Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A Ship!

I am happy to report that a ship to take Intermezzo to La Paz has materialized!

Intermezzo is scheduled to be loaded onto the MV Wladyslaw Orkan, a 656 ft long general cargo ship sometime between June 9 and 13 in Port Everglades. The voyage to La Paz will take about two weeks, so I'm anticipating arrival there on or about June 28.  If I hustle, I can get the boat out of the water by July 1.

It is a great relief for the waiting and uncertainty to be over. Things can still happen that could cause further delays to loading, transit time and unloading, but we have a ship. I'll deal with matters as they unfold.

I'll be heading back to Fort Lauderdale on June 6 to finalize preparations for loading. Hell, I might even enjoy myself a little when I get back there.

Many thanks to all of those who crossed their fingers, made wishes and expressed sympathy and support while I've waited for my ship to arrive.

MV Wladyslaw Orkan, Intermezzo's ride to La Paz

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Circumstances Improved, Some Hope

 After making my decision to wait up to another 30 days for a ship, I set about trying to find dockage for Intermezzo so that I could take a break from living on the boat. Kinga, my main contact at the shipping company had mentioned a private dock not far from the Las Olas anchorage where I had been bobbing around for the better part of a month. I made a phone call, checked out the dock with the dinghy and sealed the deal.

The dock is great. It's on a peaceful canal in a very nice neighborhood, along the waterfront of a very nice home that is mostly vacant this time of year. The dock is in great shape, pretty secure with water and electricity. I can even use the swimming pool and patio area when the owner is away. Nice!

Much to my pleasant surprise, Kinga told me that the shipping company will reimburse me for the cost of the dock from May 25 until Intermezzo gets loaded on a ship. I'm really grateful for that and it makes me think that the company has some confidence that it won't be too long before a ship materializes.

I also had an informative and reassuring conversation with Simon Judson, Peter & May's CEO. He filled me in on the current big picture situation with the shipping industry. Demand is far exceeding the supply of ships due to economic recovery from the global Covid recession and ship owners are charging much higher rates for cargo, double from a year ago. Finding space on the deck of ships for yachts at economically feasible rates is very challenging.

Simon explained the details of the deals Peters & May are trying to negotiate with three candidate ships to carry Intermezzo and dozens of other boats that have been waiting like I have been. The key to these deals is the base below deck cargo. The space on the ship to carry yachts and its ports of call isn't known until the base cargo has been booked. Then it's a matter of figuring out what combination of yachts can fit on the ship and negotiating a price to carry them. The logistics are complicated and constantly changing, lots of moving pieces. However, Simon is quite confident that they will work something out for the first week of June. I hope he's right.

I'm going to take a break from Intermezzo and head back to California to visit family and friends, enjoy a change of scenery. The current earliest possible date for securing a ship is May 30. I'm planning on returning then, although Kinga tells me that she hasn't experienced a ship being "nominated" sooner than 14 days prior to arrival, which as of today makes June 3 the earliest possibility. Thanks to Covid, I can make changes to my flight reservations without penalty, so I can stay longer in California if I want to.

That means the countdown clock stays set on 14 days until I hear from Kinga that a ship has been nominated. Loading usually takes place a few days after the ship arrives and takes two to three days. So, that puts loading 16-17 days out. It takes about two weeks for the ship to sail to La Paz. I'll be lucky to get Intermezzo out of the water by July 1 and the risk of hurricanes increases every day after June 1. That's cutting it a bit too close for comfort, but nothing I can do about it other than move quickly once the boat is unloaded off the ship and watch the weather carefully.

I feel better having Intermezzo on a dock so that I'm not tied to the boat as much and don't have to deal with a crappy dinghy access to land. I'm looking forward to my break in California. And I'm a bit more hopeful that my Fort Lauderdale ordeal will end soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

No Ship

A ship arrived yesterday, as scheduled, but it will not be stopping in La Paz. So, from my perspective there is no ship.

I am told that another ship is scheduled to arrive on May 30.

I now have to make a decision. Do I continue waiting here and being taunted by incomplete, incorrect and last minute information regarding ships? Or do I give up and make a new plan?

I have to factor in that hurricane season is drawing near, officially beginning on June 1. My insurance excludes coverage for named tropical storms beginning July 1. One of my personal rules of sailing is, "Don't be in the wrong place at the wrong time." Being afloat in Florida or the Sea of Cortez in June would violate this rule.

