Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shipping News

The Good Ship Otello

Thursday we took the Grey Wanderer to the port in Brunswick, GA, and Friday, after having the propane tank purged, and certified purged (it was already empty), we delivered it to Atlantic Vehicle Processors, who, we hope, will get it aboard our ship, the Otello, by its May 5 sailing date. The propane matter was a surprise--we had already dutifully burned off all the gas ourselves--and cost us an extra day on the rental car and a motel in Darien, GA. Darien, FWIW, is the second oldest town in GA, founded in 1736 by James Oglethorpe himself, and it is also home to the only propane dealer (Branches') within miles of Brunswick who would purge and certify on short notice. We are indebted to the Branches. Nice folks. Interstate 95 was not so nice.

While in Darien, we took full advantage of the opportunity to get back in touch with our inner Southerners, eating BBQ, grits (yes!), swatting mosquitoes, drinking sweet tea, and shopping at the Piggly Wiggly. We spent several college years in Tallahassee, which is, or was then, part of Georgia, except in name. Well, some of it, culturally, was part of Alabama; Dothan, Alabama, to be precise. Coastal GA is a particularly interesting place, and, hopefully, someday we will return for more lengthy explorations. It is also the Sherouse ancestral home, this side of the Pond, Johann and Maria Scheraus having settled in Ebeneezer, a few miles up-river from Savannah, in 1741. Savannah, I know from a c. 2003 visit, is a particularly interesting and well-put-together place.

Shipping and especially shipping a vehicle is a strange new world for us amateurs. We are still discovering new entities and agencies to deal with: freight forwarders, brokers, vehicle processors, marine insurers (there is a fascinating article in the Wikipedia), port authorities, port police, TWIC cards, escorts, customs, and so on. We have not even heard of the ship except for its name, the Otello (appropriately literary), nor the merchant lines we are shipping on. Alas, we do not expect to be invited to the Captain's dinner. Hopefully, all this will work out, and the receiving agent, in Bremerhaven, will let us have our RV back, once we have produced the appropriate documentation (which we surrendered to the vehicle processor, who will over-night it to the forwarding agent...) and paid the appropriate fees, in Deutsche Marks, amount as yet unknown. Then there is German customs. And I have not even contemplated TSA. Is all the diesel fuel in 2 ounce containers in a 1 quart bag? Did I take my shoes off at the vehicle processors'? I am sure we will look back upon all this as an essential prerequisite to a wonderful European excursion.

The Otello, I have discerned, is a BIG ship, a vehicle-hauler, 60,000 tons displacement, bigger than any WWII warship except the Japanese super-battleships Musashi and Yamato. I am impressed. It does not have the 18" guns, however.

Once the Grey Wanderer is safely aboard the Otello, and underway, we will be watching for news of the ship's whereabouts and its ETA in Bremerhaven. You too can watch by subscribing (free) to There is a website for everything, and for everything there is a website.

Except propane dealers near Brunswick, GA.

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