Tuesday, June 8, 2010

4 June 2010 - Loaded onto Dockwise

This posting is in response to a lot of interest in the process of shipping on Dockwise that has been expressed by other cruisers. Arcadia I has been shipped this way four times now, although the first three times were while she was owned by Dave and Sally Chambers whom, incidentally, I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time while we were here in La Paz.

We loaded about a month later than the schedule originally put forward by Dockwise. We put Arcadia I aboard Super Servant III on the 4th of June. Except for the delay in starting, we couldn't have asked for it to go more smoothly.

The paperwork for the La Paz loading was accomplished on board Arcadia I on June 2nd. Dockwise' customs agent was quick and efficient, once I got connected with him and the documentation required straightforward. There were no surprise requrest for unexpected documents or additional fees. The paperwork for the Nanaimo unloading came in the form of a .pdf form that I filled in. Since I have a scanner aboard, I attached copies of my passport and the USCG documentation to the .pdf file, (the only documents other than the form itself), sign the form electronically and turn it around. That whole process only took a few minutes.

All the boats to be loaded were instructed to be alongside the Dockwise ship by 07:00, each with two line handlers aboard. I engaged two local men by referral from the CostaBaja Marina office. Both were experienced boat people and one had loaded boats on Dockwise before. I couldn't have asked for better help.

As we arrived, the ship's deck was still dry, although they had started to ballast down.

Promptly at 07:00 the Loadmaster came up on Channel 16. He identified the first three boats to load and told them exactly where they would be located aboard and where they should have their fenders and dock lines placed, (bow, stern and two spring lines on only one side in every case I heard). At about 07:30 he called each boat, in turn, reminding them where they were going.  As he called each boat to come aboard, he identified the next boat in the sequence, keeping three boats queued up. We were the 5th boat to load. As you can see, the ship arrived with several boats already loaded from earlier ports of call.

We were directed to tie to the starboard side of a center walkway structure. As we entered the bay, we literally handed the lines to the waiting Dockwise crewmembers. They walked us into position and tied us off. Our fenders had to be relocated somewhat, since there was no flat wall near the water line where we had placed them, but we easily fended off by hand until we could accomplish that. The whole process took only a few minutes.

The sailing vessel directly in front of us loaded in Ft. Lauderdale. He had stayed on his own boat during the transit from there to La Paz and intended to continue to ride during the remainder of the transit to Nanaimo.

After tying up, we made our way forward on the center walkway to the ship's office to hand over our keys and sign the manifest. As you can see, they can fit a lot of boats on this ship. You can just make out Arcadia I's pilothouse in this picture, (immediately behind the sailboat with the green sail covers).

My crew and I, along with that of another 6 or 7 boats, were on the launch headed back to CostaBaja by 08:45.

After all the boats are loaded, Dockwise divers set the stands under the boats they've just loaded. At sundown, I drove back to where I could see Super Servant III and she was still flooded down. The next morning, however, she was riding high in the water again, with all the boats on stands just as if they were on the hard in a boat yard. 

We've been told that they actually weld these stands to the deck, then place hold down straps to rigidly attach our boats to the ship. We saw 4" nylon straps draped across the boats already aboard. During subsequent loadings, they apparently just loosen them to let the boats rise freely above the stands when they ballast the ship down. 

The next posting should be in Nanaimo, where we unload.