Monday, March 11, 2013

Planes, trains and automobiles in the USA

Position: 19°35’N, 81°37’W – Governors Harbour, Grand Cayman

Welcome to America
Our next destination after the Cayman Islands is the United States, one of the most complicated countries to enter by boat. In most countries, private boats can arrive without prior notice or paperwork. However for America, at the very least the crew need to have a visa before arriving. We’ve met some sailors who were turned away or heavily fined because they didn’t have this on arrival. So last week Ashling stayed in Grand Cayman while the crew flew to Miami to activate our visas.

The short trip also gave us an opportunity to arrange maintenance and repair work for Ashling when we arrive in Florida by boat in early April. Our first stop was with Philip from American Marine Coverings to see if he could design and build a dodger (aka windshield) for us. On our trip across the Atlantic, we expect to be sailing on the wind which means that we will face conditions like those on our passage from New Zealand to Tahiti. A dodger will make life much more comfortable as we should be able to sit outside in the cockpit without getting soaked by the waves.

Endurance Captains comparing notes
Within minutes of meeting Philip, we realised that he was much more than just a businessman. Originally from England, he has spent a lot of time sailing in the UK and around North America. He even has his own 44 foot yacht which happens to be the same yacht model as Ashling so we had indeed happened upon a kindred spirit. Philip was a mine of information about anything sailing-related in Florida, and recommended local boatyards, marinas and chandleries for us to visit on our short trip. He and his wife Joanna really took us under their wing, inviting us to dinner and taking us on a tour of downtown Fort Lauderdale in their smaller motorboat. It was like being in a movie, zigzagging along past beautiful houses before tying up beside the restaurant. Now that’s the way to travel.

To dinner by boat
While the big roads, big cars and big meal portions were a shock to our systems, we were bowled over by the friendliness of the people we met along the way. Jayson, a Jamaican who has been living in the USA for over 30 years, helped us buy train tickets and couldn’t believe that we had come so far in just a ‘tirty-foot bow-at’. Carlos, a 70-year old Puerto Rican, kept us company on the train from Miami to Fort Lauderdale with stories of his experience walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain last year. And the waitresses at Grampa’s, a typical american diner in Fort Lauderdale, had us in giggles as they called us ‘Sugar’ and ‘Sweetie-pie’. Only in America.

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