We left Torquay in the middle of the night (30/3/11) knowing that the next time the Azalai drives on the Bay’s roads it will be after it’s traversed the length of both Africa and Europe. Despite having had less than a few hour’s sleep, the drive to Tilbury Docks was really enjoyable. I did the ‘Zombie Shift’ on a pleasantly quiet A303, Rachel did M3 and M25 and I finished the last haul into Essex.
We got there about 0930 so plenty of time to find “John” at Pentalvers Ltd. He was really helpful and reassuringly the firm had just been shipping Land Rovers! He was a bit worried about the height, “It’s the container doors that people forget about”, but thought that if push came to shove deflating the tyres should do it. “But we’ll let your Agent know if we need to do that” (We haven’t heard anything and the boats at sea so I assume we were OK. So that’s a 130 Azalai with uprated suspension and solar panel OK for a 40ft Hi-Cube Container for the record)
He then arranged a lift (thanks Pete) to see Jo at Denholm Barwil Ltd (the portside agents working on behalf of ‘our’ shipping agent, David Squibb at Kinetsu World Express, Plymouth). Jo drove us to the nearby UK Border Agency where we met ‘Lawrence’ to determine what they needed to issue the Unique Assignment Number to allow Pentalvers, in due course, to load the container onto the M.O.L. Caloden for its voyage to Durban. Simple.
In the end Lawrence kept the Carnet. He explained that this needed to go “to the [Border Agency] Hub”. We were and are obviously anxious about relinquishing possession of such a crucial document; especially when it doesn’t seem relevant to export from the UK and that a Border Agency official had seen it on their premises. We proffered a copy of the same but in the end Lawrence took it off, assuring us that it would be returned (via Jo) by registered post. Let’s hope so and in good time!
Jo then kindly dropped us to Tilbury Station, where we caught a train and tube to Paddington. We met Dan Tisdall there briefly (he was returning to Torquay on an earlier train). We celebrated with a dodgy meal in one of Paddington’s ‘pubs’ – washed it down with a couple of pints of Guinness and then slept until we got back to Torquay early evening. Paul and Gayle even picked us up from the station.
So that’s it. The first miles of the trip completed in a very long day.
We have to go on the expedition now if we want to see the van again! The M.O.L Caloden left Tilbury today. We will meet her in Durban early May…….
……..“I regret to advise that the MOL Caledon cut and run before being able to load your booking.
The container has been rebooked to sail on the Safmarine Mafadi ETS 13.04 ETA 07.05
Please accept my apologies for the delay.”
So no sooner do I finish typing about the Azalai’s departure when shipping agent Dave at KWE calls to say that he’s just been informed that the MOL Caloden has “done a cut and run”. In short it’s in the North Sea and the containered Azalai is still in Tilbury!
It will now ship to Durban 13th April, ETA 7th May, approx customs clearance 12th May….
On the plus side Customs have finished with the Carnet and that’s heading back to us.