BACK TO TRINIDAD
BACK TO TRINIDAD
Friday 6 July 2007
So, it is my last day at work. It never ceases to amaze me that regardless of how many times I have done this process it still seems to be the same. Wondering if I have enough to do for the last week soon turns into not having enough time to do what still seems to be on the list and say my goodbyes. Last minute panics and off to the pub for a farewell drink at lunchtime and then back to the office for those final bits. Last job finished and e-mail sent at 5.30.
A quick detour for a spot of last minute clothes shopping to see what they have in their sales. Far too much for the time I have available to make a decision, so I bought lots – just hope it fits. There would be no point trying things on anyway as I am buying for when I have lost the one and a half stone I have put on in the last 3 months. Too much chocolate and cakes and all things nice.
Packing should be easy. I came with the laptop, a handbag and the clothes and shoes I was wearing. I am leaving with the laptop in the handbag (why are luggage allowances not consistent both ways) and two bags to check in. One as always is bits for the boat and the rest is the new clothes and DVDs. I came in and am leaving in the same pair of trainers, so why have I bought 3 pairs of shoes and all these clothes, they do have these things in Trinidad; probably cheaper. I think there is something comforting about having your Primark knickers, Asda vest and Matalan shorts. Not exactly designer labels, but I am going to be lavishing care and attention on the boat and it is not so much ‘wash and wear’as ‘wear and dump’.
It took me until midnight to pack. My luggage is never conventional, but I do not have enough room on the boat for a suitcase and never seem to get enough in a rucksack, so I have disposable luggage. I like the checked bags from the Pound Shop. I should have bought two extra to put the bag in a bag; at least I could have put a bin liner inside each bag, but hindsight is one of my skills.
Saturday 7 July 2007
4 hours sleep and time to get up. I enjoy every second of my travels, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stress a little about each stage of it. I was at the front door and decided to unpack the handbag and put the laptop in that and not take the laptop case. My Mother came with me to the station and I caught the 5am train to Gatwick – Stage 1 completed.
I changed my £ to US$ at the airport. I had checked in online and just had to drop the baggage. I did have a tube that contained a new centre pole for my wind generator, this I was told could cause a problem; it weighs nothing, but it is as tall as I am. After due consideration they put a label on it and I was sent over to Oversize Baggage, as usual. Stage 2 completed.
Stage 3 is security. I booked with my old passport, but am leaving on a new one. The old one had 4 years to go, but some things I don’t like leaving till the last minute. I save my small coins when I am in the UK and tip it into the charity box on the way out, it is amazing how much you can accumulate and how heavy it is.
No passport query. At X-ray I had to take my coat and shirt off as I they only want one layer. I had a vest on too, but they stopped at the t-shirt. I get cold on the plane, but they do give you a blanket.
Stage 4 is waiting for the flight. 6.55 and I am in the departure lounge, my flight is at 9.55, I am 3 hours early. This is good for me because I usually come up the night before and sleep in the check in area. Now I have to keep myself occupied, not fall asleep and not buy anything. Tracking the progress of my flight up the departure board is a must do activity. Counting my flight up the list and then onto the final panel; the possibility of a delay always adds to the suspense. How many of each type ‘wait’, ‘go to gate’, ‘boarding’, ‘closing’, ‘delayed’. Like all those games devised to keep the kids occupied in the car, this is just a plane version.
Stage 5. Boarding and the flight. Lots of good films to watch and with my own screen I channel hopped mercilessly and managed to see most of 3 films, (Garfield, an ice skating spoof and a french thriller with subtitles) and some bits of others. The entertainment does not start for a while, but the live safety demonstration, which I can never ususally see, is now on screen as a cartoon version. Less interuption from the crew than on a flight to the Canaries; they probably do all the same things, but over a much longer timeframe. The entertainment is cut short and the flight made longer by the stop at Barbados. Unload the passengers, luggage and cargo; tidy and refuel the plane, change crew and do the security check of passengers and hand luggage and no headphones for the rest of the trip. 10am until nearly 4pm - Oh for the luxury of Club World!
