Dear Folks,

This is a bit long, but please read this through. It is extremely important.

As you know we have just completed a very successful mission to Haiti and demonstrated that we are capable of accomplishing great good and living up to our claim of being able to provide relief to those in need. The smiles on the faces of all those that received the aid we delivered was priceless and reinforced my belief that what we, as a group, are doing, is the right thing to do. This mission was a success because of you, our members, donors and crew volunteers.

We cannot rest on our laurels as we are very much needed for future missions. Not just to Haiti, but to anyplace within range of our vessels, and I greatly desire to be a part of them. However, we absolutely, positively require immediate funding or it cannot happen. Unfortunately these vessels take money to run. The manufacturers that have donated equipment to our cause have helped greatly, but that doesn't put diesel in our tanks, pay for miscellaneous, reoccurring, everyday things such as toilet paper and laundry or to repair the items that have broken on the last mission.

Tandemeer, as many of you may know already, broke the internal webbing of her rudder before departing for Haiti. That project alone will take about $10,000 and a month of dedicated yard work. She must be able to steer before she's of any use. The list of things broken aboard Thunderbird 5 is long and not as expensive, but she definitely needs the monetary assistance and support of our membership as well. In her current state, she is not voyage ready: she needs many fuel filters, oil filters, water maker filters, a gaff halyard ring repaired, sails sewn, mainsheet block welded etc.

Captain Ray and I have come up with ways to have the boats earn their keep. The primary avenue of approach is to have Thunderbird 5 sell berths on voyages. After doing the math, she can theoretically support the fleet but only if she is able to voyage. She's not currently able to without diesel, oil etc. Another way we were thinking is to rent out berths on both boats as a bed and breakfast in Coconut Grove to help cover their expenses. However, the fly in the ointment here is that to do so, we need to make them guest-worthy with such mundane items as clean sheets, new pillows and a reliable way to get to shore a half mile away without getting soaked. The present linens are quite nasty from a hospitality service point of view. Good enough for scruffy sailors, but as a paying guest, you would absolutely demand your money back. Our under-powered inflatable dinghy breaks every other wave over the bow and is quite a soggy ride. The plus side of the B&B idea is that the wear and tear (and subsequent operational costs) on the vessels aren't going to be as bad as going on a voyage. Especially if we were able to secure a donated dock space. The biggest problem with either of these approaches is that by providing guest services for overnighters and/or paying passengers we are effectively taken off our primary mission of helping people by delivering aid. This is unacceptable. When we return from a mission, theoretically, we should be immediately resupplied, repaired, loaded with cargo and on our way again to do what we are supposed to do.

How do we accomplish these goals? We need YOUR help!

As Captain aboard Thunderbird 5, I am task saturated with taking care of this HUGE boat and her inherent responsibilities. It is a full time job and it has been for the last 5 years. By taking the time to actively post blogs, participate in social media, fund raise, request donations and ride herd on the crew, I cannot do the maintenance needed to keep this vessel running. Also, as we don't have the internet and phone capabilities as our shore-bound members, my hands are quite effectively tied to the point that my efforts seem to be minimal.

We need you, as members, to take a more active role in OUR organization. We need fund raisers and, most of all, we need sponsors. I'm a sailor with a mechanical background. I lack the people skills and contacts to be effective in garnering funds or sponsors though I am trying my best. However, our membership (you), do possess those skills and resources to make things happen.

I am asking each and every one of you to volunteer your time, energy and experience to somehow make this organization prosper and assist those in dire need. I will coordinate with everyone willing to email me their skills and abilities or ideas. Your input and efforts are vital to our continued success.

Without our combined efforts, this organization WILL fail. I don't much care for that idea and neither do you.

We have an important mission. Let's make it happen together.

Michael McElhaney

Captain, IRG SV Thunderbird 5

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Comment by Greg Parks on August 11, 2014 at 10:08am

Captain Michael,

my email is  Have some specifics to ask about.  I requested to friend all the members that I could find but noticed many were last active in 2013, 2012 or 2011.  I think a request for funding or sponsorship presentation needs to be created.

