The azure allure of the deep blue sea has captivated countless souls throughout history. For Roger and Suzanne Reyes, however, sailing is more than a mere passion—it has become a transformative journey. With Suzanne’s background as a former ICU Nurse at Sacred Heart and Roger’s expertise as a former Electrical-Field-Engineer at Austal Shipyard, their love for sailing found fertile ground in the captivating waters of Pensacola Bay. From the early days of sailing their Sunfish and then Bayfield 25, they not only honed their sailing skills but also forged meaningful connections with fellow boaters. Little did they know that a fortuitous encounter with Captain Kim Provost and her magnificent Tashiba 36, Sustenance, would propel them into a world of blue water adventures and set their course towards a higher purpose.
Their odyssey aboard Sustenance over the next 7 sailing seasons took them to captivating destinations, from the Bahamas to the Dry Tortugas, Isla Mujeres in Mexico to the islands of Belize, and even as far as the British West Indies in 2023. Each season brought new excitement, but it was during their voyage to the awe-inspiring Rio Dulce in Guatemala that Suzanne discovered a calling that would reshape their lives. It was in Guatemala’s breathtaking landscape, as they sailed from the Caribbean into a prehistoric scenery, that Suzanne’s encounter with a remarkable individual named Steve Elliot and the resilience of the local children in need ignited a deeper sense of purpose within her.
In the heartwarming embrace of the Guatemalan people, Suzanne visited orphanages with Steve, the dock master at the Catamaran marina. There, she was moved by the radiant smiles and unwavering spirit of happiness exhibited by the children, despite their orphaned status. This transformative sailing season sparked an idea — a way to bridge the hearts of those who seek to serve with the needs of this underprivileged community.
Back at the marina, Steve shared the challenges of poverty, logistics, and the high costs associated with delivering donated supplies to the orphanages. It was then that Roger and Suzanne hatched a plan. Recognizing that many sailors, like themselves, traversed between the United States and Guatemala, they saw an opportunity to coordinate volunteer captains and their boats to transport essential supplies. In a fortuitous turn of events, Suzanne discovered an excess of unused medical supplies amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These supplies were collected and loaded onto the first boat, which sailed to the Rio Dulce to support the local fire department. The second mission followed, delivering medical supplies to Honduras after tropical storms devastated their eastern coast.
Motivated by their early achievements, Roger and Suzanne decided to establish an official non-governmental organization (NGO) called Nautical Neighbors in 2023. Their mission? To improve the lives of disadvantaged children in the Caribbean and the Rio Dulce. With a growing team, Nautical Neighbors wasted no time and delivered donated school supplies in May of this year. Along with the ongoing orphanage support, In February 2024, they will join forces with Healing Hands Medical Mission to transport much-needed medical supplies, catering to the healthcare needs of over a thousand individuals.
Buoyed by their recent successes, Nautical Neighbors sets its sights on a new venture—a charter operation in the Caribbean aimed at offering transformative sailing experiences. Participants can embark on a Barfoot Cruise, obtain sailing certification, journey to exotic destinations, and meaningfully engage with the communities they encounter. This innovative endeavor will not only generates sustainable funding for ongoing relief projects and orphanages but will also provide individuals with profound experiences that empower them to effect change. By mobilizing passionate individuals to join their cause, Nautical Neighbors aims to amplify their impact and extend a helping hand to even more disadvantaged children and families in need.
Roger and Suzanne Reyes, the visionary founders of Nautical Neighbors, would greatly appreciate your support in their noble mission. Whether through volunteering, making a donation, or spreading awareness, we can all play a vital role in transforming the lives of these deserving children. Let us join hands, inspired by the transformative power of the sea, and become nautical neighbors, weaving a tapestry of hope and compassion for a brighter future. Together, we can make a lasting difference on the vast expanse of the Caribbean and the Rio Dulce.