In Saint-Tropez cries of SOS, reports of boat fires, accidents at sea or persons overboard may take a while to answer. The French Riviera town’s lifeboat is out of action awaiting repairs. Its volunteer crew accuse rich yacht captains of being too mean to stump up a few euros to pay for a replacement.
The Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) at Saint-Tropez wrote this year to wealthy individuals and companies owning luxury yachts moored at Saint-Tropez, asking them to put their hands in their pockets. The town is a playground of the global super-rich. The appeal sank almost without trace. Tycoons and oligarchs failed to come up with a centime.
Pierre-Yves Barasc, the president of the Saint-Tropez lifeboat station, said “They said it wasn’t their problem...It’s almost as if it’s their right. It’s great to shower the young ladies with a bottle of €50,000 Cristal champagne, but they could be a little more restrained and help us a little more." Barasc continued “We are run by volunteers and we have to find the money ourselves to run the service from A to Z. It’s not just saving people at sea, we get called to fires, evacuations, and we do training in schools and address pollution issues. We have wasted two years to change the lifeboat because we didn’t have the money and the result is our old boat broke down and is out of action for seven weeks. It’s distressing.” Barsac said: “In France, only 3% of boat owners donate to the lifeboat service, unlike in the UK where I believe it is 85%."