My initial reaction is to give up on shipping the boat. I'm reminded of a quote (mistakenly?) attributed to Albert Einstein, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." A pattern has been established: I'm told a ship will arrive on a certain date. A few days or less prior to that date, I'm told there is no ship or the date is pushed back. I wait. And the process repeats itself.

I cannot understand why the shipping company does not either have better information to share or won't simply tell me, "Steve, we hope one day to transport your boat to La Paz, but we have no idea when and can only provide three days notice when we do know." I believe that the latter case to be the truth. If I'm right, then I would choose not to go on indefinitely. I would need to figure out how to get Intermezzo to La Paz on its own bottom. Or sell the boat.

I have considered selling the boat, but I'm not ready to do that right now, so I'm tabling that option.

So, what's involved with sailing Intermezzo to La Paz?

Here's a summary:

  1. Re-commission, fuel and provision the boat for ocean sailing.
  2. Sail north out of the insurance company's Tropical Storm Zone to a good hurricane hole.
  3. De-commission the boat, haul out and lay-up on the hard for hurricane season.
  4. Re-commission and launch the boat after hurricane season (November).
  5. Muster crew, fuel and provision the boat for ocean sailing.
  6. Sail to Panama.
  7. Leave the boat in Panama to wait for the Pacific's prevailing northerlies and Tehuantapeckers to subside (March).
  8. Muster crew, fuel and provision the boat for ocean sailing.
  9. Wait and pay for a Panama Canal transit.
  10. Sail to La Paz.
  11. De-commission, haul out and lay-up on the hard for hurricane season.

So, basically a year's worth of logistics and sailing, plus inevitable gear failure, repairs and wear-and-tear.

The decision I need to make now is to wait another two to four weeks for a ship to possibly materialize or to cut and run, committing to a year's "work" getting Intermezzo to La Paz.

I did a back of the napkin economic analysis of the two options, taking into account all the costs I could identify, travel costs to and from the boat, the cost of a month's dockage while waiting for the ship or the costs of wear-and-tear from sailing to La Paz. I also included a 20% contingency factor for difficulties and uncertainties associated with the sailing option.

It turns out that the total estimated cost for each alternative is roughly the same. However, since sailing back to La Paz is not how I would choose to spend a year of my time, I need to include the opportunity cost of that option. Even a low-ball estimate of that opportunity cost easily makes waiting longer for the ship (that may never materialize) the better choice.

So that's what I have decided to do. I will wait up to another 30 days, docking Intermezzo so that I can take a break from the boat. If the ship materializes, great. If it doesn't, I head north to find a hurricane hole and prepare myself to set sail for La Paz in November.

I hope I am avoiding the definition of insanity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Ship Transport Update

I received somewhat encouraging news today. A ship is scheduled to arrive on May 17 and, if it will be calling at La Paz, we may be able to load Intermezzo sometime between May 20 and 23. That ship is scheduled to depart Port Everglades on May 25 with an estimated arrival date in La Paz of June 8.

Less uncertainty, but still uncertain.

If we can't load on this ship, I am told another ship is scheduled to arrive on May 25 and depart around June 2.

So, worst case is we load onto the second ship.

I really, really hope we get on the first one.

Resetting the countdown clock to May 20. Nine days and counting.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

May 8th? Nope.

Well, my May 8th date for loading Intermezzo onto a ship to La Paz isn't happening. Seems it never was.

The local sales manager for the shipping agent seems to be doing her best, but couldn't provide me with any meaningful information, so I contacted Peters & May's CEO, explained my circumstances and asked him to look into the situation here. This is the email I got back:

Hi Stephen,

I have spoken to the relevant parties involved. I don’t know where the date of 8th May came from but I can say with some certainty that shipment will not be prior 15th May. At the moment there are two possible vessel candidates out there with May dates (1 due w/c 17th May, the other towards the end May) and it may be that actually both these vessels are of interest. I see no reason why you would not be on first sailing. There are plenty of other yachts booked for La Paz hence this is simply a matter of holding out for a little while longer. I would expect that situation will become clearer within the week.


Simon Judson​
Chief Executive Officer

I am, of course, bummed. Feeling downtrodden and tired. But I'll deal with it.

I will hold out for a little while longer, restarting the countdown to May 17th.

Twelve days and counting.