Industry » Features » Social Responsibility and Yachting - How we can all get involved

Social Responsibility and Yachting - How we can all get involved

Social Responsibility Pixabay 140

With Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole currently wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, Bahamas and USA, and already having beaten down Haiti (like they need yet another disaster – not having recovered from previous ones), I thought it appropriate in this month’s column, to discuss and suggest how yachties can become more socially responsible and have a look at what we can all do to give back to local communities, animal charities and organisations.

We recently had this discussion on my Facebook group, Yacht Stewardess Tips, and members contributed some wonderful ideas for projects, as well as highlighting existing charities which do so much to alleviate the needs of people, animals and the environment.

It is truly heart-warming to see how yacht crew members and owners already give back, raising money and getting involved in local charities all over the world. Keep up the good work!

C4C Monaco

When we live and work in yachting - a world surrounded by opulence and wastefulness, it’s important we remember that not everyone shares this privilege. There are so many simple ways that yachts can help, even by doing something as simple as donating time at local shelters and charities instead of wasting a whole day in the local pub.

At Super Yachting South Africa, a company that I co-own, we have chosen to donate a percentage of our annual income to local welfare and animal charities – we call it SYSA CARES, and each year, we get involved in different initiatives, such as:

Donating baby clothes to Out of Africa, a local charity for abandoned new-born babies, sending boxes to Santa's Shoebox at Christmas, donating to several animal charities (dogs are my favourite thing in the whole world!!), sending a worker and his colleagues from a local animal shelter on a once-in-a-lifetime boat trip (his biggest wish), donating food and animal accessories to local animal charities and cooking for soup kitchens or making sandwiches for Cape Town townships during Mandela Day 67 minutes (18th July each year). 

Out of Africa

We encourage the thousands of South African yachties in the industry to get involved in any of these wonderful South African initiatives and charities. Already so many yacht crew and owners are doing great things and we encourage more of you to get involved in whatever way you can, or even to start your own project – we can make a huge difference and helping others is immensely gratifying!

Hurricane Matthew Help - USA

Yacht Aid Global has been dedicated to providing disaster relief aid and humanitarian support to remote coastal communities since 2006. They have an extensive network combining yacht owners, yacht crew, logistics volunteers and donors who purchase and/or deliver disaster relief aid to affected coastal communities. Over the past decade they have delivered aid to over 20 countries in collaboration with over 40 superyachts and 400 crew, positively impacting the lives of over 100,000 people worldwide.

Hurricane Matthew wikimedia commons

Currently their volunteer team is working to support disaster relief operations in the countries impacted by Hurricane Matthew, focusing on The Bahamas and Cuba.

So far the hurricane has created major issues in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, and the USA, and it’s not over yet. The full impact of Hurricane Matthew, along with Hurricane Nicole, is yet to be measured and I encourage all yachts in and around these areas, or heading there soon, to contribute in any way they can. 

Yachts du Coeur - Cannes

Les Yachts du Coeur, based in Cannes, France, fights hunger and protects the environment by supporting and developing food banks. Since 2010, they have collected 20 tons of food from superyachts and coastal businesses in and around Cannes, on the French Riviera. Roughly 40,000 meals have been collected by local food banks and re-distributed to 105 local associations to feed over 30,000 people. That’s equivalent to €20,0000 of food at €5 per meal that would otherwise have gone to landfills!

Approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is thrown away.

That’s 1.3 billion tons of food each year that could be used to feed people in need. There are many reasons why this happens, including over-stocking, over-production, failure to harvest, post-harvest losses. Food banks need this nutritious, perfectly edible food that is unsalable for one reason or another, and will distribute it to local associations to feed people in need. Without this intervention, much of this food - from superyachts, retailers, manufacturers, restaurants, hotels and other sources - would end up in landfills.

Here’s how you can help Les Yachts du Coeur:

Arrange for your yacht to give food to Yachts du Coeur or make a financial donation. Contact them, spread the word among friends and colleagues on yachts and let them know how they can get involved. You can also sign up for Yacht du Coeur’s newsletter for updates on all their projects.

Ugandan Orphanage - Alexandra Jane Edwards

A yachtie by the name of Alexandra Jane Edwards is planning to help several charities in Uganda, specifically orphanages. Uganda’s war-torn and poverty stricken children and animals suffer horrendous atrocities each day. Poverty and disease are serious problems compounded by poor sanitation, dirty water and inadequate housing. Only 52% of the population has access to clean water and there is only one doctor for every 300,000 of its 31 million citizens.

