Monday, August 20, 2012

So Close Yet So Far


“Give me a telephone and I’ll give you the world.”

Those were the words of my uncle, Prosper du Bois Reymond.

Whenever we couldn’t find out something, our family would quote Prosper and reach for the phone.

Those were the days before Google, before the World Wide Web, before computers. In those days, it might take you a dozen different calls or more to finally get the information you wanted, but as he constantly proved, it was just a matter of persistence.

That is a long wind-up to a slow pitch on just how much the world has changed. Today, if I want to know just where the freighter is that is carrying Phoenix, all I have to do is log on.

Here it is as of approximately 0710 UTC. She will be arriving in Izmir in a few hours. (We are UTC+2 here. So she should arrive mid-day.)

Marine AIS has allowed us to track our sailboat shipment throughout the Mediterranean.

Here is another twist of fate: Yesterday was the last day of the month-long Muslim celebration called Ramadan. Last night there was much feasting after sundown. Today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday) all offices are closed. That includes the customs offices we need in order to get our boat released from that port.

Our contract with the shipping agents specified “water to water” delivery. In other words, Phoenix was picked up out of the water, and she was supposed to be delivered back into the water. Certainly not back into that torture rack of a cradle.

But now, that is exactly what will happen. The freighter is not going to wait for Wednesday. The international maw of consumerism does not stop chewing for one minute. The freighter will be unloaded. Our boat will be unloaded.

Without authorization, we cannot enter the port to see if she was damaged in transport. Without authorization, we can’t be there to attend the unloading process.

And to add further financial salt to our wounds, the port assesses all kinds of fees for storage while cargo sits on its dock. And it doesn’t matter if that was due to holidays. It doesn’t matter what our contract says.

Our customs agent says it will take a full day to get all the various stamps and permissions and so it won't be until Thursday that we might to receive Phoenix.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed and mumbling the Muslim response to anything promised or forecast: Inshallah which means, God willing.

From various points in town, we will be able to see the freighter come in. Maybe I’ll shoot a picture of it.

This was shot from the bedroom window of the apartment we are renting. Not sure I could make out our ship from our apartment. We will have to walk down to the water front to do that.
In the meantime, Jennifer and I are feeling better and can almost sense some inkling of what it will be like to finally be sailing the Aegean.

It helped to get a metaphorical slap yesterday from a good friend who is facing far greater challenges than we are. And she is doing it with vim, vigor and good spirits.

So, let me be clear: We constantly remind ourselves of how lucky we are. We know that our problems are the problems for which most of the world would love to exchange theirs.

But as I learned when studying fiction: It doesn’t make for a great story if I say we all went to the beach and had a great time. It’s a story if I say, “Oh my god, you won’t believe what happened! First Johnny burnt his feet on the sand, and then he stepped on a piece of glass, and he ran into the water to wash it out, but tripped and fell face first into the water almost drowning!”

So, other than some bandaid drama, we are having a great time at the beach.

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