— The cargo’s secured, the shipmaster’s on board, the permit’s in hand, the lines are cast off and the Sea Hunter is on its way to Haiti with its cargo of badly needed relief supplies donated by Mainers.

For days, it seemed as though none of that would happen, as the vessel seemed marooned in Miami by regulations that, as necessary as they are for the safety of mariners, stood like an impenetrable reef against the Sea Hunter and its mission.

But the vessel headed out to sea at 4:46 a.m. on Tuesday, bound for the ports of Miragoane and Les Cayes, with an expected arrival time of Thursday afternoon.

The ship left Portland with high expectations for its cargo, including a medical van donated to the Portland organization Konbit Sante by the Maine Migrant Health Program, and a solar-powered drinking water desalinization unit donated to an orphanage by a New Jersey company, along with containers loaded with everything from clothing to tents to medical supplies.

It arrived in Miami for what was expected to be a routine resupply port call on Feb. 11, but ran afoul of Coast Guard rules requiring a credentialed master mariner for the voyage south from there. The Sea Hunter was also found in violation of a number of cargo-securing and other seaworthiness criteria that have since been addressed.

With the arrival of shipmaster Kevin Garthwaite of Wells, the last few obstacles to its departure after its 11-day stayover were met.

It’s unfortunate that the Coast Guard’s requirements weren’t anticipated, as anyone who spends time on the ocean knows how vital safety rules are.

Still, the vessel will soon arrive and its cargo be offloaded, completing a mission of mercy that was delayed — but could not be stopped.

 


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