The Floating Doctors crew is an all-volunteer group of men and women from all walks of life united in their passion for the healing arts and a desire to serve.
Dr. Benjamin La Brot is a native Southern Californian who learned to swim before he could walk. From junior high school until after college, he worked on sport and commercial fishing boats, on the Floating Marine Science Laboratory vessel and in classrooms across southern California for the Los Angeles County Office of Marine Education, and for Pacific Biomarine Laboratories as a research diver. He also qualified as an Emergency Medical Technician, a Handicapped SCUBA Association Dive Buddy for divers with paraplegia, quadriplegia or blindness, and completed a B.S. in Marine Biology (with all pre-med requirements), a B.A. in History, and a Geology Minor from the University of CA, Santa Barbara.
After teaching biology and anatomy for two years, Ben moved to Ireland to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons. He was part of a global medicine program and studied with fellow medical students from around the world. Ben interned and worked as a medical doctor in the Irish Health Care System, eventually helping to set up and then run a long term care facility that also provided acute hospital services (which is where Ben fully realized the potential health benefits of focusing on IMPROVING health, rather than just maintaining it).
Throughout his time in Ireland, Ben made private medical missions to Thailand, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Enormous need everywhere he went—in the developed as well as the developing world—combined with the belief that the privilege of becoming a doctor comes with the responsibility for ALWAYS being on-call, wherever you may be in the world, have led Ben to combine his love and knowledge of the sea with his talent for medicine and service to create the Floating Doctors.
Ben says that each successive time he traveled in the developing world, his backpack carried fewer personal items and more medical supplies, and that the most heartbreaking part of doing medicine in the developing world is when the backpack is empty and there are still many people in desperate need. For Dr. Ben, the Southern Wind and his crew of dedicated volunteers is “A much bigger backpack over many thousands of miles; I promised myself I would come back to the developing world with more help, and now I finally have the chance to keep my promise.”
Executive Director of Operations and Galley Coordinator
Sky LaBrot is Ben’s little sister but shoulders a heavy load onboard the Southern Wind! Sky is Director of Operations and Marketing and manages the logistics of the on-’shore clinics. A successful Hollywood restaurant and club opener with a culinary degree–this is not the sort of adventure where you’d expect to find her, but Sky’s skills in negotiation and management and her culinary and nutritional knowledge make her the ideal person to either wear a tool belt, show people in the developing world how to cook healthier meals from locally available ingredients, or organize the thousand and one things that have to happen every day for Floating Doctors to function. Sky believes in the mission and more importantly, in her brother, whom she’s looked up to her entire life.
Sky has a long history of helping her brother Dr. Ben—Sky became SCUBA certified in her early teens and helped Ben run his marine science field program Island Interns, which brought high school students on 6-day field biology trips to the Channel Islands off California and 1,000 miles south into remote parts of Baja California, Mexico and was attended by kids from as far away as England. Sky graduated from the Art Institute in Santa Monica with a B.S. in Culinary Management and has had a meteoric rise in the Hollywood hospitality industry. Sky has worked in five star hotels and restaurants, opened exclusive clubs and done marketing for high-end companies.
Physical Rehabilitation and Construction
New Jersey, USA
33 year-old Noah Haas is a gruff, tough New Jersey boy and the ultimate handyman. Whatever may be thrown at the team, on sea or on-shore, Noah’s the guy who can build it, fix it or destroy it. With a background in personal training and physical therapy, he not only keeps the boat in shape, but the crew as well!
Noah has a strong interest in philosophy, history and science and how these disciplines can be integrated to improve people’ s lives. He coordinates stroke and movement disorder rehabilitation among the populations we help, and he encourages young people in these areas to learn techniques for protecting and strengthening their bodies against the chronic injuries that commonly afflict people living at the subsistence level in the developing world. Noah has a gift for problem solving and one of his core beliefs is that “there are no problems, only solutions”—one of the basic tenets that has brought Floating Doctors from a dream to reality.
Noah has a background in construction as well as holding B.S in Biology from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and is pursuing his Master’s in Molecular Biology. Noah lived and worked for three years as a Rehabilitation Therapist in San Francisco, helping to improve mobility among elderly members of the population suffering from strokes and recovering from major orthopedic procedures. Noah is also a personal trainer, focusing on real‐world strength development and protection against back and joint injury through core training exercises and body awareness.
He built two schoolrooms for the DesGranges Clinic in Haiti and in Honduras created similar construction and expansion programs for the clinics on Isla Rotan. Beneath his tattooed surface is a heart of gold which makes him a hit with local kids. He’s vital to the mission and committed to the voyage – in spite of the fact that when he first came on board, he couldn’t swim.
Ship’s dog and Leftover food Handler
Giles McCoy is a 14-month old black Labrador/mastiff/bull terrier mutt adopted from the Flagler County Humane Society by the Floating Doctors crew. One day at the local VFW, we were told about a recently deceased member of their chapter who had been a survivor of the USS Indianapolis, the famous WWII vessel whose 1400 crew spent five days floating in the Pacific until 700 of them were rescued. Sharks and exposure got the rest. In the water, a young marine named Giles McCoy prayed that if he survived, he would become a doctor and dedicate his life to service. He survived and was rescued, and he became a doctor who later opened one of the free medical clinics in the area. When Sky and Ben heard that story, Sky exclaimed ‘What a great name for a boat dog!” And we went to the Humane Society and found our own Giles McCoy.
Giles is a big dopey dog that loves children and all other dogs (and has a strange fascination with pelicans…he appears to think that he is one). He has befriended small horses on Isla Roatan, who sniffed at him incredulously (assuming he must be another small horse!).