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Old 30-11-2012, 16:05   #1
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Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

Captains/Owners, I would like to ask for your advice and feedback on our Sea Mercy Captain Program in the South Pacific. A little background (short version)... Sea Mercy is a US based non-profit organization that provides Floating Health Care Clinics (FHCC) staffed with US/International health care professionals delivering and medical supplies to care to the remote islanders in the South Pacific (see our website for more info). Our initial island nation partner in the South Pacific is the Kingdom of Tonga, but our goal will be to deliver a FHCC to the 10 other island nations.

Here is where I could use your advice and feedback:

Our initial plan was to purchase a vessel to operate as an FHCC for each island nation, but after discussions with captains and owners that we had sailed with in the past, they suggested we offer a program that would allow vessel owners in the South Pacific, or who were willing to relocate to the South Pacific, who wanted to "sail with a more benevolent purpose" to partner with Sea Mercy. They would operate as a FHCC for a particular island nation (or rotate to other island nations). In return, Sea Mercy would cover all operational costs and expenses (fuel, food, fees, etc.) and fairly compensate the owner/captain for the use of their vessel for the period of time of their service. This would greatly reduce the upfront costs of purchasing a vessel (use those resources for medical supplies and staff), allow Sea Mercy to develop the full fleet of FHCC's much faster and therby deliver the much needed health care to these remote islanders. The vessel owners would be able to sail the South Pacific at a minimal expense, work with some great individuals, a make a difference.

If you have the time, I would like to ask you to review the Sea Mercy Captain Program on the website and offer any advice, concerns, suggestions, and feedback on the program and how to best meet the needs of the owner with this program.

Thank you in advance for your advice on this matter.

Sincerely,
Richard Hackett
President & Founder
Sea Mercy
www.seamercy.org
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Old 30-11-2012, 16:27   #2
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Re: Captains/Owners - I need your advice

Looking at your minimum requirements, I would suggest your going to have difficulties finding many, if any, cats that will qualify.
  • Sailing Catamaran (all electronics, navigation, sails, engines, etc. fully operational for blue water sailing)
  • 45+ feet in length, minimum of 10 berths available for volunteers
  • Able to operate 3 weeks minimum (with above staff) between resupplying for fuel, food, etc.
  • Vessel is located in, or available to travel to the South Pacific region to operate as a FHCC

A 45' cat is a large cat, but not many are set up for 10 berths, unless you want to be hot-bunking. 10 people, food and gear for 3 weeks? That is a lot of space and weight, and most cats are not particularly well suited to carrying much excess weight. And one heck of a water maker going full bore.

You may be better off looking for a variety of boats, including monohulls, who can operate together as a fleet. I think you would have far better luck ramping up with a number of 40' mono's then trying to hold out for 45' cats with enough berths.

Perhaps you have thought of that and discounted it, but it will be interesting to see what points others bring up.
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Old 30-11-2012, 16:49   #3
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Re: Captains/Owners - I need your advice

Richard,

The first thing that comes to mind is concerns about insurance. Using a vessel in this way would likely violate typical boat insurance and require purchasing commercial insurance. This could also require having a commercial captains license to operate the vessel.
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Old 30-11-2012, 17:04   #4
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Re: Captains/Owners - I need your advice

avb3,

Thank you for the feedback and I really appreciate your suggestions.

I agree it could be a "needle in the haystack" to find the right vessel and owner per our desired requirements. To have a vessel large enough to carry 6-8 health care staff and then crew is daunting. As we reduce the size of the vessel, the level and types of needed health services we can provide also drops quickly.

We are not opposed to the monohull options, it brings with it some additional challenges is in dealing with the shallow lagoons or harbors of some of the remote islands. The Cat provides a more shallow draft, added deck space for patient evaluation and treatment, and more stable working area, the same footprint for a monohull would require a much larger vessel, thus a deeper keel/draft and perhaps a more difficult or dangerous anchorage or access. We are looking at some 70+ foot monohulls (I'd love yours or anyones thoughts on the Turkish "Gulet" design as a possible platform for a floating health clinic), so I appreciate the suggestion and even the fleet idea.

Thanks!
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Old 30-11-2012, 18:07   #5
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Re: Captains/Owners - I need your advice

The biggest hurdle I see, is the transient nature of cruisers themselves. Its likely you could have someone with a great boat for six months and then stuggle to find another for the next two months, which would inhibet the programs somewhat and possible affect the program itself. Especially in tropical summer, when a lot of cruisers have headed south of the tropics or are hiding in cyclone holes.

Have you thought about partnering with other NGO's. Even a marine research team as a broad example?
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Old 30-11-2012, 18:19   #6
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Re: Captains/Owners - I need your advice

Oz,

We actually were thinking and wrestling with those same concerns. Even in Tonga, we will not be operating during the heavy weather summer season (November-March) and would encourage our FHCC's to transition south or batten up during those times (we would not want to put our captins/vessels or volunteers at risk). We are definitely exploring the options with NGO's, but were finding that opens up some challenges as well.

