Again, a long hiatus in this Blog. It is not that I have lost the motivation or that the plans have changed fundamentally, it is just difficult to alternate between family, work, and the sailing project. Cruising full time is not an option for me, not yet. The alternative, iterating between Antares and my home here in DC, is better than waiting for retirement but far from ideal. Not only more expensive but also subject to permanent changes and sometimes considerable levels of stress due to lack of proper planning, particularly because my job also involves travel. A lot of travel.
My friend Richard and I went back to Georgetown in early March to do some of the maintenance work on Antares (see last post). We were able to install the new navigation instruments but it took longer than expected and thus we didn’t get much more done. We also had problems when going through customs at the airport. They didn’t let me take my drone (I didn’t have the right documentation) and they wanted me to pay taxes (45%) for the ladder and other equipment and parts that I was bringing with me. I had given them all my receipts from the purchases so it was easy for them to calculate my dues: USD 600. I told them that the equipment I was bringing, particularly the ladder, was supposed to be tax exempt but there was no room for discussion. They just gave me some paperwork and told me to go to Georgetown to make the payment and return afterwards to pickup the equipment. Thankfully, I had taken the navigation instruments out of their box and they entered as part of my navigation equipment along with a GPS and my IridiumGO.
At the customs office in GT I again tried to reason with the officer in charge to no avail. He even started to argue about the validity of the temporary cruising permit, a copy of which I had received by e-mail from one of his colleagues. So I left, mad though resigned, and without a valid cruising permit. Following the instructions from the lady at the airport’s customs, Richard and I went to a small store nearby to get the paper work for the taxes. Their main business is selling cell phones and other electronics but somehow they also process taxes for an USD 80 fee. The person in charge told me to comeback the next day (Saturday), which meant that I could not make the payment and get my equipment until Monday before our flight back to DC. Thankfully, when I went back on Monday, somebody else was in charge at the Customs office. A very nice women who told me to call an officer in Nassau and ask for an exception for my ladder and some of the parts. I did and it worked; my payment was reduced significantly. I was also able to get my cruising permit. Lesson: get advice and clearance in writing from an officer in Nassau before importing equipment and parts to Georgetown.
Despite the saga with customs it was a very nice weekend. We had reserved a small suite at Vista Point overlooking the river. A very pleasant spot, highly recommended. On the first afternoon we provisioned well — including wine, gin, and good coffee. So we were able to prepare breakfast every morning before going to work on the boat and them cook dinners after sunset. The weather also didn’t disappoint and the mosquitos and nats were very respectful; they never bothered us when sitting outside at night sipping wine, smoking and talking.
And the drone ? I got it back that Monday before boarding the plane to DC. Yet, as I write in the next post, I was also not able to get it past customs when I went back in April with my son Juan David and my daughter Sofia…