Lifting out and heading to the UK

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Mon 13 Sep 2010 03:15
In position 38:46.56N, 76:33.86W
We are back in Herrington Harbour North, Maryland having spent a few days playing 'dodge the hurricane' and then catching up with some cruising friends in Annapolis. Tomorrow we lift out and on Tuesday we fly back to the UK for 3 weeks to see family and friends leaving the boat safely ashore. Not too much of note has happened recently. We stepped ashore on Labour Day last Monday and set about walking the mile or so into Annapolis to stretch the legs. On the way we heard sirens and all the traffic had been stopped as four police motorcycle outriders on their Harleys roared past. They were followed by a bunch of some 25 police motorcycles (again Harleys - the noise was horrific) all sounding their sirens indicating that if it wasn't President Obama then surely somebody very important was on the way. Then an armada of coaches stretching into the distance could be seen, all full of lads from the Annapolis Navy Academy. This convoy consisted of about 60 coaches (we lost count) followed at the rear by a solitary police motorcyclist smoking a huge cigar! We came to the conclusion that they were off to Washington for a military march to celebrate Labour Day. But no, they were all heading to the big football game - Maryland v The Navy. The coaches contained the Navy supporters from the Academy! It obviously wasn't enough support as the Navy lost the game!
The most notable event whilst in Annapolis was that we were 'called upon' by two Homeland Security officials being conveyed in the course of their business in and out of the creeks of the Severn River by a County Police launch skippered by a County Policeman, as he wasn't wearing the same uniform as his two passengers. On their arrival at Ajaya he was still in the process of scoffing a pie - his lunch? as they crept up from behind us and hailed 'Ajaya'! and asked to see our cruising permit. The 'Admiral', caught wearing her best swimming costume which incidentally has yet to be wetted in the muddy brown soup that is finest Chesapeake Bay water was below at the time of the visit, leaving Skip to mumble and splutter his way through the inevitable question and answer session with the two eager young and no doubt suspicious Homeland officers.
Having inspected the ships papers and cruising permit they asked how many people were onboard to which the reply was "just the two of us -my wife and me". The next question was "Is your wife onboard?" the answer being " Oh yes". Then after shooting each other a quick glance came back the next question "Is she sleeping?" obviously curious as to her noticeable absence given that we had such important visitors hanging off the side of the boat, to which the answer was "No - but she's in her swimming costume and perhaps rather shy - did you want to see her?" At which time before they could answer "yes" her Ladyship entered the scene stage right, now sporting a long pair of shorts over the lower part of her swimming costume - providing just that extra modicum of modesty in front of our distinguished visitors and proving beyond all doubt that the skipper wasn't alone, that we were who our passports said we were - despite the ghastly images contained within. A few further questions such as our work status, place of residence etc were answered with some confidence and we thought all was going well.
Having now finished his pie and screwed the plastic wrapper into a ball the County policeman entered the cross examination by gesturing towards the one of us wearing shorts and swimming costume, saying - "I've seen you before haven't I?"  All eyes suddenly homed in on our startled 'Admiral' who had certainly not seen our policeman visitor before.  Whether this insinuation had an affect on the Homeland chaps or not we couldn't be sure but the one that had been closely scrutinising our passports then noticed an irregularity in the 'Admiral's' passport, indicating something to his colleague as an aside. Things were now looking bleak. Meanwhile we were still scratching our heads wondering if we had in fact seen this policeman before. Then, horror of horrors, they discovered the passport had not been stamped back in Morehead City when we checked in on the first of June. Skip explained that the officer that day had overrun into his lunch hour whilst checking us in, had taken a call from his wife wondering where the hell he had got to and had beat a fairly rapid retreat from our saloon - thus the error not stamping the passport. This amused the two 'Homeland' officers but didn't break any ice with the County policeman whose sense of humour had vanished as quickly as his pie. But worse 'crimes' were still to be exposed - the date of birth in the passport didn't tally with the date of birth on the white visa entry card until his colleague muttered under his breath that we write our dates the other way round on the other side of the Atlantic!
With that last administrative hitch out of the way their business with the crew of Ajaya was over and wishing us a good day they untied their launch from our cleats and headed off to look for some more interesting cruisers hiding further up the creek, leaving us with our guilty consciences and a big black mark from their inflatable boat's rubrail down our topsides - another cleaning job to add to the list! But we have no complaints about our visit. Just hope they let us back in on October 4th!