First class, top flight presentation, one page.  I think it should be sent to specific individuals at certain large corporations that match a 1:1 for a 15k or 20k donation from employees.  I think a telephone call should be made first to that person for a heads up then ask them if it would be ok to send this out.

I need to talk with somebody at IRG to find out who blesses this kind of activity.  ???

I guess I think we need a huddle.  Because I am in Bangkok right now, its inconvenient for that but i can and will  prepare some ideas and gleefully plagiarize much of what Captain Sun, Captain Thackery and yourself have written.  Some of it really plucks my heart strings.  Once the presentation is firmed up and we have the language  written down and head honchos like it we can make some telephone calls and buy some stamps to mail these things out. Not email...goofy and it will go to junk mail anyway I think.  Maybe ask the corporate rep about that...maybe hardcopy and email both.

Now I know next to nothing about this funding business....  so I dont want to mess ya'll up.

Really I would rather change out filters, get the air out of the Injection pump so your motor will run.  That is what I do.  I am a mechanic.  Machines talk to me...  which reminds me of a good line in White Squall  " and dont test me not even a little..this ship talks to me in the night"   Oh wait, that's your line captain.  This shindig will be fun.

send me an email please.

Greg Parks

Comment by Captain Michael McElhaney on August 11, 2014 at 8:53am

Greg, I played with kali Linux . To test my home network, of course. I had very mixed results with it. Like you inferred, WPA2 is more difficult. Then there are the legal technicalities.... being part of a relief organization and cracking wifi passwords is a dumb idea. I just threw it out there as an example of how difficult it is to stay connected.

We used the SPOT tracker while enroute to Haiti. We found out the hard way that it needs a clear view of the sky and not be stored under a metal roof. When we found that it hadn't been transmitting, we changed the batteries, let it see the sky and it worked fine.

Sailmail over SSB is a wonderful thing and, yes, we have a Pactor 3 modem tied into our receiver. However, our receiver is currently broken (unless Ray sent it off for repair and didn't tell me about it). Once that is taken care of (and it is a priority before the next mission) we will be able to transmit and receive short text email just fine. Updating facebook, IRG website etc will require better throughput than the SSB set up can provide. At least we will be able to send text to concerned family members during a voyage.

The internet in Haiti is a joke. The hotel wifi doesn't exist. We were able to get internet via a USB dongle tied into the local phone company. It worked well, but got expensive fast. It wasn't until we got back to Miami that we found that Google drive was constantly synching the directories and chewing through the data we paid for. Ugh! Google drive will definitely be turned off on the next mission. I completely uninstalled it from my machine. I don't trust that they were only synching the data I gave them permission to sync. I think google is too nosy, but that's just my opinion.

Comment by Greg Parks on August 10, 2014 at 9:47pm

Capt. Michael,

Thanks for the welcome.  OK, well, cracking you say.  Aircrack software and get a dedicated notebook loaded up with Kali linux.  Open Source free.   WEP is easy to crack but WPA/WPA2 is harder.  I might mention that the local constabulary put people who do this in the crossbar hotel.  Its just a thought.

on to communications...its a rough life to be incommunicado these days.

I bought one on clearance for about $30 when West Marine was moving.  It requires a subscription...$100/year.

Its a satellite EPIRB  has some cool features like a limited text message  "I ok"  or "I not OK" or "send help"

this is satellite based....nothing wordy.   Now Capt Ray mentioned ya'll had sailmail with SSB.  Thats very cool, Thats worldwide as you can bounce the transmission off the F layer of the ionosphere.  I have only read about it never done it.  I am a HAM tech and very short messages can be relayed through AMSATS with a dual VHF/UHF.

But the details is critical and its almost like James Bond stuff to get it done.  But then ya'll use sextants and stuff.  Its probably doable.

I think great satellite communications will drain your travel kitty. It will cost bongo bucks I reckon. Just settle for EPIRB and very limited messages and a protocol worked out before hand and SSB radio and SAILMAIL  If you can get a WIFI within a mile or so you can get a directional antenna connected to the adapter and your in business.

