March 3, 2010

As cynics feast, hopeful crew won't give up the ship

By Bill Nemitz

(Continued from page 2)

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Sea Hunter deckhand Alex Bezkorovainy throws a life ring to volunteer Rick Woodbury of Scarborough during a safety drill on Saturday off Miami.

Bill Nemitz/Staff Columnist

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''It's sort of like when you put a mattress on top of your car,'' Bates said. ''You put a few straps down and say, 'Yeah, it's all right.' And then you put a few more on just to make sure. It doesn't hurt to overdo things.''

Assuming the Coast Guard bids the ship farewell (or good riddance) Monday, the Sea Hunter will arrive off the coast of Haiti late Wednesday or early Thursday.

The current plan is to stop first in the Port of Miragoane, where a deep-water dock will enable the crew to offload the 10 containers, a large medical mobile van and a solar-powered water desalination unit bound for an orphanage near Port-au-Prince.

From Miragoane, the Sea Hunter then will sail for another day to the city of Les Cayes on Haiti's south coast.

There, the remainder of the relief supplies will be offloaded onto smaller vessels and transported by truck to Hope Village.

The orphanage, public school and community assistance program was founded eight years ago and is still operated by the Rev. Marc Boisvert, a Roman Catholic priest who grew up in Lewiston.

In an e-mail Saturday afternoon from Les Cayes, Boisvert said three trips to Port-au-Prince by his staff have cleared the way for the Sea Hunter's arrival in Miragoane.

Local police have agreed (''at a price'') to provide security for the offloading, Boisvert reported, and flatbed trucks are on standby to ferry the containers (at a total cost of $10,000) over the 60 miles of roads to Les Cayes.

At the same time, modifications to buildings at Hope Village are under way to provide storage space for the tons of incoming supplies.

''I'm being bombarded by organizations that need baby formula, diapers, drugs, mattresses, clothing and FOOD as the word has gotten out,'' Boisvert wrote.

Back on the Sea Hunter, all eyes have turned to the long-range National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast for the Caribbean region, especially the often treacherous windward passage between Haiti and Cuba.

''If we leave Monday, it will be 2 to 3 (foot seas) the whole ride down,'' Brooks said. ''Which will be fantastic.''


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


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