Although food grows easily in Uganda, occasional droughts cause severe famine. Uganda also suffers from very high infection of HIV. The World Bank estimates 1.5 million Ugandans were living with AIDS in 2015 and AIDS related deaths increase the number of orphans on a daily basis.

The other most common diseases include prenatal and maternal conditions, malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea. Infectious diseases, such as meningitis, cholera, dysentery, plague, and human sleeping sickness have also increased as a result of the breakdown of the health system.

Alexandra’s aim is to support an established orphanage called Chrystal as well as a small local school.

She has also set up a fundraising page on gofundme if you would like to donate something.

Click to read more about Ugandan orphanages.


Cogs 4 Cancer

In October 2017, the Cogs 4 Cancer team will be setting off on an endurance bike ride from London to Antibes an adventure open to the men and women of the yachting industry. They are inviting yachties, companies and individuals to get involved in helping to raise as much money as they can for cancer charities in France and the UK.

Also in support of Cogs 4 Cancer, Alain Minault of Tecnoyachts, the Riviera-based yacht supply and services company, will be taking part in the ‘Grand Raid de la Réunion’ endurance running race which takes place between the 20 - 23 October 2016.

This ultra-endurance event is one of the Top 10 most challenging courses in the world, covering 167 km on foot with an uphill elevation of over 10,000 metres! Alain is hoping to complete the race in under 50 hours.

Recently, Sylvester Stallone’s support was announced in a post on Facebook page – thanks to him for getting involved and please feel free to join him!

You can follow their Facebook page here and to sponsor Alain please visit the C4C Just Giving page.

© Photo Facebook 

Related Article:
Can the Yachting Industry Change the World?



Yacht Chefs Sharing Leftovers with Homeless People in Marinas

A yacht chef by the name of Arran Forgham has recently been praised on Facebook by his crew in Greece where he made meal boxes from leftover food in the yacht’s fridge (never short of supplies). He went in search of homeless people in need of a good meal which, as he mentions, did not take very long in the area around the marina. His only regret was not being able to provide a more permanent food program for these local people.

This is something all yachts could consider - what do you currently do with your yacht’s leftovers?

MY Talitha – Burpee Challenge

Captain Guy Morrall of MY Talitha felt that he and his crew could combine Atlantic and other long crossings with a challenge for a good cause.

In 2010, they rowed their way across the Atlantic to raise money for UNICEF and in Antigua they completed a goat track challenge to raise money for a local charity. In 2014, each crewmember completed a sponsored challenge to complete as many press-ups as there were miles in their transatlantic crossing - approximately 3,400 each!

MY TalithaThis year the crew have created a new campaign - WhatNot2Waste - and have committed to completing 1, 000,000 burpees by the end of 2016 to focus the attention of yacht crews and owners on the need to reduce waste onboard superyachts.

“Now, and for some time, we have lived in a world of abundance and excess. Our expectation is that we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it,” says Captain Morrall.

“WhatNot2Waste thinks it’s a simple matter of realigning some attitudes, encouraging crew to ask questions, and reminding some that it’s everyone’s responsibility to do more to waste less.”

Since the inception of their burpees project, other yachts have joined in committing a minimum of one month to the challenge. So far yachts such as MY Nahlin, MY Dragonfly, MY Butterfly, MY April, MY Shemara, MY Turmoil and MY Infinity have signed up and many others are considering it.

This amazing crew even donates their time while guests are ashore during charters. In August 2016 they spent time cleaning around the shoreline of Italy, picking up plastic bottles and rubbish which had been dumped or washed up.

All this is about more than burpees and keeping fit - Talitha’s crew has also been implementing strategies for waste reduction techniques on board. They have very strict garbage separation and recycling practices on board, they have reduced their meat intake, they use more environmentally friendly and bio-degradable cleaning products and have introduced re-useable water bottles for crew. Wherever possible they also reduce cruising speeds to reduce their carbon footprint from fuel emissions.

If you are interested in joining them in this wonderful cause please contact them by email:

You can also follow WhatNot2Waste on Facebook. 

recycling bins wikimedia

Recycling Facilities in Marinas

Something that has been bothering me for years, on a personal level, is the fact that the majority of superyacht marinas, even the really fancy and expensive ones, do not provide proper recycling facilities for yachts, and I believe the pressure must come from the yachting community to change this. There is no sense in religiously separating garbage on board when there are no facilities in the marinas to dispose of this neatly separated rubbish.

