Saturday, June 25, 2011

All Work and No Play Makes...

We now have only five weeks to go before we start turning wheels and heading east, and I can't wait.  The fun part of preparing for this trip has been getting new bikes and all our new gear, reading about and researching cool places to see and dreaming of the fun we will have.  This week, however, hasn't contained any of that: this week has been all about how to move the bikes (and ourselves) and making them (and us) legal.  Yay.

One of the biggest issues that we have been working on is how to ship the bikes to Africa.  After much time on the phone and internet, Re has found a shipper that can get them there.  Originally, we hoped to be able to ship our bikes (and ourselves) out of somewhere on the east coast of the US.  We discovered that Delta has a direct flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, and South African Airlines has flights from DC and New York to Johannesburg and had hoped to be able to use one of these options.  Sadly, no.  It seems that since 9/11 the cargo regulations have changed, and almost everyone we spoke to (be they an airline representative or freight forwarder) declined to ship our bikes as they are considered, "personal effects".  Re also contacted several companies that specifically advertise shipping motorcycles as a part of their business and only found one that would even give us a quote.  Two tiny bikes that can be packed together in a 36x40x62 inch crate and weigh a total of approximately 500 pounds shipped to Johannesburg for the low, low price of only $8500!?!

We declined that offer and turned our attention north to Canada, to British Airways, and our new friend, Savio.  Savio gave us a quote of approximately $2000 to Cape Town, South Africa.  Cape Town has always been our preference over Johannesburg and we were overjoyed to discover that BA has a flight from London directly to Cape Town.  That price is only for airport to airport service, so we will have to deliver our bikes to the airport in Toronto and will have to sort out customs ourselves on the South Africa end.   Unfortunately, we can't book our freight shipment until we are within two weeks of departure, which means we have to book our flights and trust that everything will work out.

Oh, and the bikes have to be crated.  One problem solved, one new problem.  Now we have to figure out how to either crate the bikes at a relative's house in the US and get them to Toronto or how to crate them in Toronto after we ride them there.  After more phone calls we found a crating company in Toronto who can build us a crate, but we would still have to partially disassemble the bikes, load them in the crate and deliver the 500 pound crate to the airport.  Sigh.

The other project for the week was securing Carnet de Passages en Duane for the bikes.  Carnet is like a passport for the bikes that is required by some of the countries that we will visit.  The function of Carnet is that "(i)t offers a guarantee to a foreign government that the vehicle identified in the Carnet, if granted temporary importation status, will be removed from the country within the time limit imposed by the respective jurisdiction.  In the event that the vehicle is not removed within the imposed time frame, the country may claim from the Carnet issuer all duties and taxes that would be required to permanently import the vehicle to that country."

In order to have Carnet issued, you must supply proof of ownership, photos of the vehicles, passport photos, copies of the owner's passport, and an application to the issuing organization.  Here in North America, the Canadian Automobile Association is the exclusive organization that issues Carnet.  Suzanne Danis is the person in charge of issuing Carnet at the CAA and has been extremely helpful in assisting us with the process and answering all of our questions.  We were able to send all of our documents and complete most of our communication by email.

Carnet is an expensive document to acquire for two reasons.  It costs $650 per bike to have it issued and you must either deposit a large sum of money with the issuer or purchase an indemnity policy in order to cover the cost of the taxes and penalties that the issuer would be responsible for if you did not remove your vehicle from the country you were visiting.  The amount of money you must deposit is a multiple of the vehicle's value, and the multiple depends on which countries you are visiting. (it can be as much as 3 times the value of the vehicle).  We will have to deposit $5000 for each bike or we could buy an indemnity policy (which is also based on the value of the vehicle) for an additional $550 each.  The cost of Carnet is another reason we chose the Symbas- their low cost translates into a smaller amount of money we have to deposit.  (I've read stories of people remortgaging their homes in order to put up the deposit.)  We decided on the cash deposit route and to mail a cashier's check but, just to make life more interesting, the Canadian Postal Service is currently having a nationwide strike.  Sigh.  So that leaves us using an international wire transfer, which would be easy if  the nearest branch of our credit union wasn't over 300 miles away.  Hopefully that will get taken care of this week.

On the plus side, the sun is finally out in Portland this weekend.  I'm going riding today and we're headed for the beach tomorrow!

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