I have never been comfortable in an aircraft – I have a vivid imagination and have watched too many of those ‘what went wrong’ disaster analysis shows and the first leg of our journey did nothing to alleviate that discomfort. We were fortunate enough to get a direct flight from Cape Town to Dubai, but the aircraft was one of those Boeing 777’s which I seem to remember was involved in some or other technical problem issue awhile back… and the damn thing wobbles, I mean seriously, it snakes around like a worm on a sheet of Teflon.
We were two rows from the back which tended to exacerbate the feeling of instability – but then as my old mate Eddie Crane used to say, it’s the safest part of the plane to be in – based on his reasoning that there is no recorded case anywhere in the world of a plane reversing into a mountain… yeah well, whatever. We also ran into Jonty Rhodes at the airport, he was apparently on his way to some awards evening in Mumbai. I hear via the grape vine that he was rather chuffed to have us two on the same flight as him….
Dubai airport is an eye opener for anyone that has not been there before, essentially it is a glorified shopping mall with runways attached to it, but it is well organised and efficient. We had an 8 hour layover there, a goodly part of which we spent in Mc Gerrigans, the Irish pub where we had a really good breakfast – no Mark Devitt, not 6 pints of Guinness. We also met up with young Hugh White who is the third member of our crew. He had come in on a separate flight from Johannesburg but had coincidently booked himself onto the same flight that afternoon to Barcelona.
That flight was much more comfortable, the aircraft was one of those monstrous Airbus A380’s – the sheer size of which seems to be able to shake off turbulence. Our arrival at Barcelona was reasonably easy, except I had been dreading trying to get our luggage through the ‘nothing to declare’ exit, particularly as there had been another senseless terror attack in the city that day and the police were out in full force. The luggage – yes well let me explain…
The boat needed a few new bits and pieces, you know, like a new genoa and standing rigging… the prices quoted in Spain were nothing short of larcenous so it was an easy decision to get it all made up in Cape Town. Trouble with that was the quotes to courier all that lot over ran to nearly $2000, more than what the genoa cost. So, no problem thinks I – we will simply take it with us and declare it as excess baggage. It was a reasonable idea but it nearly backfired on me.
At first they simply refused to accept the coil of rigging cable. It had been rolled up into a coil approximately 900mm in diameter, but the issue was in the weight – it pushed the scale to 45kg’s. Apparently non cargo flights have a single piece limit of 32kg’s, something to do with what one person can safely pick up. Well Avi sucked his chest in and hoicked this lot up onto his shoulder like it was a school bag just to prove a point. Somehow it worked and thankfully they accepted the whole lot in the end – and the charge? About one quarter of what had been quoted to courier the stuff over…
So, here we were in Barcelona with some decidedly odd looking baggage worth a considerable amount of loot in the middle of a national security alert figuring to get this through without being skinned alive with import and VAT costs… Funny how life works sometimes, I had stopped at the gate with two baggage carts loaded to the hilt when some sort of ruckus happened around one of the carousels. Every one of the cops and customs people all headed over in a hurry to sort whatever the issue was and left me looking at an open gate to the concourse, it’s the fastest I have covered 20 meters since I got chased by some demented goose when I was a kid.
We overnighted at one of those anonymous airport hotels and the next day headed down to Cartagena by train. Bugger me if we had even more hassles trying to get our kit loaded onto the train… but by then I had become somewhat of an expert at this lark and the supervisor grudgingly allowed us to use up way more than our fair share of the available luggage storage area. We arrived in Cartagena about fifteen minutes later that scheduled – probably because of all the extra weight… These Spanish trains are damn good though, the seats are comfortable, the coffee they serve is top notch and they have screens showing the train’s position and other information – like the speed for instance. I got a bit twitchy when I started seeing figures north of 155km/h, but all in all it was a comfortable if long 8 hours.
The security at the marina had been briefed of our arrival and getting into the premises and onto the boat was quick and easy. The boat itself has been closed up for some time and Lord alone knows when last it had a wash down, there is enough sand on the decks to plant potatoes I tell you. The immediate few days will be spent cleaning the old girl up, sorting through whatever is on board so we can do a proper inventory and then we can tackle replacing the rigging – that, despite Warren’s claim that it is a fairly simple procedure – will no doubt be a saga all of its own.
Until then, Y’all keep well and stay safe.