I don't want to complain about the lack of cell phone masts, the internet connection in the flat country or the expensive tariffs in international comparison. I would like to write about the infrastructure that the federal government is making available to us Germans abroad - Elephant.
The federal government doesn't know where Germans hang around abroad. How should she know? We finally steer Sissi where the wind drives us. There are also said to be over 100,000 Germans abroad, some are only for a weekend trip Wuhan driven, others spend months and years in distant countries.
In order to get support from the German embassy or to be brought home to Germany, you can sign up on the so-called elephant list. Elephand does not stand for the animal, but is an acronym for “Electronic registration of Germans abroad”. I read about it in the press and I thought yesterday that it wouldn't hurt if we registered there. Let's go.
I open the notebook and start working, call up the URL. The website replied to me several times with error 503. This means that the server is squeaking and overloaded. I try it a couple of times then I can see the start page and first have to register.
After four or five attempts I have registered, after which I receive an email with an activation link. So far so good. The activation link works immediately. I want to keep working.
I only have to enter the login data three or four times and a form appears before my eyes that does not have to hide behind a normal immigration form from a Caribbean country. Germany is definitely one of the leading countries in terms of form development. I can even see that it is the first of five pages. Great, I like to fill out forms.
I have passport numbers, issue and expiration dates of our passports in my head. That's not a problem, I've had to fill them in on forms so often in the past few months that they'll get stuck at some point. Briefly, the question puts me to the test which diplomatic mission is responsible for us in Aruba. Of course - Amsterdam. It's logical. I can quickly google our address abroad (own sailing boat, Renaissance Marina, Oranjestad). The empty fields in the form gradually fill up and it only takes half an hour to finish. Then I hit the “Send” button. Then I get an error 503 again.
I hit the back button in my browser and try two or three more times to submit my data. After all, I don't want to have to start all over with the entries. However, the stupid server notices that I've tried the back button several times. He now refuses to accept the data. Instead, the empty form appears again. That makes me puke. I'll get a beer from the fridge.
If the infrastructure of the federal government doesn't allow 100,000 Germans to register there, then they should stay stolen from me. How many people can order their hamsters on Amazon at the same time? Or watch Netflix? We don't want to be flown home, we want to drive ourselves. It's probably the same with Elefand as it is with most port WiFi. It works better at night. I'll try again when it's night in the world.
When the going gets tough here, I run to the friendly honorary consul with my paperwork and do it on site.
Our time in Tenerife is coming to an end. That's why we arranged to meet the crews of the Roede Orm and Grace for a farewell dinner in the restaurant. Experience has shown that it is better to let the celebrations for the last evening run on the penultimate evening. Then you start sleeping and rested into the sailing day.
So I walk through the city in the afternoon and try to find a restaurant that I noticed a few days ago. If you think of somewhere with seven people at the best meal time, the chances are they will send you away again.
The waiter who enters my reservation request in the thick book says to me that it is an ugly evening. There is a lot going on because a festival is taking place. In fact, they have been building the concert site right next to the marina for days.
Jens and I slowly prepare ourselves and take another shower. We almost want to get off the boat when there is a knock on the side. Three somewhat demolished figures are there and my first thought is that hitchhikers want to be taken across the Atlantic again.
Spanish Customs The first of the three holds an official ID card under my nose and a few minutes later the Spanish customs are in our cockpit. We are asked about our route, have to conjure up all kinds of ship documents and then Sissi is photographed. Immediately after arrival, the Oberzöllner said to us: “I apologize in the name of the Spanish Kingdom for the man that is going to sing!” In good German: The customs officer apologized for the guy for whom they set up the stage. We don't hear anything yet. The customs officer also notes that his grandmother is a big fan of the singer.
So we meet with the Roede Orm and Grace in front of the marinators. We watch the snake slowly advance at the inlet. We hope to miss the concert at dinner.
My nose didn't cheat on me. The restaurant is good. The restaurant is really good. We feast properly. As stupid Germans we ordered one starter per person, three of which were starters. That was nonsense, because the Spaniards are used to sharing their starters at the table. A plate would also have been enough, we would have better ordered another starter. The main course is also delicious, no dessert fits in anymore.
We roll back on board with a full stomach. The concert can be heard several hundred meters in front of the marina. It doesn't help that some of the protagonists are still wasting time at various ATMs, we also hear the concert at the ATMs.
So we sit down together in the cockpit of the Sissi and continue celebrating, because you have to celebrate the festivals as they fall. With the yodeling from the concert, sleep is out of the question. Oh yes, we found the main actor on Youtube:
At noon the following day, I go to the port police. I have all the papers from Sissi and the crew with me.
The clearing is done in 10 minutes, it took much longer to explain to the police officers in front of the building what I wanted from them.
Now we have officially left the European Union with Sissi and have to leave the port within the next 24 hours (or something like that). We have no other plans. Adios Espana. Bye Europe. Caribbean, we are almost on our way.
All's well that ends well. We bought a new genoa and it is on the ship with us. In this respect, everything could have ended worse. After all, we saved a lot of VAT. However, I wonder if we can ever take this genoa back to the EU. Maybe I shouldn't be writing about it?
