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

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Eagle has landed

The preparations for arrival of Loopy Kiwi in Tauranga turned out to be as tortuous and frustrating as those for the departure from Savannah. We paid the tax and duty so all was clear with Customs (although the officer looking after us had gone on holiday for a week so we had to start over with a new guy). We sent all the docs through to the Port and were informed that Customs had put the incorrect Port on their paperwork and MPI (Ministry of Primary Produce - the agriculture folk) had misnamed the ship on theirs. So it took another couple of days to sort that out! We liaised with the Port Authority via the shipping company and were told that the ship was due in at 2pm on Tuesday 28th May and it would be off-loaded onto the wharf pending MPI inspection before being craned into the water. Thus we would have plenty of time to reattach the batteries that we were required to disconnect in Savannah (all nine of them) as Loopy Kiwi was immobile without doing so. The shipping Co said they would arrange access for us to the wharf, so the Friday before our departing for Tauranga on Monday, everything was in order.


On Sunday we got an email from the shipping co telling us we had to go through an induction course to have access to the wharf. Fortunately this could be done online and after sitting the exam at the end of the course, Charlie and I received a certificate that now enables us to enter the wharf any time for the next 12 months. On Monday we drove to Tauranga and checked in with the Port Authority guys. The ship had now been scheduled to arrive at 10am and Loopy Kiwi was due to be unloaded at slack tide at 3pm - provided clearance had been granted by MPI. However, we were now informed that she would be craned off the ship and straight into the water!!! Furthermore, we would not be allowed to be aboard when she was lifted off, and there was no way to get aboard from the ship. They said we would have to organize a "chase boat" to transport us to LK after refloating, which we hurriedly did via the marina where we had arranged to spend our first night. We also restated that she was immobile until the batteries were reconnected and were told that the stevedores would hold us in the slings until this was done, and we could get underway under our own steam.

So there we were, with everything well under control, and only a couple of hour to wait before we would be reunited with our beloved Loopy Kiwi. Charlie and I headed down to the marina and checked in to ensure the necessary arrangements were in place for our ride to LK when she hit the water. We then took a drive to the entrance of the harbor and there, right on time, was the CMA CMG MANET entering the harbor, with LK in plain sight on the deck. Unfortunately my camera chose this moment to run out of batteries, so while you see the ship coming in, you don't see LK!
We watched her till she docked, then called MPI who said they would meet us at the wharf in 30 minutes to do an inspection of the outside of the boat, and if that was OK, they would allow her to be refloated and do the interior at the marina the next day. We met him at the gate at the due time and he took us to the vessel and aboard for the inspection. To our disappointment, nobody checked our credentials that we had dutifully carried with us, including our much valued induction certificates that we had studied so hard for two days previous! The inspection passed without incident - we did notice that LK had shifted in her cradle and one of the upright supports had bent, but there seemed to be no damage. She now had clearance for the re-launch, so it was simply a matter of waiting for a few hours and we were ready to go. We did stress to the port authorities the importance of having the slings in the correct places as marked on the boat and were assured that all due care would be taken to ensure this happened. We retired to the marina, which was directly opposite the Port and watched as the containers were unloaded, waiting for a sign that LK was due to be lifted. As this had not happened at the prescribed time of 3pm we rang the Port and were told that we should come over when the container crane repositioned over LK from where it was presently operating. This happened at 3.45pm - so into the marina's RIB we got...and off we went. By the time we got alongside, LK was in plain view and, shortly after, they had begun to ready the slings to lift her off.

From the water, everything looked fine, but as she came out it was obvious that the slings were far from being in the right places.

But there she was...suspended a couple of hundred feet in the air and nothing could be done....so into the water she went. And she floated - so aboard we went and began to reconnect the batteries. Almost immediately, the stevedores (you know - those guys that were going to hold us in the slings until we got the engines going) began to whinge that they wanted to use the crane to unload containers. This is despite the fact that we had paid ten times the price of shipping a container from the USA to not be treated like one. Regardless of this, after 15 minutes, they lowered us completely into the water and basically let us go. Fortunately the marina RIB had hung around and he took us in tow around Tauranga harbour while we attached the rest of the batteries before firing up the engines (both started perfectly) and driving into the marina. BTW, by this time it was 5.15pm and, being winter in New Zealand, it was almost dark.  After securing LK, we decided a celebration was in order and we dined in the restaurant at the marina, particularly since it was called "Phils Place"
You can probably figure out that it wasn't named after me, but what you may NOT know is that it is named after its owner, Phil Rudd, who happens to be the drummer from AC/DC!

The next day dawned beautiful. Loopy Kiwi was home, albeit covered in rust from the containers, soot from ships exhaust and grease from one of the cranes that a stevedore had managed to track right around the decks and across the carpet on the sundeck while securing the slings (in the wrong places). Still she had arrived intact...nothing broken or stolen,  but I've got to say it felt strange having her over here instead of on the Loop. It was kind of weird to think that she had travelled almost 12000 nautical miles from Savannah, via Jamaica, the Panama Canal, Tahiti and even Australia since we had last spent a night on her. Charlie went home that day to bring Carolyn and Aunty Lyn down for the voyage to Auckland, our home Port. The weather forecast was looking very good for the long "Queens Birthday" weekend (not that we need long weekends to travel, us retired folk), and I will do a posting on that journey separately. In the meantime...take care y'all
Home is the sailor home from the sea

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