My whirlwind weekend in Fort Lauderdale was supposed to involve just two days of West Marine shopping, Apple computer repairs, staying with friends, possibly getting a hair cut, and returning to George Town with all the spare parts we needed to comfortably head south immediately upon my return.
But when Ryan called to say the weather forecasts showed we probably couldn’t leave for another week, I wondered if I shouldn’t use my air miles to fly back to New York and find a new person to manage our rental property. Our log cabin in the Catskill Mountains had been a worry for us because our rental agent hadn’t returned our phone calls or emails in over two months and we hadn’t gotten a single booking during that time.
So, it was a busy week bouncing around Florida and New York, but the extended stay was worth it. Sure, I saw more of Wal-Mart and the Fort Lauderdale West Marine than I did my loved ones, but I was successful in picking up $1500 worth of essential parts and supplies, hiring the perfect manager for our rental property, catching up with my friends in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Albany, New York and I even spent a day with my parents. Since my dad recently fought and survived a rare and aggressive blood cancer, spending time with him has become increasingly important, but also more difficult since we’ve sailed away. My trip home was a welcome opportunity to see my family.
The problem I faced at the end of my hectic week, though, was how to lug my body weight in supplies to the airport and onto a plane barely large enough to carry mail, let alone passengers with over-sized cargo. And the other problem was how much all my extra luggage was going to cost me.
Fortunately, luck was on my side. When I dropped off my car at Fort Lauderdale Airport, an Avis employee saw me struggling with two over-sized bags, a backpack and a large fiberglass panel and offered to drive me to my terminal then drop my car back at Avis for me. I could have hugged the man on the spot.
Checking in to United Airlines was a different story, though; I was shocked to find out I’d have to pay $400 for any bag over 50 pounds. Since my suitcase weighed 80 pounds, I needed to find a way to make 30 pounds disappear. And fast. My flight was boarding in 20 minutes.
So I got down to business and did what every desperate, over-loaded traveler in the airport does when they’re faced with luggage surcharges; I pulled all my bags open and tore the packaging off everything I’d purchased. And then I pulled out my spare duffel and crammed it full of 24 package-less fuel filters. Once my carry-on duffel reached 30 pounds, I handed my 50-pound suitcase, 50-pound duffel bag and my fiberglass panel to the check-in clerk and walked away with my backpack and an enormous “carry-on” full of fuel filters.
I knew what was coming to me when I reached the security gate, though, and I felt bad for everyone in line behind me. There was no way my duffel bag was going to pass through the X-ray machine unnoticed. And sure enough, my bag was pulled aside for a search and I was asked a lot of questions about why I didn’t check the bag (“These are very delicate parts,” I lied), why I had so many fuel filters (“I live on a boat”), why my bag smelled like fuel (“I accidentally spilled fuel cleaner on it”) and whether the fuel cleaner was flammable (“Absolutely not,” I lied again).
I was thrilled to be subjected to just a few questions and sideways looks, though, before being allowed to board my flight to George Town with 24 fuel filters in an essentially flammable duffel bag. It all could have gone much worse.
Now I just had to get through Bahamian customs in George Town without paying import taxes. When I arrived, though, all I did was present my cruising permit and I was waved through to my taxi in no time at all.
I admit that just a week ago I was thrilled to leave our cramped little Hideaway and fly to the States for a much-needed break from boat life. But after a week of exhausting land life, I was now thrilled to be back on the boat, surrounded by the aquamarine waters of the Bahamas again. And while I was away, Ryan even varnished Hideaway’s floors, making it look newer, more spacious and more inviting than ever before.
It seems my trip home wasn’t merely a successful supply run. I can honestly say I’m ecstatic to be back in the Bahamas. And on a boat that is ready to sail south again.
Now, for that weather window…