At the time I’m writing this, our stuff (6 boxes—30 cubic feet of clothes, shoes, camping stuff, electronics) is scheduled to ship out of Los Angeles on June 12th on the Kota Waruna, a container ship registered out of Singapore. I dropped the boxes off in Denver on May 16th. From there the boxes went by truck to Los Angeles. Then like some hitchhiker it seems the boxes waited to find a ship heading in the right direction until finally the Kota Waruna agreed to take them aboard.
If all goes well, the boxes should arrive in the Port of Tauranga here on July 11th. Actual delivery of our goods to us should be sometime after that. Kota Waruna—it sounds like a song from Disney’s The Lion King, doesn’t it? Here’s a photo of our actual ship, the Kota Waruna.
The Port of Tauranga is the largest port in New Zealand in terms of total cargo volume. At all hours of the day and night, massive container ships arrive and depart. Giant cranes unload the containers. Even at night driving home from downtown, you can see the cranes lit up like giant Christmas trees loading and unloading the ships.
But what is the story behind these container ships, one of which will carry our goods?
Commercial ships transport two types of dry cargo, termed bulk cargo (e.g. grain or coal) and break bulk cargo (e.g. packaged goods such as manufactured items). Bulk cargo is generally shipped loose in the hull of a ship. Prior to the advent of container ships, break bulk cargo was shipped in a variety of different forms and shapes and loaded and unloaded one piece at a time. Remember those old photos of stevedores hauling giant nets full of stuff from the holds of ships.
The idea of a container ship is that all the disparate items in a break bulk cargo load would be packed prior to shipping in uniform-sized containers usually either 20 or 40 feet long. Thus the containers could be pre-loaded, by a manufacturer for example, prior to shipping and more readily loaded and unloaded at the docks because of their uniform size. Indeed, a container ship can be loaded and unloaded in a matter of hours compared to days for a traditional cargo ship. The containers were also of such a size that they could also be easily carried either by truck or train to or from the port. Also with current technology, each container itself can be readily tracked and its location and arrival accurately timed resulting in increased efficiency for business and commerce.
The first container ship was developed in 1956 but it was another ten years before they began to take over commercial shipping. Container ships come in several sizes: small, medium and large. Actually there are seven size classifications generally based on the size of the ship (length, beam and draft) and its capacity. A standardized way to measure the capacity of a container ship, how much it can carry, is with the twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU). This is a metal container generally 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8.6 feet high. The more common forty foot long container would be 2 TEUs.
The largest of the modern container ships termed an Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) are 1200 feet or longer in length and can carry upwards of 14,500 TEUs.
The Kota Waruna, on which our stuff would be travelling, would be classified one up from the smallest size of container ship, and is termed a feeder, which is often used to transport goods between smaller ports. Owned by the Pacific International Line (PIL), built in 1996 at the Kanasashi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. in Japan, the Kota Waruna is 600 feet in length and has a capacity of 1550 TEUs.
At the time I write this, GPS satellite data shows the Kota Waruna, making its way from Shanghai to Longbeach, California at a speed of 12.2 knots and is expected to arrive there in five hours. Once in Long Beach, it will stay there less than 24 hours. Time is money and the ships are loaded and unloaded tout de suite.
Update: It’s few weeks later. Apparently the Kota Waruna arrived and departed from LA without incident. Satellite location of the Kota Waruna shows it at sea somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Update: Kota Waruna somewhere near Fiji. Shipping company has contacted me for further documentation and payment of fees. It’s actually like a relay race with our stuff. One company takes our stuff, then hands it off to another, then they hand it off to another, and finally someone else brings it to our door where it stops, and we say, “Hey, look, it’s our stuff!” First, I dealt with UpakWeShip out of Charleston, South Carolina. Then they handed things off to EuroAsia US who handled things from Denver to LA and got our things on the Kota Waruna. Now I am dealing with World Moving and Storage here in New Zealand who will get our stuff off the ship, handle customs and arrange for the final delivery.
So how much does it cost to ship six hefty Home-Depot boxes here from Colorado Springs? $650. But Rebecca wanted insurance in case the ship sunk or was torpedoed and her dozens of pairs of shoes went down with the ship. That added another $120 for $3500 worth of insurance. While in route, I was informed New Zealand Customs wanted $115 so I paid that. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just buy the stuff here? Probably. But what fun is that.
Update: Kota Waruna is in Brisbane – I didn’t know it was going there.
Update: (July 7) Kota Waruna docked in Melbourne – I didn’t know it was going there.
Update: (July 15) Supposed to arrive tonight in the Port of Tauranga at 915 PM. Rebecca is going out to look and see if she can see it gliding through the channel with our stuff. Rebecca doesn’t see the ship. There are some shifty characters on the harbor side of the inlet and she comes home. The Kota Waruna arrives later that night. Our stuff has arrived!
Update: Wait, now I am informed our boxes have to go up to Auckland by rail and then be delivered here by truck. But the good news is that our stuff wasn’t inspected by New Zealand Customs. That could have added more fees. They charge for any box they open. Also if they decide, for example, a tent isn’t clean, they charge you to clean it unless they don’t allow it in and destroy it. Very strict. One guy told me just to paint everything prior to shipping it. That’s what he does.
Update: (July 25) Our stuff arrived! 2 months 1 week and 3 days after I dropped it off in Denver.
Am I glad I got my stuff? Yes, winter clothes, I wear them inside the house, it’s so bloody cold here sometimes.