Brunswick I

 Home Up The Road Trip


As marinas go Brunswick Landing is a pretty good one:  It's up a dead end channel so very protected and has good infrastructure - floating docks, a large modern club house, excellent and free laundry facilities, etc, etc.  But what really makes it special are the people who run it.  Sherri & Cindy are a formidable team in every sense of the word!  And they care - they care about the marina, about the boats and about the customers and they'll always go the extra mile to make things work.  If, for example you are stupid enough to go off travelling without taking your passport with you, Sherri will happily go aboard your boat, rummage around inside, find it and post it on to you so you can cross the Canadian border - I know because I was that imbecile!

The marina is also within walking distance of the town centre - just as well as there's no public transport of any sort.  Unfortunately, although the first impression is of charming historic town, you soon realise that over half the retail properties have closed down.  In it's heyday it must have been quite a place, but now it's been gutted - everyone's gone to the malls.  There is still though a very decent hardware store and some small local supermarkets within walking distance and a big supermarket and a West Marine within cycling distance.  So task #1 - buy bikes! 

Task #2 would be to try and open US bank accounts and get US credit cards.  Non US plastic just doesn't work here - to buy online, fill with fuel, etc you must always provide the ZIP code the card is registered to and a UK postcode just doesn't fit in the box.  All our digging had suggested this would not be easy and that the stumbling block would be our lack of Social Security Numbers - which in the US are the primary way of proving you are who you say you are!

Off to Bank of America, who do have a very large office on the high street.  We deal with Cindy Hughes the branch AVP.  We sit in her office, explain what we want and she dutifully inputs all our information.  Bank accounts - not a problem!  Debit cards - not a problem!  Credit cards - not possible.  "For those you will need SS numbers" she tells us.  Well, it's still not bad - we can do nearly everything we want with debit cards and we have bank accounts and cheque books/paying-in slips.  Cheque books, remember them?  It's amazing but the US still use mountains and mountains of cheques (sorry, that would be checks).

Back to the marina to talk to Ray and Fiona on Willow.  They're a few months ahead of us at the "becoming an American" game.  They do have credit cards and they also have a car - our task #3.  They opened their accounts, also with BoA, in Fort Lauderdale and the guy they dealt with found a way around the SS number issue.  His name is Jose and they have his contact details.  I email him and ring him and never get a response, but since we know it can be done we take another trip to see Cindy.  She's surprised, but happy to try again and see if she can find a way.  Back in her office with her at the terminal once again and.....  Kchunk!  The machine pays out!  It appears that now we're existing customers it's not necessary to validate our identities.  Two shiny new credit cards in the post.  At this rate we may even be able to vote in the next presidential election!


Now on to Task #3 - the car.  Are you sitting comfortably?  To buy/register a car in Georgia you must have a Georgia driving licence.  To apply for a Georgia driving licence you must have a (you guessed it) a Social Security number.  The Social Security Administration website is very clear (in big letters) "We will not issue Social Security Numbers purely in order to obtain a driving licence - it is not necessary."  This is a catch 22 situation.  Actually, what the Georgia driving licensing authority want is that you apply for an SS number, have your application rejected and with that rejection letter they will process your application.  "But they already know....." you're saying.  That's right, they do, but rules is rules.  And applications from foreign nationals have to be vetted by the Department of Homeland Security so the process typically takes about 2 months.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the Brunswick driver licensing office is about 15 miles out of town and as there's no public transport, you can't get there without a car.  Enter stage right - Franz Kafka!  And then, when you get your licence you have to take your practical and theory driving test.....

Actually,  we found all this out second-hand without actually jumping through the hoops or visiting the DLO.  Matt and Karen On Where 2  had gone through the whole process a couple of years earlier and had finally acquired their licence.  Ray and Fiona had found an alternative solution.  "Drive to Florida. 25 miles to the border another 25 to Jacksonville."  In Florida you just need your own national licence and a Florida address.  The Willows also provided us with the details of a mail handling company in Florida who fitted the bill.  The following week we were in a hire car driving to Jacksonville.  We lost count of the number of used car dealers we passed on the road south through Georgia, but they we're not for the likes of us!  That evening we proudly parked our Florida-plated Honda Accord (with 200,000 miles on the clock) at the end of our dock in Brunswick.  It had been a long day.

Now we could go to the malls too.  Just like normal people.




 Home Up The Road Trip
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Last updated 18th March 2018