Friday, 8 August 2014

The Coppercoat saga

Some time ago now(six years)we put Coppercoat on our hull. This has been very good and now we are out of the water we figured that we would need to buy some more just to touch up a few bits here and there. John contacted Coppercoat US and the guy in Florida was very helpful and we ordered 4 units to be shipped over here to Trinidad. As Coppercoat is deemed hazardous cargo it could not go air freight but was put in a container which left Miami at the beginning of July. Soon after we were lifted, we got a call from Tropical Shipping  saying the container had arrived in Trinidad and could John go to the office in Port of Spain to complete the paperwork. So far so good we thought! So John paid the office their admin fee and then went to get the Bill of Lading signed by customs here in Chagauramas and we were told that the goods would be ready to collect in a few days. We arranged to hire a car and set off to the customs depot for collection took us about two hours to find the place and get past the guards on the door ... Only to be told that the container our shipment was in, had not yet been 'unstuffed' and to come back later that week ! We decided to wait until the following week to attempt the process again .... And this time we had an e mail from Tropical telling us to go to customs and collect our shipment!
So we hired another hire car from Econocars or rent a wreck as we called problems with the car hire company they supplied us with a car at a very good price though these cars have seen better years .....loads of miles on the clock but the air con worked and it started no probs. however on a shopping trip prior to our customs trip the back bumper fell off .....but we are yachties, ..are we scared ...?? We taped it back up with duct tape and off we went!
The next day we set off very early to get to customs as early as possible ....making good time when we hear a familiar sound ....the bumper trailing on the road. Unfortunately we had forgotten to put the spare tape in the car and so John thumped the existing tape back hoping it would last....No chance!!
We pulled over and as we did so the uneven road managed to dislodge the entire back bumper. We had no option but to squeeze the bumper into the car and continue to the Customs Depot bumper less!
On arriving at the Customs pick up we sat ourselves down in the Hospitality room and waited... Some    hour later John heard his name called, he queued up in a line to talk to a faceless voice through a counter with only a small half moon cut out at the bottom that asked him for 96 dollars 56 cents and the sign said you must pay the exact amount ...John signed paid and told the girl no change required...we never really found out what that was for ....using the hospitality suite?
John took his seat back in the hospitality suite and waited.....another hour later his name was called again...this time surely we would pick up our parcel ! John was asked to identify his parcel and the parcel was opened and the contents examined....yes ...this was our Coppercoat . So what next ,John waited to be told but nothing....a nice man asked him if he wanted to have the parcel resealed which he agreed to and fortunately the guy doing the resealing told him what to do next ....go and sit back down in the hospitality suite!
Another long wait when a customs  officer came out to ask him how much the goods were worth despite John having shown him the receipt and then some time later John got the call again ....this time to line up and pay 10 TT dollars for the declaration that there was nothing to declare .... For this John had to sign three separate sheets and then go over to yet another window where the woman told him there was a problem ...she disappeared only to come back again saying all was ok !! Finally John walked away with the Coppercoat  some four hours after walking in but not before signing another two sheets of paper to allow him out of the compound into the car park
The moral of this story ....doesn't matter if it costs more an agent to sort out customs!
I should add on the way back to the boat we dropped by at Econocars to change the car ....on arriving the girl at the office said ' oh you are the guys with the slack bumper?!'  ...yes so slack it's not attached was the reply!  They happily exchanged the car for another ....only for the front bumper of that particular car to fall loose the next day on the way to the supermarket!! That said at £20 a day including CDW they are still good value!

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