Sunday, May 18, 2008
good news bad news
Hello Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press.
Sail from Antigua to Deshaies, Gaudeloupe . . .our most recent 'best ever'. Beam reach in ~12 knots. Caught and passed a Island Packet with full sails up. See ya! Made ~6.5 knots the whole way in a gentle swell. The reason we came here! Bonus! We were SURROUNDED by dolphins at one point. They looked like teenagers (tatoos, cigarettes, you know.) but they swam with us for several minutes. Check out the video at the bottom of this post and the still below.
Sail from Deshaies, Gaudeloupe to Portsmouth, Dominica. . . not so good. No wind in the lee of Gaudeloupe and then wind on the nose once we got clear of Gaudeloupe. Lots of motor (really!) and a bit of a rough ride but as we say when the anchor's down, "Nothing broke and nobody died". Although, we're thinking of changing that toast to, "nothing broke and nobody killed anybody else. . . yet"!
So, we'll go ashore tomorrow and clear customs and begin to explore this new island. Customs? That reminds me...below you'll find a little piece about the customs house in English Harbor, Antigua. Enjoy.
Now then, some people wonder what one does on a 10-12 hour passage. Well one could write this entry (parts I did. . . read on) other than that you take pictures of your CAT! Herrrrrrrrres MISMO!
World Record Setting Rude People in Antigua
Customs and Immigration people from island to island are usually like government bureaucrats everywhere. They’re a little bored. They are sometimes a little snotty or short with Americans. Some more friendly than others. But, English Harbor, Antigua customs/immigration/port authority people set a new low water (or is that a high water mark) mark for rudeness.
I walked in and went to the Customs counter behind which sat a guy at a desk. Well, no, he was actually laying back horizontally in his desk chair and talking and laughing on his cell phone. OK. I’m standing there and we make eye contact and. . . nothing happens. He just keeps talking and laughing! A few more seconds go by and apparently I’m not going to vanish so he finally puts the phone down and looks at me and says, “What”? “Clearing out”, I say. He nods to the counter next to his and tells me to start there with the Port Authority. OK, I turn 90 degrees and walk 2 steps to that counter. There’s no one there. I wait. I say hello real loud. The guy is back on the phone and ignoring me. Hmmmm...I walk down to a third counter for immigration. A young woman is sitting at the counter but her head is turned around to watch the soap opera on the tv. A co-worker is sitting at a desk with her forehead flat down on the desk and she is OUT. I don't actually see drool on her blotter (how handy!) but I think it is there. I try to explain that I need to go to port authority but there’s no one there. She mumbles to me about the harbor master without taking her eyes off the tv and points (lovely nails though!) vaguely out the door. OK.
I walk back outside and looked for the harbor master but couldn’t find it. I asked a guy where it was and he directed me back to where I started. Oh great. . . .The soap has not ended so once again I find myself talking to this girl’s left ear hole (why don’t women grow ear hair I wonder. . . ). Now I get some actual directions a left, a right and a gray door. OK
Now I easily find the harbor master’s. “Clearing out”, I say. “When did you arrive”? Ah ha...See it doesn’t work. I was told to check into Jolly Harbor or you pay a harbor fee to be in Falmouth or English Harbors but now they’re going to get their pound of flesh at the other end. Well, I’m a pretty honest, but poor, guy so I fudge a little and say Monday (actually Friday). I have to pay $30 for 5 days! Oh well, just get me out of this bureaucratic hell. It’s 78 ec and I give her 100. She mumbles something about change and begins to walk out of the office. When she gets to the door I ask if I should wait or go with her. She SNAPS at me, “I just told you to come with me”! I wanted to say, “No, you said, mfmoliourlengusennout sdmf sm"! But I didn’t.
We walk back to the first office and I get my change. Now I’’m rolling. I get the standard check out form (which by the way is identical to your check in form except for marking the little box at the top OUT instead of IN. When these islands discover computers it will be so much easier but for now you have to repeat everything (name address, gross tonnage, passport numbers, etc). Now I take that back to soap opera lady. She works her rubber stamp on this form. YES! Rubber stamps mean you’re nearly done. I have our boat papers, their various forms, and our passports on the counter. She wiggles her fingers at my stuff like she wants something. Afraid to speak I guess for fear of missing something on the soap. I’m getting hot but just step back and say, “I don’t know what you want”! She is forced to actually move her body forward 10 degrees and help herself to our passports (bitch!). OK, back to the customs guy and his rubber stamp. Uh oh, I didn’t press hard enough to make all 17 copies come out clear and have to fill out the green one again by hand.
I’m done. OK, cultures are different and people work at different speeds and speak the kings english differently in different places but RUDENESS is universal. There is nothing cultural about being rude. Everyone knows it when they see it. AND, what manager puts a tv in the workplace anyway? We're talking a 23 inch baby mounted in the office. I’m sorry you have a boring ass job and no other marketable skills but that ain’t my problem. A little hello, good bye is still a nice way to treat other humans. Even if they are Americans.