Tag Archives: Greg Brooks

Sea Hunter’s supplies reach Haitian people | Portland Press Herald

LES CAYES, Haiti – Not once in the four weeks and five days since he left Portland Harbor had Dave St. Cyr, a deckhand aboard the Maine relief ship Sea Hunter, uttered such an exclamation.

A United Nations Police patrol boat arrives at Sea Hunter’s anchorage Friday morning to provide security during the offloading operations off the coast of Les Cayes, Haiti.

“What chaos!” said St. Cyr, 54, of Portland as he came to the ship’s bridge for a breather late Friday afternoon. “It’s unbelievable down there!”

And long overdue.

Sea Hunter’s mission of mercy to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, delayed by raging winter storms and enough red tape to stop the 220-foot treasure-hunting ship dead in the water for days on end, is at last coming to an end.

Just after noon Friday, a Haitian customs official gave the long-awaited permission to begin offloading Sea Hunter’s estimated 200 tons of relief supplies.

Minutes later, the water around the ship exploded into a scrum of landing vessels and a cacophony of bullhorns, security sirens and, above all, shouting Haitian workers.

“This is it,” said Sea Hunter’s owner, Greg Brooks. “This is what we started out in Portland for. And it’s finally come to fruition today.”

Click on the link to read the rest of this story by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

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At last, Maine vessel Sea Hunter offloading Haiti relief supplies | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

At last, Sea Hunter offloading Haiti relief supplies | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Sea Hunter arrives at 2nd Haitian port | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Sea Hunter arrives at 2nd Haitian port | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Sea Hunter awaits OK to dock in Haiti | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Sea Hunter awaits OK to dock in Haiti | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

‘Here we go, boys. We’re going to Haiti!’ | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Here we go, boys. We’re going to Haiti!’ | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Maine shipmaster says aye to Sea Hunter mission | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine shipmaster says aye to Sea Hunter mission | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Concern over captain’s health tempers crew’s excitement

MIAMI — Preparations shifted into high gear in Haiti on Monday to receive the estimated 200 tons of donated relief supplies aboard the Maine ship Sea Hunter, while hopes rose aboard the ship that its five days in limbo here could finally end today.

But even as the crew lashed down cargo and looked forward to this morning’s arrival of a shipmaster who has volunteered to sail the rest of the humanitarian mission, new worries arose about the health of Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks of Gorham.

Brooks said he spoke at length Monday morning with Dr. William Lynders, a Connecticut physician who has sailed with Brooks’s Sub Sea Research Inc. on several of the company’s treasure-salvage voyages.

The cell phone consultation followed a call to Lynders by Brian Ryder, the Sea Hunter’s chief engineer and shipboard medic. Ryder said he was worried about Brooks’ physical condition, including what appears to be a lung infection.

“I thought I was a strong guy, I still think I am,” Brooks said. “But it’s been a month of overwhelming things.”

Brooks said he would decide by this morning whether to continue on to Haiti or fly home to Maine after seeing the Sea Hunter off. Either way, he said, the decision will not be easy.

Click on the link for the rest of this column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

Mr. Nemitz also added a Reporter’s Notebook about the Sea Hunter. A notebook typically are bits and pieces a reporter gathers, but never seems to find place in the main story or column. Here’s a link to the notebook by Mr. Nemitz.

 

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

MIAMI — It’s one of those images that stick with you forever.

Ten years ago, on the first of his many seagoing voyages to Haiti, Brian Ryder looked out at the approaching port city of Les Cayes.

Off in the distance at the end of a rickety dock stood a small boy, maybe 4 years old, staring intently back at Ryder.

“He was all stove up – had bloody knees and legs and he was sparsely clothed,” recalled Ryder, a 48-year-old father of five from West Bath.

Asking around, Ryder later learned that the Haitian boy had no mother, no father, no family at all. Like a stray animal, he relied on the people who worked around the dock for his meager survival.

“It was a life-changing experience,” recalled Ryder, who now serves as chief engineer aboard the treasure-salvage ship Sea Hunter.

Late Friday night, as Ryder lay in his bunk aboard Sea Hunter wondering if the ship will ever complete its on-again, off-again relief mission to Haiti, the little boy once again forced his way through the thicket of Ryder’s worries.

“How would my kids feel if their whole family was gone and they’re in this strange place with nobody really to hold them and say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be OK. Don’t cry. Don’t be scared’?” Ryder said. “Man, I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.”

It’s easy, in the storm of controversy now swirling around the Sea Hunter and its owner, Greg Brooks, to lose sight of what this anything-but-conventional vessel and its crew are ultimately trying to accomplish.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

Stymied ship unsnarls sticky knot in red tape

MIAMI — The Maine-based relief ship Sea Hunter took two steps forward and one step back Friday in its owner’s quest to deliver supplies to an orphanage in Haiti.

