One of my very dear long time friends in St.Maarten is Debby who runs Aqua Mania Adventures with her husband Garth. These 2 run a company that truly takes care of their customers and their 46 crew members. They have also always given back to the St.Maarten community, teaching local kids boat building and sailing skills, that will ensure that the local people get opportunities in the marine industry of the future.
Here is a photo of Deb & I in Statia many years back. Please note that Debby is tiny, but I am 5'11 so she is really not that tiny.
At the time I was running Shipwreck Shops - 16 stores and 53 employee's and doing West Indies Wear at night. I was busy, crazy busy. Deb is like me - always busy, and has a high pressure job. Somehow in the middle of high season, our mutual friend Dana instructed us both that we were taking a day off and going to Statia with her. Neither of us had time to do that, but she booked the flights and INSISTED. We turned up at the airport that morning and either Deb or I said "I don't know how she got us here!" We had the most amazing day exploring the island of Statia, with constant laughing. I have so many cool photos of that day, it really deserves a blog post of its own... but as per usual, I am getting off the track.
Now when Hurricane Irma passed over St.Maarten, and I waited for news of all my friends, Debby's Facebook page was SILENT. All she had on her page, was a photo of her family having chicken soup under the most incredible sunset sky, the night BEFORE the devastation. Before knowing what tomorrow would bring. As general manager of one of the major boat tour companies on the island, with many boats in their care, the prognosis was bound to be bad. Finally, 7 days later when they started to post on their Aqua Mania Facebook page, it was not devastation they reported, no, these guys chose instead to focus on the positives.
I love this photo they posted with the caption "This morning we are taking a moment to show how beautiful St Maarten is! Everyone is reporting the devastion, but let's all make an effort to show the positives and the beauty."
The next thing to happen in the middle of their clean-up from Irma, was a close call with Hurricane Maria... when the horror of Irma was still very raw. They reported "Our fabulous staff gathered today for a brief meeting about moving forward in the next couple of weeks. Everyone worked hard these last 2 weeks cleaning up. We told everyone to tuck away for some weather that will be passing through these next couple of days, spend time with family and loved ones and to regroup on Monday morning. This team is awesome and together we will prevail! #AquaManiaAdventures"
I continued to be amazed at their positivity.
They started up The Edge Ferry service back to Saba on 1st October. You may recall my blog post about our trip to Saba, where my 5 year old daughter pointed out to a rock off the island of Saba and asked if that was covered in snow....."Caribbean snow"? Click here to read this funny story.
Then they announced that the Edge high speed ferry will start a new service between Saba, Statia, St Kitts and St Maarten as of Thursday October 5th. A great way to help the island people evacuate and get between their neighboring islands while some airports are closed. Also finding a way to bring in much needed basic supplies from nearby islands.
As they went about getting their boats back into action and their crew back to work, finally there was this call for help.
St Maarten shared the fury of Hurricanes Irma and Maria .... and while we are dusting off and setting things straight for your next visit .... we have many of our employees in dire straits. Roofs have lifted, contents are lost and they need to rebuild and recover like the island. Any amount you can share is going directly to our 46 staff from all of your favorite trips ... and we will document the sharing. Best contribution is to plan your next vacation.... Lambada, Tango and Edge are waiting... Soinet is sitting on Dive Machine ready to go.... thank you for your thoughts and your generosity.... see you on the dock! For donations please visit: www.gofundme.com/762797-saving-paradise
This isn't a company asking for help, this is a cry for help for their loyal crew. They have customers who visit the island every year, and go on a boat trip every year. They know their boat captains, first mates, stewardesses, who take them sailing every season and it hurts to know they have lost their roofs, their homes, their every possesion. If their regular tourists can't travel to the island this year, this is a small way to help these hard working young people, who have wives and children, parents and family they support and they need to re-build this year without a lot of boat trips booked and not a lot of tips out there to be earnt.
There are just so many people down in the islands in need.... this one is close to home.
One love island friends x