Finally Got Our Parts and Ready to Leave

Broken parts

Broken parts

After our main traveller car busted on January 31 as we were headed for St. Helena from Cape Town – just 1.5 days out, so we took two days to divert to Luderitz, Namibia. Broken part shown here. Efforts to get the parts (a block was also broken), began immediately. Our boat manufacturer got us the part numbers and a reference to the top Lewmar dealer in Cape Town. I called Central Boating to get the parts, but I wasn’t able to reach the main guy before he had left. Next morning I reached him and he started looking for the parts and getting a quote. He determined he would have to get the Lewmar traveller from the UK office and at the end of the day he did not have an answer from them. I was pretty bummed because that meant another day’s delay and not getting the part likely until Friday.

The next day, he calls in the morning to say that the UK office told him they could not get me the part for a week! I think my heart stopped. He said they now have an “on demand” inventory for these parts where they make the parts. It normally takes 4 weeks, but they put a rush on it. I said it was unacceptable, that I would call everywhere to find one in stock, and I suggested he do the same. I called a few places, but an hour later Central Boating called and said he had found one! The next problem was shipping. I had done checking locally and it was advised to use DHL, but that you must get the package marked as “Urgent” and call them to make sure they get a truck organized for Luderitz (900 km away from Windhoek – the main office). South Africa has an agreement with Namibia, and products come across without having to pay duty, so I was told that would be no issue.

So, we had the parts shipped by DHL for Luderitz. I called DHL and told them it was urgent and it was needed by Friday (they needed 1 day to get it to Windhoek, and one day to get it to Luderitz). The next day, it arrived in Luderitz, but then the tracking said it went to customs clearance. At this point I called to make sure they had the truck organized, but it didn’t move for the next three hours from customs. I called several times, and they couldn’t explain why it wasn’t moving. Finally, I reached the operations manager and at 3:02 PM he said that unfortunately customs had closed and they did not process an entire day’s worth of packages. He apologized and said he would get it sorted the next morning, but now we would not get the package by Friday. Arrrrgh. Now I was really worried we wouldn’t get the package before Monday or later. So, I explained our situation and he said he understood.

On Friday morning, the manager had promised to call by 10 AM. When I called at 10:15 he said he was in a meeting with customs and would call me back as soon as he got out. Several hours went by and I called, texted, and e-mailed asking for an update. All I got was “I’m working on it”. Believe it or not, I only got an answer at 3:15PM that the parcel was finally clearing customs and that they would be making arrangements to get us the parts by Saturday morning. But, it wasn’t until almost 6 PM that they confirmed they had a driver and the parcel was finally in their possession. The manager, to his credit, stayed until he was sure the delivery would be made. But, I wondered what the heck really happened to take so long (30 hours) for our package to clear customs. Sheesh!



Saturday morning the driver called me at 8 AM and we had to go to the customs office. I couldn’t understand why since they had already cleared it. We spent the next 40 minutes having the customs open the package, inspect the contents (twice – two different officials), and I had to sign 16 pages of documents, stamps, copies, and pay a US$15 fee for the processing. All this for parts from South Africa where no duty is required! Talk about bureaucracy. Wow. I paid a tip to the poor driver who drove all night 900 km one-way to bring me the parcel.

New parts

New parts

Within two hours, Karen and I had installed the new traveller. You can see a picture of the traveller and block instaled. We also got fuel and started getting provisions for our departure. But, the problem is that there is no wind forecasted for the weekend. So, we can’t leave until Monday. There’s no way we can afford to use our tiny supply of fuel for a 5000 mile trip across the South Atlantic at the beginning of the trip. So, we just wait.

By the way, it was a good thing this part broke when it did. We found considerable wear in two other places. I think this part needs to be replaced once every three years on a boat our size under ocean-crossing conditions.

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1 Response to Finally Got Our Parts and Ready to Leave

  1. nanag says:

    There always seems to be a good reason for things like this going wrong. I believe you should be thankful that it happened at the time and place that it did. I am so thankful and I am praying hard for your safe travels. Love and hugs to you and Karen.

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