PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten Hurricanes Irma and Maria are off the front pages in Europe and the United States. But across the northern Caribbean, they remain a harsh reality. Humanitarian needs are profound. Reconstruction is a top priority to restore the Caribbean as a popular superyacht destination and vacation spot. Island Global Yachting, a US company that manages and services marinas and real estate in the Caribbean appeals to the yachting industry to provide aid. It says there is an “acute need” to assist island communities. IGY Marinas and its parent, Island Capital Group LLC. have sponsored an organization to raise relief aid. “Government resources will in many cases take too long to serve their purpose,” IGY says. “The NYC Eastern Caribbean Relief Fund Inc. has filed for 501c(3) status and we anticipate that contributions to the enterprise will be tax deductible.” Valeska Luckert, secretary of the Marine Trades Association St Maarten, says, “The yachting industry has enjoyed and benefitted from St Maarten for so many years. Now is the time when we need your support and care to help us bounce back. We need the boats to return for us to recover!”
Stabilize and rebuild
K1 Britannia Foundation, whose volunteers distributed food and water to more than a 1,000 people on St. Maarten immediately after the hurricane, says what is needed are “long-term solutions to stabilize and rebuild.” The foundation, named after the historical classic sailing yacht Britannia, adds. “We have a vision to help the island and work together with the local marine industry to get St. Maarten back on its feet and bring back tourism to the island.” The group launched its appeal at the 2017 Monaco Yacht Show. It calls on the global yachting community to provide financing for St. Maarten so that yachts will quickly return to the island and restart the economy.
‘We desperately need your help’
The marine industry plays a huge role in St. Maarten’s economy. “The yachting industry has endured a lot of damage during Hurricane Irma,” says Luckert. Materials are being flown in to get the docks back up and running and ready to receive yachts.” Marinas are working together to repair docks and clear underwater debris. Several intend to reopen as of Nov. 1. “The island will not be back in full service as that will take some time. But we are confident we will soon have an even stronger St Maarten,” says Luckert.
Robert Wielaard is a freelance journalist writing about high-end yachting and other issues