We are in the US enroute to Trinidad

Actually, I just wrote this to some friends that have not heard from us for much too long. So, readers of the Blog will know some of the beginning. Feel free to speed read down to the new info.

We are both very well. Last Summer we went from Seattle to South Africa to visit a dear friend of Robn’s. I think we were there about seven weeks, traveling all over the place. We had a great time, even though it was their winter, and many places we stayed were unheated, with doors and windows open. 14C, 57F is better left outside, in my opinion.

Due to the peculiarities of the airline industry, it was less expensive for us to get from Durban to our boat in Finike, if we flew to Cairo and Athens first. Since neither of us had ever been to Cairo or Athens, we spent about a week in each one. That was also very enjoyable.

We then went to the boat, where, several years ago, I began rebuilding the engine, due to a mysterious lack of oil pressure. At one stage I decided that the engine was so old (1974), that I bought a complete gasket set, with the intention of replacing all the gaskets and O-rings and seals. We arrived back at the boat a couple of years ago and, as I was tearing down the engine, I had a new idea on why there was no oil pressure. It would’ve been quite simple to fix, but I had already taken so many things apart, that I decided to continue with the earlier plan of replacing all the gaskets. In the process, we discovered some parts that we needed to order. For some reason, they were not available in Turkey or Sweden. It’s a Swedish Volvo. However, I ordered them from a really good Volvo dealer in the Chesapeake area, that I have bought from many times in the past.

Then the fun began. Someone in the Marina, incorrectly told me that FedEx was the shipper to use, but when the parts arrived at customs in Istanbul, they decided that I had put on the form that I was my own agent. No one could (would) ever show me a copy of the alleged form, so I assume that they were lying. Since I "had chosen to be my own agent", FedEx could not bring them through customs. They were charging me US$60 a day, for storage. No one seemed to have any idea at all what was going on. After about a week, I think I determined that I had to be a Turkish citizen in order to get them out of hock. I think I had about US$350 invested in them, and US$150 for shipping and they were going to charge me $350 duty. There seemed to be nothing that I could do in Turkey, so with the engine still mostly disassembled, we returned to America. Due to airline prices, we spent a little time in Zurich & Paris, to save money. Back in America, I argued with FedEx about getting the parts returned to the sender. For some reason, that was going to cost over US$350, or more, with no guarantee that it would work. So, I did truly abandon them. At least the FedEx person that I was talking with on the last call, refunded the shipping cost since I had never received them.

We bought new parts and hand carried them in our luggage, which worked flawlessly. I think we ended up spending about eight months in the US before traveling to South Africa, etc.

So, when we finally got back to the boat again, we finished putting the engine together. The oil pressure problem was solved, and it ran fine.

By May 2018 I would need to take the boat out of the country, just for a few hours, to reset the five-year maximum time in the country paperwork for the boat. It seemed like a much better idea to take the boat out last fall (2017), but the US and Turkey were in a spat. US citizens were not allowed visas for Turkey and vice versa. We were already in the country, and so were okay. But, if we left, we might not be able to get back in for who knows how long. That did not bode well. So, it was either move the boat to Italy or some country that was not at odds with America or get a Turkish residence permit. We ended up doing the latter. Supposedly, we now have two years of access. How long is your Panamanian residence permit?

Again, the airline peculiarities dictated that we fly from Finike, actually Antalya, to Oslo Norway, to New York, to Trinidad, as the least expensive way that we could find to get to Robn’s boat.

We were doing quite well on our to-do list before leaving, but, the night before our flight, we accidentally learned that the road between our city, Finike, and the city with the airport, Antalya, was washed out. A friend’s father had just made the trip, and instead of two hours, it had taken 4 1/2, traveling by tiny, twisty, side roads. It didn’t take much imagination to wonder, with all the rain we were having, if some of those roads might wash out, also, which would make it almost impossible to get to the airport, without a several day bus ride starting off in the wrong direction and doubling back.

So, we had a major change of plans. We finished our last-minute packing, and instead of getting a nice night’s sleep, before a leisurely trip to the airport, we hired a car to drive us. The roads were not as bad as we had feared, and we got into town about midnight, so we got a hotel room, and had them drive us to the airport the next morning. At least we got a little sleep.

Since we had not been to Oslo before, we spent a week there, in the snow. But, we had enough clothes that it was not a problem. A Finish person once said, "There is no such thing as bad weather, but sometimes people make poor clothing choices."

Then we flew to New York and rented a car and drove to Old Sturbridge Village, which is a collection of old buildings and has employees that are demonstrating what life was like about 1830. I had never been, and Robn was last there a very long time ago. We both had a great time. Then we continued our rental car to our AirBnB in Cambridge which is a suburb of Boston. Perhaps you’ve heard of Harvard and MIT?

We visited the Boston area for a couple of days, but cut our visit short, because they were expecting a snowstorm, with high winds, and perhaps 12 inches (30 cm) of snow. We made it safely to Lincoln Massachusetts, where Robn grew up, and she took me on a tour of her old stomping grounds and we saw the house that her parents built when she was 6. It was the first privately funded Solar Heated home in America. Her dad was an MIT Mechanical Engineer.

We are presently visiting a friend of Robn’s that lives here. Then we will visit Robn’s brother and sister-in-law, in upstate New York, and then fly to Trinidad.

More as it develops.

Dave & Robn

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