Molly Sasser's 4th Grade Class - Madison Exploratory School, Canon City, CO asks:

Dave Harlow responds:

What do you have to do to get 'into' a country?

What we have to do when we come in by boat is to call in on the VHF radio and ask for Port Control. They will tell us where to go to wait for the clearance. This is usually a commercial dock that we can tie up to. Port Control will then let Customs, Immigration and Health services know that there is a boat waiting for clearance. As we are waiting for clearance we must raise up a yellow flag on the mast, this is called a quarantine flag. This lets everyone know that this vessel has not yet cleared into the country. We are not allowed to get off the boat until we are cleared into the country. Once we are cleared, we can get off the boat and go looking around the town.

The immigration guy checks your passport to see where you are from and ask you why you are visiting the country, then he stamps your passport. Each country has its own stamp. You must also get him to give you another stamp in your passport that will allow you to leave the country.

Customs checks to see if you have any bad stuff on board, like drugs or stolen goods. He will give us a clearance paper when we leave that says we paid our bills and left his country in good standing (that means we left as friends). The next country will not let you in unless you have this paper.

Health services just wants to see that no one is sick and that we are not bringing some disease into their country. We do not get any papers from him.

What documents do you have to have?

Well, we need a passport for everyone on board the boat, we need the papers that say who owns the boat, a crew list that says who everyone is and who the captain is (it's me) and then the papers I mentioned up above. That's it.

Do they ever search the boat?

Most times they do not do a complete search of the boat. They will look around for anything that looks suspicious. Most of the time we just end up talking and telling them what we are doing and where we are going next. They are usually very nice folks.

Do all the people speak English, and if not, what do you do to communicate?

Most speak English. Some do not. If we do not speak the same language then we just kind of point to different things and make signals, like sign here - pointing, stuff like that.

What do you do about laundry?

We have a combination washer/dryer on board. It does really small loads so it is full all of the time. It holds about 3 or 4 shirts and one sheet at a time.

Do you ever get tired of the other people on the boat, how do you handle conflicts?

Well, you do. It is just like anywhere else. You get kind of tired of seeing the same people all the time. On a boat it is worse because there is no place to get away. You have to learn to accept everyone's little habits that drive you crazy.

Does the color of the water change in different places? How and why?

The color of the water changes a lot. A lot of it is just what is in the water and what kind of light you have; if it is really sunny you get the brighter colors in the water. Right now the water is really dark blue and clear looking. This is because it is really deep here and very clean. Sometimes you have brown or reddish water. This is usually from runoff from rain or a river or stream. I have seen water that is bright red from the red soil being washed into it. Where the water is shallow it is sometimes bright blue or green. This is partially from the reflection of the light off the bottom sand, rock, coral and sea life. I have seen colors in the water that you think just can't be real, it looks like dye. But then you get in it and it's as clear as can be. That's the best.

Any new wildlife sightings?

Last night we saw about a hundred dolphins running with the boat and some really neat looking birds have been around lately. Big, black and white birds with long skinny black wings, I think they are Frigate birds. See if you can look them up.

Is there any kind of food you start to crave from home?

Big Mac - French fries - Chocolate shake. What every traveler needs.

What books are you reading?

We read a lot of paperback books. You cannot have too many books on board. I have read a couple of really good books on this trip. Here are a few:

"In the Heart of the Sea - The story of the Essex " - This is the story that they made "Moby Dick" from. Remember in "Moby Dick" when the whale smashes into the whaling boat? Well that really happened to the Essex. This is the true story of how they survived after the ship sunk.

"Against the Gods - The remarkable Story of Risk" - This is not a story but kind of a history book.

"John Adams" by David McCullough - This is the life story of John Adams, the second President of the United States. Do you know who was the first? How about the third President?

And I have a giant book of all of the stories by Jack London. He wrote the stories "White Fang" and "The Call of the Wild". All of you would like these books. They're about dogs and wolves and searching for gold in Alaska. This is really a good book.

The last book is my favorite. It's called "Voyaging Under Power" by Jim Leishman. (I had to say this, because my boss wrote this book.)

Thanks again for the questions. I look forward to hearing from you all again and will send along stories as they happen, it seems you never know when they are going to happen, so you have to be ready. That's all for now.


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