Article • 3rd March 2021
Sailing with a greater purpose

Working to make a difference to people

For many owners who take part, the Oyster World Rally is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something few people ever get to do. As well as giving an incredible feeling of achievement, there is no doubt that the challenge stretches people and they often return with a different take on their lives and the world. But it is also an opportunity to bring greater purpose to the voyage, helping people along the way and changing their lives in the process too.

SUMMARY

Oyster has teamed up with Sea Mercy for the Oyster World Rally to make a difference to the people living on remote islands.

Teaming up with sea mercy

Sea Mercy is a not-for-profit charity based in the South Pacific, working to make a difference to people living on remote islands. We partnered with Sea Mercy for the Oyster World Rally 2017-19, helping them to make their Give Sight Programme happen, and we are once again thrilled to be supporting this wonderful charity for the Oyster World Rally 2022-23.

Sea Mercy cannot reach everyone in the South Pacific that needs eye care, but working with partners like Oyster means they can achieve what is seen as an almost impossible challenge. In return, our owners get a real sense of ‘sailing with a greater purpose’ by helping people see clearly, sometimes for the first time in many years.

Eye care is something we take for granted with Specsavers on every High Street. But imagine living on an isolated island where the nearest optician is hundreds of miles away. Before setting off on their round-the-world-adventure, our Oyster owners are trained by Sea Mercy and equipped with hundreds of pairs of prescription glasses to offer life-changing help to people in these remote communities.

25 Earth from Maupiti Peak French Polynesia 2
Maupiti Oyster Eye Clinic Sea Mercy

Oyster Eye Clinic, Maupiti

Maupiti is part of the Leeward Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 1,200 people live on this beautiful volcanic island that is just 11 square kilometres. On their travels through French Polynesia in 2017, the fleet found that Maupiti was in particular need of their help, and this was where the first Oyster Eye Clinic was set up.

The Mayor of Maupiti sent a motorbike round the island to spread the word, attracting lots of people. Many of the younger women attending were short-sighted, needing glasses to see around them clearly. The older islanders were more affected by signs of long-sightedness (all part of the ageing process). Everyone who was seen at the clinic was instinctively good at selecting the best prescription for their condition from the glasses available.

One young lady’s world was transformed when she was given a pair of ‘eyejusters’ that helped her to almost read the bottom line of the distance chart. Without them, she struggled to read past the second line. As a child, she had glasses but when they broke, there was no way to replace them, and she hadn’t been able to see properly again until this moment.

The deputy Mayor was also persuaded to come into the clinic as he was renowned at waving to people he couldn't recognise. He already owned a pair of reading glasses but testing showed signs of short-sightedness too. Thanks to the Oyster fleet, he now has a pair for both and he doesn’t need to wonder who he is waving at any more!

Charles and Nicky Manby, owners of Oyster 575 Calliope set up the clinic and dispensed 13 pairs of short-sighted ‘eyejusters’ and almost double that for long-sightedness. Fortunately, a handful of those tested had very good vision and didn’t need glasses at all. As the Manby's continued on their route, they set up eye clinics in Maupihea and surrounding islands, sharing Sea Mercy’s vision with more people in need.

Sea mercy eye check in Maupiti Oyster World Rally 2017 19
Sea mercy eye checks local people in Maupiti Oyster World Rally 2017 19

Giving light programme

Most remote islands across the South Pacific do not have access to power lines or generators to light their homes. After dark, if they wish to cook, work or read, they rely on expensive dangerous and toxic kerosene lanterns as their main source of light. Sea Mercy’s solution to this is simple – the LuminAID PackLite 16. It delivers up to 16 hours of consistent LED light for a family, school or community. These solar powered lights are compact and easy to store on board a yacht, so our owners are able to carry many and to distribute across the islands they visit. Such a simple solution really is life-changing for hundreds of people.

Continuing to sail with greater purpose

Oyster is thrilled to continue our support of Sea Mercy on the Oyster World Rally 2022-23. If you are interested in sailing with a greater purpose, please contact our Oyster World Rally team at [email protected]. For more information on the amazing work Sea Mercy does, please visit our partner page on their website here.

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