Just a thought about aid to Haiti

Apologies for this, it\’s very much off the top of my head and I\’m not quite sure how sensible it is. But a suggestion for aid to Haiti.

There is gross and disastrous destruction in Haiti as a result of the earthquake. Tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands have died or are at risk of dying.

The greatest lack appears to be of potable water: yes, I know about the lack of medical supplies and so on but in the heirarchy of needs clean water is highest for the continued survival of a human being.

Three facts occur to me.

1) Haiti is some 700 miles from Florida. Well within the sailing distance of a moderate to large sized pleasure boat.

2) Florida has (along with other nearby Caribbean nations to add to the numbers) the world\’s largest concentration of such medium to large sized pleasure boats.

3) Modern such medium to large sized pleasure boats tend to have desalination and water purification systems onboard. Those that don\’t tend to have large fresh water tanks.

There is therefore the opportunity to move said desalination and water purification systems from where they are currently not being used to where they can save lives. They are currently mounted upon their own transport systems and thus can completely bypass the chaos at the country\’s airport(s).

So why not the Dunkirk flotilla of little ships in reverse? Those who own such boats sail them to the harbour of Port au Prince or nearby? Engage the water purification systems and pump the water ashore?

Would it need organisation? Sure. It would also need fuel: but the US Navy has auxiliary tankers just like any other navy does and I doubt that anyone would stint on free fuel paid for by the taxpayers to those who do move and run their boats to provide such fresh water.

Perhaps there\’s some finer point of the sea that I\’m missing here so if there is can someone tell me what it is?

To sum up: the suggestion is that all those fine boats moored in Southern Florida load up with basic medical supplies and simple survival gear: blankets, food, camping stoves and the like. Then they move such and their onboard water purification and desalination systems from Florida to Haiti. The US Navy provides the infrastructure support and the fuel.

This is all entirely voluntary of course.

Is this sensible or am I sadly promoting an entirely silly idea?

10 thoughts on “Just a thought about aid to Haiti”

  1. USS Carl Vinson (on scene) and its task group can produce ~500,000 gallons/day of fresh water.

    Tim adds: One newspaper report I’ve seen says 35,000 litres a day.

  2. 700 miles is 5 or 6 days of sailing at the kind of speed you would expect out of typical small sail boat and that’s with favourable winds and enough crew to keep the boat sailing 24 hours a day.

    Most of the boat owners that can take off for a month or so will not have the training or experience to make a journey of this length, so you would have to organise the boats into small flotillas, so that more experienced sailors can help those who are less experienced.

  3. I’d say the biggest issue was distribution. Pumps and jerrycans would be in short supply and given that mooring space is likely to be short, the transfers would have to be by small boat, and yes, security would be an issue. At Dunkirk you would only have had to deal with self loading cargo….

  4. One newspaper report I’ve seen says 35,000 litres a day

    Sub-editors again, slipping zeros. 35,000 litres a day is about 7 litres per day per person on the aircraft carrier. After the Indonesian tsunami more or less the first aid on the scene was USS Abraham Lincoln which was said at the time to be able to produce 900,000 gallons a day of fresh water.

  5. I’d agree with FormerTory. These ships are actually designed to support not just themselves but an expeditionary force that has just stormed ashore.

    Put a division of troops to fight on an island and they’ll need a lot of water.

  6. There is a flotilla leaving Key West this coming week, (weather dependent) along with Oceanswatch we have organized the first group of boats to deliver Aid to Haiti’s coastal communitiy. We are calling it “Sail Aid to Haiti” my vessel “Tranquility” is looking for other cruisers willing to deliver aid with us leaving in March. check out http://www.oceansmawtch.org

  7. Tim,

    Your thoughts are right. We completed the mission successfully on our vessel “Tranquility” As a Renewable Energy Specialists” We have designed Solar Powered Watermakers. We used this first of many trips to see the how to impliment these units. I also upgraded my own Watermaker to produce 85 gal an hour for doing exactly what you have suggested. Unfortunately due to securtiy reasons we were unable to fully use it to its potential. As a sailing family with children our voyage was all about the children. We are currently working on raising money for a return trip in he fall to help set up the schools and producing fresh potable water. For information about our trip please go to http://www.endangeredplanetfoundation.org and information about us please go to http://www.transmarinepro.com. If you would like more information please feel free to contact us at 954-683-7368 or [email protected]

  8. Cameron & Leighia, I heard of your mission from Ellen. I am moved by your selflessness. What a great example you set for your children.
    So glad you are home safe.

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