If you thought part one was bad, hold on to your hat! You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Shipped first. Arrived first. Received last.
written on February 17: This is the shipment that we dropped off at the freight company on Annacis Island (near Vancouver) on September 26, a week before we left for the Philippines. It was full of all sorts of goodies for the boat: spare parts, safety equipment, dive equipment, tools and other assorted practical or fun boat gear. We joked around when we dropped it off about whether we would ever see it again. But we expected it would arrive before Christmas, possibly even while Chris was away at work in the early part of December.
The crate was loaded aboard the Hanjin Washington freighter leaving Vancouver on October 9th and sailing via Singapore, arriving at Manila North Harbour (MNH) on November 21st as scheduled. So far so good. But that’s when everything began to head downhill.
The first hurdle was a change to the rules at Manila North Harbour. Before our shipment arrived, brokers could pay the clearance fees on behalf of their clients. Apparently, this was being misused for nefarious purposes and many shipments weren’t ending up where they were supposed to go. And so they changed the rules.
Since we were ultimately shipping our crate to a business registered in Subic Bay (so we could take advantage of their duty free status), they had to obtain a Bank Reference Number (BRN) so the funds could be remitted electronically to the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The trouble was, there was no forethought. The broker hadn’t bothered to inform the company we were dealing with about the change until after our shipment was sitting there waiting to clear customs. Even though they knew for more than two months that it was on its way.
Lucky us! We got caught up in the Philippines battle against corruption!
Meanwhile, while the new BRN was in the works, the battery shipment from China (a.k.a. Shipment #2, see A Tale of Two Shipments, part 1) arrived in Manila South Harbour.
We had been warned that south harbour was to be avoided if possible, because the company we were shipping to only had a bond with north harbour. It would take longer to clear and be more expensive to go through south harbour.
Boy were they wrong!!! The batteries cleared in exactly one month…the crate from Vancouver took considerably longer. (Needless to say, in the end we were ecstatic that the battery manufacturer had been unable to ship to the north harbour or there would have been no trip to Puerto Galera.)
With the new BRN finally in place, we were informed on January 3rd that our broker would now start processing the shipment. We left on our cruise to Puerto Galera believing that the crate would arrive while we were away, so we made alternate plans for delivery and storage until our return.
In our daily calls from PG to the broker for updates, we eventually learned about hurdle number two. The shipment had been declared abandoned after sitting unclaimed for 30 days. Even though they knew we were working on getting the BRN to meet their new requirements. At this point we began to really wonder if we would ever see it again.
But of course, what it really meant was more paperwork requesting that the declaration of abandonment be lifted. And then BOC held a hearing and agreed to lift it. That meant still more paperwork which BOC had to first approve (but only after they requested some additional amendments) and then send for review by the law division before signing by the head of customs. Confused yet? Us too.
This is where the battery shipment was held up when Christmas got in the way. You guessed it, the crate was delayed here too. But this time the reason for delay was even more bizarre. Our broker’s agent went to BOC to pick up the signed documents. But they were sitting inside a locked desk drawer while the official was away for several days. No one else, apparently, had spare keys or any interest in helping out. Hurdle number three.
On February 1st, well after our return from PG, we were still waiting for BOC law division signatures.
Somewhere in here, BOC also asked for a surety bond and a CAs accreditation (whatever that is). Hurdles four and five meant yet more paperwork. And then we learned that BOC law division and the customs head had signed the clearance. Whew! It was a done deal. Almost.
Here BOC requested confirmation from the bank that sufficient funds were on hand to process the clearance fees before they would request the transfer. More paperwork. Finally, on February 12th, the payment was processed.
The next day the funds were transferred to the warehouse and the shipment was ready for release. But it already being so late in the day, Sandra actually asked for it to be delayed just one more day so it could be delivered in daylight. However, in the world of customs, nothing seems to happen before 10 a.m., so it was no surprise that it didn’t leave Manila until almost lunchtime.
In true Philippines time, it arrived on February 14 at 4:30 p.m., almost three months after arriving in Manila and more than four and a half months after being dropped off at Annacis Island. Happy Valentine’s Day!!! It felt more like Christmas.
With Chris away at work and no forklift at the yacht club to remove the crate from the delivery truck, Sandra enlisted the help of Patrick and John, our neighbours JB, Raphael, Michael, Jason and Jay-R and some of the marina crew to help unload the crate, cart it all to the dock and get it on board MOKEN. With a little creative organizing, everything has pretty much found a home tucked away into lockers and drawers spread all over the boat.
Now we just have to wait for the bill for all the paperwork, clearance fees, warehousing and freight forwarding. Ouch!!!
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Update (July 28, 2013): In truly relaxed Philippines style, we finally received the invoices for the two shipments from the freight company, roughly four and six months after the deliveries were made. Even though the invoices were dated as of January and February. I was notified that they received our international wire transfer about two days ago. The shipment saga is finally over. Until next time!