Monday, August 09, 2004

Shipping on a Ship

When we ask for "express shipping" or promise "I'll ship it to you" somehow the little word ship seems like a remnant of a by-gone age. But no, when one is trying to shift to life on another continent (or at least an island off of another continent), "shipping" becomes a bit more concrete. To be more specific, it is upon this ship that our belongings will soon fight through wind, wave and storm, to hopefully rendezvous with us in the Old Country.

the fully-loaded Bonn Express

Figuring out a simple thing like shipping 20 boxes to England from Dallas turns out to not be quite so simple. But Crystal, leveraging years of experience in googling her way through even tougher problems, managed to figure it all out. So while she argued her way through details such as who would convey our meager possessions through UK Customs, I tried to figure out how much everything weighed and what the total volume would be. (By the way, my guess of 41 cubic feet came pretty close to the final tally of 42.27. My weight guess of 715 lbs was a bit high for the actual value of 650 lbs -- though I was trying to overestimate.)

Probably the most confounding part was when we found out that we had to file an SED (Shipper's Export Declaration) form with the US Census Bureau in order to export our things from the US. I asked Crystal to check out the Automated Export System web site (which is entertainingly entitled, "AESDirect - Reduce Exporting Stress with AES"). After a few minutes of clicking around, Crystal said, "I'm not so sure about this." It seems that in order to fill out this form you have to register with the web site, at which time you are sent three emails describing the next steps. You then read the online user guide (73 pages) and take a "quiz" (don't worry -- one only need answer 27 of 30 questions correctly to pass!). Then three days later, you get enabled for filing your paperwork online. Since we really wanted to get our pile of boxes out of our house and on their way today, it seemed wise to take up our shipper's offer to file the paperwork for us for a mere $50.

But we've now dropped off our boxes for the first leg of their journey to Durham. They will take a truck from Dallas to Houston, and then board the Bonn Express (see the complete schedule) for Charleston, Antwerp, and finally London. After a hopefully uneventful pass through customs, they should be on a truck and then to our home in Durham.

Now as long as I don't dwell too much on the all-too contemporaneous terrorist threat against merchant shipping I'll be able to sleep well tonight!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy cow - and I thought moving to Vancouver was a stretch! I sure hope you didn't have anything too important on that boat . . . RH

5:37 PM  

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