Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't fly Delta

We made it back to Nova Scotia, despite Delta's best attempts to prevent this. Here is a little email I wrote to Delta during our return flight from Phoenix via Detroit and Delta's 'helpful' boilerplate response:

Dear Delta,

We were booked on flight 3564 from Detroit to Halifax last night at 5:25 pm. After two hours on the tarmac, we were told to disembark and scan our boarding passes. Your system then erroneously re-booked us on an Air Canada flight that was set to leave within one (1) minute from the scanning time! We saw an agent who supposedly corrected this and put us back on the original but now delayed flight. When we showed up this morning at 5 am to catch the delayed flight 3564, we showed our original boarding passes, the agents boarded us and our luggage was placed on board. After a delay of an hour we were told to leave the plane and our luggage was removed because our boarding passes were not showing up in the system. The flight was delayed and we are now delayed another day, waiting for an evening flight out. All this because of a foolish system error and an even more foolish inability to correct the mistake using common sense!

While Delta was kind enough to provide a hotel and meal voucher plus compensation for today's foul up, surely this could have been handled more sanely if common sense was used rather than slavish adherence to an obviously flawed 'automated' system? The plane flew with three empty seats that should have been occupied by three people who were obviously legitimate customers - each of us having valid printed boarding passes for the original flight. More than a hundred people were directly inconvenienced by this delay!

I request that you investigate why, following the delay of 3564, the scanning of our boarding passes resulted in an impossible re-booking for us and another passenger. Also, why was it not possible to correct this mistake when we notified an agent of it last night? Finally, why was common sense thrown to the winds this morning when it was clear from our boarding passes that we should have been on the delayed flight 3564?

If we do not receive some sort of assurance that you are doing something to address these problems, I will hesitate to fly Delta again or to recommend your airline to anyone.

Chris Bennett

And Delta's response:

Dear Mr. Bennett,

Thank you for contacting us.

Our goal is to provide the highest possible standard of service in all areas of our operation, and we regret that we did not meet your expectations on this occasion. We monitor performance throughout our company, and your comments will be very helpful.

Thank you for giving Delta the opportunity to serve your travel needs.


Mark Johnson
Online Customer Support Desk

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Haul out and home to Nova Scotia

We have now been in the Singlar marina in Guaymas for 3 days, making Ladybug ready for the summer. The summer here is very hot, particularly when your boat is pulled out on the hard. We put away everything that we can to protect from the sun, including the sails, dinghy (in our case the kayak), and even the various ropes, which get stored inside the mast and boom or bundled up in cloth bags with light sacrificial 'messenger' lines left to handle the UV. Inside, we make sure every locker is left open to allow circulation and we tape foil lined insulation on all the port lights. The head is flushed with fresh water and olive oil to keep the rubber seals lubricated, and the diesel engine is put to bed with fresh oil.

It has not all been work. The marina is very close to downtown and we visited the local market where Rani picked up 5 delicious canteloupe melons and 10 green peppers for less than two dollars in total. We have an open air disco in the marina, which lulls us to sleep each night and we watched some local lovelies preparing their runway walk for the Miss Guaymas pageant that was also hosted at the marina. Before supper tonight we wandered over to a stage on the malecon where dance troupes from all over Mexico were performing traditional and avant garde numbers. We recognized some mariachi favorites from our New Year's stay in Tlaxcala and I was particularly impressed by a bevy of beauties doing Tahitian style dancing and a young and incredibly flexible couple who acted out a story in dance involving copious draughts of tequila. In one traditional dance troupe, the men each wielded two machetes, clashing them together between their legs and behind their backs, at one point while blindfolded! They also crossed 'swords' with each other sometimes with one of their lovely partners in the middle of the fray. I found myself subconsciously ducking as they swung their blades around and around at head level, all the while performing complicated choreography. Another group balanced glasses of water on their heads while doing numbers that got progressively more animated – only a few glasses went tumbling and the ladies did better than the men in keeping their heads dry.

We haul out the day after tomorrow across the bay. The harbour is very shallow – less than 6 feet in places – so we will sail over tomorrow night at high tide. We take a bus to Phoenix after we haul out and after a night in a hotel, fly to Nova Scotia. From there we will drive Rani's Nissan back to BC.

North from Escondido and Across the Sea

Over the point the full moon is rising, reflected in the black waters of Catalina Bay. An occasional puff ripples the surface, scattering the reflected light. The friendly ruby glow of a chart table light reaches us from the far side of the anchorage where Plume, a stout Lyle Hess-designed North Sea 27 lies at anchor. She flies a Swiss flag and earlier over drinks and appetizers, we had enjoyed the company of the young family that sails her. The bright moon outlines rolling hills, white sand beaches, and the jagged rocks that guard the entrance to the bay. It is a tranquil and lovely scene and I feel sad to know that soon we will be far away from here and Ladybug will be like a fish out of water, propped up to rest in a dusty boat yard for the summer.

Cruising north from El Gato.

View from atop Isla Coronados over the anchorage.

Isla Coronodos - Rani is looking at ancient shells, which are found in the raised ocean bed below the volcanic peak.

Chris sits 'under' one of the dwarf trees on Coronodas - a Torote Blanco, the sign says.

The 100 mile crossing from San Juanico on the Baja took just over 24 hours with light north westerly breezes for much of the sail. Earlier that morning we said good bye to our friends on Speck. We had finally caught up with Gary and Beth at San Juanico and spent a few days there catching up on the goings on in their lives, hiking, and sharing meals. Speck headed south an hour or so after us. They had reached their northern turn around point and would return to La Paz where they would put Speck away for the summer and drive their elderly van back to Eugene, Oregon. Gary and Beth were expecting their first grandchild and they were clearly thrilled by the prospect.

Ladybug at anchor in emerald waters.

Gary and Beth visit us on Ladybug - no Gary does not (willingly) play the ukelele.

A slew of boats of all sizes were in the San Juanico anchorage, ranging from a micro tug of about 20 feet all the way to 'Ocean', a charter boat that carried two large fishing boats on her deck.

On this leg, we also met up with our friends Dennis and Lisette on Windward, when we sailed into the lovely beach lined anchorage at Isla Coronados, our first stop after leaving Puerto Escondido. We followed them the next day to San Juanico and Dennis and I enjoyed hiking an extended version of the ridge hike that we had all done the previous year when we had first met Windward in this anchorage. Windward will continue to cruise north before following us across the sea to haul out for the summer.

Beth and the ample spread at a beach potluck in San Juanico, organized by Rani.

Dennis and Lisette toasting marshmallows at the San Juanico potluck. Chris plays uke in the background with a little help from his friends.

One of the hardest things has been to say goodbye to friends, but knowing we will be back next year makes it a little easier. We are currently getting Ladybug prepared for summer storage, cleaning and oiling the teak interior and removing the stains from our 'stainless' steel (stanchions, winches, blocks, dorades, etc.). Tomorrow we will strip much of the deck and finish the stainless cleaning and the next day we will tie up in the Singlar marina in Guaymas to do all the things that are easier done alongside with access to running water.

Chris bakes ginger snaps underway on the crossing - note the angle of heal indicated by our gimbaled stove! We are close hauled and it was literally an uphill battle to work in the galley.