In Issue 8 of The Superyacht Owner, owner of One More Toy, Gary Markel, shared details of Operation Cruise, his charitable initiative that offers wounded soldiers from the Special Operation Forces (SOF) the chance for mental and physical rehabilition by sending them on a luxury yacht cruise. During the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS), The Superyacht Owner was welcomed on board One More Toy again to meet with Markel and new executive director, Jeff Hudson, an ex-member of the SOF who, with his wife, took part in the third Operation Cruise excursion, for an update on how the programme is going.

TSO: Were you aware of the impact Operation Cruise would have for yourself and the other SOF soliders?

JH: I did not realise the full implications of all that it would do. I knew there were folks coming from the community who were injured in different ways, but I had no way of knowing that by the end of a week how big a difference it was going to make. It was literally a transformation over a period of days. Everybody could relate to each other pretty easily, and being removed from their concerns and put in a beautiful setting that’s absolutely pristine, and knowing in the back of your mind that there are yacht owners and people who have contributed, whether it’s the yacht, dockage fees or other funds, there are good people out there in this world who do such kind, noble gestures, and that puts you back in a better frame of mind. Being in hostile situations, sometimes seeing bad things happen to good people, can be very upsetting and troubling. You are pulled out of that and see the better side of life, that there are good people out there who care. It made a great deal of difference to everyone who participated.



TSO: What would you say to owners to convince them to donate time on their yacht?

JH: Initially, when I first started with Gary, he asked me, is it worth it? Literally, just the backside support is about  USD 30,000. That’s a lot of money and that money could have been used for a lot of things. But having been on the trip and experienced it, and see what it did for my family and the families of others who were involved, that money couldn’t have been better spent. One of the reasons Gary has asked me to come on board with Operation Cruise is to get other yacht owners to understand the benefits of helping the families out there. This ‘vacation’ is really just a cloak for rehabilitation between the couples and between the service members.

TSO: What are the costs for an owner wishing to get involved?

JH: There is no cost if yacht owners would like to contribute. If someone just donates a yacht, through Gary, Operation Cruise will reimburse all the other backside support costs: dockage fees, costs for food, beverages, all of that. Operation Cruise will fund it. Additionally, any cash contributions are tax deductible, and 100 per cent of the donation goes directly to provide for the opportunity of wounded and injured military personnel and their spouses to participate in Operation Cruise.

TSO: What message would you like to give to owners considering getting involved with Operation Cruise?

JH: I would love to be able to talk to them face-to-face, one-on-one, to try to let them hear the story of what a difference they can make in someone else’s life. So many people are in such good positions in this world and have done incredibly well, and worked extremely hard to get what they’ve rightfully earned. For those that are a generous kind to share a little piece of that to help others who have sacrificed so much trying to do what they think is right and what their country has asked them to do, for an owner to step forward and do that, speaks volumes about the kind of good people that there still are in the world. So now, just to trying to keep Operation Cruise going, we’re trying to get the word out to respectfully request yacht owners to donate their time on their wonderful yachts.

For the interview with Gary Markel in Issue 8, subscribers can click here. For more information on Operation Cruise and how to get involved, click here.