I got a directional antenna for home use from

well those pesky password problems might interfere...

Now in Haiti, at Cow Island, at Port Morgan....they advertise communications thus:

Telecommunications » telephone, fax, postal service, local radios, internet.
VHF canal 16 or 9.

Does not say WIFI but....

just trying to help, and thanks again.

Greg Parks

Comment by Captain Michael McElhaney on August 10, 2014 at 12:59pm


Thank you for your research and suggestion. Recently, Great Circle Software generously donated a long range wifi booster. I just need to get it installed and that will help out greatly (along with a password cracker as nearly everyone locks down their wifi router). I'm also researching a Cell phone booster as most folks have a data plan that they can tether their computer with. The sweet deal would be a donation from the Globalstar folks of a satellite data system so that we can maintain communications anywhere in the world. That would have been an invaluable tool when we were on the way to Haiti as we had to play "catch-up" with a lot of important shore side issues. This is an area that we are trying to improve as communication is vital to our organization.

Thanks again for the input and if you have more ideas, keep 'em coming!



Comment by Greg Parks on August 9, 2014 at 10:23pm

About the internet wifi.  Have ya'll used a long range wifi adapter?  I use a Alfa 802.11 b/g/n long range adapter model AWUSO36NEH.  with a 10 USB extension cable you can run the adapter out a hatch.  They cost $30. I can donate mine and buy a better one.  this is 2.4GHZ band not the 5ghz.  I can use mine is Corpus Christi or Bangkok for a mile or so.  here is some facts...

Long-range Wi-Fi is used for low-cost, unregulated point-to-point computer network connections, as an alternative to other fixed wireless, cellular networks or satellite Internet access.

Wi-Fi networks have a range that's limited by the transmission power, antenna type, the location they're used in, and the environment.[1] A typical wireless router in an indoor point-to-multipoint arrangement using 802.11b or 802.11g and a stock antenna might have a range of 32 metres (105 ft). Outdoor point-to-point arrangements, through use of directional antennas, can be extended with many kilometers between stations.

Comment by Neil Davies on July 1, 2014 at 8:09pm
I would enjoy getting more involved and could try to help with fundraising from a distance. I would also enjoy helping with maintenance. How can I volunteer? Communication is an essential element, do you have a steering committee to set priorities and goals? Work weeks for volunteers? Conference calls to track progress etc? I would love to learn more about how the organization works.
Comment by Sean Matthews on May 8, 2014 at 9:26am

Great to hear David and Rebecca! I will be in touch with you.

Comment by David and Rebecca Luethcke on May 7, 2014 at 7:56am
Good piece. Got me off my bum to make a donation. Also, I could help out with the Indiegogo stuff as I have the time. I'm not familiar with the process of using this site, but let me know how I can be of service and I will work for you.
Comment by Captain Michael McElhaney on April 29, 2014 at 9:02am


That is a very generous offer. The RIB will be a great asset to the organization. Our inflatables have a soft floor and cause the whole thing to flop over the waves. They are utilitarian but inadeqauate for shuttling guests.

I am going back to Nevada in a couple days. My daughter is getting married. When I come back on the 15th, I may drive my van back so that I have something to get around in while ashore. Buses are ridiculous as a regular form of transportation. Especially if you want to travel out of their route. Anyway, I was thinking I may swing up to CT to pick things up first. Just an idea. You can PM me.

Also, if you have any ideas for sponsorships or fundraisers aside from charters, I'm all ears!

Comment by Sequoia Sun on April 29, 2014 at 5:28am

Hello Michael, I have a 14' RIB with 40 hp outboard and pedestal wheel steering rated for 7 passengers that I have offered to Ray for use on Thunderbird 5. It is in CT and just need to find a way to get it and the boat in the same place. I have enough matching high end linens (sheets, blankets, covers, towels, hand towels, wash cloths, etc.) for one boat but not for both. I am planning to use them on Tandemeer and agree with you that good linens and dinghy are important for paying charters. Happy to help in any way i can. Best regards.


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