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Not in the US

Over Presidents' Day week, we had an excellent vacation on the island of St. Kitts. Zoe really likes the beach and the ocean and of course pools are wonderful. There's nothing better than a week at a tropical beach in the middle of a Boston winter. There were a couple of incidents though that reminded me we were truly in a foreign country. One happened as we were arriving at the airport. We get off our 737 and walk down steps to the tarmac. There are a couple of near-by planes. We start walking towards the terminal. Suddenly an official stands in front of us and motions to stop. One of the passengers screams "turn around," as another jet turns, blasting us with its jet stream for about 20 seconds. We were not close enough that it was uncomfortably hot, although it did seem warmer than the surrounding air. Initially I was puzzled as I didn't know what was going on. Many of the things that could involve an urgent recommendation to turn around also should involve subsequent mad running. However I'm glad I did turn: there's a hell of a lot of grit coming off a jet. My back was nicely sand blasted; I'm really glad I mostly didn't get that in my eyes. Zoe was not pleased. You could never get away with doing that to a plane full of passengers at an US airport.

We also took a day cruise on a catamaran later in the trip. We got dropped off on an abandoned beach to play around for a while. I gather that the cruise was a bit more fun back before the hurricane took out the resort on that beach. We would have had somewhat more fun if it wasn't raining, but even so, we had a good time playing in the waves. Besides, while the beach was abandoned, there was a sufficient supply of alcohol, so that makes everything better, right? Then it was time to return to the boat.

The surf was fairly heavy at this point. The plan was for the boat to come in close to the beach so it was about knee deep for adults. The captain would use his engines to prevent running aground, and we'd run out to the boat and climb up a ladder. This didn't work so well: there was a lot of timing of waves involved and throwing people up the ladder so that the boat would not be tossed around while people were climbing on. A 60-foot boat has a lot of inertia and while most things would probably be OK, I sure didn't want to get hit in the head if the boat took a sudden toss. Our entire group made it onto the boat just as a huge wave washed over the back. The captain decided that things were too risky and pulled away from shore.

There was apparently some plan to lower the dingy and collect peoples' bags because that might make it easier to collect the people. There was an o-shit moment lowering the dingy: both sides dropped at once and the dingy line fowled the propeller. Crew dropped over the side with a knife to clear things up. The dingy puttered off to the beach. There was some confusion surrounding whether the dingy was picking up people or bags: the crew on shore and all the passengers were apparently out of contact. As far as I can tell, the dingy picked up neither passengers nor bags but did pick up a bar tender to reduce the stress level on the boat.

With dingy still deployed, we headed into shore. We were about ready to pick up the first load of passengers when the captain realized that the propeller was much worse for its encounter with the dingy line. He found himself with the boat parallel to shore without sufficient control to control which way he was pointing. He apparently had one of the two engines, but the other was not responsive. He ordered the remaining crew over the side to push the boat away from the beach and yelled at the dingy to come push him so he was pointing out to sea. Back out to the mooring point. Crew go over the side to examine the propeller. Apparently propellers are supposed to have fins not be featureless discs.

I'll take a brief aside to mention that taking the train home after a hockey game is not ideal. I'm listening as a passenger explains why it's OK that he's abusing his wife and the conductor is apparently arresting him. I think this is going to blow our schedule. The passenger has apparently drunk more than the people on our vacation cruise. (To be fair, no one seemed to have drunk enough that they were endangering themselves or out of control on the cruise.) Now other passengers are arguing with him. People are sad: we don't get to see a fight. Apparently the game didn't have enough fights and they are still looking for one.

Anyway, back to the story. Apparently the boat carried an extra propeller, so the crew went over again to install one. Meanwhile the crew on the beach has decided that the passengers would be better off on an abandoned dock. The dock is taped off with caution tape because it is falling apart: boards are missing and there are holes; it is clearly not structurally sound. So the passengers make their way around the holes and onto the dock. No one falls in or gets significantly hurt. It's apparently still too rough to go into the beach, so the dingy picks up a few people at a time off the dock and brings them onto the boat. Around that time the rain clears and we have a great trip back to port. Again, so not a US thing.

The boat adventure was kind of fun. Yes, there were probably risks taken that should not have been. Yes, the chance of people getting hurt was higher than something you could get insurance for in the US. However no one did get hurt, and we all got an amusing story.

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