Stage 6. Arrival and Customs. I was very glad to see that my luggage had arrived in the same number of pieces that I had sent it in. They did have a carousel but the luggage was just taken off and placed on the floor, so that you could not actually get a trolley to it. My tube was not at the Oversize luggage door, they had put it on the carousel where it had been pushed off the belt onto the platform on the other side; so how was I meant to reach that. Normally there are signs about not going on the belt, but this is Trinidad and I had to get my luggage. I had visions of getting caught up on the luggage coming in and spend the next few minutes going round until I could jump off, but there was no problem and I did not get told off.
I have a published booklet on Trinidad and what to do with Yacht Parts In Transit. Go to, not the Green desk, Nothing to declare, not the Red desk, Something to declare, but the third desk – there is no third desk. I went to the customs office, which obviously has one way glass, and waited for an officer to come out so that I could ask. I had to go to one of the red desks.
Everybody was in the green queue and the only people at the red desks had been sent across from the green desks for checking. It is easy to unzip a suitcase, but mine did not work that way. My banana box has a bottom tray and an inner sleeve and when packed the top tray is added and this is slid with difficulty into the bag and persuaded to stretch over and zip up. The boat parts are separately packed, but the box is in the bottom of the second bag with a few other things on top. Quite a few other things that kept getting added, even in the bag drop queue I was transferring bits that were previously in my hand luggage.
The officer settled for the paperwork and I did not have to undo anything. However he said that I would have to go to Customs at the boatyard and he would phone them and tell them what time I left the airport.
Stage 7. Home. I got a taxi and went to the boatyard and there was my little boat. Boats on each side and behind could step off onto mine they are so close and it looks very dirty and sad. The electricity cable is not attached, but they should have moved the boat from the secure compound today and hopefully the dehumdifier has been plugged in for the previous 3 months. This I would be able to find out if I could get on the boat, a ladder would be helpful. I found a huge ladder lying down and managed to drag it over and put it up against the stern at about a 40 degree angle as it is so long and my boat is not high enough. I did not tie the ladder on, I would do that later.
I got my luggage aboard and then set off for Customs with the box and the tube. Someone on the dock radiod the water taxi for me. Customs were very nice, forms were completed and money changed hands. Out came a very big knife and they opened the box and were suitably unimpressed by my yoke and water bearings. They trusted me on what was in the tube, but I wanted to see so they did that too and then taped it back up for me. Is it just me or does this process seem a little pointless. Would I have taken anything to Customs that I did not want them to see.
One of the officers asked if I wanted crew and said he could cook, I replied that I did not want crew and that I too could cook. He kept mentioning coffee, which I did not take up. I presented them with their receipt for my flares that I would like back. They said to come back and give them 5 days notice – your 5 days notice starts now guys. I will come back again in a week or so and see how far they have got. Would I do coffee when they found my flares? We will have to see, but he had a beard.
Once round the shop for milk, butter and eggs and back on the water taxi. At 50p a time I will probably use that rather than put the dinghy back in the water.
Back at the boat and no ladder. I should have tied it on, but would that have saved it. I went off looking for another ladder, but if someone had taken mine then what hope would I have of finding another one. I found one that looked like mine against a big Rassey 40. I could hardly reach the hull to knock it was so high, obviously deserving the long ladder. The occupier is Carl and when I said which boat I was from he admitted to stealing my ladder. There was a scaffolding A frame which I had consisdered, but could not move. Carl picked this up and put it at the stern of my boat for me, so I let him keep the ladder. If there is any problem the boatyard can sort it on Monday.
It is now 7.30 and dark. With 4 hours sleep in the last 42 hours I will go to bed.
Sunday 8 July 2007
Got up at 5.30, it is just getting light and the birds are making lots of noise, just like they sound in the jungle. It is warm, sunny and very humid. Lots of work to do on the boat, but this morning I am fabulously happy to be here.
I have no wi fi signal, but I am so pleased to be back that I am sending this on the sat phone when I have remembered how to do it.