One Step Closer

(This blog is about my personal experiences working and living aboard the M/V Sea Hunter, a 220’ treasure hunting ship)

Greg endlessly on the phone

Greg endlessly on the phone

The crew worked hard on the required to-do list that was given to us by the Coast Guard. All the containers were locked in place to the deck so as to keep them stable while we were at sea. Now we waited for the new captain to arrive with anticipation. Of course we hoped not only that he would accept the assignment, but that he also would fit in with the crew. Though the Sea Hunter was 220’ long, the actual living quarters were fairly tight. When you have 15 or so people living and working aboard, it is imperative to have a good attitude and be easy going. Most of us had been together for quite some time and though we had some strong personalities aboard, we respected one another and could work out any problems. Now we could possibly have a complete stranger living amongst us, but I had no doubt we would all do our best to make him feel welcome. We had the “big picture” to think about, and that was always on our minds.

On top of these problems we were trying to resolve, Greg hadn’t been feeling well for a few days. His breathing was labored and he was coughing quite a bit. I think the stresses of the last six weeks were wearing his immune system down. Brian Ryder (chief engineer and ship medic) had put him on antibiotics a couple days prior. I decided to check on him while he was alone in his room (which was rare to find him alone). I asked him to tell me straight up how he was feeling. He kept trying to shoo it off as just a bit of a cold. I knew better. It had been three days on the antibiotics and no change. I spoke with Brian and he shared my concerns. After checking Greg out again, he made a call to a physician in Connecticut who had been on a few trips with us and had become friends with Greg and the crew. With the information he received from Brian he thought Greg may have a severe lung infection. He had Brian set up a nebulizer to loosen the congestion in his lungs and have him breathe straight oxygen from a tank to help get oxygen to his blood. Greg reluctantly cooperated with the physician’s instructions as I could see in his eyes he was concerned. Without his health, he knew wouldn’t be able to continue this trip.

After being treated with the nebulizer and oxygen, Greg met with the crew for our morning meeting. He never mentioned his health but everyone knew he wasn’t well and were concerned. He reminded us that this was the day the new captain would be arriving from Orlando. That we had come this far and overcame many obstacles. We were to make sure the ship was ready and to make him feel welcome

Dan (volunteer) helping to get the ship up to code

Dan (volunteer) helping to get the ship up to code

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While the rest of the crew got to work preparing for the new captains arrival, I still couldn’t get Greg’s health off my mind. My biggest concern was what could happen once we were steaming to Haiti and he got sicker. It wasn’t like we were going to a country with good healthcare. Even before the earthquake, I don’t think I would want to depend on the Haitian medical community. I decided to call Kathy, Greg’s wife and inform her. Though she and Greg spoke many times each day, I am sure he didn’t tell her the full story. I voiced my concerns and told her everything Brian and Bill (physician) had said. As much as I wanted Greg to complete the trip with us, I wanted him to be alive and well even more. Kathy realized it was a tough situation. She had been married to Greg over 30 years and she knew how stubborn he could be, however, she loved him and didn’t want to take the chance of him getting more ill while away. She said she would call him and encourage him to return to Maine. I knew this would be an almost impossible task.

Early afternoon, the prospective new captain arrived. He was an oil tanker man with an unlimited master’s license. The highest you can achieve. As grateful as I was for him coming, my first impression wasn’t positive. He seemed to have a negative air about him and didn’t seem very likeable. I realized he may be taking on a tough assignment and his license was at stake so I allowed him some slack. He met with Greg and Gary for a while to discuss the situation. His first concern was the safety of the crew and cargo. He wanted to do a thorough inspection of the entire ship.

The good news (thank God we got some) was the approval from the US Customs and Border Protection department. The manifest (inventory list) and fee required that Greg had supplied them, was sufficient, and we were free to sail to Haiti. This was fantastic news! You could sense the relief from the crew and volunteers. Even Bill Nemintz had a huge smile on his face. Things were definitely looking up. All that held us up now was securing a licensed captain. After his thorough inspection of the ship and cargo he met again with Greg. He stated he would look over his findings and give him an answer in the morning. He then left the ship. This trip was now held in the balance of one man’s hands. Between that and Greg’s health, I can assure you, it was going to be a long night of waiting and prayers.

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