A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Friday, 19 April 2013

And here endeth the Loop

We left our final anchorage in the Wahoo River in thick fog, thankful for GPS and radar. Fortunately we managed to tuck in behind another Looper so he could find any "too shallow" water on our behalf. Before the fog cleared, we came across these 3 shrimpers rafted up but travelling down the ICW (presumably saving fuel). Our guide is the fella to the left.
We stopped that night in a marina near Savannah on the Isle of Hope, which was recommended by our friends at Hidden Harbour, who also had a courtesy car that we used to go out to dinner. The following day we travelled another 5 miles down the ICW to Hinckley Marine, where we had decided we would stay and stage the final preparations for Loopy Kiwi's lift out at the Port in Savannah, some 8 miles away (by water - about 2 by land). After all, we had a whole week to get ready so there was no pressure!!!

Yeah right.

At this stage I may need to recap events that may not have been published on this site. Way back, after making the initial booking for the return of Loopy Kiwi to New Zealand on a fixed date and making travel arrangements accordingly, the sailing was cancelled, then re-instated within our period of stay. On arrival, we received an email saying the loading had been put back 11 days, some 6 days after we were scheduled to fly out of Savannah. Port charges for the boat would be $350 per day if we pulled out as scheduled, but we were offered as an alternative to leave the boat at a marina for $75/day and pay a professional skipper $200/hr to take it to the Port for liftout - conservatively estimated at $1700 in total. Considering the stress involved in having a total stranger take care of the arrangements plus the cost involved, we found it more effective to change our travel plans and stay an extra 9 days. After all, it was just a few days and shouldn't be that difficult!

Yeah right!

Air New Zealand were easy and took 10 minutes - it just cost money for the transfer plus penalties. United Airlines - what a joke! 40 minutes on the phone and USD184 to change a USD326 airfare. But it was done and all was OK

Yeah right!!!

Several days ago, Charlie pointed out that our travel insurance, which was part of our using airline supported credit cards, was only good for 35 days. This was fine for the original 33 day trip, but the rearrangements had us staying 42 days and the insurance would lapse. Having no insurance in the USA being somewhat unacceptable, surely, when we explained our circumstances to the insurance company they would just extend it for us, even if we had to pay a little more....

Ha, Ha freakin ha!

Nope - no extension. So what about the alternatives...our NZ  health insurance provider? Nope! The airline? nope! The bank? nope! - all required insurance to be taken out prior to leaving NZ. After 3 days of effort, we finally managed to get coverage through a travel agent friend of Charlies in KeriKeri....but what a (stressful) rigmarole.

So....back to the story. Here we are at Hincklys. We spent the weekend taking a full inventory of all the loose gear aboard in anticipation of  taking the boat to the Port early Friday morning for an immediate loading. Knowing that the hull needed to be fairly clean for NZ Agriculture, I queried with the forwarder and shipping company where a waterblast (pressure wash) of the hull would take place. On Tuesday afternoon I was informed that the  Port would NOT allow this to be done on the loading wharf so we had to hastily arrange for the boat to be hauled and waterblasted at Hinckly's on Wednesday. This disrupted our last day for last minute purchases to be arranged, but we still had all day Thursday to prepare the boat for lifting on Friday morning.....

Yeah right!!!!!!!!!!

At 4.00pm on Wednesday afternoon, we got a call saying the Port was insisting the boat be there for lifting at 2.15pm on the Thursday. As it was a 2 hour trip to the port, that meant we had to leave Hincklys at noon. We were also informed that, despite making the booking 3 months ago, the cradle was not yet finished, but should be by the time we arrived. At this time the forwarder, shipping company and the port authorities were still asking for dimensions of the boat!!!

We started the day at 3.30am and got underway from Hinckly at 12.30pm still arranging stuff in the boat. Fortunately we had an incoming tide and arrived at the Port at the scheduled time, and were met by an army of men who proceeded to swarm aboard to lift the boat, which made any further preparations impossible. (I have not mentioned yet that we had not been issued with the correct documentation that allowed us to step off the boat onto the wharf - but that was duly arranged). The Port guys were great and very helpful - other than the one who said, in response to my asking the workers to ensure the sundeck doors were secure during the lift; "you should leave them open - it will help it sink faster when I drop it off the crane". She was picked up by one of the gargantuan container lift cranes and (when I was able to actually watch), looked tiny against it, particularly when she was suspended 300 feet in the air above the concrete wharf:

After a stressful hour that felt like 10, she was on the cradle but we were not allowed to reboard and finish our preparations until she was firmly lashed down to the "pallet" in which she would be shipped. This was going to be the following day, so we cadged a lift back to the marina from the cradle guys to get our rental car and find a place to live. The cradle folk, who again were superb, arranged the documentation to get back onto the port the next day (and believe me it was not easy).

We had a few more issue today getting back there - like the train with 69 railcars that shunted across the entrance to the port for just under an hour, completely stopping all traffic from coming or going - but finally got to see her squared away and ready to be loaded

Note the judicious use of fenders to keep everything from flailing about!

After that we "got out of Dodge" as I don't want to see anything more of her until she is sitting on the wharf in Tauranga in a little over a months time. We are up in a motel in Beaufort (pronounced Bewfort) South Carolina trying to chill out a little before returning to Savannah to start the journey home. My experience of 35 years in the importing business, and dealing with forwarders, shipping companies and their colleagues was invaluable during this process and without it I probably would have gone insane with frustration. However, I have learnt a lot about shipping boats from the USA to NZ, and could do it a lot easier a second time - but am glad I will never have to! If anyone ever needs a few hints - give me a call.
And here endeth the Loop

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry for the headaches that you encountered along the way. I really wanted to make this as seamless as possible for you. This was my first shipment of this kind as well and unfortunately the shipping line is not the best with keeping people up to date.

    I want you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed working with you and hope you have a very safe trip home!! Your boat is beautiful and I hope that once it arrives in New Zealand, you will be able to fully enjoy it like you should be.

    Thank you for being so patient with me.

    Lauren Dalton