Thursday, August 15, 2013

Return to Trinidad

After a flurry of last minute trips to gather up various parts, including our “must have” autopilot that was late in getting fixed, we finally made it out to SeaTac Airport on Aug 15th for a 7:00 am departure to Houston. Again we had four large cardboard boxes stuffed to the brim with provisions and boat parts; I’m sure the gate agent thought we were off on a six-month expedition to the Amazon.

As we arrived at the gate we noticed the flight was running one hour late, which meant our connection in Houston to Trinidad would be super tight. With no control over anything, we just sat down and read our books. When we finally boarded we hoped the pilots would be able to make up time, but we arrived in Houston exactly an hour late. The connecting flight, naturally, was at the other end of the sprawling airport and we got to watch it pull out of the gate just as we arrived. Knowing that our boxes would have never connected, we accepted our fate and pulled out the computer to start looking for hotels.

A mini vacation at a hotel with a real bed and hot showers.
The rates went from “you’ve got to be kidding” to a great rate at the Hyatt Houston North, which turned out to be United’s crew hotel.  The hotel was fairly nice and we got our suits on and went down to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. Given the hectic nature of our Seattle trip, we treated this as a little mini vacation. At the restaurant that night I had one of the best corn chowders I’d ever had and we collapsed into a real bed and watched TV for the first time in months.

Naturally the Houston to Trinidad flight the next day was running an hour late, but we were in no rush to get back to a hot boat in humid Trinidad so we just went to the Red Carpet Club and gorged ourselves on cheese and crackers. The rest of the trip went well and we arrived in Trinidad around 8 pm. Getting our four large boxes from baggage to Customs was quite a balancing act with the trolley, but after a 30-minute delay they gave a us piece of paper and told us to report to Marine Customs at Chaguaramas.

Jesse James, our faithful cab driver, was there to meet us and off we went to Customs. Someone had told me the trick with Customs is to overwhelm them with paperwork, so when the agent asked me if I had any receipts I pulled out four one- gallon baggies packed with hundreds of receipts. He merely sighed and said OK. We were through Customs with no duty or fees to pay. What a huge relief given the value of the stuff we were bringing in.

The next day we hauled the four large boxes across the yard and used the outboard motor hoist to lift them the 15 ft. up onto the boat that was still on the hard. We were so proud of the space we had gained when we took the four large boxes off the boat when we left and now we were returning with an equal amount. You can’t win sometimes.

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