No reply to my message on the HUBB. Ring Manny and arrange to meet him at is office 0830 – I’m going to use his internet access to set up my own account for the laptop – these TV hotel systems are shit.
And so begins a much better day. Manny is holding a fax triumphantly aloft as I enter the office. Apparently my bike has been cleared. How did this happen? Nobody knows, it seems – goblins did it during the night.
We still have to get a hard copy signed and stamped, however, before the bonded warehouse (at the rear of Manny’s office) will release the bike to me.
We try, unsuccessfully, to get through to Customs by ‘phone for an hour. Those of you with a mobile phone account with O2 may be familiar with the experience if you’ve ever tried to ring their Customer Service number…..
We decide to drive over to the port again and visit the Customs Office in person. First we go and see the bike, which seems to be intact, wrapped in 3 kilometres of bubble wrap and in an open frame crate.
Worryingly, the ratchet tie-downs are all loose and the bike can sway from one side of the crate to the other. I’ll inspect it carefully for damage when I’m finally allowed to touch it.
Off to the Port of Miami again. Manny drives in his 2 day old Subaru Forester, allowing me to spend time looking at the sights rather than trying to dodge errant SUVs on the freeway. We arrive at the public desk again and put the paperwork in the ‘In’ tray and take a seat.
A woman officer who has slightly less charm than Bawdy Monk visiting a centre for asylum seekers demands to know why I have an agent/broker with me and why I came in person. I explain that I want to expedite the release of my bike and brought Manny along to advise me. She tells me to sit and wait. I feel like I’m outside the headmaster’s office.
Another officer, Inspector Gregory, calls me forward. He asks politely to see my visa, then stamps the documents and tells me to have a great time visiting his country. Incredibly, that’s it. The difference in attitude is remarkable. We quickly scuttle out and leave the area before the wicked harpy finds we’ve escaped.
We return to the office and Manny arranges for the release of the bike. I pay the substantial fees ($260 to the freight handlers in Chicago, $150 to Manny) and arrange to return at 1300 to start unwrapping the bike. I sign up for a Budget pre-pay internet account, which promises a local number where-ever you are in the USA and minimal charges. I’ll try it tonight.
I start work in the warehouse. The good news is that the bike seems to be in fine fettle – the bad news is I’m dismantling the crate with a broken claw hammer and brute force. I’m soon sweating like a paedophile in a playground and the pile of wood and bubble wrap is growing. Eventually I re-connect the battery and put a gallon of petrol in the tank. After re-setting the alarm/immobiliser, I press the button and – nothing happens. The starter seems to have stuck whilst engaged. I rock the bike backward and forward in gear and then try again – success! I leave the engine ticking over as I clear the rubbish into a dumpster in the loading yard.
The only snag appears to be the two rear bolts which hold the screen on. I removed the screen for transit and replaced these bolts (& the front ones) to safeguard them. The rear ones are both seized in the threaded brass collars. Instead of the bolts turning, it seems the brass collars are. Seems unusual that they both have the same fault. I buy some ‘Liquid Wrench’ penetrating oil and use it without success. If I can’t get them out, I suppose I’ll have to drill them and get a nut & bolt through there to solve the problem.
I pack up and drive back to the hotel, via a swift half at a local bar to celebrate a good day’s work. I try to connect to the Internet via Budget to find that the number is almost always engaged. When I do get through, their modem is down. Ah well…….
Get a call from Jeff Smith in South Daytona. My Tiger Angel suit has arrived (with no Customs duty to pay – today is clearly my lucky day with Customs) and I get invited to spend tomorrow night with him & his family. I’m happy to accept and plan to be up to see him at about 1615, which, according to Bitching Betty, will mean 4hrs riding up I-95, rather than seeking out more interesting roads, but this is probably not a bad idea for the first afternoon’s ride…..