The Travelling Sextant

It only struck me as I was being directed to the ‘suspicious’ counter at JFK that the story of ‘visiting my brother in New York for 3 days’ didn’t tally with the 62kg of baggage (accurately weighed to fit allowances) that I was single-handedly schlepping.

“How long?”, he asked, incredulously
“Until Sunday”
“ooo kay” air drawn through teeth. He guffly lifts the first, carry-on, bag, staggers a little, and places it with a klunk that makes me visibly shudder.
“what’s in here? Feels like a box.”
“it’s a sextant”
“uh huh”
“..for a boat”, as if that will help.
“oh, you’re boating?”
“not from here, from South America”
he picks up the next bag, that weighs considerably more. “What’s in this one?”
“Windows? Portholes?”
“kind of, but rectangular”. Like I know anything about portholes. I pray he doesn’t ask for more detail. I detect a chuckle as he nods inquisitively towards the third and largest bag.
“That one’s got a watermaker in it”
“Sure it has. Where are you going from?”
“And to?”
“New Zealand. Maybe.”
“Well, good luck.” He laughs, “See Chuck, my boat, it just needs a key to make it start.”

The journey from JFK to Atlanta was not dissimilar, though my baggage was by this stage even heavier, and required a show-and-tell at the baggage X-ray point, the interrogator asking “so are you the skipper or the navigator?”

By the time I reached Santiago, and my final connection, I knew I had to allow a good hour to get through customs.