Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Loaded !

Getting S/V BeBe loaded onto the transport ship and getting out of Male was a tiny bit of an ordeal.   By far the largest annoyance was listening to the whining of some of the other yachts being transported.  Most of these folks have sailed more than half-way around the world, some visiting 80 countries thus far.  One would think they would have learned to "go with the flow" by now.  Instead, they whined and bitched every time anything changed from anticipated schedule.  Get over it, guys!  

BTW, some people have questioned why we removed the sails and cleared the deck so thoroughly before shipping BeBe.  We believe that yachts that are being transported, especially in the Red Sea, should be prepped as if for a heavy storm or gale.  Think about it.  Winds in the Red Sea are normally from the north and typically average 25 knots, with gusts to 50 knots not unusual.  The ship will be motoring at around 15 knots into the 25 knots or higher winds.  In effect, the yachts on the deck are encountering 40 to 55 knots of wind.  Having recently endured 5 days in winds of 40 to 60 knots, we knew first-hand just how strong that is!!!  Any yacht being transported should be prepped as if to encounter a Cat 1 hurricane.  Also, anything that blows off one yacht will fly into another yacht and cause damage.  Each yacht owner owes it to all the other yacht owners whose boats are on that ship's deck to take all efforts to prevent causing damage to another's boat.

We received a preliminary loading schedule indicating that we would be loaded on a Sunday morning.  I visited the Emirates airline office on a Thursday and booked our flights for the following Monday morning, then visited the agent and got us cleared out with Immigration.  We were working around the Holy Day when everything is closed on Fridays and the airline office which closes both Fridays and Saturdays.  The agent said we had 6 days from the date our passport was stamped to depart the Maldives.  BeBe was scheduled to be loaded on a Sunday morning at 10:00.  Then the agent called on Saturday and said that our 30-day visa would expire on Sunday morning at 11:00.  I played dumb and he got tired of trying to explain the visa situation to me, and he finally agreed that our visas could be extended until our departing flight on Monday morning.  Immigration was granting us a 23-hour extension to our visas----remember, we had already cleared out at this point.  Frankly, I believe the agent was just looking to charge yet another fee.  We later learned that the agent wanted an additional $500 fee to extend visas for 3 days for friends on ESPRIT, plus a penalty fee to Immigration.  What a rip off!!!  They refused to pay the additional agent's fee and instead paid a penalty of $265 to Immigration when they cleared out at the airport.

Then the load master notified us that the entire loading schedule had been revised.  Now we would not be loaded until Monday morning.  We explained the Immigration problem, and were pleasantly surprised when we were hailed on the VHF and told to report to the transport ship at 14:00 on Sunday afternoon.  The first yacht would be loaded at 13:00 and BeBe would be the third yacht loaded on this first day of loading.  We left the anchorage right behind S/V B'SHERET and motored over to the transport ship.

We spent the following 3 hours slowly going in circles around the transport ship while B'SHERET was loaded.  The sea looked totally calm, but there was a swell that rolled the transport ship 3 degrees -- which made the crane cables and slings swing like pendulums.  It was wild!  And it took the full 3 hours to get B'SHERET loaded on the deck.  Next TAPESTRY was loaded.  The load master used different straps to lift TAPESTRY and that seemed to work better, but the waves from all the go-fast speed boats zooming all around the transport ship still caused TAPESTRY to swing wildly.  While TAPESTRY was being loaded, we were tied to the port side of the transport ship at 16:30.  Because of the swinging problem, the load masters were unable to get the yachts as close together as they needed to be in order for all the yachts to fit onto this ship.  This could be a real problem!!!

At 17:30 they were ready to load BeBe when the Port Authority official said they must stop work for the day.  He refused to allow any work after sunset, and the sun was soon to set.   The transport ship was equipped with lights and the crew is accustomed to working through the night.  The load masters requested permission to complete our loading before stopping work for the day, but the Port Authority official stood his ground and refused us to be loaded.  So back to the anchorage for the night.  We were more than a little disappointed, to say the least.  This wrecked our flight bookings, the Istanbul hotel reservations and our Immigration extension.  But there was no point whining about it.  Just accept the changes in plans and move on.  We got online and changed our outbound flight, the local hotel and the Istanbul hotel.

