The Waiting Game
Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
37Trip End Ongoing
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After our experience with the Customs and Immigration procedures of several countries, we feel like we're in the know. We've had our passports stamped in and out of each country. In Turkey we paid $30 to an agent to take care of it; in Greece we did it ourselves, walking to three different offices; in Italy there was one office with minimal fuss; in Spain there was no problemo; the various Islands in the Caribbean offered assorted challenges, but nothing major. Knowing that 9/11 has upped the security in the US, we weren't sure what to expect. First of all, Chris had to call an 800 number. He was on hold forever and finally spoke to someone, giving our vital passport numbers and other pertinent information. Then we were told that we had to make a personal visit to the Immigration office. It was a $30 roundtrip taxi ride from where we berthed. I sat in the cab while Chris went to the office to make sure that we were in the right place. He came back about one minute later and said we were done. The reason this was so quick was because our last "official" port of call was the US Virgin Islands. Hence, we had already officially entered into the US. What? Security? No one ever looked at our passports here to compare that we were who we said we were. Someone could have bonked us over our heads and stolen our identification and snuck right into the US.
We knew that we wanted to do some repairs while in Ft. Lauderdale. One of the problems with buying a boat that was made in South Africa is that replacement parts are hard to find. Our electrical panel switches have been breaking and we've searched every place we've been trying to find new ones. We ran out of options and ended up having a new electrical panel built with US switches. This process has taken much of the three weeks that we've been here. We are still waiting for the company to call us with a finished product.
There is a West Marine store here. It's like being kids in a candy store, and we have certainly done our part to keep Florida green! We also ran out of options trying to have the outboard repaired. Seems that it was a European version of Yamaha - different than US versions, and in trying to fix the clutch handle, the mechanic determined that the entire shaft was frozen and unfixable. So, we now have a new outboard...
Lest you think that all is one big party in the cruiser world, one morning Chris entered the pilot house and gasped. It seems that we had a crab inside the boat! The critter had about a 2" shell (OK, not big in the crab world, but certainly big in the critter skittering across the floor world). We tracked it to a corner and, Chris armed with a bucket and me with a fly swatter prepared to do battle. Fortunately for all, there were no injuries to beast or human, and the crab found itself treading water while seconds before it was clicking on the pilot house floor. That's the last time we go to bed without inserting the bug screens!
Another time when we returned from a walk, I heard LARGE skittering on the dock. I looked around the corner and there was some sort of green reptile about 12-15 inches long looking very worried. We think it must have been someone's pet escaped because we haven't seen anything this big around here. Most of the geckos are less than 6 inches and cute.
While we waited for the new electrical panel to be finished, Mother Nature threw us a curve and sent us Tropical Storm Alberto. Local knowledge usually has hurricanes forming in the mid-Atlantic. Alberto formed just west of Cuba. Though farther west of us, Alberto quickly cut off our northern escape route. On Saturday, the winds picked up and we went for a walk on the beach. When we returned to the boat, the winds were blowing around 20 knots in the marina and we thought it prudent to prepare for gale winds. We took down the new bimini. We added additional heavy mooring lines. Quest looked like a spider in a web. We finished our preparations just in time for the wind to quit and the water turn to glass. And that was the extent of Alberto in Ft. Lauderdale. We survived our first Tropical Storm. Alberto never got closer than 300 miles of us.
I'd hoped that we would be more north before these storms started. And we would have taken off much sooner, except for the repair delays. Current plans are to leave in a couple days when Alberto is far at sea in the North Atlantic.
And so we wait.