Sailing for the strays

Sailing for the strays

Photo: Animal Defenders found and rescued four abandoned female puppies in Belair, who urgently need fosters or forever families as all the vets and shelters are over capacity. Please contact Mercedes De Windt at +1 721 553-3116 for more information.

April 1 @ Aquamania’s Sunset Sail

On World Stray Animals Day, celebrated on Saturday, April 1, Aqua Mania Adventures will host a Sunset Sail to connect animal lovers and collect funds for animal welfare organizations on St. Maarten.

Every year, World Stray Animals Day is recognized on April 4. The day was launched in 2010 when over 100 Dutch organizations convened at the Dutch National Stray Animals Conference. The day of April 4 was selected because it is exactly six months from World Animal Day.

This year, Aqua Mania Adventures joined forces with Animal Welfare Foundation, SXM Paws and Animal Defenders to end a week-long campaign to find, fix and foster stray animals, with a World Stray Animal Day Sunset Sail on Saturday, April 1.

The event’s pre-mixer starts at 4:00pm and is the perfect way to learn more about the animal welfare foundations on St. Maarten. Representatives will be there to provide additional flyers; you can purchase merchandise; and you can even cuddle with puppies! And even though the evening is all about raising funds, there are also other ways to contribute! Learn more about becoming a volunteer; bring or purchase bags of dog/cat food; or perhaps sign up to fly a puppy to its forever home!

With refreshments sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and CC1, and warm snacks donated by Zee Best Bakery, the evening couldn’t start better. Samples of Dutch cheese will also be made available by the Amsterdam Cheese & Liquor Shop.

After mingling, the sail participants will embark on the sunset sail at 5:15pm. Adult animal lovers pay $50 per person for a 90-minute coastal sunset sail with open bar, snacks, miles of changing scenery, and of course plenty of good karma points. Younger animal lovers are welcome, too. Children ages 5-12 pay $25 and those ages 0-4 can come along for free.

Based in the USA, non-profit organization 4 Leaf Rover, which hosts spay/neuter and medical clinics, finds forever homes, and provides food and basic medical supplies to improve the quality of life and chance of survival for forgotten animals, is currently conducting a one-week pro-bono mission to spay and neuter as many island dogs and cats as possible, with the goal of spaying and neutering 300+ dogs and cats this week.

With this Sunset Sail, Aqua Mania aims to support this important campaign. The net ticket proceeds, sale of T-shirts at the pre-mixer, plus the request for guests to bring a bag of dog and cat food along will provide an awesome boost to the island’s lost and forgotten animals.

The collected funds are to be distributed to several animal welfare organisations on the Dutch side that rely totally on private funding and volunteers to help the stray animals on the island. One of those organisations is Animal Defenders, a non-profit organisation which aims to raise awareness, compassion and funds to help the stray animals on St. Maarten.

Animal Defenders’ main focus is on sterilization, medication, education and adoption. “Animal Defenders takes care of the stray animals. We make sure they are sterilized; we feed them and give aftercare if needed. If sociable enough, we try to find them homes here or abroad. If not sociable, they go back to where they came from, to live out their lives in nature and freedom with their friends and family, so they will not add more to the overpopulation problem. We also give presentations at schools,” says Founder Mercedes De Windt.

Our mission is to protect and defend animals as they have no voice. We humans should have the empathy and compassion to help them, not harm them or kill them. If we humans consider ourselves superior to animals then we should take better care of this world that we share with all species. We all have the right to life. The world-nature and its creatures are not ours to use and abuse. We should learn from them and learn to respect them,” she adds.

According to Animal Defenders, spaying and neutering is the most humane approach to the current pet overpopulation problem on the island. “There are too many animals and not enough homes. So many countries still euthanize puppies and kittens and the adults. After all those decades, they have not learned anything as the numbers are still growing, so obviously it does not work. The only and best way to control pet overpopulation is to prevent those births; not kill them after they are born. Euthanizing healthy animals will turn us into killers. That is not what we want to teach our youngsters,” De Windt explains.

Animal Defenders is proud to be involved in the sterilization campaign, says De Windt. “The reason for our involvement is to help animals and not make them suffer; also for cultivating compassion and empathy in children. Most importantly is that during this week-long campaign, 300+ cats and dogs will be fixed in five days. That would normally take about three months – and if we turn around, hundreds are born again. It is crucial to do these campaigns several times a year to get the numbers under control. It might take years before we notice the difference; but with the amazing support we now have, we believe we can do it again and again till it’s under control.”

The organisation will have a booth at the sunset sail pre-mixer to sell T-shirts and stickers and celebrate and close off an amazing week of hard work.

De Windt would like to take the opportunity to thank all the volunteers and sponsors, as well as the local vets here on the Dutch side. Special thanks are also extended to the vets and the entire group of volunteers from Eddy Lee, 4 Leaf Rover and the USA team as a whole.

Can’t make it to the Sunset Sail or just want to help Aqua Mania help Animal Welfare Foundation, SXM Paws and Animal Defenders? You can donate old towels, food, treats, toys, food storage bins and cleaning supplies (drop-off at Aqua Mania Adventures or at any one of the foundations); volunteer; or foster an animal – you won’t regret it!

Tickets for this fun and useful event are still available at Aqua Mania Adventures’ outlets at Divi Little Bay, Simpson Bay Resort and Royal Palm (Hilton Vacations); or simply purchase directly online at

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