Sometime in the mid 70s, when I was stationed at San Vito dei Normanni (Brindisi) Italy, I got a call from Dave Blazel, who was holding the fort in Athens. The Blazer was one of those people you never forget. Over the years we had many adventures. This time Dave asked me if I could bring a boat to him.
A boat? Yes! Dave had bought a boat from a British tourist. The boat was on the Brit's customs forms and as the Brit was leaving the country the boat had to leave with him, or the Blazer had to pay customs duty on the boat. Of course he did not want that to happen. Idea! Have the British guy take the boat on the ferry to Brindisi and let him turn over custody of it to one of the guys there. That is what happened.
The next thing we knew the boat was in Italy, The Blazer was in Greece, and we had to figure out how to get the boat to its owner in Greece. GI ingenuity at work.
(Not entirely clear on the paperwork)
So here we are with a boat on a trailer in Italy. Chuck MacFarlane agreed to tow the boat and trailer to the Ferry in Brindisi Harbor. Chuck, Jim Kaus and I got in Chuck's Fiat with the Boat and Trailer in tow. Through the streets of Brindisi, narrowly missing Fiat 500s, we headed for the Port. Jim was terrified that Chuck would run into someone or something. No problems. When we got to the ferry landing in the Port, I managed to persuade the Greek/Italian crew to load them onto the ferry, without a car to go with them. The ferry is an overnight ride from Brindisi to Patras, with a stop in Corfu. When we arrived in Patras the next evening, Dave and Becky were waiting for us and the boat. This is where the real adventure began.
The passengers, trucks, busses, cars were all unloaded and then we finally got to the boat and trailer. Loading and unloading the ferries is always a hectic time, and this was no exception. Most of the other vehicles and people were gone by this time and, at last we reached the Greek Customs Official. He was a typical Greek type, with dark clothes, Mustache, heavyset, and impatient. Becky, of course, spoke Greek, The Blazer spoke some, and mine was very, very limited.
Picture this! Dave Bristol is bringing a boat formerly owned by Dave Brown into Greece for the new owner Dave Blazel. The Greek guy takes his pad of customs forms out and inserts carbon paper between the sheets of paper and begins filling out the many blanks on the forms. Becky is watching the Customs man and after a few minutes asks us if she should tell him that he has the wrong names in the blanks on the forms. Of course we said yes. He said that he was the Greek Customs Official and knew what he was doing. We let him finish the forms and then refused to sign them, as they were wrong. "Please explain this to the man, Becky."
Becky told the man that Dave Bristol brought Dave Brown's boat to Dave Blazel. Got it? Bristol, Brown, Blazel. It was all American to the Greek. He threw up his hands, tore the carbons out of the pile of forms, and told us again that he was the Greek Customs Official and knew what he was doing. This time, as he began putting the forms and carbons together, Becky asked if she should tell him that the carbons were upside down. We discussed it for a bit and decided that if he was in charge and knew what he was doing, there was no sense in trying to tell him anything. Becky helped guide him through the foreign Bristol, Brown, Blazel maze and the form was completed and it was time for us to sign in the appropriate blocks. Finally. By this time almost everyone else had left the Customs area and our Official was the last one working
We signed the forms and watched while the very impatient Greek Custms Official, who knew what he was doing, checked the forms over. Imagine how unhappy he was when he checked the second, third, and subsequent copies of the forms and discovered they were blank. Of course, the carbons were in upside down. Now he was really mad. Greek curse words flew hot and heavy and we became the worst people he had ever seen in his great and glorious Greek Customs Official career. Becky was trying to calm him down, keep us from getting involved in an international incident, and get us all out of there with the boat in tow.
The third time was a charm. The Greek Customs Guy got everything right, we signed the forms and took the boat out of the customs area and headed to a Taverna for a very late dinner.