So after our slight mishap with our steering we anchored up just outside of Key West. Since we do not have any visas for the USA we were a bit worried how this would work out. Also the Keys were closed to all non residents until the 1st of June. So we were not really allowed to be there. We called CBP who was gonna check us in and they told us to check in online and then visit the office in town. So we were lucky enough to find internet in the anchorage and tried to check in online and then headed in to town. But since the city were closed we were not really allowed to even use the dinghy dock for more then one hour for essential needs. But with some stretching that was not a problem.
We walked to the CBP office in town and a sign on the door said that it was closed and moved to the airport during the Corona pandemic. So after another call there and explaining what happened to us they said OK we understand no problem. Come to the airport and we will process you and charge you 585 dollar per person in a temporary visa fee. Ouch that was not fun to hear. So not feeling very happy we took a taxi to the airport and had to call them again and explain before the let us through the door. Once in the actual office we had to explain everything another 2 times. But when everyone working there understood that we had an emergency they were really nice to us making jokes and tending to our every need. It did take some time processing the paperwork so I sent an email to the guys at Ocean cruising club helping us with contacts before we arrived and immediately got an answer that he knew a guy who might be able to help and he had contacted him.
So after an hour in the office the 4 officers arrived with our paperwork and passports with a 6 months temporary visa. And with the very great new that the supervisor had waived the fee for us. You could imagine 3 very happy guys walking out of that office. So happy we forgot to ask if we should not have a cruising permit for the vessel as well. But nobody asked us about any papers so we were happy anyways.
Very relieved we decided to walk back to the boat with our newly found freedom. We had not been permitted to be out walking for a very long time now accept for getting food in Mexico. So this was a pure luxury. We could even go to a bar and have a beer on the way back so we had a couple and finally came back to the boat a bit exhausted after sailing and then messing around the whole day. We then realized our two neighboring friends had moved to another location. We stayed put though since we could reach the WIFI from were we where. So now we only needed to repair the boat and then we would be off in a couple of days or so….
The next day we started to look online what different options we had. Since we needed a steering cylinder and our old one was a European and old we could not find any direct replacement. We got recommended a guy called mark and I talked to his office and sent all the details and they were gonna come back with a quote as soon as possible. But after calling them after a day or so as soon as possible has still not occurred almost a month later. We gave him up after a couple of days and started looking at other options. West marine did not have anything in stock and could not order anything due to the corona crisis, because of course that matters. So after a lot of googling we found what we needed online and just needed to send for it instead. But by now it was memorial day weekend and nothing happened in the USA for 3 days.
For us this was a bit of a break as well. We could just wait so we took the opportunity to have some fun as well. We contacted a guy in town who happens to have the same boat as we have, it is not a common boat, for sale and asked if we could come and see it. He was very nice and said yes of course and he would love to see ours as well. So we spent the afternoon looking at each others boats and he brought his wife as well. They were the nicest couple ever and invited us to dinner with their neighbors during memorial day weekend. So this made it a really fun weekend for us even though just waiting for parts. At the dinner we also met their neighbor, Amy, who also were super nice. They also borrowed us bikes, let us use their washing machine and send stuff to their address if we needed to order anything. They also recommended another store in town who might have our cylinder. We also spent a few times with our friends From Isla mujeres with a potluck on Chibidarra and dinner out in town. They are all super nice the crews of Northern Sky, Minaki and Melakai.
So things started to look promising and we could ride around town on our borrowed bikes. When the weekend was over we went to the recommended store and they were much better and actually knew what they were talking about. They had the size bigger and smaller then we needed but after a while he could get the correct one by the next morning. To bad we did no start off here the first day, as Hanna might have suggested and I said ”it does not look open, we can maybe go there later”. Shame on me.
So we got the cylinder the next day and now we just needed to get the connections worked out. Not the easiest going from European the American. But after some silver soldering we made a couple of our own connections and the worked flawlessly. We also decided to change the hydraulic hoses that were old and I had bought new ones in Sweden and changed half of them already, so should be a quick fix. Who said something of a quick fix, stupid stupid. Of the hoses going to the outer helm of course had special connections on them so we could not use the new hoses straight away. Well we need to change them now anyway. The good thing the old connectors are reusable so we just needed some hose of the correct size and then we were good to go. Biking around to all places in town gave nothing. So we found a hose online that was the exact measurements and overnighted it to our newly found friend Amy.Since our friends had left for an RV trip by now. Now the problem was that it was weekend again and it arrived on Monday.
But as nice as people are to us here Amy invited us to a small pool party, hang around when we picked up our stuff. Very nice with good company and good food. We started to feel a bit spoiled here. The next day we just needed to fit everything together and then we could continue in the next weather window. But of course the hose we ordered was not the size it was posted online so our connectors did not work. So we had to decide what to do next. Order more parts online or make due with what we had. So the solution was to borrow two connectors for the indoor steering and disconnecting it, we have never really used it anyway and we can easily put it back in working condition when we get back to Sweden. With the borrowed connectors and some remodeling of the steering pedestal we could now use our new hoses from Sweden and everything was soon back together again. We tested and finished it the next day and nothing leaked and it seemed to work perfect.
So now we just needed to resupply some food buy some diesel and then we were off on Friday when there was an OK weather window to point for Bermuda.