Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Evanston: home early

        Just after 5 p.m. Monday evening I moved Sportaseat and Megaboom speakers on deck, made an air temperature tequila and tonic, and sat down in the shade of the nearby mangroves to sip and listen; but when I picked up my phone to choose the music I found an email from United Airlines cancelling my Wednesday flight.  Houston is United’s second biggest hub so they were disrupted more by Hurricane Harvey than other airlines.
        A link to alternate flights showed only two on Tuesday and they only stand by.  It showed nothing for Thursday and with the Labor Day weekend coming I feared I would be stuck.
        Although the boat yard office was closed for the day, Karen, who works in the office, lives with her husband, Flip, on the boat ahead of GANNET.  Their last name is the same as my first:  we form a web of Webbs.  I walked over and knocked on the hull of their 50’ REVERIE and asked Karen if the yard could haul GANNET without my being present Wednesday morning.  To shorten this story, Karen made a call and arranged for the yard to haul us at 8:15 Tuesday morning.  I then called the Keys Shuttle and changed my pick-up from Wednesday to Tuesday.  Or so I thought.  
        Everyone at Marathon Boat Yard has been great, and Karen most of all.  She has found space for GANNET in the water and dry storage and now not only worked after hours to change our haul-out but invited me to an excellent dinner.  REVERIE is not only more than twice as long as GANNET, she has air conditioning and ice cubes, necessities not luxuries in the Florida Keys.  
        After dinner I went up and did my laundry in the boat yard facility.  The least expensive ever:  an honor system $1.00 a load wash and another $1 to dry.
        Laundry finished, I returned to GANNET and searched for flights on other airlines.  Spirit had two that met my timing for a bare bones fare of $51 Ft. Lauderdale to Chicago.  I bought the ticket.  Having already paid $54 to United, even if I never got a refund, I still would fly cheaply.
        My rules not to do things at the last minute and to leave ample time for the unexpected proved themselves.  I was very glad that I had lowered the jib Monday morning and, except for laundry, was ready to go two days in advance.  
        Tuesday morning, the little boat was raised from the water  by a fork lift at 8:15.  A little after 9 she was power washed and secured on stands in a corner of the yard.
        Showered, in clean clothes, with messenger bag and travel vest, I sat in the air conditioned yard office until 10:35 when I went outside to await the shuttle’s 10:45 arrival.
        At 10:45 I watched the shuttle approach and blast past without a pause.  I got on the phone.  Got voice mail.   Left a message.  Dialed again.  Got a human being, who told me my reservation was for Wednesday.  I said I had called and changed it the night before.  She got in touch with the driver who returned to pick me up and told me my reservation was for Wednesday.  Obviously the person I had spoken to Monday evening had not put it in the system.  
        The rest was, thankfully, more or less routine.
        I had never before flown Spirit Airlines which has the lowest level of customer satisfaction of any airline in the U.S. and that is saying something.  You pay extra for everything, even a normal carry-on bag, but I didn’t need anything, except a drink on board—they have Buffalo Trace—so I flew for $51 and thought the flight quite satisfactory.  
        So I am here when I still expected to be there.
        Evanston is pleasant.  76ºF/24ºC.  Sunny.  Slight breeze.
        Home is the sailor.