Brodie is back!
After a long wait we received confirmation from our contact Keith that the vessel had docked, the container had been unloaded, and that it was now waiting for us at the SA Container Depot. Arrangements had been made with Customs, and the container opening was scheduled to take place at noon.
Our hosts in Cape Town were as eager as us to see the opening so we all piled into the car and headed towards the docks. Near the entrance we bumped into Keith. All that was missing was the agent, Moses, who would also pick up the customs inspector and meet us at the gate.
Even though we are in South Africa it seems we are on Africa time – 12 became 12:30 before the agent and the customs inspector arrived. Not a problem. Moses was super friendly and a good friend of Keith – both having been in the business for more than 40 years! The customs inspector was very reserved, something we later learned they are required to be. We all walked around to the back of the customs shed to look for the container. Not there! By this stage we had also been accompanied by the yard workers, the foreman, Moses’ helper, and a couple of other guys. A search for the container began. It was soon located in a stack, the truck called in, and the container placed where it could be opened and emptied.
The customs seal was broken in full view of all present. The yard workers opened the doors, and there was Brodie. As dusty as when we left him, standing in exactly the same spot. Phew! Hooray! We cheered. After removing tie downs and roll stops I received the go-ahead to connect the batteries and drive Brodie out. The batteries had contained their juice very well so Brodie started up first time. I had not really expected anything else.
After parking up the customs inspector asked to see the VIN information in the engine bay, and had a quick look inside the vehicle. He did not ask any questions and seemed happy to complete the paperwork. This meant that I could breathe more easily as there were no questions asked about the “255 parcels of used personal belongings” that was stated on the bill of lading. When loading in Dakar our freight forwarder insisted on an inventory after we had loaded the vehicle. Completing it from memory was tricky and we would never be able to remember all items. Fortunately there was no question about it, so all well.
The successful opening, unpacking and customs clearance meant that the release could be arranged with the shipping line. While this happened, the merry bunch went off for lunch. After lunch we went back to the container depot, picked up Brodie, and were allowed to leave the compound. Only one more step left: picking up the Carnet (and paying of course).
We experienced a very smooth and transparent process. As we had the Original Bill of Lading we could send all our paperwork to Keith who could initiate the process before the vessel docked. This meant that when the container was confirmed on the quay he could quickly book the customs inspection and line up all that needed doing. For us, this meant no stress, no running around, and complete confidence that we would get Brodie out that afternoon.
Now we are going to enjoy Cape Town and surroundings for a week before heading back to Johannesburg for a complete re-pack. Then off on adventures new!
PS: Keith is happy to be contacted if you have container receiving needs like ours, and the company he used as Clearing Agents is very professional and friendly. He may also be able to help with outgoing shipping needs. Please drop us an email if you would like their details.