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Sloop foundation puts out SOS over funding challenges

Students on board the Spirit of Bermuda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Bermuda Sloop Foundation has put out a distress call as financial struggles threaten the future of its educational programmes aboard its iconic vessel.

The nautical youth development charity said that after 18 years of programmes for young people, financial constraints meant it “cannot undertake its usual plan” as of July 1.

“For the last seven months, BSF has conscientiously considered its ongoing viability under its current model,” the charity said.

“Twenty years on from conception of BSF’s programmes, there has been a major sea change in Spirit’s operating environment including a much-changed donor/grant environment, rising costs, additional compliance requirements and an ageing ship, to name just a few.

“Strident steps to economise and fundraise have enabled Spirit to complete all her remaining world class five-day residential voyages for M3 students in the current school year.”

The charity said that the flagship Spirit of Bermuda would complete her voyages for the current school year ending June 30.

It will then to proceed to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, to undergo her required five-year American Bureau of Shipping certification.

The charity added: “Spirit is free of debt and its value must be preserved if possible.

“Essential to this is the ABS certification due in late August 2024.

“As BSF pauses and reconsiders its future, obtaining the ABS certification is critical to maintaining Spirit’s global standard for safety.

“BSF believes an authentic public/private partnership is the best way forward to save Spirit. Our major customers need to remain the people of Bermuda, as served by education, work force development, youth development, marine and ports, culture, tourism and the business community.

Spirit needs input from all stakeholders in the community and that will take time. We welcome the opportunity to explore further options in the coming months.”

On Sunday, the charity will host its main fundraising event, Pirates of Bermuda, at the Number 1 Car Park in Hamilton between noon and 2pm.

As part of the annual event, members of the public can donate funds to save a range of local figures including politicians and school officials from having to walk the plank, or alternatively, donate to ensure they wind up in the drink.

“Our primary mission has always been to give the youth of Bermuda life-changing experiences by taking them out of their comfort zone on five-day residential voyages that are truly transformational,” the charity said.

Spirit's motto of ‘Changing lives, one voyage at a time, over time’ has impacted the lives of 8,500 of Bermuda's youth since 2006.

“This ambitious project has been remarkably successful all things considered. The level of generous and loyal support from all donors and supporters has been exceptional.”

To donate to the Pirates of Bermuda fundraiser, visit www.Ptix.bm/Pirates, and to learn more about the Bermuda Sloop Foundation visit www.bermudasloop.org.

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Published April 26, 2024 at 7:49 am (Updated April 26, 2024 at 7:57 am)

Sloop foundation puts out SOS over funding challenges

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