I’ve been a bit of a slacker since getting back from Ghana. There isn’t even the excuse of a busy workload, there wasn’t one. Tch tch. Anyway, I shall attempt here and now, to bring things back into focus.
The rigmove of the Bulford went well, in the end. As feared, the tug’s crews were very ‘makey learny’ but they listened to our strangulated impassioned advice offerings and got stuck in with what couldn’t be described as enthusiastic gusto but was certainly in the ‘insanely puposeful’ arena. Bless them. To sum up, we got through the job without any sphincter puckering moments, no-one got hurt and we anchored in the right place. I’d even warmed to captain kilogramme by the end.
The trip back was pretty incident and anguish free (not normally the case when travelling to or from West Africa). The only moment I had was when the very handsome (though stern) immigration lady thumbed through may passport, stopped at the entry visa, peered at it suspiciously then up and into my eyes (I like to think) with a furrowed, accusatorial stare. "Where is your visa?" she demanded, rather too angrily for my liking. This, to the seasoned Africa hand, is a pretty standard bit of behaviour and often precedes an invitation to hand over wads of cash to smooth the path of being allowed to leave the country despite having seemingly incorrect paperwork. This lady official however, didn’t look the sort. She just seemed to be tired, fed up and perhaps just a very little bit dim. So, I gently suggested that her thumb was in fact on my visa already and could she stamp it and let me through please? She did and bafflingly, handed me a KLM boarding pass..
The boarding pass confused matters for a few critical seconds and I had to seek solace with a large, very large, gin and tonic in the business lounge. I was booked on the BA flight to London, not KLM to Schipol. Closer inspection revealed that my name had changed to Andre van Zeegers. Clearly some mistake and I could feel the stress level rising. Then, fortune of fortune, a delightfully charming and well presented lady wearing a gigantic Hi Vis waistcoat embellished with the Dutch flag carrier’s initials wandered by. She gratefully took Mr Zeegers boarding pass and in answer to my perplexed and anxious query as to where I could find BA to get MY boarding pass, pointed to my pass, sitting un-noticed in my shirt pocket. Alzheimers starts early in our family.
Back in London and there’s not much going on at the office. Not for simple sailors anyway. It was therefore a handy bity of luck to be sent down to Portland (Weymouth) to inspect a small Belgian tug, the Union Sapphire, for entry into the Noble Denton Approved Scheme. As is so often the case with these small vessels with small crews, the audit was a breeze, helped along almost indecently quickly by a really on the ball and helpful crew. Thanks lads. Now, please tow HMS Fearless from Portmouth to Ghent nicely and don’t upset the old girl.
Back in London and India is the next visit, Bombay, as soon as the Visa people in London can issue me with the relevant stamp. This morning they reported a turn round time of 20 days!! Blimey, there’s efficiency for you. But, as is, sadly, so often the way, the making of a facilitation payment has brought this forward a bit; by eighteen and half days.
As for getting out there? Luckily the client has seen sense and realised that grumpy old seadogs such as myself respond so much more positively to kindness than we do to torture and business class is the order of the day. Hooray and thankyou.
More later. Take care.