Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Devil is in the Detail(s)


Another haul out. I only wish I got this much attention

I'd forgotten exactly how many details need to be accomplished before embarking on a cruising life.

But I'm being reminded very quickly and we've only begun to touch the tip of the iceberg.

Early in December I sent away for Wibur's pet permit to the Bahamas. We're still waiting for it but hopefully it will arrive before the end of February.

I knew my passport was due to expire in mid March (when we hope to already be in the Bahamas) and I probably should have renewed it awhile ago but of course I had to wait until it was nearly Christmas to take care of it. So, amid buying, wrapping, and shipping presents, I got a haircut and drove over to Walgreens in order to get the worst passport photo ever taken. The strange thing is, it didn't look that bad in the store and even stranger was how fast those fine people at the Passport center sent me my new book. I think when they saw how hideous that picture was they wanted it out of their office as quickly as possible.

Actually, this hideous picture is direct result of when Hans had to have his passport renewed a few years ago. Hans is a Canadian citizen and Canada's government has totally different hoops to jump through. Hans has done this several times over the years so we were both surprised when the Canadian government sent back his old book, his new picture, and a polite letter explaining that his request had been denied. Hans immediately called the number contained in the letter and asked for the polite lady who'd written it. Of course no one knew who she was (it would appear that all governments whether they be US or foreign, share the same policy; act baffled and if at all possible,, so the buck was passed... again and again.

One young lady who really wanted to help (obviously new to the job) tried her absolute hardest and after placing Hans on hold several times informed him his best bet was to hire an attorney. In another attempt to be helpful, and right after Hans' reaction, she reeled of another phone number and hung up.

The man who answered the phone at the new number (an obviously seasoned government employee who hated his job, hated the world, and most of all hated Hans) was furious and before Hans could even explain why he was calling, shrieked "How did you get this number? Who gave you this number?" This was his stock phrase and he screamed it every time Hans tried to get a word in edgewise. "That person doesn't even exist! It's just a name they print on letters!" he yelled when Hans said he only wanted to talk to the lady who sent him the letter, and when Hans said that sounded kind of stupid, he got, "How did you get my number? No one's supposed to give out my number!" We never did figure out why he even has a phone if no one's permitted to call him but if I had money to burn I'd rent a bill-board and display his number (preferably along side a buxom beauty) for all to see.

So, the problem with Hans' passport? He smiled. And you're not supposed to smile on a Canadian passport.

A new picture of an unsmiling Hans was taken and a new passport was delivered.


Bearing the whole smile/don't smile issue in mind, the picture taker from Walgreen's and I decided to take no chances, so I didn't smile. I did smile on my last passport but since rules change all the time...

While we're staying in a motel while the Knotty Cat gets her bottom painted (among other costly things) we decided to get our local boater option (SVRS: small vessel reporting system) taken care of. Along with DTOPS (a $27.50 decal) we should be able to clear back into the United States quickly and efficiently, if and when, we ever leave. We had the DTOPS decal when we arrived back from the Bahamas back in 2011 but we still had to report to immigration within 24 hours. Supposedly with the added SVRS option we may only have to make a phone call. Hmmmm... I'm not holding my breath.

I won't go into the agonizing details of our trying to find the Office of Immigration via our GPS and Google maps, it's just too painful. But after many U-turns we finally called and a live person actually answered the phone and low and behold the office is located right beside the gift shop inside the airport. Within minutes the nicest lady in the world (and I mean super nice) issued us our official SVRS numbers (to be kept with our passports) and there was no charge.

Just before we left the motel for our visit to Immigration we pulled out our passports and layed them side by side. What a pair. With Hans' stern stare and my grumpy glower we make Bonnie and Clyde look like a couple of happy go lucky rascals.

Personally, I wouldn't let anyone who looks like us back into the country so I'm going to keep my fingers crossed on this one.


Someone looks like he enjoyed his hotel stay






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