The Captain had long informed me about the beauty of this gorge, running between Canada and the U.S leading down to Seattle. I was too busy with a last minute scramble to enjoy it.
I finally made it up to the Bridge for 11am coffee, the Captain got a call, Arthur had been singled out by customs. This is rare, all crew were quickly mustered and lined up on the starboard deck. Customs pulled in alongside Arthur about 10 metres out, a glitzy boat carrying around 20 armour clad, gun toting heavy set soldier-esque dudes, 2 enormous manned machine guns on a swivelled platform were pointed at us all lined up on the deck. I didn't expect this...very dramatic! 20 lovely guys in flip flops squinting in the bright sun getting stared down from a blazon vessel of intimidating force...job done U.S.A, I certainly wouldn't be cracking any jokes when these guys were on board. An hour of tosh later, all was fine.
Next up were the immigration officers... A head ache was beginning to develop. The tannoy was sounded..."all crew report to the captains office for inspection, I repeat, all crew report to the captains office for inspection".
I was straight there...I wanted this over with.
"Ahhhh Mr Grady...I think we need to see you last, could you hang around outside the door for me please"
Myself and the officer eventually went into a private room, I was sat down, suspicion hung thick in the air...as I handed her the itinerary, the names and addresses of possible peeps I would be staying with en route wasn't enough...he wanted phone no's. I didn't have them. Caroline (camera lady) had been busy ashore in Seattle working her Magic on that front. Internet connection was skew whiff due to the massive cranes over hanging Arthur. I eventually got her on a shocking line on the ships satellite phone. We managed to pass 2 phone no's between us before the line cut out. I hesitantly handed the U.S dude the 2 phone no's,
"Could you leave the room please Mr Grady"
Dodgy ground was getting tread here, Darek Mazzone a well known radio DJ in Seattle was about to get a cold call to be grilled by immigration about a fella he's never met. I certainly wouldn't enjoy such a call, the potential pit falls that could open up given the heat of the situation were abundant. Nervously waiting with the Captain and chief engineer in his office, the murmurings of talk could be heard from the U.S official on the other side of the door.
The door opened...this dude was trying to hide his smile,
"Your one lucky guy...your gonna get drunk tonight, I'll give you 10 days, now get the hell out of here"...
Whatever Darek said saved the day in a big way. The captain and chief engineer bundled me into a taxi and we high tailed it out of that port quick smart. All hail dear pal Caroline, she'd made it from Blighty and was waiting with her fine host Darek and the radio boss in a bar somewhere. The evening went back to Dareks, spent a lovely time getting to know his family, merriment spilled into the evening and the U.S official was right...I got drunk.
Arthur rested in port, he did a cracking job. He will forever have a place in the Thumbs heart. Enormous gratitude to Maersk, the crew and Captain Henrik Jensen, there was a serious amount of beuarocratic tosh we had to wade through to get me on U.S soil. All hail!
Finally, welcome aboard Caroline, she's been brilliant behind the scenes...with the finest eye known to man she will be capturing the rest of the journey and all that falls before us as we forge on to Brazil.
Bye Bye Arthur