The container needed to be in Port of Seattle by noon on Friday to make the cut off for the ship, so the loading at Bartholomew’s shop in Spokane was scheduled 7 am on Wednesday, October 15. As usual, we were given 2 hours to load (which is not enough), but this is our tenth container and we have learned to have as many things on pallets as we can so the loading is faster and the cargo more secure in the container.
We received a call from the driver about 7:30. He seemed confused about the route to the shop from the Interstate, but he finally arrived about 45 minutes late. There was a serious language difficulty communicating with the driver and he had difficulty backing the truck up to the shop door, but we got the truck was positioned and began loading. The driver did not seem to take any interest in what was being loaded, which had not been the case with previous drivers, but stayed in his truck the entire time.
The loading was finished at about 10: 30 except for putting the all-terrain forklift into the container. We needed the driver turn the truck around and back up to our loading dock so we could drive the forklift into the container. In trying to position the truck, the driver did not seem to understand we needed him to move the rear of the truck so it was square to the loading dock and he would not follow our directions. Finally, we bridged the gap with an iron sheet and precariously loaded the 10,000 lb forklift. The total weight of the container was close to the 42,000 lb limit.
The driver tried to pull away from the dock to close the doors, but the truck would not move. He did not seem to know how to release the trailer brakes. Gary finally climbed up in the cab and made him understand that he had to rev the engine to build up air pressure to release the brakes. After about 15 minutes, he got the truck moving and closed and sealed the doors and left the yard for the 6-hour drive to dock in Seattle. We were concerned for our cargo and our concern increased as the driver tried to make an impossibly sharp turn out of the driveway and nearly put the rig in the ditch. We had never had this kind of trouble on this end of a voyage, but the container was our of our hands and on it’s way.
We received word on the following Tuesday that the container had missed the noon Friday cut-off at the port for loading on the ship. There had been no word to us, but the trucking company had rolled the booking to the next ship, which was to leave on Oct 29. The container was unaccounted for during those days.
After many emails, we learned the container entered the port on Monday, but there was a question about who would be responsible for the late gate fee, the booking roll-over fee, the daily storage fee till the next ship, and the fee for this and for that. At least the container was at the port, and hopefully the cargo was still intact. We do not think we should pay for this delay, but our agent will negotiate the responsibility for the extra fees incurred.
We are anxious for our precious cargo, but as usual, we had entrusted this container into the Lord’s care so we will just trust Him to take care of our precious cargo and deliver it safe to our shop in Guatemala so its contents can be used to provide clean water and reducing human suffering. This has never happened on the start of the voyage, and we hoped it was not a signal of trouble ahead for this container.