Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sailing!

By jen
After all our struggles, the van is finally sailing! It set sail on the 27th of December. We can track its progress aboard the vessel, CAP CORRIENTES. Watch it in real time below (courtesy of vesselfinder.com)!



The sailing takes about 22 days, so Jonathan and I are working to be ready when it arrives. We have already been contacted by our receiving agent, which, so far, has been a lot easier to work with than our shipping agent. But, I will reserve judgment until I have van in my hands, free of customs.

Here are some interesting facts about the ship:
Ship type: Container Ship
Flag: Liberia
Built: 2013
Size: 228 x 37 m (748 x 121 ft)
Gross Tonnage: 42690 t
Deadweight: 51759 t



Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Remembrance

By jen



This year, a couple of days before Christmas, my paternal grandfather, Rayburn Britt, passed on to be with the Lord. While so few of my days were spent with him, he did make a big impact on my life. He was such a kind man. Even though I was not a direct descendent (of blood), he made me feel like I was his favorite. Of course, I am pretty sure he made everyone feel like that. Just ask my siblings or my cousins, any of his children or grandchildren or great grandchildren. It was a joy to hang out with him.

Another one of his many legacies that has stood out to me was how much he loved my grandmother and cared for her. One of the events that really stuck in my mind over the years was that he would bend down on the ground and help my grandmother put on her shoes, even when he wasn’t feeling in the best of health himself. All I can say is that if Jonathan will continue to love me even half as much as my grandfather loved my grandmother, I will probably be in great shape.


Here is to a great man!


Monday, December 19, 2016

A Rough Week

While our van is not in our possession, we have been splitting our time with family. So the first stop after collecting our things in Tulsa was my sister’s place in Hays, KS. On the way there, we were called by our shipping agent and told that our van would not be shipping for yet another month. I was severely disappointed. We had been told originally that shipments were made every 2 weeks to Australia, so I couldn’t understand why it would take that long before our vehicle shipped.

Then, that night, I had a bout of food poisoning, first case of my life. It wasn’t fun. It lasted a good 19 hours, and then I spent the next 1.5 days recovering. My poor husband chose to get up in the middle of the night and help me out. Even had to shampoo the carpet in the middle of the night, since I didn’t make it to the bathroom for the first incident. And, my poor sister, after coming back from a 12-hour nursing shift, helped nurse me as well.

 


Then, right after I recover, Jonathan’s phone, an LG Nexus 5X, got stuck in a boot loop. This is apparently a pretty common issue with LG. Apparently the QC on their solder points is a bit poor; and after updating to Android 7.0, many of the Nexus 5X phones had this issue. Mine has so far escaped unscathed, but it is also susceptible. There were some reports on the internet of being able to flash a different version of Android to fix the problem. Jonathan tried multiple times, both higher and lower versions, but had no success. They would get up to 95% complete, and then fail. Quite disheartening. So, we contacted Google (from whom we bought the phones) and requested support. They shipped him a refurbished phone right away, but he was still without a phone for about 5 days. Fortunately, our Project Fi service works well with Hangouts. While he was without a phone, he was still able to receive calls and text through the internet. Pretty handy feature.


But, it doesn’t end there. To top it off while Jonathan was still trying to fix his phone, Jonathan’s laptop suddenly stopped making sound. He couldn’t get any sounds out of the speakers. I was starting to feel like the world was out to get us. He discovered it was caused by the Windows “stability” update (anyone else see the irony there?), and I think he found some drivers to fix it. Either way, it is working now and things have finally calmed down.



On the plus side, I did get to spend time with my cute niece and nephew.


  

Project Fi Invite

Many of you have asked how we are handling our phone service down under. Short answer, we are keeping our US service and will be able to call and text using it for great prices.

This year (back in February) we switched to Google's Project Fi service. It has been awesome for us. When we started, they only had individual plans. But, now they have family plans. So, now it is:

  • $20/month for the first user
  • $15/month for each additional user
  • $10/GB, pro-rated (use only 0.5 GB, get $5 back)

We normally use less than a GB each, so our monthly bill between the 2 of us is usually less than $60/month (with taxes and fees), often around $54. When I did the research back in February, this plan was the cheapest option (compared against T-Mobile and Sprint) for up to 3GB per person (6GB total) for us.

The best part of this deal for us is that they offer the same rates internationally for texting and data. Calls are charged, but you can make free calls over wifi to the states. So, we can continue to use our phones and phone numbers in Australia and New Zealand. 

In the states, I have found the network to be very good. Much better than Sprint's, maybe not quite up to Verizon's coverage. However, the ability to connect to wifi (and it provides free access to many paid wifi networks) and make texts and calls often makes up for any deficiencies. And, if there are issues, Project Fi's support is quick and ready to assist. 

The only real catch to this service is that you have to use one of Google's phones (Nexus 5X/6/6P, Pixel, or Pixel XL). What is awesome about these phones, however, is that they have dual antennas (CDMA and GSM) and they are unlocked. So, they can connect to any of the US carriers. Should we decide we don't like Google's service in Australia, we can simply switch to another carrier, keeping the same phone (try doing that with any other phone).

If you do want to check out the service, there is a new promotion out there for referring friends. If you sign up using the link below (and keep your service for 30 days), you and I both get $20 credit on our bill. 


https://g.co/fi/r/PHC120


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Shipping Schedule Update

Happy holidays folks, and stay warm out there (or cool if you're down under).

Our shipping agent has booked a container for us.  They expect to pack the container next week with the ship departing on the 24th.

The schedule has the ship making port on Jan 14th 2017.  So we will be flying to Australia in about 35 days or so.

Waiting is hard, and I miss the van.  I guess this gives us time to decide on a name!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shipping Agent Search

If you know me, you know that I never make a decision without finding out all the options and figuring out the best option. So, of course, choosing a shipping agent was no different. However, this endeavor was not quite what I was expecting. I was expecting to be able to do a quick google search, submit requests for quotes, and get answers quickly. Most of that ended up not happening simply.

First of all, trying to find a place to request quotes for shipping to Australia was difficult. A lot of the recommended agents (K Line) or methods (uship) would not ship to Australia. To get companies that actually shipped to Australia, I had to query “ship a car to Australia” instead of the generic “ship a car (overseas)”.

Then, almost none of the websites offered instant quotes. Instead, you had to submit a form to them, and they would get back to you with a quote, eventually. In fact, they would often take as long as 10 days to provide me any sort of response (not even a we-receive-your-request email). This was just plain weird for me; since normally businesses are eager to receive my commerce. And, out of the 13 companies that I contacted, only 5 of them responded. Additionally, the company that we ended up going with (CFR Rinkens) wasn’t even on my list. They contacted me. I am not concerned; I have found that often these companies forward your request to a sister company to do the work that they don’t cover specifically.

Company
Date Requested
Date Received
Taurus Logistics
9/30/2016
10/2/2016
McCullough Limited
9/30/2016

Aussie Car Imports
10/17/2016

West Coast Shipping (WCS)
10/17/2016
10/17/2016
Schumacher Cargo Logistics, Inc.
10/17/2016

USAtoAUS.com
10/17/2016

Shipping 2 Australia
10/17/2016

Ever Global International
10/17/2016
10/23/2016
Auto Car Shippers
10/17/2016

Able Auto Transport
10/17/2016

Kiwi Shipping
Exceeds Dimensions

Ship Overseas
Don't ship to AUS/NZ

Colless Young Pty Ltd
11/2/2016
11/10/2016
Alliance Intercontinental Pty Ltd.
11/2/2016
Same as Colless

Then, navigating the quotes that they send you is a whole different world, which is why we received a wide range of prices, from $2460 to $8000. Some offered full service. Some offered just the container rental with no assistance getting the container on or off. We are getting a bit of a in-between. CFR is handling the shipping from the US to Australia portion, including US customs and container loading. We have to handle obtaining a carnet, an EIN, and getting the vehicle to the warehouse. CFR also won’t handle the Australian half of the unloading. Supposedly they have sister companies down there that we can work with in a similar set up. The agent will handle unloading the container, but we handle Australian customs and paperwork.

Since we won’t be on much of a time constraint and don’t mind doing the work associated with border crossings (having already completed ~21 of them, most of which were in Spanish), we figured we would save some money and do the work ourselves. If you don’t like dealing with paperwork, then a full-service option is better. We could have saved more money, possibly, by figuring out how to handle the shipping and the loading/unloading of the container ourselves, but it just wasn’t worth it.

It has been a unique experience so far. Maybe I will be an old pro by the next time we have to do it (Australia to New Zealand, yay!). Perhaps not. But, at least I will have some experience gained.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bon Voyage?!

Well, we are now van-less.  The Yet To Be Named Van (YTBNV) has been delivered to the shipping service.  It will be packed into a container, loaded onto a ship, and delivered to Melbourne Australia.  We are now homeless for 5 weeks or so.  I have my fingers crossed hoping the van and contents arrive unscathed.  Thankfully the odds are on our side, as the vast majority of sea freight arrives in the same condition it departed.

Here is one last shot of YTBNV as we wash it one last time prior to shipping.  My uncle graciously allowed us to use his driveway in the hills above the port.



The view isn't too shabby either. If you look real close you can even see the port cranes in the distance.


Once we have a firm departure date and vessel name we can estimate the arrival time.  Sometime in early January seems likely at this point.

We will be lodging Visa applications shortly, other than that we find ourselves in a holding pattern until the van arrives.  I guess we will have plenty of time to educate ourselves about Australia and New Zealand.