|Entr’acte is “on her way home”
When we departed Sevilla back in 2005 we told everyone that we would return "in about ten years." We are now approaching the ten year mark ---where has the time gone?
When venturing out across the Pacific it is most important to have an “exit plan.” We, like many others crossed the Pacific with hope that the piracy situation along the Red Sea route would be resolved by the time we were ready to make that passage. Sadly, as of this writing things have not improved. The Red Sea is still not a safe route for the return to Europe. We thought long and hard about returning via the Cape of Good Hope but even along that route there is an element of danger from pirates. We chose the only real option left to us, place Entr’acte on board a ship and send her “over the pirate hump.” The question was always where do we ship from and when.
A naive assumtion was that it would merely be a matter of money but the endeavor proved far more complicated than that! For four years we queried shipping companies. They all have wonderful slick web sites that advertise “We want your business! Fill out the form and get a quote.” We filled out and submitted their forms but never received a response of any kind, from any one. It was frustrating beyond belief!
We began a semi serious search in Fiji but no one would give us a price or estimate unless we committed to a firm date and gave them a deposit. How can you make a deposit without knowing the final charge? It was a heck of a way to do business and try as we did to get some sort of quote in advance, we came up empty, so we gave up. We were not ready for this move yet anyway so it didn’t really matter..
CMA-CGM Gilbert makes a plan.
Things took a sudden turn after we arrived in New Caledonia. On the advice from Mr John we decided to investigate shipping out of Noumea. When John was here last year he spoke to the people at CMA-CGM, a container shipping company, and received the first positive results. In Noumea on one of our trips to the market we passed the offices of CMA-CGM and decided to “test the water.” We dropped in unannounced and were introduced to Gilbert Claude. Thirty amazing minutes later we left the office with a firm quote to ship Entr’acte from Noumea to Valencia via the Panama Canal for the astoundingly affordable price of $7,000.00 US. Gilbert gave us the name of an agent and also an insurance co. By the next afternoon we had all the figures plus a shipping date. Just for fun we queried another company in Noumea and their quoted an astounding $36,000.00 US dollars! That was just the shipping charges and did not include agents fees, tie downs etc. WOW!
We were not quite ready to leave the Pacific but the news we were receiving from Mr John confirmed that the farther West we travelled, the distance “over the hump” became shorter but price went up as well. It became obvious that our rate from CMA-CGM was hands down the best and easiest deal. What finally pushed us over the edge was listening to the Flamenco guitarist at the marina bar. The memories came flooding back and we said “that’s it, gotta go!”
Even though Entr’acte would be on a large ship, we none-the-less, planned this as an ocean passage. Our primary consideration was, as always, the weather with an eye to the seasons.
If we shipped Entr’acte at the nearest opportunity, the route she would travel would take her through the Cyclone belt at the height of the Southern hemisphere season and then across the Caribbean and North Atlantic during the autumnal gales only to arrive in Northern France just in time for the winter. Not good! We decided instead to depart Noumea at the end of the Southern cyclone season, cross the Atlantic in the Spring and arrive in France early in the summer. We might still have some bad weather but we would at least avoid both hurricane seasons and arrive at a good time to continue onward-----we hoped!
The only snag was that we needed a boat yard to store Entr’acte for the cyclone season in New Caledonia and all the yards were full. We tried them all to no avail. There are so many local boats that there is just no room for transients to store their boats for the long term. That’s the way it was, until Richard became involved.
One bright Sunday morning as we were cleaning our decks someone said “you are a very long way from home!” Richard introduced himself. He is from Rumania and is now an American citizen. Richard has circumnavigated the world two times under sail and now lives on a trawler in an adjoining marina. As we shared a few beers that afternoon we told him our plans and about the snag. “You need to be at Nouville Plaisance. That is the best place to make your idea work.” We told him that we had already tried them but they had no room. “I will come by tomorrow morning and take you there.”
Richard and Krista
Monday morning we went to Nouville Plaisance. Karine the manager was very friendly but alas, as before, they had no room at all. “Perhaps there will be a cancellation but don’t hold your breath because it rarely happens. I am sorry.” Richard, all smiles, began to speak. Karine and Richard began a friendly dialogue in rapid French and as the conversation continued she began to place forms in front of us to sign. A few laughs and more conversation and still more papers and more signatures. Suddenly, she smiled and said “Voila!”
“Richard, Voila what? What just happened?”
“Edward, Voila means exactly what it means! Voila!”
We had a firm contract for storage with prices confirmed. Smiles all around. We were now family.
“Richard, what did you say to her?” He just smiled and we never did get an answer. As the weeks progressed and we got to know Richard better we discovered that “No” and “not possible” are just not part of his world. Now, if we can just figure out how he does this with such regularity.......!
The next step was to meet with Bruno our agent and Evan who was to build our cradle.
Bruno is another unique person. We went on board his boat Taka for a drink and met his cousin Natalie who plays the violin. Not only does she have the most wonderful instruments but she and Bruno are part of the famous musical family Casadesus. There was a surprise a minute in New Cal.
Designing the cradle Mountains of paper work Of course the insurance
Bruno asked “why do you go to Valencia?” We explained that it was the shortest route, hence the least expensive. Bruno said “no,no.no!” If we would change the destination to LeHavre it would be more safe because Entr’acte would remain on the same ship throughout the voyage and not have to change ships in Panama but when he said that it would be less expensive by $3,000.00, well, that got our attention! Even better, we could now make the trip that we wanted to make back in 1984---up the Seine to Paris, through the Canal de Bourgogne and down the Rhone to the Mediterranean. Well Bruno, what could be better? “If you send Entr’acte to LeHavre, you can also join the ship in Savannah and ride with her across the Atlanic to LeHavre.” So, the deal is done.
On March 7, 2013 Entr’acte will depart Noumea, New Caledonia for Savannah Ga. on board the CC Matisse. She will arrive in Savannah on April 8 where we will join her and depart for LeHavre on April 9 to arrive on April 23, 2013.
Ready for shipment
Entr’acte is on her way to being on the right side of the world again, where today is really today and not tomorrow at a different time and we will be right side up once again.
We will keep you posted.