I know many followers having spotted the pick up in speed, are awaiting the boys’ next blog and we’ve had nothing since day 52 – they’ve caught us all on the hop! In case we don’t hear from them today I thought I would fill in – particularly now they’re so close.
I’m told it’s courtesy of a full moon, which affects the tides and currents – but you might have noticed they are keeping up regular speed at around 3.5 knots, which has dramatically brought forward their ETA. Without realising what was involved, Ted asked us to see how they clear customs and immigration when they arrive. Because of the wind direction they have been advised by the land crew to approach from the South, and their target is La Balise Marina, which is approached via the Black River creek on the southwest coast. Alex and I did a reci yesterday – the most charming place and an even more charming head honcho called Patrice.
We discovered that we needed permission from customs and immigration to moor up there – expected ETA on Friday morning, so next morning our delightful driver Raouf took us to see the coastguard in Port Louis. ‘Not us’ quoth he, you must go to customs house. Very swanky building ten minutes away where eventually having met with blank stares the head man emerges and gives us a number to call 3 hours before the boat arrives. Then we’re packed off to immigration – another five minute drive around the port; a building site as it turns out but in a shed behind, which we locate after several attempts and we eventually enter a small office with three men deep in conversation. We then get hit with the bombshell that no one will stamp their passports and allow them off the boat until their return tickets are booked. So off we scuttle to the British Airways website to do the needful.
Job done – or so we thought. We’d organised a boat to meet them outside La Balise Marina and guide them into the treacherous entry to the creek and a camera crew to film their arrival. Taxis to get everyone to the jetty and even the Coral Tree restaurant for a celebration on arrival. Then the sat phone call from Ted – we’ll be with you this evening – probably after dark. Great news on one level but a logistical challenge.
So we’re hoping to see them this evening but could be frustrated by bureaucracy which will require them to anchor up outside and wait until the coastguard office opens the next morning. Fat chance – if they’re there by 9.00 pm they’re coming in! Could provide a useful headline – ‘world record breaking rowers jailed for illegal entry’. Good for fund raising though.
On that subject we’ve had some whopping donations over the past few days which have given the boys a huge lift, the latest from BPL who have already provided sponsorship – as have ebykes, the ‘Godfather’, CCUBE, karma and Brickendon all who have contributed to MSF on top of their sponsorship. Thank you also to all the cake bakers and supporters at the PRH for raising a very useful sum from their cake sale yesterday.
Back to the arrangements for the boys arrival; we are hoping to live stream the event on the Doctors Adrift Facebook page, so watch this space – and remember we are three hours ahead of the UK so it could be between tea time and your first G&T after work! Or if they have to wait until the next morning it will be over your cornflakes.
Finally both the BBC and ITV have asked for material to include in news bulletins so keep an eye out over the next few days. Tom Lloyd has I think got them a space on Mike Bushell’s Saturday morning sports roundup on the Beeb. And yours truly on the BBC Sussex breakfast show this morning – live. Could be a train crash.