February 23, 2010

"Here we go, boys. We're going to Haiti!"

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com

ABOARD THE SEA HUNTER — The Maine relief ship Sea Hunter is under way for Haiti.

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Deckhand Nick Snyer of Hopkinton, Mass., watches the sunrise as the Sea Hunter sails for Haiti this morning.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

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Shipmaster Kevin Garthwaite of Wells, right, and Chief Engineer Brian Ryder of West Bath take in the sunrise this morning as the Sea Hunter sails for Haiti.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

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"Here we go, boys. We're going to Haiti!" said Captain Gary Esper as the 220-foot treasure-salvage ship weighed anchor at 4:46 a.m. in calm seas just over a mile off Miami's South Beach.

So begins the final leg of its humanitarian mission to bring some 200 tons of relief supplies, almost half of which was donated by Mainers, to an orphanage and community assistance program in Haiti's southern coastal city of Les Cayes.

Ship owner Greg Brooks awakened the crew at 3:30 a.m. after determining that sea conditions were sufficiently improved to raised the Sea Hunter's tender, the Mini Me, aboard the main deck.

Using the ship's 40-foot crane, deckhand Nick Snyer hoisted the 18-foot vessel and smoothly lowered it into its cradle.

Some crew members then secured the tender while others went forward to raise the anchor.

By sunrise, the Sea Hunter was making 8.5 knots southeast against the Gulf Stream, which flows north at 2-3 knots.

"Cuba by daylight – you can't beat that," said Chief Engineer Brian Ryder as the Miami skyline receded off the Sea Hunter's stern.
Esper said the ship should arrive in the Haitian port of Miragoane, by late Thursday.

There, the ship will offload 10 containers, a medical mobile unit and a solar-powered water desalinator before sailing for another day to Les Cayes.

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