I left Los Angeles on Tuesday morning to fly to Tel Aviv for the first part of the Epic Voyage. My flight was run by United for the first leg to London and then by BMI from there. At LAX they told me two things. The first was that they were concerned that I wouldn’t pass through Israeli immigration without a through ticket. (I only have a one-way ticket since I am leaving by boat) The second was that my plane was delayed by two hours, an amount of time roughly equaling my layover in London. For the first issue they tried calling the Israeli consulate in L.A. but it was near lunch, so nobody answered. Finally they told me just to take care of it in London, and booked my luggage through only to Heathrow. United was covering their asses because they will get fined if someone tries to enter a country and is turned away. On the issue of th delay, they assured all the passengers that they would make up for the time by flying faster, thus no one would have to miss their connections. One can’t help but wonder why they don’t fly as fast as possible in the first place.

Everything was going fine on the plane until one point when i looked up from my book-and-headphones cocoon to see this lady standing up and yelling at the flight attendants. There was a lot of finger jabbing going on and the woman was loud enough to bother some of the other passengers who were already sleeping. The flight attendants were telling her to sit down, she was protesting. At one point the flight attendant called her ma’am and she proclaimed, “I am not madam, I am Mrs. Grffith!” She never sat back down, but the flight attendants gave up on trying to reason with her. They walked away while she reiterated her story, loudly, to someone sitting near her. The flight attendants were telling passengers near me that she would be arrested when we reached London. They took statements from people about the commotion that the lady had caused.

All that provided some moments of drama which were fun to watch since I wasn’t really involved. A little while later I fell asleep for a little bit; less than an hour, I think it was. When I woke up, we were almost in London. I started looking around for my hat which I had put underneath the seat in front of me. It wasn’t there, so I figured I had kicked it into the next row. Imagine my surprise when, right before we start our landing, I notice that the soon-to-be arrested lady seated three rows up is wearing it! I didn’t know what to do since I couldn’t get up at the moment. How had she gotten the damn thing?  The hat in question, by the way, is a corny skipper’s cap with the gold trim and heraldic crest.

You don't take the hat and get away with it

You don't take the hat and get away with it

Finally we land and she gets up well before you are supposed to. The flight crew is announcing that everyone needs to stay in their seats until we are at the gate. I ask for my hat back now that she is facing me. She gets defensive and tells me she was only wearing it because it was up there. If i want it, I should come get it she tells me, which statement totally ignores the fact that I am in the middle of a row and no one should be standing anyway. I explain that she might be able to just pass it back to me. She refuses again and goes about doing something else. Then, a moment later she grabs the hat from the seat where she has placed it and flings it to me over the heads of the other passengers. She wears an expression of satisfaction with her (admittedly pretty good) throw. I am still stunned by what has transpired.  

A little while later, the police come and take her away. Which is all well and good, but causes a delay in getting off the plane. Once I get off the plane there is some confusion about how to get my bag onto the next plan which leaves in an about an hour. At first it seems like I can easily just call the luggage handlers from the ticket desk and have them put my bag on the flight, but then it turns out that I have to pick up my bag from the baggage claim. that means that i have to go through immigration and then circle back to the regular ticket desks. By the time I do this, check with customer service that I’m fine w/r/t Israeli immigration and get to the lin to check-in, it is too late. The close the gates 45 minutes before the flight and I’ve just missed that by a matter of minutes.

I have to catch the next flight which leaves that evening at 9:55, ten hours from then! What’s worse is that I can’t even drop my bag off until five hours before the flight.

It’s really annoying, and I’m quite tired, but I hunker down to wait it out. I have an English breakfast in one place. I drink coffee in another, I call Andrew to let him know what’s going on. Despite the caffeine, I start almost falling asleep in places while reading. I finally check my bag and go through security anew and get to wait in the departures area. More coffee, more overpriced food, some beer. I get on the next flight in a sort of haze of exhaustion. Walking down the aisle to my seat, I look up to see the none other than the crazy lady from the last flight sitting in the section in front of mine. I quickly stash my hat and refuse to make eye contact. At this point I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to sleep through whatever commotion she might make on this flight.

I manage some sleep on the half empty flight, but for some reason it isn’t deep nor particularly restive.

Israeli immigration, represented by a female officer whose first name is Dikla, gives me no problems whatsoever.

Andrew is there to pick me up in a a friend’s car. We drive through a still sleeping Tel Aviv and get back to the marina. Soon, we are on the boat, Tocayo, where I will be spending the next seven months. It is laid out somewhat differently from the model I had seen at the boat show in Oakland, but it is still nice and spacious.

Strangely, I feel awake and so we go off to meet up with Andrew’s friend Zohar who also lives in the marina. We go out for coffee and parties at a little shop on nearby Ben-Yehuda street. It’s delicious. Then we have coffee again at the marina’s restaurant. Andrew eats almost every meal at this place. Which is a bit odd considering the wide array of culinary delights in Tel Aviv and his proximity to nice pedestrian neighborhoods. The rest of the day is spent chilling, mostly. We went out for a sail in the afternoon with Andrew’s friend Ryan. The Tocayo only has a jib at the moment as the mainsail is being fixed (or renewed). There’s a good 18 knot wind bowing though, and we make good way. It’s fun sailing again, but I can see that it will take some getting used to controlling a much larger boat such as this. It’s a good thing, then, that we have plenty of time to practice.