and running water a week after the storm. Fuel is scarce and trips into the grocery stores are limited to 10 minutes per customer.
While this slowed down our efforts, it has not stopped them. We are just more determined.
This winter, Sailors Helping will be maintaining "Ports & Projects". The interactive map provides provide up-to-date information on port status including safety, fuel, water, provisions, and all the things that you need to know before setting course. In addition, at the port level, we're coordinating efforts around volunteer opportunities to get you plugged in once you arrive.
This January, we will also be organizing the Rally to Rebuild. Think a massive flotilla meets Habitat for Humanity. We're also working with boating groups around the world to coordinate branded volunteer events to get the Caribbean back in action.
Our goal is simple. We work with the local boating communities on each island to identify the people and local businesses that don’t have the support they need to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. We share this information with anyone ready to pick up a shovel, a hammer, or a trowel and help our island friends rebuild, one brick at a time.