A GROUP of boating enthusiasts and volunteers delivered an ex-Royal Navy Tender from Greenock to Conwy ahead of a mission.

The boat’s name is Island Reach. The long term plan is for her to be converted to a medical/dentistry vessel for a Christian Charity to serve the people of Madagascar.

The Island Reach will remain at Conwy over the Winter before heading south to South Africa.

The boat is a 24-metre ex-naval, two hold, stores tender. With a draft of only 2.2 metres, a strong hull, and good engines, she is well suited for going up rivers and small inlets to reach communities in need.

The trip is being run by a Christian charity called Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

A spokesperson for the group said: "Vine Trust, who we purchased the vessel from, has already deployed successfully three of these vessels, two on the Peru section of the Amazon and one on Lake Victoria, Africa. They turned the two holds into medical clinics and top deck, with an awning, into a waiting patient area. This is a picture of Jubilee Hope (below), deployed in Africa. She was formerly SD Dunstan, a sister ship, but older version of SD Melton.

Jubilee Hope

Jubilee Hope

"Vine Trust extended the accommodation onto the forward deck. We plan to do similar to SD Melton, renaming her Island Reach.

"At present, YWAM Ships has vessels of various types and sizes, serving around the world, reaching out to isolated communities, like in Papa New Guinea. The common factor being that delivering much needed medical services is logistically challenging by land. The huge island of Madagascar, with its rain forested centre, fits into this category."

Needs in Madagascar include:

  • Basic Healthcare is a challenge for most people; 80 per cent of the population have to walk a whole day in the bush before they can see any medical facility.
  • 60 per cent children suffer severe malnutrition, which can cause lifelong consequences on the brain of a child if they're not helped before the age of six.

The spokesperson added: "In early December 2021, after reinstating all her safety certification, we sailed SD Melton (renamed m/v Island Reach) to Conwy for the winter. During this voyage the crew conducted technical trials and get to know her. Now in Conwy we are preparing her for the 8,000 plus Ocean voyage, and hopefully, we will load donated medical equipment and supplies into her forward hold.

"The aft hold will be loaded with suitable containers to carry the extra fuel and water she will need for the long delivery voyage.

"We have found a suitable shipyard in Madagascar to convert the holds into a dental and eye clinic, general doctor’s consultation area and pharmacy.

"Doing this there will reduce costs and allow the teams that will use her to give input. We will learn from Vine Trust’s experience in converting the three sister vessels and believe she can effectively serve Madagascar for the next 25 years.

"The broadcast news is regularly filled with troubling reports of inhumanity. However, the truth is, there are many generous people, willing to give their time and skills to help others. This is an example of that, one we should celebrate and is worthy to get involved with."

While the ship is in Conwy, the group hope to raise awareness in the area and aim to reach out to professional people and organisations who may be willing to help in the following areas:

  • Prepare the ship mechanically and electrically for its onward journey. The ship needs a complete check and service of all mechanical, electrical and electronic systems. Suitably qualified volunteers to carry out these important works are welcome to get in touch.
  • The three areas of medical treatment to be provided each requires a list of equipment and supplies to be drawn up by a professionally qualified person, none of the current team have such qualifications so help is being sought.
  • The group would like to be introduced to the professional bodies covering the areas of Dental, Optometry and GP in order to request their support by communicating to their members our requirements detailed on the lists mentioned above. For the donation of any surplus equipment or supplies, obviously in date or in fully working order. Such items might be for example a dental practice replacing a chair, lights, drill etc. Consumables such as Floss, Cotton rolls, mouthwash etc.

Janet Finch-Saunders, MS for Aberconwy, who visited the team, said: "“I was most pleased to visit the team set to man the Island Reach to express my heartfelt best wishes for the success of their journey from Conwy Quay to Madagascar to provide vital medical assistance to those in need.

“I am particularly impressed with the team’s dedication to supporting young people with volunteering opportunities through the Christian YWAM charity, which will help to bring together an international group of helpers.

“In this season of goodwill, and in recognising the worthwhile cause that will have a beneficial impact on so many lives, I know that the team would most welcome any helpful donations of medical or dental equipment, such as bandages or retired dentists' chairs.”

To support this medical vessel’s work in Madagascar and learn more about the programme, visit www.ywamships.ch

Alternatively, contact

  • info@ywamships.ch
  • Captain Jeremy McWilliams email – capelgors@outlook.com for equipment and storage, mechanical or electrical services.
  • Tony Scott email tonyjeepdidin2007@gmail.com for preparation of supply lists and introduction to professional bodies etc.
  • Captain Brian Sloan YWAM UK Director email - brian.sloan@uofn.edu