Wednesday, August 26, 2015

But wait, there's more

After 2 days of calling boatyards and asking people where to go and what to do, and 4 days getting the boat ready and sitting and sweltering on the hard, Danny did not show up for the party. Hurricane Danny was supposed to be headed directly at  the BVI.  All of the predictions were in agreement. All of the old salts at the bar said "wait and see". The appointed time came and went. Danny went south of us and the disappeared.

"See-" said the old salts, "we were right"

Then there was Erika.


While everyone was watching Danny there was another storm beginning to form in the Atlantic. It wasn't too long until it became a named storm. Tropical Storm Erika. Forming fast, moving fast, and heading our way.

She was due reach our area just about the time that we needed to get the ferry to USVI. We talked about the possibility of leaving a day early just in case,  but we dismissed that idea because we would not gain much time and we would be sitting in USVI waiting for our plane to Puerto Rico.

We woke up this morning, and began running through the list of things we had to do starting with laundry and progressing through to getting the dinghy hauled and the rest of the cleaning up of Rhapsody. We went to get a quick breakfast to kill a little time before the laundromat opened. Checking Erika's progress, she was still on track to mess with our plans, but nothing that overly concerned us. We returned to the boat and were only there a few minutes when a woman walked by and said that they were stopping the ferries at 1 PM today. And thus began a day of rushing, and waiting. Hurrying to get to the next point, and then having to slow down, pause, and reconsider, only to have to rush again in the next moment.

As I said, when beginning our Danny preparations - "Oh crap, now what?"

"We have to go" said Bob.

This was about 8 AM.

We thought we were mostly ready for Danny, but as with the last minute preparations for any trip, there are always a few more things to be done. Laundry would have to wait. The refrigerator had to be cleaned out, the bimini (cockpit suncover) had to be removed and stowed. Bags to be packed. What are we taking? What are we leaving? 

The ferry leaves at 11:30. At 11:10 we arrive at the ferry terminal having been scrambling to wrap it all up since we made the decision to leave.

The first leg of the journey is the ferry to Tortola BVI, from there we catch the ferry to St. Thomas USVI. The ferry leaves Tortola at 2, and since we had heard that the last ferry was at 1, we were keeping our fingers crossed.

It takes half an hour to get from Virgin Gorda to Tortola. Just as we arrived the ferry captain announced the schedule of ferries back to Virgin Gorda. He said there would be two more ferries running today, with the 6:45 ferry being cancelled. I looked at Bob, with some relief, figuring that if they were not cancelling the ferries until this evening that we were in luck. He told me that he would go collect our bags and I should get in line to get tickets to St. Thomas.  

I get to the window and ask for two tickets.
"No more ferries today" she said, "and none tomorrow either"
"What do I do?" I asked. "I have to get to Puerto Rico "
"Go two windows down, they have one more ferry today leaving from West End."
Roadtown is approximately in the center of Tortola, a long skinny island about 11 miles long. West End is appropriately at the far west end of Tortola.
I asked at the designated window if they did in fact have a ferry leaving from West End.
"Yes, but it leaves at 12:30"
"Do we have time to get there?"
"Yes, but you have to get a taxi Right Now"
Larry, the taxi driver stepped up to the plate.
It was now 12:11
The road to West End is a two lane, very curvy road. Larry drove fast enough to get Bob's attention and you can imagine my reaction as I am much less tolerant of that type of driving than Bob is. Chickens, pedestrians, other vehicles beware,  Larry slows down for no one, except speed bumps, which are numerous between Roadtown and West End. He was passing vehicles in the tightest of spaces, at high speed. The highlight (?) was when Larry reached for his phone and started dialing as he was approaching a blind curve on the edge of the ocean at nearly 70 while going by a sign that said 20 mph. To his credit he realized that he was probably pushing his luck a bit, and passed the phone to Bob to dial, except that he kept looking over at Bob and the phone to make sure Bob was doing it correctly.  He wanted to call the ferry and make sure that they knew we were coming.

We arrived at the ferry terminal at 12:28. Thank you Larry.  I think.

We are not done yet.

We took the ferry to  Redhook on St Thomas, and then a cab straight to the airport. Knowing that Erika is due to arrive precisely as we are trying to fly out tomorrow afternoon we went to Jet Blue to see if we had any alternatives.

Keithroy was a willing and helpful airline employee. He said that there was a good chance that the airport would be closed tomorrow at 9 AM  and our 4:30 PM flight would not be happening. Keithroy spent quite some time, looking at a variety of scenarios and schedules. There were no seats left today, and only one seat on the morning flight. He walked to another airline to see if they had any seat. No such luck, they were also full.  Finally he found us two seats to San Juan tomorrow morning at 8:15. He announced to the other counter attendants "No one else book those tickets, I am about to use them"

So, now we are back to waiting. Waiting for the flight tomorrow, waiting for Erika, waiting to see what happens. 

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