At 08:00 on Monday morning we were back tied next to the transport ship.  The load master decided to lift BeBe with our deck-level lifting points (no lifting straps placed beneath the hull).  This would be the simplest way to lift our yacht since we did not want to deal with removing the triadic stay unless absolutely required to do so.  Our triadic stay is swaged and is static; it does not have turnbuckles to adjust the length.  To remove the triadic stay would involve first loosening the mizzen baby stays and the mizzen back stays, and taking a halyard from the mizzen mast to a forward winch and tilting the mizzen mast forward until the tension on the triadic stay was loosened.  Then Bill would have to go up the mainmast and dis-attach the triadic stay from the main mast.  This is involved and would take a lot of time.

Using the deck-level lifting points would be much simpler.  We simply had to remove the topping lift for the main boom and remove the mainmast back stay -- which has turnbuckles and is a breeze to remove.  These needed to be removed to make space for the crane hook and cables.  Took us less than 10 minutes to accomplish those 2 tasks, then they were ready to lift BeBe.  They used 3 sets of shackles on the starboard side and only 1 set of shackles on the port side.  This, in effect, caused the cables to be longer on the starboard side than on the port side of BeBe.  Remember, the crane was also on the starboard side. This would tilt the yacht slightly to port and prevent the lifting cables from being too tight against the triadic stay.  This process worked fine.  The cable was tight up against the triadic stay and deflected it a slight amount -- sounded terrible -- but later when the cables were removed the triadic stay looked straight and taut as ever.  No harm done.

They lifted BeBe and moved her slowly over the deck next to TAPESTRY.  There was much less swaying and swinging this morning than the previous day when they loaded B'SHERET and TAPESTRY.  They were able to place BeBe less than 1 meter from TAPESTRY.  The load master's goal was to place each yacht no more than 1 meter from each other.  Unfortunately, B'SHERET was 3 to 4 meters from where they wanted her placed; and TAPESTRY was more than 3 meters from where they wanted her placed.  This wasted a lot of deck space.  At this point it appeared that not all of the 16 yachts were going to fit on this deck.  We were terribly afraid that a couple of yachts would not make onto this transport ship.  But it would serve no purpose to say anything to the rest of the yachts waiting to be loaded.

We tidied up BeBe and washed off the grease on the deck from the lifting cables; then climbed down onto the ship's deck with our luggage to await a launch to shore.  While waiting, we watched them load RAVEN -- which was the smoothest and easiest of the 4 yachts loaded thus far.  There was no rolling and swinging and RAVEN was moved easily to exactly the spot where the load masters wanted her placed.  PASSAGE was next to be loaded and was tied to the side of the ship when the loading crew went to lunch.  While they were at lunch the ship started to roll again and the crane began swinging wildly.  The lifting straps had been secured to the ship's deck, but not secured properly.  It was calm one second and the crane was swinging wildly the next second.  The straps were flipping pallets of jack stands all over the deck.  The deck hand on watch radioed for help and 6 men came running up from the lunch room.  It took all 7 of them to gain control of the straps swinging with the crane.  They raised the crane and secured the straps tightly to padeyes on the deck.  No more swinging possible now!

The launch still had not showed up.  Bill spoke with the agent representative on the ship and was told that the agent planned to send only 1 launch at the end of the day to pick up everyone who had been loaded that day.  What!!  So we were supposed to stand in the sun on the ship's deck for another 6 hours?  We spoke with the SevenStar load master and he went ballistic with the agent's rep.  This agency has annoyed many of us for numerous reasons.  Lots of fees and very few services provided.  SevenStar had already had enough of dealing with this agency, and they had only been there a few days.  After telling the agent rep that he was fired and must get off the boat if he didn't get a launch out there immediately, the launch arrived within 10 minutes.  The launch dropped us and the crew of RAVEN back at Huhulmale (airport island).  We grabbed a taxi to the hotel (where our luggage had been sitting since Saturday afternoon).