Any ideas are welcome – let’s get the show on the road!

Rhys Cochrane - Crew Member Missing at Sea

The same day a beloved Kiwi crew member, Rhys Cochrane, disappeared while swimming around his employer’s yacht anchored off the islands near Cannes, Facebook was abuzz with the tragic news and immediately yacht crew in the area launched search parties, encouraging crew in the area to help in any way possible.

Sadly his body was recovered days later, but it was truly heart-warming how the yachting community immediately came together offering physical and financial support, paying for his parents’ trip from New Zealand to Europe and for search helicopters, etc.

They also set up a donation page and for any Kiwis looking to get involved in charities back home, you might want to take a look at this page to see what’s current.

NZ fundraising

Gareth Pullen - One of our own Diagnosed with a Rare Life-threatening Condition

For the past week, this fundraising project has gone viral on Facebook, and literally dozens of yacht companies and yacht crew have committed not only to donating funds, but also to promoting fundraising efforts for Gareth Pullen, a well-known and well-loved yachtie from Palma.

Here is his story in his own words:

“As many of you may know, I’ve struggled with my health for many years now - mainly my non-existent sleep patterns but also chronic headaches and migraines, poor memory, brain fog and fatigue.

I had to leave full time work back in 2008, as I was simply not well enough to wake up each day and function properly whilst trying to conform to a 9 - 5 work day. As a result, I went into bar work for a few years and started freelancing as a website developer.

In 2010 I started to suffer from a series of collapses, 13 times that year I believe. I either woke up in an ambulance en route to A&E, or in the middle of a street surrounded by police and worried passers-by... even once at the bottom of the kitchen stairs of the pub I was working at, being slid onto a spinal board with morphine being injected into my arm.

Over the last couple of years symptoms have worsened. In 2015, I think I was rushed in by ambulance a couple of times again, and over the last two months a further three times. I’ve started to get temporary vision problems, extreme pressure in the head, and lack of sensation on half of my body at times, and a few weeks back I had what felt like a mini-stroke. I couldn’t move much of the right side of my face for about a week, and struggled to remember where I had been.

Gareth PullenSince then I have been suffering with uncontrollable burps and hiccups, balance and gait issues, nausea, worsening cognitive and memory issues, and I’m barely managing to look after myself at the moment.

Finally, a few days after I had the mini-stroke, one of the surgeons from Germany called me and confirmed my fears – I have a rare type of brain tumour called a Pineal Region Cystic Tumour, right in the centre of my head.

There are only 20 or so brain surgeons around the world who are prepared to operate on these, and who specialise in them.

Dr. Henry Schroeder of the Greifswald University Hospital in Germany has offered me an amazing price of €24,000 for my surgery, and wants to get the cyst out as soon as possible. I am hoping to have surgery before the end of the year.

My most recent MRI scans show that it has developed into two separate cysts, and is now starting to develop further into three or possibly four separate cysts. Its location and size obstructs the proper flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) around the ventricles of the brain, and compresses vital parts such as the tectal plate, the internal cerebral vein, vein of Rosenthal and vein of Galen, causing a wide array of different symptoms. I really can’t wait much longer to get this out, and know that surgery is my only option at this point.

The money raised will be used for my surgery in Germany, flights, travel and accommodation, as well as anything I may need during my three to six month recovery. Anything over and above what I need may be passed on to other people in the same situation or towards helping raise awareness of this rare condition. I intend to make a full recovery and be back to full time work as soon as possible, but would also like to dedicate several months to helping other 'Cysters' as we call each other.”

If you would like to support him, please visit Gareth’s Pullen's fundraising page

Several fundraising events have also been organised over in Palma and have been advertised on major yachtie groups all over Facebook. Please pop in to any of the businesses and bars supporting this effort in the course of the next few weeks.

Palma Cathedral

Charities in Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Palma seems to be a hub for animal charities and welfare organisations and a lot of yachties have already got involved. Well done to all of you who are supporting these causes, and here are some great suggestions for those of you living in the area or spending time there who would like to join in:

Allen Graham Charity 4 Kidz

Charity4Kidz will be immensely grateful to anyone getting rid of surplus food, beverages or other stock, such as new and used uniforms, old towels, sheets, etc. They have a large van available to collect items directly from your yacht or doorstep.

