Working in coalition and community with local businesses to keep Vieques’ boat captains up-to-date with licensure.

Humans have been fishing and enjoying the waters around Vieques for thousands of years. Following Hurricanes Irma and María, one of the community needs that presented itself was gaining up-to-date licensure for the boat captains of the island, many of whom had decades of experience that weren’t necessarily matched up with official paperwork. It was clear that getting these captains current licenses would help them and the larger community move forward in the new landscape that presented itself post-2017.

Sail Relief Team identified an instructor willing to come to Vieques, which eliminated one earlier obstacle – students having to leave the island and pay for lodging and accommodation in order to take the course. We worked in partnership with several local businesses to smooth the way for students, offering food discounts and finding donated classroom space. Local nonprofits shared some of their resources to defray the class cost for those students in need. All of these conversations and logistics took time, but finally, in mid-August, the course was held over several days. And each of the twelve people who took the class passed the course, to obtain their OUPV/Master 100 Ton license!

And now, having laid the groundwork, we know that we can work in coalition and community once more to offer this course again in 2020, and perhaps others. This is the kind of incremental recovery work that takes time and relationship-building. It’s not quick, it’s not flashy, but it means that in the future, these captains have more resources and opportunities available to them, and that means more resilience the next time a challenge comes around.

Thank you so much to everyone who made this class possible, including but in no way limited to:

  • Chris Nolan from The Practical Navigator, the amazing instructor, who came down to Vieques to teach the class. And much appreciation to El Blok for providing lodging and food for Captain Nolan.
  • Crystal Clear and ViequesLove for donating to the class to keep costs down for students.
  • Duffy’s and Bananas for providing discounts on food for students
  • Pepo and Sarah Elise for helping coordinate students.

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