It all started with the fact that we reefed our genoa too late during the crossing to the Canary Islands and therefore our lower leg was torn off. It actually started with the purchase of Sissi, because the genoa was no longer really fresh. The sailmaker in Stavoren has already told us that it will not last long. Therefore, it was already planned to have a new genoa made on the way. Blue-eyed and inexperienced as I am, I wanted to do that in the Canary Islands. There are many sailboats, where there are sailboats there are sailmakers and sailmakers make sails. I thought. And there is no VAT on the Canary Islands, so the sail must be cheaper there. I thought.
So we carried our genoa to Puerto Calero for the sail maker. He was supposed to sew on the lower leg and make a new genoa. He could offer the former. After that, the genoa was at least reusable. He couldn't and didn't want the latter.
“Here in the Canary Islands all people order their sails either in Germany or in England. The sails are finished there faster and cost less. ” So much for my plan. So I got on the phone and found a sail maker in Germany who wanted to quickly sew a genoa and send it to Lanzarote. Since we had planned a week in Frankfurt anyway, the wait wasn't so bad. With was explained exactly what we have to measure so that the new sail fits. The sail maker in Puerto Calero helped us with the measurements. So far so good.
Then I quickly went to the computer, transferred the down payment to Germany and clarified by phone how the delivery should be. I looked for the delivery address from the Internet (Marina Rubicon) and sent it. We have received so many deliveries in the meantime that it is becoming a habit to put the shipping name and my name in front of the delivery address. So far so good.
Monday November 25th During our stay in Frankfurt, the sail maker called me and informed me that the genoa was ready for dispatch. He wants to know if I would rather have delivered it to Frankfurt so that I can take it with me. I would have done that even if our return flight had not been the next day. The sail is therefore entrusted to UPS. After all, we have not had any bad experiences with this parcel service.
Tuesday November 26th Before our return flight, UPS sends an email saying that our Genoa should be delivered on Thursday. Wow, I thought. Only three days from Germany to Lanzarote. Other parcel services can cut a few slices.
Wednesday November 27th UPS sends an email that our sail has arrived in Gran Canaria. Then there are further emails every three hours, all in Spanish by the way, which reported an exception for the delivery. With the help of Leo, we can find out that the genoa is stuck in customs and it's not up to UPS to stop it being transported. No matter. The genoa is very close.
Thursday November 28th The day of the announced delivery. In my mailbox there are already several emails from UPS that continue to report customs clearance. Dear people in Germany, you don't even know how good we are with the European Customs Union. The genoa stays in customs, I can hardly keep up with deleting all UPS mails. They installed a real spam machine there.
Friday November 29th An email is coming from UPS announcing the delivery of the package by Monday, December 2nd. Nice. That’s enough for us. So far so good.
Monday December 2nd In the early afternoon I received an email from UPS that the package should have been delivered, but Marina refused to accept it. We find out that the issue was that 210 € customs duties were due and that the marina refused "the package" but "the paperwork". UPS sends an email that the package is now on the way back. UPS asks if the goods can be destroyed. Jens and I go crazy. The marina explained to us that the address “yacht in transit” is missing from the address. How do we get this addition to the address? Nobody reports to UPS anymore.
Tuesday 3rd December We are trying to contact UPS in Gran Canaria. Hopeless. English is not spoken at UPS in Spain. We don't speak Spanish. We cannot call UPS in Germany from here because the 0180 number cannot be called from abroad. We try to get the address change through the sail maker. I call Marcos, my former boss, who knows Spanish as a mother tongue. He agrees to call UPS in Spain. He can also call UPS in Germany. Jutta from the Chapo calls her son. He also speaks Spanish fluently. He manages to reach Alberto, the parcel driver. He still has the package in his car. Jens persuades the boss from the marina to accept the package. Fortunately, Alberto has not yet unloaded the heavy box out of the car. Alberto wants to come back the following day.
Wednesday December 4th We are eagerly awaiting Alberto. I camp with a snack near the marina office in the shade. Jens waits at the boat if Alberto drives the package directly to the dock. Meanwhile, he can continue to paint the deck. In the early afternoon the time has come. The delivery truck arrives.
Alberto delivers the sail to the marina office and collects the € 210 customs fees. 30 seconds later I get an invoice from the marina for € 270. They add a bunch of fees for accepting the package. No matter. I do not give a shit.
Alberto brings the sail to the jetty and is given a friendly tip by Jens. Perhaps he will also transport a sail for another sailor. In any case, he doesn't make an unhappy impression on me when he leaves the marina.
Now it is there, our new genoa. We would like to pull them up, but that is currently not possible with the wind gusts. We unpacked the package, stowed the genoa in the forward berth and had a beer on it.
On the one hand, the fun cost a lot of customs and marina fees, on the other hand, we saved a lot of VAT by delivering to Lanzarote. That is the good thing about it. If we had had the sail delivered to Frankfurt, that would not have been the case.
I don't know if we can bring the new Genoa back to Germany. Maybe we still have to pay tax on them. As a precaution, I keep the bill with the fees. It goes west, where German customs and tax law does not apply.
Thanks to everyone who helped us or wanted to help get the cloth out of customs. Thanks to Alberto, David, Jutta, Marcos, Stefan and Mrs. N. from the sailmaker. All is well.