MIAMI -- The Maine ship Sea Hunter got the green light from U.S. Customs officials this morning to proceed on its relief mission to Haiti.
After meeting for just over an hour with officials at the local U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office, Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks of Gorham said he received the authorization to sail. The cost was $39, Brooks said.
Brooks said he has decided to make the voyage to Haiti despite concerns that arose Monday over the effect the mission has had on his health.
"I'm feeling better today than I did yesterday," he said. On Monday, Brooks began taking an antibiotic for what appears to be a lung infection.
"There seems to be less stress," he said.
Richard Devins of Orlando, a licensed ship master who volunteered to complete the Sea Hunter's journey to resolve Coast Guard concerns over the Sea Hunter's lack of a properly licensed crew, was expected to arrive at the ship's berth around 1 p.m.
Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Michael Lingaitis said Devins will meet the crew and inspect the ship before sitting down with ranking officers at the nearby Coast Guard Station Miami Beach.
Lingaitis said the Coast Guard will lift a four-day-old "hold order" on the Sea Hunter once Devins expresses his satisfaction with conditions aboard the vessel.
"That's all we're waiting for," Lingaitis said.
Brooks said he's also waiting to hear from Hope Village South, an orphanage and community assistance program founded by Lewiston native Fr. Marc Boisvert in the Haitian port city of Les Cayes.
Before getting under way, Brooks said, he wants assurance from Hope Village that the Haitian government will permit the offloading of the Sea Hunter's estimated 200 tons of donated relief supplies.
"We don't want to get there and be blackmailed into paying a large fee, like they've said is happening to some ships down there," said Brooks.
Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks briefs his crew after a successful trip to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office this morning. Photo by Bill Nemitz/Staff Writer
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