Richard Branson's Yacht on Humanitarian Run

Published Nov 13, 2014 4:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

The philanthropic business magnate, Sir Richard Branson, is assisting YachtAid Global in delivering supplies to kids and families in St. Maarten for post Hurricane Gonzalo relief using his yacht Necker Belle.

On 14 October 2014, Hurricane Gonzalo raced through St. Maarten. The people of St. Maarten were expecting a tropical storm and, only 30 minutes prior to landfall received notice the storm had grown into a Category 3 hurricane. With very little preparation time, the island residents did not have proper protection in place as the storm swept over the island.

Learning of this and set to attend the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, YachtAid Global Volunteer Event Advisor, Dhardra Blake, sought out which yachts would be headed South after the show and could assist in delivering much needed supplies to either St. Maarten or Antigua.

“YAG’s mission simply is to seek out and find like-minded captains and owners to participate in our humanitarian efforts,” says Blake. “There are so many yachts which travel close to areas in need, whatever the cause. It’s our suggestion to deploy private yachts as a transport vehicle for donated aid and relief supplies. With YAG assisting in disaster relief, literally any region is accessible.” Blake has been volunteering for YachtAid Global since 2009.

Jessica Price from H20 Yachtwear connected Blake with Captain Beez Evans of the Necker Belle who was keen to assist and participate in his first YAG delivery. With a short turnaround time prior to the yacht’s departure from Rybovich Superyacht Marina, relief aid supplies were solicited from local yachting industry firms including Yacht Chandlers, Medical Offshore Support Limited, MedAire and The Ditch Kit. 

Yacht Chandlers generously picked up the donations from YAG’s donated storage facility at RoboVault in Ft. Lauderdale and arranged delivery to the yacht at Rybovich Superyacht Marina in West Palm Beach. A team of volunteers then transferred the supplies to Necker Belle. IGY Marinas in St Maarten is also donating a slip for the offloading of aid/supplies as well as an overnight stay for the crew.

“Working with YAG on disaster relief is a welcome opportunity for us and a meaningful philanthropic endeavor,” says Evans of Necker Belle.

Mark Drewelow, Founder of YachtAid Global, remarks, “YachtAid Global is proud to be able to be able to assist quickly and efficiently with aid to disaster areas. We are still seeking more yachts to deliver needed supplies to Antigua which was also affected by Hurricane Gonzalo, and would like to assist the island in preparation for the 2014 Antigua Charter Show coming up in a few weeks.”