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Surfers Help Deliver Supplies To Malibu

As the Woolsey fire continued to burn, Bill Kerbox got a call Monday night from his friend. His 142-foot yacht, the Leight Star, was ready to be deployed. It boasts a helipad and plenty of space. The mission needed only one thing: volunteers and supplies to deliver to victims of the roughly 96,000-acre fire who had stayed behind.

Kerbox blasted out the call for help on social media. It didn’t take long for people, including those desperate to get back to their Malibu homes, to step (or paddle) forward.

Surfers showed up to meet the yacht at sea and bring the supplies to Malibu’s Paradise Cove.

“There’s been so much confusion,” Kerbox told the volunteers Tuesday as they began their journey. “We need to get out on social media that supplies are going to start be unloaded in a little over an hour.”

Standing behind a fully stocked wet bar, Kerbox contemplated what hashtag to use to notify people of their efforts. They agreed upon #malibuhope.

The yacht belongs to Howard Leight, a billionaire entrepreneur who owns the Malibu Rocky Oaks winery with his son. His boat is worth tens of millions of dollars. He spent Friday and Saturday fending off blazes at the winery and his other property in L.A. The fire destroyed much of his vineyard.

“All I could think about is that I didn’t want to lose my houses,” Leight said as he stood on the right side.

When he was done, he felt it was time to give back.

Kerbox estimated the boat was stocked with about 3,000 bottles of water, 100 gallons of fuel, shovels, snacks, dog food — and a bunch of beer.

Smaller boats were tied behind the yacht to help offload supplies. Among those who joined the brigade were Jerardo Bautista and his five-person landscaping crew. Since 1985, Bautista has been doing landscaping at some of Malibu’s most luxurious homes.

Bautista’s crew spent Friday going from home to home cutting back brush and putting out fires.

When the Leight Star neared the Paradise Cove coast, surfers and kayakers paddled toward the boat. Like a bucket brigade, they moved supplies from the yacht to their boards and kayaks, braving choppy waters, before going to shore.

Three small tenders were filled with garbage bags full of dry goods as a crew in a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department boat watched.

“If we’re not letting people in by land, we’re not letting them in by sea,” a deputy said.

At one point a woman boarded a kayak and made a mad dash for land. She was cut off by law enforcement authorities and forced back on the yacht.

But eventually all the supplies from the yacht made it to land. That provoked cheers and selfies as people celebrated on the yacht with beer and wine.

But Bautista was nowhere to be found. He had sneaked off the boat and was heading to help people with their homes.

Story By Benjamin Oreskes
Photos: Jay L. Clendenin

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