March 3, 2010

Maine shipmaster says aye to Sea Hunter mission

By Bill Nemitz

(Continued from page 1)

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Ship’s cook Cindy Hart welcomes shipmaster Kevin Garthwaite of Wells aboard the Sea Hunter off Miami’s South Beach on Sunday afternoon.

Photo by Bill Nemitz

click image to enlarge

Shipmaster Kevin Garthwaite of Wells speaks with crew members Sunday aboard the Sea Hunter. A final Coast Guard safety inspection is expected this morning.

Photo by Bill Nemitz

'Mannapacks' to feed hungry

Among the foodstuffs aboard the Sea Hunter are 16 pallets of ''mannapacks'' sent by the Minneapolis-based organization Feed My Starving Children.

The 14-ounce plastic packets contain a mix of rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, minerals and vitamins. Mixed with water and cooked for 20 minutes, one packet can feed a family of six.

''It's a fabulous product because you can use it institutionally or to feed a family. It's very versatile for us,'' said Russ Griggs, director of gifts-in-kind and shipping for Florida-based Cross International, which accepted the mannapacks.


Just enough room for Mini Me

While at anchorage, the Sea Hunter's crew relies on an 18-foot tender, powered by a 200- horsepower Yamaha outboard, to get to the mainland and back.

Thursday morning, crane operator Nick Snyer gingerly plucked the tender from the crowded deck while other crew members steadied it with lines.

With its propeller just inches from a medical mobile unit, donated by the Maine Migrant Health Program to the Portland-based organization Konbit Sante, it was no easy feat.

But the operation went off without a hitch and, after a tense 15 minutes, the tender was bobbing in the waves along the Sea Hunter's starboard side.

Its name: the Mini Me.

– Bill Nemitz

Reaction to Garthwaite's decision was predictably joyous among the crew members and volunteers as they entered the fourth week of their quest to bring food, clothing, medicine and other relief supplies to an orphanage and community assistance program in the Haitian coastal city of Les Cayes.

Esper, who moved out of his private berth to make room for the new arrival, said Garthwaite's offer to come aboard was much appreciated by all.

''He's a smart guy and I'm expecting to learn a lot from him,'' said Esper, who already has enrolled in an online course to obtain his master's license. ''I think it's going to be fantastic.''

Brooks was equally impressed.

''It took another Mainer to do this,'' Brooks said. ''We've brought it this far and now (Garthwaite) can help us take it to the final destination.''

Coast Guard officials are expected to meet this morning with Garthwaite and board the Sea Hunter for a final safety inspection.

Last week, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Lingaitis said, ''If they're ready for sea and they've got a licensed crew on board, they're going to be able to sail.''

Assuming that happens, Garthwaite said, he should be viewed as the newcomer with a much-needed ''piece of paper'' -- not the hero who saved the Sea Hunter's mission.

''I view these guys as the heroes,'' he said. ''They're the ones who have been putting in 16-hour days, working their tails off three weeks into this voyage not knowing what was going to happen. I think they're the ones who really deserve the applause.''


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