I’ve always felt that cruisers are some of the most generous people on earth. People who choose cruising as their vacation do so because they appreciate the service and enjoy the camaraderie on board. Perhaps the best atmosphere for developing such friendships is aboard the intimate sailing ships of Windjammer. But what happens when the Windjammer corporation finds itself in frightening financial circumstances, stranding crew members in tropical ports with no fuel, supplies or pay? Who is there to help the Captains and their crew?
The folks at www.jammerbabe.com, also known is the Windjammer Flotilla, have come to their aid. This is an online community of friends that under normal circumstances chat about their love for Windjammer cruises and share their experiences, memories and anticipations. When they started to see that that because of the financial difficulties of the company the crew had been stranded in port with no money, they stepped up and started providing support to the crew members. Some of these crews have been struggling since early to mid September. According to the Jammerbabe site, one ship’s Captain reports that he has been living in intolerable conditions, eating meals at the Red Cross, and hoping for money for fuel so that they can at least run the power generators and have livable conditions on board the ship. He said he feels like a refugee living in Africa. The folks at Jammerbabe/Flotilla have been working vigorously to help stranded crew members purchase airline tickets to their home countries. There is one thread on their site that starts with a request for airline tickets for 4 crew members to return to their homes. Those crew members presumably hadn’t been paid in weeks, maybe longer, and they desperately wanted to return home to their families. Within 24 hours, the Jammerbabe/Floatilla members reported having sponsorship for the 4 crew members to return to their families. However, there are still at least 25 crew members stranded and this is just on the one ship that is stranded in Aruba.
The help for these crew members hasn’t just stopped at financial support. They have been researching different maritime charities that are set up to help sailors who end up in such difficult situations, calling airlines to try to get them free or discounted tickets, selling screen savers, offering the proceeds of their own time share week rentals to benefit the crews, and even dedicated prayer time or moment of silence for the crews and their situations. They even have set up photo albums on facebook.com to share their pictures and memories of their great cruises with their beloved crew members.