OCEAN CITY – More than 2,000 pounds of donated food left Ocean City this week as part of an effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the coastal villages of Haiti and other Caribbean islands.
Last week, Garvey Heiderman, owner of The Hobbit Restaurant, teamed up with the captain and crew of the Tandemeer – a 1980 Nautical Development 56-foot ketch sailboat – to load supplies for the vessel’s journey to Île-à-Vache, a small island off the coast of Haiti.
Captain Sequoia Sun founded Sail Aid International in 2017. Each year, he sails from New England to Haiti and the Caribbean to deliver needed supplies – including food, solar panels, medical supplies, computers, and school and art supplies – to isolated coastal villages and areas impacted by hurricanes, earthquakes, poverty or other natural disasters and human caused impacts.
Heiderman said he first heard about Sail Aid International in 2018, when he crewed with the captain for nearly two weeks as part of a sailing excursion.
“While I was staying on the boat, he explained to me he does these trips … he does these humanitarian missions to Haiti every year,” he said. “I told him maybe I can talk to the mayor and city council about letting him use the dock there.”
In 2019, the Tandemeer made its first stop in Ocean City, docking in the resort to collect donations from Heiderman.
But the restaurateur noted the collection was a team effort. In addition to food contributions from The Hobbit and Sysco, Heiderman said Worcester Prep donated four computers and friends from Baltimore and Easton donated sailing supplies. The town also allowed the Tandemeer to dock at the bulkhead near 4th Street and the bay.
“I didn’t even try that hard …,” he said. “They recognized Sequoia and this crew of people are doing a really good thing for the people of Haiti. I wasn’t surprised. But on some level it was reassuring that we obviously live in a place that’s so willing to help people they are never going to meet.”
Last Thursday, the Tandemeer returned to Ocean City for the second year in a row. And by the time they departed on Tuesday, Sun and his crew had collected more than 2,000 pounds of food – including rice, flour, beans, pasta and sauce – for those in need.
“I actually think Ocean City is a pretty good place for him to stop, and I will probably continue to donate food every year …,” Heiderman said. “I have no intent on stopping, and there’s no skin off the town’s back.”
For more information on Sail Aid International, or to donate, visit sailaidinternational.org.
“I’m sure there are people who live in this area that could totally donate sails, old computers and stuff like that,” Heiderman said. “We have a pretty giving community.”