March 3, 2010

Ship's mission to Haiti back on course

By Bill Nemitz

ABOARD THE SEA HUNTER — The Maine relief ship Sea Hunter, free of a 12-day Coast Guard ''hold order,'' finally set sail for Haiti early Tuesday.

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Aboard the Sea Hunter, deckhand Nick Snyer of Hopkinton, Mass., watches the sun rise Tuesday as the Maine vessel sails toward Haiti.

Bill Nemitz/Columnist

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

So began the final leg of the humanitarian mission to bring some 200 tons of relief supplies, almost half donated by Mainers, to an orphanage and others in the southern coastal city of Les Cayes.

Ship owner Greg Brooks awakened the crew at 3:30 a.m. after rough seas had improved sufficiently to raise the ship's tender, the Mini Me, aboard the main deck.

The Sea Hunter then departed. By 6:30 p.m., the ship was nearing the Old Bahama Channel between Cuba and the Bahamas.

''I think it's going to be good the whole ride,'' Esper said after consulting the 72-hour weather forecast.

He said the ship should arrive in the Haitian port of Miragoane by late Thursday. The Sea Hunter will offload 10 containers, a medical mobile unit and a solar-powered water desalinator before sailing to Les Cayes.

Most of the supplies are destined for Hope Village, an orphanage and assistance program operated by a Lewiston native, the Rev. Marc Boisvert.

Boisvert said the Sea Hunter's arrival will mark the first significant aid delivery to Haiti's south coast since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the country Jan. 12.

In his daily blog posting Monday (, Boisvert noted that the food, clothing, medical and other supplies will go far beyond Hope Village.

''There's a place in town for abandoned infants, there's Mother Teresa's place, there's (Sister) Flora's small orphanage, thirteen other orphanages, several small clinics, poor families and the St. Vincent de Paul Society here in town,'' he wrote.

Families hosting quake survivors, and refugees in a tent city in Les Cayes, also will share the supplies.

''So, you see,'' Boisvert wrote, ''there's a whole lotta folk who are happy to hear that our ship will finally be coming in!''

The Sea Hunter is now in the 24th day of its journey from Portland to Les Cayes.


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


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