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              ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, OCT. 13 - In this photo taken on Sept. 16, 2014, David Lawn poses for a photo in his 42-foot catamaran the
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ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, OCT. 13 - In this photo taken on Sept. 16, 2014, David Lawn poses for a photo in his 42-foot catamaran the "Sea Angel" in Carolina Beach, N.C. Lawn will sail to the South Pacific as part of the non-profit Sea Mercy that provides free floating health care clinics. (AP Photo/The Star-News, Mike Spencer) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT

NC man plans south Pacific trip to provide care

By Si Cantwell

The Associated Press

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CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (AP) — Have you ever dreamed about selling everything you own and sailing off to the far ends of the earth?

David Lawn plans to do just that. And he's doing it for a great cause.

Lawn owns Sea Angel, a 42-foot catamaran that sleeps eight.

Right now, it's berthed at a marina in Carolina Beach. But on Nov. 1, Lawn plans to set sail for Tonga, or maybe Fiji, island nations in the South Pacific where quality health care is unavailable to many.

He's sailing on behalf of Sea Mercy, a nonprofit that operates free floating health-care clinics for people on remote islands.

The Kingdom of Tonga encompasses 50 permanently inhabited islands, while the Republic of Fiji includes more than 100 inhabited islands. Residents of those far-flung places can't just drive to a hospital or dental clinic for care. Villagers may lack access to any level of health care.

Sea Mercy provides large sailing catamarans like Sea Angel as floating health care clinics, ferrying doctors, nurses, pharmacists and volunteers from island to island. The medical volunteers, who may visit for two-week rotations, will go ashore and offer basic health care, eye care and dental services.

Lawn, 57, who grew up on an island in Washington state, went through a divorce six years ago that left him reflecting on his life. Was he happy? Was he contributing enough?

One thing he knew: "I love to sail," he said.

A licensed captain who offers local family adventure tours in a small boat, he decided he'd start a nonprofit.

Lawn had been on a mission trip to Guatamala and seen how a church with a house and two employees used rotating teams of volunteers to build 500 homes a year.

"Why not a boat?" he said.

Then he met Richard Hackett, founder and president of Sea Mercy. Lawn liked what he saw.

"I've been working toward that ever since," he said.

A catamaran's twin hulls provide stability and allow for a lot of berths, he said. It can navigate in shallow water, skimming over coral reefs that might ground other boats.

Lawn will be accompanied on the voyage by friends who will help pay the expenses of the trip.

One of them is longtime friend Weston Williams, who is taking a leave of absence from work to help Lawn move the boat to the other side of the world.

At 32, Williams sees this as the trip of a lifetime. He believes in the mission of Sea Mercy.

Williams is raising funds to meet his share of the expenses. To help him out, visit his Sea Mercy profile page at http://bit.ly/CatamaranTrip.

Lawn also urges people to contribute to Sea Mercy (www.seamercy.org), which accepts donations of medical and dental equipment as well as cash.

He hopes members of Wilmington's medical, ophthalmological and dental community will consider doing volunteer rotations on the Sea Angel.

Lawn said it will probably be June before he arrives. He's going to take his time, perhaps linger in the Caribbean and the Panama Canal area along the way.

Williams is looking forward to the trip, but he cautions that it might not always be smooth sailing.

He quotes "Captain Ron," Kurt's Russell's irrepressible movie character, who said, "If anything is going to happen, it's going to happen out there"


Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com


Bless your heart
Bless your heart