This is a bit long, but please read this through. It is extremely important.
As you know we have just completed a very successful mission to Haiti and demonstrated that we are capable of accomplishing great good and living up to our claim of being able to provide relief to those in need. The smiles on the faces of all those that received the aid we delivered was priceless and reinforced my belief that what we, as a group, are doing, is the right thing to do. This mission was a success because of you, our members, donors and crew volunteers.
We cannot rest on our laurels as we are very much needed for future missions. Not just to Haiti, but to anyplace within range of our vessels, and I greatly desire to be a part of them. However, we absolutely, positively require immediate funding or it cannot happen. Unfortunately these vessels take money to run. The manufacturers that have donated equipment to our cause have helped greatly, but that doesn't put diesel in our tanks, pay for miscellaneous, reoccurring, everyday things such as toilet paper and laundry or to repair the items that have broken on the last mission.
Tandemeer, as many of you may know already, broke the internal webbing of her rudder before departing for Haiti. That project alone will take about $10,000 and a month of dedicated yard work. She must be able to steer before she's of any use. The list of things broken aboard Thunderbird 5 is long and not as expensive, but she definitely needs the monetary assistance and support of our membership as well. In her current state, she is not voyage ready: she needs many fuel filters, oil filters, water maker filters, a gaff halyard ring repaired, sails sewn, mainsheet block welded etc.
Captain Ray and I have come up with ways to have the boats earn their keep. The primary avenue of approach is to have Thunderbird 5 sell berths on voyages. After doing the math, she can theoretically support the fleet but only if she is able to voyage. She's not currently able to without diesel, oil etc. Another way we were thinking is to rent out berths on both boats as a bed and breakfast in Coconut Grove to help cover their expenses. However, the fly in the ointment here is that to do so, we need to make them guest-worthy with such mundane items as clean sheets, new pillows and a reliable way to get to shore a half mile away without getting soaked. The present linens are quite nasty from a hospitality service point of view. Good enough for scruffy sailors, but as a paying guest, you would absolutely demand your money back. Our under-powered inflatable dinghy breaks every other wave over the bow and is quite a soggy ride. The plus side of the B&B idea is that the wear and tear (and subsequent operational costs) on the vessels aren't going to be as bad as going on a voyage. Especially if we were able to secure a donated dock space. The biggest problem with either of these approaches is that by providing guest services for overnighters and/or paying passengers we are effectively taken off our primary mission of helping people by delivering aid. This is unacceptable. When we return from a mission, theoretically, we should be immediately resupplied, repaired, loaded with cargo and on our way again to do what we are supposed to do.
How do we accomplish these goals? We need YOUR help!
As Captain aboard Thunderbird 5, I am task saturated with taking care of this HUGE boat and her inherent responsibilities. It is a full time job and it has been for the last 5 years. By taking the time to actively post blogs, participate in social media, fund raise, request donations and ride herd on the crew, I cannot do the maintenance needed to keep this vessel running. Also, as we don't have the internet and phone capabilities as our shore-bound members, my hands are quite effectively tied to the point that my efforts seem to be minimal.
We need you, as members, to take a more active role in OUR organization. We need fund raisers and, most of all, we need sponsors. I'm a sailor with a mechanical background. I lack the people skills and contacts to be effective in garnering funds or sponsors though I am trying my best. However, our membership (you), do possess those skills and resources to make things happen.
I am asking each and every one of you to volunteer your time, energy and experience to somehow make this organization prosper and assist those in dire need. I will coordinate with everyone willing to email me their skills and abilities or ideas. Your input and efforts are vital to our continued success.
Without our combined efforts, this organization WILL fail. I don't much care for that idea and neither do you.
We have an important mission. Let's make it happen together.
Captain, IRG SV Thunderbird 5