My tooth is kicking off again and I’ve been attacked by something that likes to bite in the night. It’s the worst biting I’ve had to endure for many years, I must have a hundred bites on each hand, some have swollen up a lot. So between the bites and the toothache I didn’t get much sleep. I rush around as best I can doing final jobs on the boat, but I’m exhausted quickly and decide Kathy is just going to have to return to a mess, better I focus on the critical jobs. Arturo comes round for dinner, even though I can’t eat, we have a good laugh and he is invaluable in helping me get the heavy sailbags into the cabin, and also in getting the boat covers and AirCon inside.
Up early, my hands looks a mess and I’m hoping the airline won’t get worried. I laugh with Kathy on a quick WhatsApp call that I look like I have leprosy. She doesn’t find it quite as funny as me. It’s getting close to flight time before my Covid results appear, I’m Negativo, so will be able to board the flight. The government have said to use the VeriFly app to speed up my processing at heathrow, so I look for the app and can only find one app called VeriFly, written by a company I have never heard of, with not many downloads and a 1 star revue slagging it off. In the days of Pegaus (nasty surveillance app) I don’t want to use it, however when I see it recommended on the BA site as well, I give it a go. I upload my flight details, my details, my test results, my booking ref for the two tests I had to order for the UK (£90)and my personal locator form. It churned for a few minutes before telling me everything was checked and approved. I was impressed, and keen to see if it made a difference.
I locked the boat up at 10:30 and ordered an uber to the airport, after more form filling there I was on a flight to Mexico city.
Once there I had many hours to kill before the BA flight to Heathrow, I tried to sleep, but there was nowhere to get comfortable. I was feeling a little feverish now and was desperate to get on the BA flight and get my head down.
Once boarded and fed, I was able to lie down, I was in the middle aisle and had all three seats to myself, as did every other passenger travelling alone. I wonder if that change to the seating assignments was built into the software or had to be patched in. I don’t remember future pandemic planning ever being mentioned in any of my software specs. I slept until we were flying over Cork in Ireland and thought fondly of my time there, and for some odd reason an encounter with a man who ran a launderette out in Ballincollig, a small town I used to live and work in. His accent was so strong I couldn’t understand a single word he said. We had a long conversation while I was trying to retrieve my washing once where he explained something to me and I responded with “Sorry, I still didn’t understand any of that” and this repeated for a long time, I think until I went home without my washing.
Soon we were walking the corridors and transporter trains of Heathrow T5. I had a different route from most as I was transiting to a flight to Manchester, at the transit immigration desk, the people in front of me were having a hard time as they had not given an address they were isolating in, nor had they ordered the testing kits, they were told that would all have to be sorted before they could come in. There were only about 20 of us in the queue and I was near the front, but after a scan of my passport I was waved through and reminded to take my Day 2 test. On the one hand I thought this VeriFly app has really worked, but then I thought it more likely he just wasn’t interested in checking anything, because he only mentioned the Day 2 test and not the day 8 test I wondered if he thought I had already been vaccinated, or maybe not come from an AMBER country. I didn’t really care, I only had an hour to find my next flight.
The flight to Manchester was delayed by an hour due to the APU (generator) failing, the cabin had overheated and they had to hook the plane into the airport Aircon. One of the other passengers worked on these planes and was giving a blow by blow account of what was going on to his mate, I loved hearing the technical details, but didn’t like the bit when he said the plane would be pulled out of service as soon as it landed in Manchester.
Arriving in Manchester quite late I missed the train to Liverpool I had hoped for, the next train got halfway and I had to change to a train that had been cancelled, I believe due to staff shortages caused by the pingdemic, as they call it, staff who had been notified they had been in close contact with covid positive people. Contrary to the media, it seems to me the real problem is they might be infected and should isolate, rather than we are losing too many staff because we are getting too many people close to infected people.
Eventually I get into Lime St where Kathy is waiting for me. It’s great to see her at last.
Friday 3oth July
My test results are in and I’m cleared to rejoin humanity. Liverpool people on the whole don’t seem to fussed about masks or social distancing, it’s not required by law, and even where organisations request it, like on the trains or in supermarkets, most people don’t bother. It’s weird. I might be a pessimist, but I have just travelled from the boat to Kathy’s flat wearing a mask (6 in total) for 40 hours with just a break for meals. I had to sleep on the planes with my mask on, even then I thought it was worth doing for the collective good. Saying that, the numbers coming out of the government look quite good. I was expecting them to be much worse.
It’s been a busy 8 days since I arrived, mostly ordering stuff on ebay and Amazon for the boat, getting things renewed and updated online, mostly paperwork. Kathy looked after me well for the first few days when I was exhausted. My bites are mostly deflated now and I have a few big black scabs!
My knife from Friday Harbour has arrived. This was a present to myself. Basically Kathy and I are fans of John Steinbeck, In 1940 he sailed from Monterey, a place we stayed in on SM, in a ship called ‘The Western Flyer’ to The Sea of Cortez to document the intertidal marine life with his good friend and marine biologist Ed Ricketts. He wrote a book called ‘The Sea of Cortez” and subsequently ” The log from the sea of Cortez” which documented the voyage. This year I have basically followed his route around the sea. The Western Flyer was later left to rot, until recently when fans of Steinbeck formed the western flyer foundation, with the aim of restoring the boat into a floating classroom where people could continue to study the marine world. Getting back to the knife, some of the old timber frames (White Oak) were beyond repair, and rot free sections were used to make handles for knives produced up in Friday Harbour (San Juan Islands, WA). I bought one of these at a seriously artisanal price, but given the history, the fact they are great knives, and also that they take the guy a week to make each, I figured it was a good deal. You can see how they are made here
There hasn’t been any hurricanes developing since I left, but today we have one that’s forming and looks like it might get to hurricane strength, but it looks like it will keep heading out to the west and not be an issue. I will be checking the hurricane situation every 6 hours until I return.
Sadly I missed the visit to La Paz of the Mexican Navy tall ship Cuauhtemoc training vessel last Saturday. She looks splendid.