I'm glad were thinking alike on this.
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Old 30-11-2012, 21:14   #7
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Re: Captains/Owners - I need your advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhackett View Post
Oz,

We actually were thinking and wrestling with those same concerns. Even in Tonga, we will not be operating during the heavy weather summer season (November-March) and would encourage our FHCC's to transition south or batten up during those times (we would not want to put our captins/vessels or volunteers at risk). We are definitely exploring the options with NGO's, but were finding that opens up some challenges as well.

I'm glad were thinking alike on this.
Of Course, as some NGOs eg a marine research group, may want to be in a completely different part of the pacific to you. Or may want to work on remote atolls where there are no civilian populations. But an opportunity to share the cost and combine funding would be the ying to the yang if an agreement could be reached. No doubt it would be somewhat 'seasonal' for all involved.
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Old 30-11-2012, 21:40   #8
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

Great initiative Hackett, good luck with it. As said above, finding sustainable transport may be the biggest issue. Have you contacted oceanswatch.org they are well establised in the Pacific, and they do similar projects to the one you are considering.
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Old 30-11-2012, 23:58   #9
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

Would it be possible to use multiple boats? Each boat could carry one or two health professionals and their equipment. Organise it like a rally calling at each island.

If it were possible to register the yachts involved at one or more of the island nations it may simplify things, though this could need legislation to be passed in one or more parliaments.

If you could underwrite the risks involved it would make it much more attractive.

There are many smaller boat owner that may be interested, but I don't think there are that many big cats.
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:20   #10
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

Echoing what everyone else has said here. I would love to participate, but my boat is a monohull and 40' on deck. I can take possibly 4-5 extra on board but that would be about it. 2-3 40' monohulls may be easier to find than a 45'+ cat.
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Old 01-12-2012, 05:04   #11
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

I will probably echo others and cast my vote for a cat and not an outsourced one but rather one operated by the organisation.

Why cat? - ability to access both shallow places (e.g. lagoon waters) an relative comfort if anchored outside of the lagoon (see many Cook Islands). Ability to carry non-sailing staff and provide a more comfortable platform for related activities.

Why own? - it is way easier to manage a boat that can be sent at any time to any location and coordinate everything - supplying, formalities, time schedules, haul-outs.

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Old 01-12-2012, 05:32   #12
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

Some after thoughts that you may use:

1. 'Licensed Captain'. You may like to re-phrase this towards something along the lines: 'licensed skipper', or else, more specifically, 'the captain/owner/skipper must hold boat operator's license appropriate to the type of vessel they are offering and in line with the regulations as in the country where the vessel isregistered and applicable for the type of operations that are to be undertaken on behalf of the Organisation'. A lawyer will phrase the thing for you.

2. Whether or not the captain must have en endorsment allowing them to carry passengers/volunteers/cargo depends not only on where the boat is registered but also on how your orgnisation's activities are structured within the legal body of the country where your organisation is registered.

3. Remember you will need a separate permit from each of the local governments too. (Should a government not grant you such a permit, the captain puts their boat at risk of fine/confiscation).

4. Remember about the insurance. The boat and the events will need coverage. Make it very clear who pays what. Not many volunteer skippers/owners will volunteer to extend their insurance policies to your staff/volunteers/operations. Hopefully, some will.

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Old 01-12-2012, 06:46   #13
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

You idea is creative in theory, but you are going to find that in reality it will be hard to find a Catamaran or Mono Hull that is LEGALLY able to carry that many passengers.

Anything over six passengers is subject to the IMO/SOLAS regulations, including inspection, certification and of course a licensed crew.

No insurance company will touch a boat that is carrying more than six passengers without these certifications.

Without insurance you are running a very big risk, especially carrying volunteer Doctors and other medical personnel, which in the event of a catastrophy would probably generate world press coverage.

I also wonder, even if you find a Licensed Crew with an Inspected Vessel, if the cost of insurance for a short durtion, like three weeks, would be cost prohibitive. You might want to query some insurance companies to find out the costs assocaited with this venture.

I would suggest you find a Maritime Lawyer and run this idea by them... They might have some ideas of how to make this work.
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:59   #14
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

From a medical point of view...... how much red tape for licensure of the medical professionals in each locality AND how much MORE for the medications?

As to the vessel..... forget sail, for your application a powerboat like a large trawler with fuel, water, stores, capacity is the only way you are going to provide for that large a crew for 3+weeks. Not to mention generation of power; many medications require refrigeration, and even minor surgery requires light, and sterile equipment. Were I you, I'd look at surplus fishing trawlers; lots of room, multiple BIG generators, and a very large range.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:06   #15
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Re: Captains/Owners - I Need Your Advice

i would reccomend contacting these guys,they allready have a fleet of 7 large catamarans that voyage all over the pacific,with the aim of linking pacific communities.

weather they would be interested in perpetuating the devastation that the white man has brought to the pacific,with his bibles and medicine is another story......but worth a try

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