Your Documents, Please…..
We made it to T.F. Green airport with plenty of time to spare on Wednesday morning. Our flight was scheduled for 7:15 a.m. and having been picked up by the Comfort Inn Shuttle at 5:15 we were at the airport just minutes later. (By the way, for those of you who love airports, you have got to try the Comfort Inn. Your room will pretty much be on the runway). Loaded down with FIVE suitcases – each packed to the maximum 50 pounds, plus two stuffed carry-ons and another two mega-size carry-on “purses’”, we were all set to pay our $80 “extra-luggage” fine, and settle down for the flight south. When we presented the U.S. Air attendant our one-way tickets she morosely asked us what we were doing with one way tickets. We explained ever so humbly that we were embarking on a circumnavigation, and only needed a one way ticket. Much to our amazement she told us that there was no way that we would either be able to get on the flight, or pass through immigration in Saint Maarten unless we had the proper documentation.
What documentation, we asked? Your boat documentation of course, she replied.
Please understand that most of the weight of our five suitcases, two carry-ons, and 2 jumbo purses was taken up by various paper we were carrying with us – Mark’s work, empty and full notebooks, portfolios stuffed with documents, etc. etc. Which suitcase, and which folder contained the boat documents was not so clear. So there, with the ever increasing stream of other travelers to watch, we had to basically unzip and search through 100 pounds of paper. After a relatively short search Mark came up with our boat document. Triumphantly handing it to the woman at the desk, she responded that this document only showed that we owned a boat, not that we had a boat in Saint Maarten, and that we were going to pick her up and sail away . Ok, now we panicked. What kind of document could we possibly have that would suit her demands? After another 10 minutes of searching Mark came up with a document from the marina in St. Maarten saying that our boat was there and that they would be expecting us on December 13th. Whew! She accepted it – and we were on board.
After a change of planes in Phili, and another in San Juan we arrived in St. Maarten . We nervously approached one of the women at the immigration counter. Just as the U.S. Air attendant had anticipated, we were not about to pass through unquestioned. She passively, but severely inquired about our boat, and asked if we had “the letter” to prove that we really had a boat, that we were the owners, that it was in St. Maarten, and that we were really going to sail out of there . Just what kind of letter this could be was beyond us. We showed her the letter we had used at the Providence airport, and Mark pointed out how official it was, including our boat name, our names, and the Marina ’s name and address. Luckily she was not in the mood to inquire further and we passed through immigration without further ado.
Our bags were there, a dozen taxis were parked outside, and soon we were on our way to the marina – a mere two miles away. When the taxi came to an abrupt halt just ½ mile down the road from the airport, we thought there must have been an accident on the road. When the time stretched from a few minutes to several minutes we inquired about what was happening. “Oh”, the taxi driver said, “the bridge is up”. The bridge is opened six times a day to let boats into and out of the large harbor that our boat is in. What we didn’t realize was that when the bridge is up – which can be anywhere from ½ hour to a couple of hours, depending on how many boats are moving in and out – the main road into and out of the airport comes to a complete stop. What was so bewildering to us was that the taxi driver knew in advance that the bridge was up and would be up for a while – and yet we sat there in line with what grew to be several hundred cars – all with their motors idling. No one thought to say , “ Hey, let’s just wait at the airport until the bridge opens.” So much for environmental awareness.
After 40 minutes we were on our way again, and safely made it to the marina.
The boat looks great- clean and all polished up – and we are exhausted.
Welcome to Paradise .
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Just one thing to report from this first very laid back day. There are some unbelievable yachts here – our boat looks like a dinghy compared to some of our neighbors. The 150 foot, 3 story high mega-yacht that is just across the dock from us had their lights on in their dining area last night, so we could spy in. There was an unusually pretty painting mounted on the wall facing us. Taking out our binoculars, we casually glanced inside to see what was clearly an original Chagall oil painting. Wow!