By John Ross – Fiji Sun 11 April 2015
Two vessels have sailed from Port Denarau Marina heading for Vanuatu with cyclone aid. They are part of a relief effort being co-ordinated from Port Denarau by Sea Mercy.
Sea Mercy is a charity that has been active for quite some time. The idea is very simple and very effective.
The organisation uses privately-owned vessels, either yachts or other vessels that are visiting Fiji.
They approach these vessels and ask them to take doctors, dentists and medical supplies, including much needed drugs, to the outer islands where access by regular shipping is very limited.
They have been active over a long period and the services they provide are much appreciated by the people far from regular medical care.
Port Denarau Marina chief executive, Nigel Skeggs, said: “This is an exercise from the international yachting community to give back to the people of the Pacific.
“That is for all the pleasure they have had cruising the beautiful waters and bays of the various countries.
“They provide a service to the remote places that are difficult for the normal disaster management operations to reach quickly. We are proud to be able to be part of this humanitarian service.”
All their services are free; their only payment is the relived smiles of the people they serve. And to date there have been hundreds of smiles.
In disasters such as the cyclone that has just devastated Vanuatu, they mobilise to help where it is difficult for the normal services to get to.
In this case, Port Denarau Marina has taken up the running and moved in to help Sea Mercy get all the gear they need to send two vessels from Fiji to assist in the outer island groups of Vanuatu.
There were two vessels in the marina at Port Denarau ready to assist, Chez Nous and Salsa and they quickly got organised to sail, leaving Fiji late on Thursday night with the blessing of the Vanuatu government to proceed directly to the areas in most need.
They have a man on the ground organising the logistics locally and they are being supported by the famous Superyacht, Dragonfly, which was mobilised from Australia by the owner once Cyclone Pam had passed through.
They are passing on advice and assistance and have been a crucial part of the emergency first responses to the outer islands.
Dragonfly is a regular visitor to Fiji and is well-known in the Lau group.
The two vessels that left on Thursday have doctors on board and are heading directly to the more remote areas, some of which have not yet received aid because of the difficulty of reaching them.
They are taking as much relief supply cargo as they can carry for immediate distribution.
Over the course of the sailing season, other vessels associated with Sea Mercy will be continuing the work started by these two vessels to rebuild the communities in the outer islands.
They will also take seeds for vegetables and other crops so that the people can grow their own food and become self-sufficient again.
The government of Fiji has also been active in providing material, particularly medical supplies to assist the relief mission.
The supplies that are being carried basically fall into two categories, medical supplies and life supplies.
The supplies will be delivered to the hardest-to-reach places Medical supplies will be delivered to the Ministry of Health representative at the Aid Station Clinics to resupply their very low stocks while the Life Supplies will be delivered to each village in the area.
Each unit contains a number of sealed five gallon plastic buckets is designed to meet the needs of 25 families, which equates to the average village.
In addition, Port Denarau Marina has donated berthing, logistical support, 400kg of rice and $3,000 worth of the medical supplies.
They were supported by FMF who provided the rice at reduced prices and Budget Pharmacy who provided medical supplies at cost.
Yacht Help, a provisioning company who work closely with the Marina, arranged customs clearance at their cost, and Adrenlin Fiji added extra support.
In total, Port Denarau Marina contributed a little over $5000.