Then we received a phone call from Emirates saying that we must personally go to the airport and purchase our tickets before 16:00 or we would lose the flights and the special price rate.  We had been able to re-schedule the flights online the previous night after we found out at the last minute that BeBe would not get loaded on Sunday after all.  No problem changing the flight from Monday morning to Tuesday morning -- but now they wanted us to get to the airport immediately and pay for the tickets.  Okay; not a problem.

At the airport on Tuesday morning we ran into RAVEN, PASSAGE, SONGSTER and Sandy from HEARTSONG.  At this point it was doubtful if HEARTSONG would fit onto the transport ship, but Sandy was flying home anyway.  The big topic of conversation was whether all the boats would fit onto the ship.  It was agreed by everyone that there was no way for all 15 yachts to fit on that ship deck as it stood this day.  All the yachts would need to be placed much closer together.  Turns out that is exactly what they did.

We spoke with ESPRIT.  The transport ship had been moved to a wharf over at "garbage island."  ESPRIT was tied alongside.  They were supposed to be loaded at 08:00 but had been told to stand by while the yachts on the deck were re-positioned.  This took most of the day, and then the rest of the loadings went very smoothly.  What a difference being tied to the wharf made!  No more wildly swinging crane in the gentle swell and hard waves of speed boats and ferries.  We do not know if they moved BeBe again or not.  Guess we will find out when we climb aboard the ship when they unload BeBe in Marmaris.

All 16 yachts did get loaded.  However, the loading took 5 days rather than the anticipated 3 days.  Big deal.  All the whiners and complainers should be ashamed of themselves.  Loading safely is the important thing.  Following a preliminary loading schedule would have been pure luck.  Until a yacht is actually loaded onto the transport ship, it is impossible to predict which yacht will be loaded next and exactly where it will be placed.  As I said earlier, learn to go with the flow and quit your bitching.

Flying over the Maldives was very pretty.  It is easy to understand why this is a remote resort paradise.  Also easy to understand why these resorts do not want cruising yachts anchored nearby.  Sort of spoils the exclusivity claims of the resorts when there is a cruising sailboat right in your face.

When the plane reached the coast of Oman, the sky below changed from blue to beige.  Nothing to see but sand.

Flying over the United Arab Emirates toward Dubai was interesting.  Cannot say that it was beautiful, but it was interesting.  The desert changes quite a bit.  Some places were mountains.  Some looked like hard-packed flat sand.  Some places looked like loose-packed sand mountains or large dunes.  And some places looked like an ocean of loose sand. And it all looked very hot!

We could have stayed in Dubai for several days.  It would have cost only an additional airline fee of $21 each for the layover.   And there are a few economical hotels.  But in researching Dubai we did not find anything there of particular interest to either of us.  So our only stop in Dubai was inside the airport.  A modern city in an ancient desert on the coastline of the Persian Gulf.  I would go completely out of my mind living in Dubai.  Glad we skipped visiting there.

We opted to fly onward to Istanbul, which I will relate in another posting.  Since arriving in Turkey we are unable to view any blogging websites.  I can access the Dashboard for this blogger website, but I cannot view even our own blogger website.  Also, photos being uploaded change to strange box characters so photos might not be shown correctly.  Guess that will have to wait until we are in another country and have again have full access.


  1. Congratulations on getting loaded. Our friends who spent the winter in Turkey started having trouble with viewing blogs, especially blogspot ones, around the first of the year. The government is blocking them. I think they said it had something to do with gambling on soccer, but I don't know if they really knew the reason.

  2. So glad all 15 boats got onboard and that ya'll are safe in Turkey. Watching the boats swing and sway while being loaded must have been a sight!


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