March 3, 2010

Concern over captain's health tempers crew's excitement

(Continued from page 1)

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The Sea Hunter sits fully loaded at its dock Monday, awaiting a hoped-for departure to Haiti today.

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Crew member Shawn Jordan of Portland cleans the Sea Hunter’s search lights Monday in anticipation of today’s hoped-for departure to Haiti.

Additional Photos Below

Yet another bureaucratic hurdle still faces Sea Hunter: a demand by the local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office that the ship provide a manifest and pay duty on all supplies and materials it took on before coming to Miami.

Brooks, completed paperwork in hand, drove in his rental car to the customs office to meet with officials there Monday morning -- as they`d instructed him to do on Friday.

But upon arriving, he was told no such business was being conducted due to the Presidents Day holiday.

``They said come back tomorrow,`` Brooks said, yet again shaking his head with frustration.

Seven hundred miles away in the Haitian coastal city of Les Cayes, the outlook appeared brighter.

In e-mails from Les Cayes, officials at Pwoje Espwa Sud (Creole for ``Project Hope South``), said they are hard at work arranging the logistics for offloading Sea Hunter`s cargo.

Commonly known in the United States as Hope Village, the multi-pronged community program -- which includes a 700-child orphanage, a public school, a prison outreach program and a home-building project -- was founded by the Rev. Marc Boisvert, a Roman Catholic priest who grew up in Lewiston.

According to Deacon Peter Faford, project manager for Hope Village, the small dock in Les Cayes is too damaged and ill-equipped to accommodate Sea Hunter -- most notably its 10 containers full of relief supplies donated by the Florida-based charity Cross International.

But the port city of Miragoane, 65 miles north of Les Cayes, has an adequate dock for the containers, Faford said.

Representatives from Hope Village, including the project`s lawyer, traveled to Miragoane on Monday to secure permission to offload the containers there, Faford said.

Also slated to be offloaded in Miragoane would be the large medical mobile unit donated to the Portland-based organization Konbit Sante by the Maine Migrant Health Program, and a solar-powered water desalinator donated by New Jersey-based WorldWater Solar & Technologies to another orphanage near Port-au-Prince.

``Once the heavy cargo is unloaded, the Sea Hunter would continue on to Les Cayes and the smaller cargo can be unloaded into small boats,`` Faford said.

The ``smaller cargo`` includes an estimated 80 tons of palletized bottled water, food, clothing, medical equipment and supplies, tents and other items brought to Sea Hunter by individuals and businesses all over Maine before the ship departed Portland Harbor on Jan. 31.

``The Sea Hunter will have to drop anchor about 300 yards offshore,`` Faford said. Hope Village ``will have to hire many small boats to ferry bags, boxes, etc., ashore. We will also need to hire trucks to bring these supplies to our location for inventory and distribution.``

Faford said Boisvert has received assurances from the United Nations that its peacekeeping forces will provide security for the offloading operations both in Les Cayes and Miragoane.

Aboard Sea Hunter late Monday afternoon, excitement that the voyage might be close to resuming was tempered by concern for Brooks.

Ryder, after consulting with Lynders, set up his boss with a nebulizer to loosen congestion in his lungs and an oxygen tank and mask to get more oxygen into his blood.

Ryder said he knew his boss was not doing well when he suggested calling the doctor and initiating the treatments -- and Brooks readily agreed.

``Normally, he would have run the other way,`` Ryder said.

He added, ``We can make it to Haiti without Greg -- but I don`t want to.``

Brooks, meanwhile, continued to field cell phone calls from here, there and everywhere in between.

Plopping down on a couch in the crew`s recreation room late Monday after yet another long call, Brooks forced a weary smile.

``I`d rather go 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali,`` he said.


Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks, left, checks the long-range weather forecast between Miami and Haiti on Monday along with ship captain Gary Esper, center.

Photos by Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist


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