March 3, 2010

Haiti or bust, Sea Hunter's crew keeps eyes on goal

By Bill Nemitz

(Continued from page 2)

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Photo by Bill Nemitz/Staff Writer: Greg Brooks, left, owner of the Sea Hunter, talks with Captain Gary Esper of Hopkinton, Mass., about the rough ride from Maine to Miami shortly after the vessel's arrival Thursday.

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''I'm not one to have panic attacks -- until it's time to,'' St. Cyr said with a smile as he helped tidy up the main deck Saturday morning. ''I'm kind of a day-by-day, minute-by-minute guy.''

Julia Cote, 25, is also headed for Haiti for the first time.

A 2003 graduate of South Portland High School, she went to work for Sub Sea Research as an assistant and deckhand in 2008.

Brooks, who has done much of his salvage work in Haiti since he founded the company 18 years ago, all but predicted this trip when Cote signed on.

''He told me I was going to end up doing humanitarian work at some point -- and it most likely would have to do with Haiti,'' Cote said. ''Little did I know.''

Assuming the Sea Hunter makes it there, is she nervous about what she might confront?

''All I can think is that in some way, it's going to help shape the rest of my life,'' Cote said. ''And I'm only 25, so there's a lot of shaping to be done.''

That sense of anticipation, bolstered by the conviction that there's something good at the core of all the turmoil, could be heard from the Sea Hunter's bow to its stern this weekend.

So could singing.

Saturday, it turned, out, was Brooks' 59th birthday.

His sister, ship cook Cindy Hart of Portland, went out and bought a carrot cake.

And at the prescribed moment Saturday afternoon, the entire crew gathered on the bridge and sang ''Happy Birthday'' to their beleaguered boss.

Later, Brooks noted that the entire crew agreed to make this trip at reduced wages ''because of the situation.'' How long it will take, nobody knows.

''They all come together when it's needed,'' Brooks said. ''They might bitch and moan sometimes, but when it comes down to the wire, they all work together and make it happen. They've always done that. It's impressive.''


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


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