Missed this the first time...
Quote: "King Eldir needs skilled a captain with a peerless navigator"
Why would Eldir need a navigator without "dicey political strings on her registry"?
I guess I got the impression that Eldir, still maintaining neutrality, would want to give the impression (especially to Lysaer's lackeys) of consorting too much with their enemies, anyone who might give a suspicion of alliance with Shadow. He's treading a thin line as it is. Lysaer's head honchos do tend to take an if-you're-not-with-me-you're-against-me approach.
Anyhow, that was just my impression when I initially read it.
The bigger question is "where is Eldir going that he needs a navigator"? This would imply a blue water trip by Eldir.. from the west coast the only known land mass is the Lost (no longer) Isles of Min Pierens where Arithon had sheltered until Lysaer worked out how to get there. Where else would he be going??
I don't think that that sentence necessarily implies that Eldir himself is sailing anywhere. It could just mean that Eldir needs such a captain to do something for him, such as transport food and supplies to relieve a famine.
I agree it may not be Eldir sailing anywhere (unless the Alliance of Light invades Havish and he has to flee - remember his kingdom is the only non-aligned state and if he's overthrown, nowhere is safe so he'd need safe passage to somewhere).
However even it's famine, this is would be on Paravia and would not require "a peerless navigator" as the ship could hug the coast all the way.
Well I'm no mariner, certainly. But ships do also use navigators to pick their way among shallow waters and bays and harbors, up river, etc. Feylind herself is adept at making star sightings for navigating open seas, and Arithon also took over that position on his vessels
What confuses me is that Lysaer knew Fiark and Feylind had been 'cozened' by Arithon when he discovered Jinesse's situation at Merior. I somehow think that he might have connected the female blue water captain, Merior, Her twin, etc to Arithon by now!