A local resident and fellow yachtie, Ann Calverly, recently shared her thoughts with me on charity activity in Palma, which seems to be very much alive and in need of more volunteers and donations.

“Nearly every week (and at certain key times of the year), I see posts from crew asking about how to dispose of their unwanted items that charities need. I firmly believe that the principle of donating unwanted items, particularly food, is a great one. I see so many posts on all the yacht crew Facebook pages around the world, and I have been a volunteer with Allen Graham for six years.

I would like to raise awareness of the levels of need in Palma, which appears to many uninformed people as a paradise. But since I support all charities, especially Palma-based ones, I have made a bit of headway with Caroline's dog walking group on Facebook (see below) and another that feeds the homeless.

The yachting community here in Palma is very supportive of charities, especially Allen Graham, which benefits from the proceeds of the Baby Jesus Golf, the animal charities which benefit from Quiz Nights at the Escape Bar, and Asociación Ondine for which there is about to be a major fundraising evening."

Ondine marine reserves

Associación Ondine - Marine Conservation

Asociación Ondine is a non-profit organization in Mallorca combining science, business, local communities and conservation to protect and improve local marine ecosystems around the Balearic Islands.

This is all very good for crews residing here in Palma, but the transient nature of the industry often means that travelling crews may not be familiar with who to contact when, for example, they have a very small window to dispose of perishable goods.” 

To learn more about Ondine's activities and how you can get involved please visit their website

Caroline Stapley - Animal Welfare

Caroline Stapley, another local in Palma, has started an informal dog walking group for dogs from the local animal shelter. She encourages yachties who are in Palma permanently or temporarily to join her for Saturday dog walking - a chance to get off the yacht, get some exercise and sunshine and take the dogs out of their cages. To get involved with the local animal charity, or to adopt a local animal if you have settled in Palma, contact Rescate Animal Mallorca.

Justice for Jacob - Yachtie Seriously Injured Onboard

JacobYacht crew, especially deck and engineering crew, work with a level of risk to their personal safety, which is why strict safety policies are in place and must be followed. However, a young yacht crew member, Jacob Nicol, had a very unfortunate accident on 3 May 2015 while working on board his vessel.

This 22 year old engineer was asked to clean the side of the yacht as they were anchored some 300 meters from Puerto Portals, Mallorca. This was a task that he had never undertaken before as his job revolved around the running and maintenance of the engine. After he was rigged up to the fender hook with his seat and lowered down the side, he was left alone to clean the chrome strip.

At some point during the task, the fender hook that he was rigged to gave way, slipping from the side of the yacht. He was hit on the head by the 20kg fender hook and fell into the water, still tied to the fender hook, which began to drag him down as he lost consciousness.

By the time he was spotted he had already sunk beneath the surface and was only visible due to the brightness of his white shirt from the top deck. After being rescued from the water, no pulse could be found and he wasn't breathing as he lay on the bottom deck. Forty minutes later, Jacob was collected by the Spanish ambulance service, by which time, due to the persistence of the young men and staff nurse in delivering CPR, a very slight pulse was found. 

Jacob suffered very severe brain damage caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and, although the hospital staff did everything within their power, they are unsure how much progress he might make. Jacob’s condition has improved slightly, but he will probably need full-time care for the rest of his life.

His close friend, Courtney Shore, committed to trekking the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu in Peru to raise money for Jacob – good job Courtney!!

If you’d like to get involved in the continuing fundraising efforts for Jacob, please visit these pages:


Sailing for Cancer - MY Halo

During their yacht's Atlantic crossing, Lee Stevenson and his crew on MY Halo did a charity bike ride on a stationary bike sponsored by the mile.









© Photo - Facebook

Here’s a post from their Facebook page:

“With victory in sight, the final 24 hours have proved the most testing day yet with 15 foot waves and horizontal rain... not to be outdone by the elements the crew showed amazing resilience and core strength to keep forging ahead and, after 14 days and 4,291 miles, plenty of blood, toil, tears and sweat, the 13 strong crew of MY Halo crossed the ‘finish line’ on the exercise bike with a total winning margin of 413 miles - in doing so, they have collectively raised nearly £10,000 for the Sail4Cancer charity.”

For more information, see the sail4cancer website.

How can I get involved in any location, even if I don’t have much time or we are just docked for a short period?

