Loading on to Yacht Express

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Sun 8 Jan 2017 05:08
Loading on to Yacht Express
We have loaded TIME2 on the yacht transporter “Yacht Express”  ... a ship, that ships ships.  After looking at our cruising options for the next few years, we decided that we would like to get back to the balmy climate and blue waters of the Bahamas and Caribbean. As we are in New Zealand our options are,  to sail back, or ship her. Motoring across the Pacific, the “wrong way” into prevailing weather did not appeal.  Too hard on the boat and too hard on the crew – so Mike made the big decision to ship.
Yacht Express is an incredible machine. She is a 209m long, 32m wide ship that turns itself into a marina and then into a moving dry dock for yachts. Let me try to explain how it works.
blog arrival 
Here she is – arriving in Auckland
The ship ties up to a wharf and then opens up at the back, flooding its loading bay.  Most of the ship is now semi-submerged, turning it into a “marina”.  Yachts then motor into the ship, as you would into a marina, and tie up to the sides. While afloat, divers go down and position stands to support these yachts – stands are similar to what you would find in a boat yard.  The back door is then closed, the water is  pumped out of the ship and it “re-floats” to its normal level.  The yachts are now all resting on their stands, which are now welded to the surface of the ship for better stability.  The ship then sails off to its next destination, where the reverse procedure is followed.  There is a good drone video on YouTube – just “Google” Yacht Express Sydney and you will find it.
blog half sunk
She is now semi-submerged – tug on standby
blog t2 in     blog boats inside boats
TIME2 squeezed in next to the super yacht EVVIVA   (nice helicopter!)                                                     Those sports fishing boats are also inside the carrier
blog back door              blog back view
Back of the ship is still open                                                                                                         Nicely tucked in at the front.
bl front stands       bl back stands
And this is what it looks like once the water has been pumped out
Loading TIME2 was stressful. We left Bayswater at about 11am and motored slowly over to the wharf, ready to load at noon. We were then radioed and told of a one hour delay, which eventually stretched out to over three hours. During this time we were motoring up and down the bay –  you can only sail under the Auckland bridge so many times, before it gets boring!. Part of the delay was their miscalculation the tides  and then the last big yacht to offload, could not start its engines, so we had to wait longer while they recharged their batteries.  Finally, after 3pm we were given the go-ahead to enter the ship.
We were told by the load-master that we must prepare for a Starboard side tie, and put out our lines accordingly. Once we were inside, we could see all the loading crew were on the Port side.  Confused, I yelled to the load-master who yells back that we can tie up either side ????   and then motions for us to squeeze in between the super yacht Evviva and the gantry.  Now there is no way we are going to take our first tie to a $50mil super yacht – when there is a perfectly good sturdy gantry on the Port-side, and about 4 crew waiting for our lines.  Bit of a mad rush to get lines to the other side, but all worked out well in the end. The crew of Evviva very smartly positioned some giant fenders, but were not needed.  And then it was all over, TIME2 was safely tied up and secure, and we climbed off.   I was quite stunned that a marine load-master could mix up his Starboard and Port? but this may be the same guy that got his tide calculations wrong.  Besides this, we have had very professional service from the shipping company and trust that TIME2 will be well treated on her very long journey to Florida.  
I’m not exactly sure of the route, but guessing it goes something like this:  1300nm to Sydney,  4600nm to Hong Kong, 1500nm to Singapore, 6500nm thru the Red Sea/ Suez to Genoa and finally 4700nm across the Atlantic to Port Everglades.  That’s about 19 000nm – over 9 or 10 weeks. I feel quite sad that she is travelling all that way without us.
We will stay in New Zealand for another week and then fly home until it is time to unload TIME2 in Port Everglades.