The Statewide Title Newsletter and Legal Memorandum

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Issue  44  Article  100
Published:  3/1/1999

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A Dirt Lawyer's Vacation Reward!
R.L. Barnes, Esq.

(Editor’s note: This article was prepared for our Newsletter by Rick Barnes, one of our client attorneys from Barrister Legal Services in Raleigh. We thought it might be a good time to share his adventure as many of us turn our thoughts to planning that perfect vacation away from clients, the telephone, fax machine, late closing packages…! Let us know if you have experienced a vacation that made you wonder if you would have been better off staying at the office.)

Mr. Chris Burti
Statewide Title, Inc.
110 Arlington Blvd.
Greenville, NC 27858

RE: Vacations

Dear Chris:

Following your advice, Susan and I decided to take some time off for a vacation and chose a cruise on the Royal Caribbean’s "Monarch of the Seas". Little did we know that Royal Caribbean’s slogan, "Like no vacation on earth" would take on such a new meaning.

We boarded our plane at 6:30am, Sunday December 13. We attempted to stop all closings prior to Wednesday, but our clients scheduled 4 closings on Thursday causing us to work until midnight every night prior to leaving. With approximately 4 hours sleep, we boarded our flight to our first cruise and my first vacation ever. At 44 years of age, I guess it was about time. After several hours of travel, baggage checks, and boarding procedures, we began our vacation.

On the first evening prior to setting sail there is a mandatory life boat drill. After sounding the distress call on the ship’s horn and intercom, every passenger is required to meet at their life boat station outfitted with their life jacket. Once completed, the ship sets sail for it’s first stop, in our case, St. Thomas. Susan was in heaven since St. Thomas is a shopper’s paradise. Actually, it was not bad. The store owners ask if you would like a complimentary cold beer while shopping. If local shopping centers would adopt this custom, men would like to go shopping more often.

At about 6:00pm on Monday we left St. Thomas for Martinique. On the first evening, the Captain had a welcome aboard formal cocktail party and dinner. At the cocktail party, the First Mate told us that the Captain sent his regrets but, due to a medical emergency his presence was required on the bridge and we would stop in St. Maarten to allow the passenger, whom we found out later had suffered a heart attack, to be taken to a local hospital. However, we should still be in Martinique as planned in the morning. Like the main male character in Speed 2, I attended the formal cocktail party in a tux and tennis shoes, having failed, in my haste to pack, to pack my dress shoes. Later in the evening, after changing into something more befitting my shoe attire, we visited the casino. At approximately 1:00am, we decided to retire. Finally, I began to relax.

About 30 minutes later, Susan pinched me and said "the ship has hit a reef we are taking on water and we had to abandon ship!". I said "good try, but I’m not going to fall for her trick" and went back to sleep. Again Sue pinched me and said "this is not a trick and listen to the Captain and the distress call". Again I told her "it was a good trick but how did she get the Captain to join in?" Well, at 2:00am Tuesday morning we were at our life boat stations wearing our life jackets as we had the evening before, but this time it was not a drill.

The Captain informed us that he was steering the ship into shallow water, beaching her so that she would not sink. After the ship came to rest in the sand, most of the lifeboats were dropped into place, but it was apparent that several of them were not functioning properly. We were spared the lifeboat trip, though. In St. Maarten, they have small boats called "Tenders" which act as taxis or ferries and were used to remove us to the pier area. Again, for those who saw Speed 2, this was the same pier and the same town that the ship ran aground. This scene was movie magic since we discovered earlier that evening that a ship of that size cannot that close to the shoreline. Here are 2,557 passengers plus the crew, standing on the docks in St. Maarten at 3:00am until about 8:00am, when we were taxied to the French side of St. Maarten and given hotel accommodations. Susan told me that it was my luck that got us a cruise on the HMS Titanic but her luck got us stranded on a topless beach and I should stop complaining. We spent the next several days trying to return to Raleigh, having to spend 2 days in Miami. To finish off our trip, our flight was delayed 2 hours because someone ran through the airport with a gun trying to hijack a plane. We got home 12:00 midnight, Friday.

Believe it or not, we are going to try it again in February. Does anyone want to join us?


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