Graphic pictures of badly damaged boats and yachts that have run ashore, some lying on top of each other, illustrate the impact of Cyclone Pam on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu.
The massive storm, with winds of over 200 miles an hour, ravaged the isolated group of over 80 islands, located around 1,000 miles northeast of Australia. Some 60 of the islands are inhabited.
Formerly known as the New Hebrides, Vanuatu has a population of around 260,000 people, of which some 45,000 live in the capital Port Vila on Efate Island.
Port Vila is also the main port and main yachting centre of the island, although in quieter times there are a number of anchorages throughout the islands that cruising yachts and superyachts make use of.
Port Vila is also one of the country’s four ports of entry. Aid is now being flown in from Australia, New Zealand and the UK, among others.
It is too early to gauge the extent of damage to local boats and yachts, but from the pictures seen it is likely to run into many thousands of dollars with several craft likely to be written off.
David Jamieson, managing director of Yacht Help in Fiji has reported that there may have been a few cruising yachts in the islands but no superyachts at present.
“YachtAid Global (YAG) in San Diego has launched an appeal for any superyachts to help with the situation, especially in the southern islands where they can help with their water-makers to provide fresh water. There are a couple of superyachts in Fiji and they have asked their owners if they can go and help,” he told told Subperyacht Business’ sister title IBI.
YAG, in launching its appeal for yachts to help with the situation, is matching any donation up to $5,000. YAG orchestrates the delivery of disaster relief, development and conservation aid to coastal communities worldwide. The organisation was founded in 2006 and is registered as non-profit, providing tax benefits to donors.
A website statement says: “We utilise a network of volunteers who coordinate logistics, patrons who sponsor supplies, and yacht owners and crew that offer to transport them. We deliver to schools, medical clinics, cultural centres and other organisations in remote and isolated locations, including Alaska, Indonesia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, French Polynesia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Belize, Vanuatu and more. We work with an impressive roster of yachts to provide the owners and crew with an outlet to give back in a unique way that does not change the course of their cruise.”
Jess Bell, managing director of Kaleva Yachting Service-Vanuatu, told IBI from Hawaii where she is currently waiting to return to Port Vila that efforts are also direct to enlist superyachts to assist. “Any help now is critical. There is no infrastructure to get to the outer islands. It will only be by helicopter and yacht. The outer islands of Vanuatu are completely subsistence living – ie, no stores. They grow all their own food. The cyclone has taken out all their crops, so there is nothing left for them to eat. Drinking water will only be rainwater, and during cyclones that is contaminated so they could have no water.” Kaleva is the AYSS member in Vanuatu.
The main yachting facility in Vanuatu is Yachting World’s Sea Wall marina in Port Vila. It offers stern-on berthing plus a number of swing moorings.
In other news, yachts departing Auckland as part of the Volvo Ocean Race have been further delayed as a result of Cyclone Pam, which has lost some of its ferocity since leaving Vanuatu.