It’s in the nature of the thing. Loosey goosey, seat of the pants, “make it up as you go along” kind of thing. Of course we’re used to more of an “it’ll be that arm and a piece of that leg, sir” kind of thing. So when our rigger informed us that a critical part of our new rig had been redesigned to fix our struggling mainsail hoist we were delighted. There really is a problem, it’s been addressed and they’d be happy to send the redesigned part to us at no charge. Sorry for any inconvence. Of course in French Polynesia there isn’t a word for “no charge” but no one would even commit to a figure due to the capricious nature of the customs agents, bonding, tariffs, taxes, invented fees and chaos in general. Mack Sails knows the score and after due diligence we decided that UPS touts having their own agents, knows what “yacht in transit” and “no charge warranty replacement” means so we chose them. Mai Kai Yacht Club said sure just have them send it directly here. Very efficient on the U.S. side but as soon as the three pound box hit Papeete, Tahiti, things slowed way down.
After several days of no action I ran CatNip down to the town ferry basin, locked up the dink to the cleat on the dock, walked over to Tahiti Air and after a good show of looking over the shelves they pouted a contrite Gallic shrug. Bouncing through the lagoon chop I pointed CatNip at Mai Kai YC where the manager made about a dozen phone calls only to find that our no charge three pound box had fallen into the grip of Papeete customs where a three step program would be required to pry our box loose from their grasp. Hold on, Teiva, the manager, had an idea. Do we have an agent in Papeete? Why yes we do. A quick call to Tehani, who would be happy to receive our three pound box for two hundred USD and another two hundred USD to release it, plus any taxes, etc. Fuggetaboutit.
Emails began to fly back and forth between UPS, Cowan, their delivery service, and us. It turns out that there is a workaround which will cost roughly one third as much after taxes, duty, ect. They’ll get back to us with a quote. Three days later, quote in hand, I dinghy into Mai Kai YC, walk to the bank where I’m informed that one can only use Visa if one has an account at the bank but luckily there is an ATM outside. While scraping the last few francs out of our account at the ATM outside, I hear the bank’s hurricane doors slam shut. It’s 11:30 and the bank will be closed for lunch until 1:30. Two hours later with just barely enough headroom in the account, I walkEd back in the bank and paid the man, who kindly faxed UPS that they have scored and to release the three pound box which might show up in Bora Bora, which they abbreviate as BOB, tomorrow. The next morning the three pound box is a no show at Tahiti Air and I’m greeted with more Gallic shrugs. Why don’t I come back this afternoon?
I broke away from tending Marce in the afternoon to run down the bay in the dink, tied up, walked over to find that Tahiti Air doesn’t have afternoon hours. Okay now I’m pissed, but I wondered if it was delivered to Mai Kai YC like it was supposed to be. No joy there either. I slowly putted back to Escape Velocity a defeated man.
Next morning I ran down the lagoon to Tahiti Air, tied up, walked over and voila, there it was, a three pound box from Stuart Florida on the shelf with BOB stamped all over it.
I was emotional.
Of course now I have to get this thing installed and nurse Marce back to health but after shipping a three pound box from Stuart Florida how hard could that be?