Whilst in Port Said the port authority came aboard to measure up Esper. This is done in order to calculate ones transit fees for the canal. A young man in ill-fitting trousers, winkle picker boots and the most embarrassing comb-over imaginable stepped aboard and proceeded to measure imaginary objects on deck. After popping down below he asked for his ‘present’. I gave him a pack of fags. He asked for another present and so I gave him another packet of fags. In the background Liz was mouthing that I should baksheesh the hell out of this guy because it was he who would set the transit price for each boat. It didn’t register at the time and so I laughed at the others who had paid him $30 each.
When Felix presented us with the transit bill it dawned on me that perhaps I had been rather short-sighted. Our bill was the same as the two 51 foot boats in the rally! When we tried to dispute this, however, Felix pointed to our Part 1 Certificate of Registry (official ship’s papers). There, in black and white, was our net tonnage figure upon which they base their calculation. Although Esper is probably around 13 tons, it has 18 tons on its certificate. It’s an error that neither Liz nor I have ever bothered to correct since we’ve owned the boat and so our fees were around $100 more than we thought they should be.
Now, whether they really had based this calculation on our net tonnage, or instead decided to sting us for not offering Mr Comb-Over a good present, we’ll never know. In the long run s’all swings and roundabouts and so I try not to get upset about these things… but it did leave me wondering.
The boats were now ready to leave and, thinking we were the last to weigh anchor, Liz and I rushed on board to slip our lines. We had been told that in a rally not everyone would have a pilot and thinking karma was now back on our side we figured we’d got away with not having to pick one up. Not so. A very angry Arabic marina manager started shouting in a way that only an angry Arabic marina manager can do. The pilot boat had to catch us up in order to drop off our pilot, Moussa. ‘Moussa’ is Egyptian for Moses but, dear reader, biblical this man was not…