Saturday, October 20, 2007

So I'm off on my next adventure. This time to Italy for my next ride.

The flights were fine. I watched “Fantastic Four- Rise of the Silver Surfer” and then “Oceans Thirteen hundred”. I was just trying to get some shuteye when the lights came on for the pre-landing coffee and tea service. I had about a two and half hour layover in Milan, but I didn’t dare fall asleep lest the muted Italian boarding announcement fail to catch my attention. So I tried to listen in on other peoples “converzasiones” to little avail so I moved on to the local giornale (newspaper) and had better luck. At least I could get the point of many of the articles.

So I waited at the gate which really isn’t a gate at all, at least not your typical airport gate. It was actually just the place where you get on a bus that would take us to our twin prop A’itilia plane. So it was a quick 200 meter bus ride and then a short plane ride of about an hour and a half until I arrived in Ancona about half way down the east coast of Italia. Of course they made me sweat a little by making mine the last bag to arrive. Having your bags lost is always a nightmare. Having your bags lost and not knowing the native tongue, priceless! At least, most would pay almost anything to avoid that. But it showed up and I nonchalantly started to walk past the customs officer. I didn’t really know if I should say I was a “turista” or tell the truth about coming to work. Actually I really wasn’t trying to avoid customs I just didn’t realize he was a customs officer! It’s a small airport and there isn’t a customs booth or line or area. Just a senori standing by the exit! Anyway, I lied. Si, turista. Gratzie, Ciao. It turns out that I don’t need a working visa, at least as far as Italia is concerned because I’m working on a British flagged vessel.

So I was greeted for the first time at the airport by someone holding a sign with my name on it. No chauffeur in a suit and cap though. Just an Aussie bloke by the name of Brad. The boyfriend of the Laura who is the daughter of one of the owners’ friends. (For all you Soap Opera lovers). So we chatted about music and travels for the hour ride to Fano, Italy. To be exact, Port di Fano not to be confused with Port di Fino, a gorgeous Mediterranean spot I’m sure they don’t mind being confused with. I don’t know enough of Italy to say with any confidence, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s a typical coastal town. The original “Old Towne” is surrounded by tall and thick medieval brick walls with shops and a town square inside where folks meander in packs. The marina is a launching point for new Pershings, Wallys and Benneti yachts and has high sea walls that the locals enjoy taking strolls along.

Thus I arrived at my new home and workplace, a brand new 30 meter Benetti Tradition christened “Jazz of Monaco”. It was to be simply “Jazz”, but it was already taken so “of Monaco” was added. A quick hello with Pierre and then an introduction to one of the boats owners, Neil and his right hand gal, Rachael. Rachael is an English lass and Neil is Australian although he climbed up from down under quite some time ago.

First impressions: Pierre, well you can’t really have a first impression with someone you’ve known for almost two years, so moving on: the boat is pretty with all the latest gadgets to play with and learn, it’s going to be nice to have Brad giving me a hand (actually two hands), Laura is sweet and no doubt will competently handle the interior work for the time we have her onboard, Rachael is a whiz on the office end and as a laison, and Neil is a work-a-holic with an intense attention to detail. I mean that in a good way though. He’s a hoot and a great guy. He's is determined to do this right and I’m instantly at home with him, love his attitude and his way of thinking. I have the upmost confidence that he will manage this whole affair the highest degree of excellence. All in all I think it is going to be a very happy boat. Although, it will be sometime before the final crew is all together. As far permanent crew it’s once again just Pierre and I. Neil, Rachael, Laura and Brad are all on loan so to speak. Of course Neil I suspect will be on board quite regularly, but we probably won’t be fully crewed until summer approaches. Sometime in January we will hopefully take on a full time engineer and then as the boat starts to see some real use we will get a fulltime chef and stew onboard.

And so it begins......