Ryan and I headed out to Miami to ship the van and trailer to Colombia. We left Sunday, Dec. 2nd, so we could get an early start on Monday morning. The hope was we could get everything done quickly and catch the train or bus back to Tampa Monday afternoon. We headed straight to the office of Arturo Vallejo, President of Import Express Corp., a customs broker. I had talked to him before we got there and had figured out that, having never shipped a vehicle internationally and not having transportation, we would need someone to do the paperwork for us. We got to the office at 8:30pm.
I had some work I needed to do to the vehicles. I locked our generator to the car seats with a big chain so it wouldn’t disappear during transit. I hid my bucket of tools inside the two van tires riding in the back. I had to take the strobe light and antenna off the top of the van to decrease the measurements ($60/cubic meter….every inch counts). I also had to add some screws to and caulk one of the trailer panels that keeps coming loose while we drive. By the time this was done, Ryan was terribly bored, hunting frogs in the ditch along the parking lot of the office building. Time for action.
We headed out to see the town, trailer in tow. We ended up driving from the Import Express office in Doral to South Beach, driving through the city and avoiding highways as we went. I have to say, the yacht line-up as you drive into South Beach is awfully impressive. Nothing like seeing several hundred million dollars worth of boats tied to their respective private docks lined up end to end . And all the pretty people, where do they all come from? After driving through South Beach (all 53′ of us) we headed back to the Import Export office and spent the night in the parking lot.
The next morning I cleaned up the camper to get it ready for shipping. Not much to do, just final touch ups. I then met with Arturo so he could begin working on the paperwork. I gave him the notarized Power of Attorney form Michelle and I had prepared in Tampa before I left. This gave him the authority to act on our behalf to file all the paper work with U.S. Customs and the shipping line. He also got the original titles to the van and trailer. The last thing I had to give him was the dock receipt for the two vehicles.
The van and trailer had to be dropped off Port Everglades at the SCLine terminal for the dock reciepts to be generated. They would give me the receipts, then I had to get then back to Arturo, 30 miles away. Of course, once the van was dropped off, this part of the operation became more difficult.
After leaving Arturo’s office, I stopped at a NAPA to pick up a couple of spare brake lights, then I had to find a place to dump the black and grey water from the trailer. This turned into a real pain. Michelle was working the internet in Tampa, finding places that were supposed to have dump stations. The first couple didn’t work out. Finally, I found an RV park close to the port that let me dump for $5. YAY!. SCLine closed for lunch from noon to one, and by now it was 12:15pm. Ryan and I had yet to have coffee and were getting hungry, so we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for coffee and then headed to a Taco Bell for lunch. It was after 1pm as we headed to Taco Bell, so we skipped it and went straight to the port. We were already about 2hrs behind schedule.
At the port, Ryan and I had to clear security. We got temporary day badges to be there and then drove to the SCLine terminal. Here we had to clear more security. This area was a more secure situation and they would not let Ryan in. I had to wait about 45 minutes until there was no open freight (whatever that means) to get into the yard. Ryan had to wait for me at the guardhouse. They weighed the van and trailer. Then I needed to provide a paper copy of the booking confirmation. I only had an email the SC Line Panama office had sent us. The freight receiving office didn’t have immediate access to the form, so this created another 45 minute delay. I told Michelle what was going on. She forwarded them the email copy we had received, they printed it out, and that solved the next piece of the puzzle. It could have taken a day for SC Panama to get the booking confirmation to the freight office. I should have thought of forwarding the form myself. DUH! Thanks Punkin!
So now then van amd trailer were parked and measured for shipping. I then got the dock receipts and Ryan and I headed out. It was 4pm. So much for heading back to Tampa today. We waited 45 minutes for a taxi that was supposed to take ten. We took that to train station, took the train to the light rail, then the light rail to a hotel Michelle found us near the Convention Center in Miami (Rodeway Inn, not too crappy, price was right, perfect!). We got there around 7:30pm