You don’t need to become a full-time volunteer or employee at a charity, climb mountains or run marathons to help out. Here are some useful ideas and tips to get involved and make a difference – to the environment, to homeless people or to animal charities:

  • Donate half-used or slightly out of date guest and crew toiletries to a women’s shelter

  • Clear your old Ipods and ear phones, load some 30’s, 40’s and 50’s ear music on it and donate to nursing homes

  • Fill a used, but still usable, handbag with female products, such as snacks, sanitary and hygiene products, a facecloth and toiletries and hand out to a female homeless person

  • Pop into your local animal shelter and volunteer to walk or bath their dogs

Wanda playing

  • Donate leftover food or almost expired drinks and old uniforms to local charities - you will find them in any town where yachts dock

  • Donate useful linens and towels to homeless people or local charities

  • Donate flowers and flower arrangements to local nursing homes or hospitals

  • When you clean out the boat at the end of the season, find a local women's shelter and give them the food, linens,clothes, housewares, etc. you don't want. Everywhere in the world, there are women trying to start afresh after being in abusive situations. I know it’s easier just to toss it in the trash, but nothing feels better than helping someone - especially for people like us who work in a service industry. 

  • Buy One Give One - it's so easy to share some of your earnings with others who need it more: a tiny bit goes a very long way and you can choose from hundreds of different programmes or causes to support: 

  • Hold a second hand clothes collection amongst the crew on board, and drop the items off in a clothes collection bin - many towns have projects like these for homeless people and people in need. 

  • Donate old linens, clothes and food to local orphanages or even get the crew together to visit a local orphanage and entertain the kids on a Saturday off-season.

  • Organise a local beach clean-up among other yachts in the marina - every bit helps!

  • Reduce the use of plastic cups, straws and other wasteful ‘single use’ items on board. Instead of using glad wrap or Ziplocs, use reuseable containers for leftover food.

  • Encourage local yachtie bars to get involved! In August 2016, Bar Kila Kila in Palma did a charity evening where all the proceeds went to charity - it was advertised widely on all the yachtie Facebook groups.

Plastic bottles Flikr

What about the environment?? Here are some ways we can reduce our use of plastics:

  • Carry a spare canvas bag for groceries or small items you might purchase during yacht provisioning.

  • Try to use cloth or reusable bags instead of produce bags when food shopping.

  • Buy a reusable water bottle instead of buying a plastic one.

  • Take a mug with you to buy take-away coffee instead of using the disposable plastic or paper cups.

  • Say no to plastic straws and utensils when eating out – if you are out exploring for the day, put a stainless spoon or fork in your bag for quick take-away meals.

  • Replace your plastic food storage bags with stainless steel tins or mason jars, try to reduce the usage of Ziploc bags.

  • DIY your own cosmetics instead of buying ones in plastic tubes.

  • Reduce plastic packaging in your cleaning routine by making your own natural cleaners.

  • Avoid micro-beads in your exfoliating face or body wash.

  • DIY your shampoo and conditioner instead of buying plastic bottles.

  • Switch to bar soap to avoid plastic packaging.

  • Buy plastic-free beauty, hygiene, and cleaning products, like bamboo toothbrushes, plastic-free makeup brushes and natural material sponges.

Related Article:
Let's Talk Trash: Reducing Plastic Waste on Yachts
Sea Shepherd Launches Campaign Pelagos

Cogs4Cancer IYCA2

Let’s conclude with our hero and well-known celebrity, Harrison Ford, and how he attempts to positively contribute to people’s lives - it doesn’t have to be a big thing!

“Last night, I got an Uber ride. After the driver was on his way, Uber sent me a text message telling me that the driver is deaf and to keep that in mind. He picked me up and I headed home.

On the way, I Googled how to say ‘Thank you very much’ in sign language. When we got to my house and he pulled over, he turned back to look at me and I signed ‘Thank you very much’ and he started crying. He shook my hand firmly with two hands, wiped the tears from his eyes and signed back ‘Thank you’ several times. Something simple that I did meant a lot to someone else.  It was a good day.”




Related Articles:
Superyacht Crew Giving Back
Carbon Offsetting: PR Hype or Making a Difference?

*Image credits: National Weather Service va Wikimedia Commons; Super Yachting South Africa; OnboardOnline; Google Maps; Terence Ong via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.5; Steven Depolo via Flikr CC BY 2.0

Post your comment

You cannot post comments until you have logged in.

Login to post a comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments



Search articles with keywords