CYOA Staff Hurricane Irma Relief Fund

For: CYOA Staff Members
Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, Virgin Islands, U.s.
Organizer: Phillip Merrick
CYOA Staff Hurricane Irma Relief Fund (CYOA Staff Members)
of $50,000 goal
89% Complete
Raised by 132 donors

The Story

As many of you know, Hurricane Irma passed through the Virgin Islands on September 6 as a category 5 hurricane, the most powerful storm to originate in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Maria, also a category 5 hurricane, came through on September 19. The impact across the US Virgin Islands, as well as the BVIs and Puerto Rico, has been devastating.  The impact on the lives of those living in the islands is substantial, and the needs are many.

Thanks to the careful planning and preparations undertaken by John Jacob and the CYOA team, the CYOA charter business will be up and running within a few short months.  However, because of the needed repairs for some of the boats in the fleet it will be some time before CYOA is running again at full strength and full employment.

Those of us who charter or own boats with CYOA are no doubt aware of just how terrific each of the staff members are.  Not only are they extremely professional and highly competent at their jobs, they are wonderful people and personalities and we consider them our friends.  As with almost everyone throughout the Virgin Islands they are now dealing with significant damage to their houses, cars and personal effects.  Additionally there are medical needs and children to support and school, along with a lack of electricity that will likely persist for many months.

This relief fund has been established by several of the CYOA boat owners, and is being administered independently of the business operations of CYOA Yacht Charters.  Since YouCaring is a free platform for fundraising, 100% of donated funds (net of credit card transaction fees) will reach the intended recipients.  As fellow friends of CYOA we hope you can join us in supporting the needs of the staff at this difficult time. 

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on November 1, 2017


Posted on November 1, 2017

Hi everyone

My son Hudson and I returned last week from spending a long weekend in the islands.   I thought it might be worthwhile to share our observations from a boat owner and charter guest perspective, especially since CYOA has just sent out the first charter guests of this post-storms season.  With new friends and extended CYOA team members Tom Andreano and Doug Koger, we delivered our fantastic new Saba 50 “Glad In It 2” to St. Thomas from Guadeloupe, where she rode out Maria after dodging both Irma and Jose.  We pulled into the Virgins at Ginger Passage, then sailed down the coast of Tortola from Hodges Creek to Sopers Hole, staying close to shore to get a view of the damage but also the recovery and rebuilding that is already happening.  From Sopers we traversed the coast of St John from Frances Bay to Cruz Bay, and then made the customary hop across Pillbury Sound to Current Cut and back to the base via the south east coast of St. Thomas.  It’s a sail we’ve all done many times, but this was clearly a different kind of cruise.

I have to say that while we recognize that the islands and their people are hurting, our main impression is the extent of the destruction is nowhere near as bad as we’d feared from weeks of looking at hundreds of Facebook posts, press reports, photos and videos.  What’s more the islands are coming back, particularly evident with the re-greening of the hills vividly underway.  As we pulled into Francis Drake Channel it still looked and felt like the beautiful Virgin Islands we all fell in love with.  The waters were back to the lovely shades of blue and turquoise, the beaches looked inviting, and the wind was blowing the typical 15 knots from the east.  It’s still a delightful place to sail — and for a while it will be rather uncrowded.  The old timers tell us that sailing the islands for the next year or two will be like the old days, with fewer boats, uncrowded anchorages and shacks on the beach selling drinks out of coolers.  The Merrick family is kind of looking forward to that.

The buildings at Sopers Hole and elsewhere on Tortola are badly damaged, and it will be quite a while before they are returned to their pre-storm status.  Having said that, workers were busy putting new roofs on Pussers and the adjacent stores, and Pussers itself was apparently open and serving food and drink.  The beaches and bays of St. John from Leinster Bay, through Frances, Maho, Hawksnest and Caneel Bays all looked good, even if the buildings on shore do not.  The National Parks Service moorings in these locations look intact.  Tom and Doug said they had moored on one of them overnight while delivering Mystic the week prior. 

As we pulled up to the CYOA docks something unexpected happened: we realized that dock space was at a premium! In addition to Mystic, the new Lagoon 450, all three undamaged cats from Nanny Cay were taking up most of the available dock space.  We had to med-moor at the end of one of the T-heads.  Brad, Nancy and Yolanda were tending to the newly arrived boats, and the activity on the docks demonstrated that CYOA is clearly back in business.

Owners and charter guests will find sailing through the islands is still magical.  But you will have to do something my wife advises for every sailing trip: pack your flexibility. On the practical side, you will need to fully provision before leaving the CYOA base.   There are only a few restaurants up and running beyond Charlotte Amalie. Grocery stores are well stocked on St. Thomas, but you shouldn’t count on being able to re-provision while out cruising.  Likewise you will need to watch your diesel and water levels.   The moorings in the various mooring fields should be fine, and reportedly have been inspected, but you should absolutely verify the integrity of your mooring by diving on it.  Be sure to check what businesses have re-opened, since many more are re-opening every week.  The CYOA team has a list of websites that track this.

On the whole, we were very heartened, and can’t wait to get on our new boat with the rest of the family to go sailing again.   Hope to see you all out on the water sometime! 

— Phillip Merrick, CYOA Owner “Glad In It 2” 

Posted on October 17, 2017


Posted on October 17, 2017

Dear Donors: 

Thanks to your incredible generosity, as of this writing we have raised almost $45,000 for the wonderful CYOA staff. We wanted to provide you with an update on how the funds you have contributed have already been making a difference in the lives of the CYOA staff as they deal with the aftermath of the hurricanes.

For the past three weeks we have been providing weekly stipends of $500 to each of the staff, which have helped with food, clothing, and children’s schooling expenses. One of the most pressing needs is simply having access to electricity.  This week we have been able to provide each staff member with a generator.  Also this week a team led by Jay was able to replace the roof on one of the staff member’s houses — the relief fund has been able to pay for the materials.  We’ve also purchased building materials and a mattress for two other employees. The funds you have so generously provided have very quickly made a direct and positive difference in the lives of our staff members.   We are all incredibly grateful, and we know that the staff have been incredibly moved by how the extended CYOA family has rallied together to support them in a time of need.

Of equal or even greater importance is getting the staff back to work.   It will be a while before CYOA gets back to full strength and full employment, but last week Mystic, the first of the new boats for the season, arrived at the CYOA base.  She will be followed later this week by Glad In It 2, and shortly thereafter by the boats that came through the storms mostly undamaged.   Everyone at CYOA is looking forward to getting back into the business of putting smiles on the faces of happy charter guests.

Thank you again for playing such an important role in assisting the CYOA staff recover from a devastating hurricane season.  It is so greatly appreciated.

Best Regards,
Phillip and Caren Merrick 

Posted on September 28, 2017


Posted on September 28, 2017

As of this evening we've raised almost $22,000 against an initial goal of $25,000 in just over three days.   We are all extremely grateful for all the love and support we've seen from the extended CYOA family of owners, charterers and friends. THANK YOU!

Today John, JoAnne and Jay were able to meet with all the staff for the first time since the storms passed.   The good news is that everyone is safe, but there are significant needs.  Consequently John has asked us to raise the goal to $50,000. Given the generosity we’ve seen so far I am hopeful we can meet and maybe even exceed this goal. 

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