Davey Jone’s Locker: finding a passport and going ashore in China

 Davey-Jones1As you may recall last year on Disremember 5TH I flew to Sacramento to take  this ship, the S.S. Kauai out of lay up and sail her to the yards in Nantong  China.

Well late Friday night March 13TH, the Seattle Port Agent calls me and says
I need to go to the clinic first thing Monday morning for a sign on  physical.

So I do and who should I run into but none other than Frank Kirby, we  complete our physicals and I stop by the Hall the next day, while at the  Hall I get a text from my friend Amanda telling me that her flight for  Shanghai is Wednesday the 18TH, which is of course the next day, she also  tells me that a guy named Pete turned his job in in favor of a motor RO-RO  and will be replaced by a woman named Maria who hasn’t shipped in almost ten  years.

Vince tells me that my flight will be a day or so latter, so I clear the  Hall, go home and start packing.

I check my e-mail every thirty minutes or so looking for flight information.  I get an e-mail from the company with an e ticket to fly first to SF and  then to Shanghai on the 22ND.

I go to Drinking Liberally  that night as you may recall.

the next day I start making arrangements to be gone for a while when I get a call from Vince at the Hall telling me that Frank is on the same flight as  me and would I make sure he arrives to the ship OK, of course I agree.

I call Frank and make arrangements to go to Sea-tac Sunday morning.

I check my e-mail and find out that mine and Franks flight has been bumped  up from Sunday morning to Saturday, I call Frank with the new arrangements.

Thursday morning I go to the Pacific Science Center to see the Pompeii  exhibit, just before I’m about to go into the theater, I notice I have an  e-mail, I find out that my flight has once more been bumped up from Saturday  to Friday.

I skip the exhibit and go home and call Frank, telling him we are leaving  the next day, and that our flight from Seattle to SF is no longer at 10AM  but at 6AM so that I will meet him with a cab at 3.

Around 7 that night Frank calls me and tells me he may have a slight  problem, he says he’s lost is passport, and will that be a problem? I tell  Frank that this will be a major problem, I go over to Franks joint and help  him and Shannon tear their house apart looking for Frank’s passport, after a
couple of hours Franks say’s “I think I left it at the Hall.”

I call Vince the Port Agent and he meets us at the hall and sure enough  Franks passport is there.

Me and Frank go back to Franks house, I tell Frank I’m heading home and I’ll  see him in a few hours, Frank wants to have a drink I say no!!

I go home and have a drink, do all my last minute stuff and then get a cab,  get Frank and go to Shanghai.

After clearing customs and immigration in China (the first time it’s a  little involved when you’re joining a ship as crew)  and take the bus to Nantong.

The hotel is nice and even came with a  bag of fish food for the massive Coi pond they have.

So that morning is spent with customs and immigration in Nantong, you see  when you fly to join a ship you first clear customs and Immigration at the  airport on a business visa, just like any other business traveler, then at  the port of embarkation you “exit” the country sign on your ship and then
clear customs and immigration once more a screw member listed on the ships  articles.

You would think that all of this would be simply a paper work shuffle, but  no, you need to actually do all of these steps, you exit the country just as  though you were at the airport leaving China, then travel by bus to your  ship, where you sign articles and then must clear once more as though you’ve  just arrived, the immigration officer on the ship asked me “when was the  last time I was in China?” I said “about fifteen minutes ago at you  immigration office downtown” she gave me a dirty look but stamped the ships
manifest and gave me a shore pass.

I managed to start work just after lunch and spent the day getting the plant  ready for light off and learning the new automation that had been installed,  referred to (by me) as the automation from hell.

Since there was no cook on the ship that night I went out and befriended a  ship yard worker, he found am e-cycle (an electric motor scooter) I could use and told me to follow him after a thirty minute ride through Nantong, a  few times I thought I had lost my new friend, we arrived at a local  restaurant, not sure what all I ate, mostly fish, but some pork and beef  dishes as well, but it was all delicious, and the bill for the two of us was  only about 16$ (depending on the exchange rate of course) after dinner we
hopped back on our e-cycles and took another twenty minute ride through  Nantong, and came to a local bar.

We met several of my friends, coworkers there, most spoke English well  enough, we drank beer and a few shots I got into a friendly debate with a  welder about the advantages of 6011 rod verses 7018, talked work, bosses,  and what not.

My friend led me back to the ship yard, a and I offered to pay him for the  use of the e-cycle, but he refused, explaining that it was his friends who  was still at work, still I wanted to do something, so I went into Anne’s  store, a local hang out and gave her some money and pointed out my friend  and told her to make sure the money went to get him and his friends some  beer.

The next bay I was lighting off the plant and cursing the births of the  automation guys, I took a break and ran up to the galley to grab a cup of  coffee, my new friend was there and when I walked in a cheer went up, seems  I am the guy who “made a party” for the grave yard shift.

To be continued…

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