Sea Shepherd boat crew gets ready to help in Bahamas

Kevin Morales

The M/V John Paul DeJoria is in George Town harbour aiming to soon begin assisting those in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

“We’re running from Dorian at the moment,” said ship manager Tawd Bell, a crewmember on the former US Coast Guard Cutter now part of the marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd. “But we’re also in the Caribbean on standby for Operation Good Pirate, which is our humanitarian aid campaign we do here during hurricane season, if there’s ever any hurricanes.”

Dorian, a Category 5 storm when it hit the Bahamas, has devastated the northern part of the country.

“Dorian just went through,” Bell said. “So I think the plan is we’re gonna be heading back north and helping the Caribbean. Right now, once the storm is cleared out, go back and help them out with supplies, medical, and, I’m assuming, clothing, food, that kind of thing.

“These are all donations that people are organising and then getting on the boat and then we’re just transporting and delivering them.”

That is where Cayman and its residents come in.

“We’re getting some here, I just found out,” Bell said of the donations. “The plan is brand-new so I don’t have a lot of answers. So we’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants a little bit, which you kind of have to when you’re responding to hurricanes.”

It’s not the first time those in Cayman nor those with Sea Shepherd have assisted following a major storm. Cayman Islands law enforcement and other emergency response officers assisted on the ground in 2017 following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated several countries in the eastern Caribbean. Sea Shepherd crews were there as well, Bell said.

“Obviously, it feels good,” he said of helping those in need after a storm. “It’s obviously hectic but it’s rewarding. Especially after Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico and places like that were not getting any help at all. So I think that was the original impetus for us doing that, is we were able to come in where there was a big void from government assistance, so we just decided to keep doing it.”

Bell says the 111‑foot, 174‑tonne ship will remain in Cayman for only a few days. He’s unsure whether the crew will make another stop en route to aiding recovery efforts in the Bahamas.