People Helping People

Marine industry people unite to help others in need.

In 2010, Andrew Cilla, owner of Luke Brown Yachts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, received the horrible news that an employee’s father had been in a serious accident aboard his 21-foot deck boat. The owner survived, made a full recovery, and the damaged boat was donated to Freedom Waters Foundation (—a Florida nonprofit organization dedicated to providing boating opportunities for people with disabilities, life threatening illnesses, youth at risk, and others with special needs. Young Professionals in Yachting (YPY; committed manpower to restore and “transform” the boat for its intended service under Freedom Waters Foundation. “We loved the idea from the beginning; to convert a damaged pontoon deck boat into a luxurious Intracoastal cruiser, equipped with a wheelchair-accessible ramp so guests could board the boat without problems,” said John Jarvie, president of the YPY South Florida Chapter and vice president of Oversea Yacht Insurance.

The boat was completely stripped, repaired and repainted with Awlgrip paint provided at cost by Port Supply. Peterson Fuel—a major benefactor of the project—earmarked $19,500 over three years to modify the boat and keep it in operation. Its facelift included new hatches, nav lights, soft goods, and all the essentials required, all provided by local yachting businesses.

Now in the final stages, the boat is docked behind Cilla’s Luke Brown office in Fort Lauderdale next to the popular Southport Raw Bar—prime visibility for what has evolved from a tragedy to a sense of great pride for the yachting community. The boat will begin service this fall.

By Andrew Parkinson, Southern Boating August 2013