By late afternoon, the ship’s owner, Greg Brooks of Gorham, confirmed that a licensed shipmaster from Orlando, with ties to Maine Maritime Academy, had volunteered to come aboard early next week and ride Sea Hunter to Haiti and then back to its winter berth in Boston.

The decision by Richard Devins, who holds an “unlimited master” license, could satisfy the Coast Guard’s demand that Sea Hunter no longer sail without licensed personnel aboard.

“It’s amazing that this man donated his license and his time to come down and help us,” said Brooks. “All he asked was that when we get back to Boston, we buy him a plane ticket home.”

Taking another step toward their goal, the crew and local dockworkers finished clearing the ship’s cluttered main deck and taking aboard 10 containers of relief supplies donated by a Florida-based charity shortly after 4:30 p.m.

That beat the dock owner’s deadline for loading the containers. Under a more flexible deadline, the move to another berth nearby finally got under way at 9 p.m.

“Everybody pulled together, that’s for sure,” said Rick Woodbury, 49, of Scarborough, a friend of Brooks’ who volunteered for the mission. “It was a good day, no doubt about it.”

Enthusiasm about the forward progress was tempered, however, by news that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Miami had ordered Brooks to provide, by this afternoon, a complete inventory of all goods taken aboard in Portland and Boston.

In addition, customs officials told Brooks he must pay a duty based on the total value of the tons of clothing, food and equipment brought to the ship in late January by people and businesses all over Maine.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

 

Captain volunteers for relief mission

Click for the latest update: Captain volunteers for relief mission

Sea Hunter racing the clock

Owner, crew of the vessel scramble

to address the Coast Guard’s safety,

licensing requirements as deadline looms

Updated at 1:25 p.m. EST

MIAMI — Negotiations between the owner of the Sea Hunter and the local Coast Guard station progressed this morning toward a possible compromise that would allow the Maine-based ship to continue its relief mission to an orphanage in Haiti.

“We’re continuing to talk,” said Greg Brooks of Gorham, the Sea Hunter’s owner, after speaking to Coast Guard officials repeatedly both in person and by cell phone.

“I’m hoping there’s a solution in sight,” Brooks said.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Michael Lingaitis visited the Sea Hunter late in the morning to deliver a “hold order” which would prevent the Sea Hunter from departing for Les Cayes, Haiti, before safety and licensing issues have been resolved.

“We’re willing to work with you,” Lingaitis told Brooks during a conference in the ship’s galley. “Let’s keep discussing this.”

The Sea Hunter, loaded with relief supplies donated by people and businesses through Maine and New England, sailed here from Portland without a licensed ship master, first mate and engineer as required by Coast Guard regulations.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

Mainer’s voyage to Haiti now uncertain

Coast Guard officials question

the qualifications of Greg Brooks’

crew as he tries to deliver relief supplies

MIAMI — A Maine ship bound for Haiti with relief supplies may be prevented by the U.S. Coast Guard from proceeding beyond the port of Miami, its owner learned Wednesday evening.

Greg Brooks, owner of the 220-foot Sea Hunter, was told by Coast Guard officials by telephone that he cannot sail the ship to Haiti without a licensed captain and first mate aboard.

Brooks, who usually uses the ship to search for sunken shipwreck treasures, said he has sailed without licensed personnel on past voyages because the Sea Hunter is documented as a noncommercial vessel and he understood that no such licenses were required.

That changed Thursday, when Coast Guard officials in Miami contacted their counterparts in South Portland to inquire about the qualifications of the crew.

“My heart feels like it’s been ripped right out of me,” said Brooks, who flew to Miami ahead of the ship late last week to arrange for the loading of additional relief supplies from a Florida-based relief organization.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

Here’s a link to an earlier dispatch about the problems:

Coast Guard mulling Maine ship’s Haiti trip

Vessel fills up with donations to benefit quake-struck Haiti | Portland Press Herald

 Vessel fills up with donations to benefit quake-struck Haiti | Portland Press Herald.

This time Mainer’s not hunting treasure, he’s delivering it – to Haiti

Normally when treasure hunter Greg Brooks embarks on his 220-foot ship Sea Hunter, he’s not 100 percent sure what he’s going to find.

Not so this time.

“I love the people of Haiti and I know that they’re suffering,” Brooks said Thursday. “Because of this tragedy, everybody’s willing to give to Haiti. I can transport the stuff they want to give.”

And then some.

Click here to get the rest of “This time Mainer’s not hunting treasure, he’s delivering it – to Haiti” by Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz.