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As part of the process for buying our cruising boat, we had to divide up moving aboard the boat into two stages: “self-delivery” and “live-aboard”.
Our new boat had to somehow get from the factory in La Rochelle, France, to the US. There are three options: ship your boat, hire a delivery crew, or captain it yourself. For the first two options, the boat doesn’t need a lot of gear, it can be pretty bare-bones, depending on your crews’ requirements.
However, we wanted to sail Starry Horizons back to the states ourselves. Starry Horizons was launched in October 2014 and we arrived in Palmetto, Florida, where most of our outfitting was to take place plus the final move aboard, in March of 2015. That’s five months and a lot of miles covered.
Thus, we had to break things down into our “self-delivery” pile and “live-aboard” pile. With the luggage limits on airplanes, we needed another way to ship supplies over.
We asked Uchimata, the contractor we were using in La Rochelle, about shipping parts. Down the rabbit hole, we settled on Interconex to handle the packaging and shipping overseas and Renault-Delage to handle the domestic shipping in France.
Interconex came to our home to discuss the shipping options. Based on how much we had, we ended up paying for one liftvan – basically a crate.
Once we got that news and received the dimensions of the liftvan container that was used to store our shipment, we set out to go through all our stuff, setting aside those things we had that we wanted to ship and buying lots of stuff that we wanted but didn’t have. This is where having Amazon Prime came in quite handy. We had boxes arriving almost daily! Included in these shipments were some electronics that our contractor in France would have had difficulty sourcing.
- Dinghy Outboard
- Mantus Anchor
- CruiseRO Watermaker
- Fiorentino Para-Anchor
- Asymmetric Spinnaker
- Folding Bikes
- Spinlock PFDs
- Foul Weather Gear
- Safety Gear
- Fishing Gear (including Rods and Reels)
- Galley Equipment
- Reference Guides/Manuals
- Workout gear
- Comforter and Sheets
- Regular Clothes
I was amazed at how much stuff we were able to include and truth be told, this was one of the first tangible things we’ve done that really hit me that we’re going to France and picking up a boat. Buying our one-way plane ticket is one thing, but seeing all the stuff you’ve accumulated for the trip be packed up and shipped off is quite a feeling.
Our shipper arranged to have a moving company come by and pack up all the stuff we had identified that we wanted to ship to France. We had done an initial job of separating things into boxes, but they came in and wrapped things up to make them more secure for shipment. They brought their own boxes that were designed to fit perfectly into the space we had allotted.
From there, our stuff was shipped via ocean freight to Le Havre in France. Our agent in France arranged transportation via truck to the final destination in La Rochelle, which was Uchimata’s shop at Minimes. The shipment could not be delivered until the boat was exported, so the liftvan stayed in a yard somewhere, I assume. This whole process took about 5-7 weeks, including clearing customs in France, and since the day we packed up was still 9 weeks away from our departure date, we had plenty of time.
There are sometimes where technology is pretty amazing. Tracking ships is definitely one of those times. We received word that our shipment of stuff to France has been loaded on the cargo ship MV Centaurus and was on its way to Le Havre. It arrived around September 14th and just like a shipment with UPS, we had a tracking number and everything.
But the coolest part? Thanks to the wonders of AIS, we could actually track the ship in real-time!
For those who are curious, the website we used to track the ship via AIS is Vessel Finder.
The ship successfully delivered our liftvan to Le Havre, where our agent filed a T1, which means that the shipment could be transported to La Rochelle without going through customs in Le Havre.
Our liftvan was stored by Renault-Delage.
Volume: 201 cubic feet
New Weight: 1,599
The really good news is that since we immediately exported our boat out of France and the EU, we were allowed to ship our goods marked for immediate export and they arrived into France duty-free. Renault-Delage arranged all the paperwork for us.
On November 6th, we did the handover of Starry Horizons.
The next day, Fountaine Pajot processed our paperwork to export Starry Horizons, and we were given the green flag to accept our shipment. The liftvan arrived at Uchimata.
It took us the better part of the day to move out of our AirBnb and unpack the luggage we’d brought with us. Then we decided we needed to rent a van to move everything from Uchimata to the boat (Minimes is HUGE). We didn’t get around to cracking the liftvan open until after sunset(!), but it only took a few trips to get everything to the boat. We stayed our first night aboard.
When we arrived in Palmetto to outfit the boat, we flew back home to get our car and pack up the rest of our stuff. Since we were in Palmetto for three months, having a car was very handy, and we just sold it when we were ready to untie the docklines!