It's finally arrived!
Finally after far too long waiting the boat turned up Easter Sunday. Typically the container unload seems to be done at a port or boat yard - certainly that's how the photos of the other F-33 unloadings I've seen did it. I decided not to do this, mainly because the option of unloading and winching the boat into the air by hand at my build site seemed a better option than unloading and assembling the boat and trailer, and driving both back through London.
So, to cut to the chase it all went fairly well. Here's a few notes which might help others taking this route.
- One of the other unloads said extracting was "not a problem with a little persuasion from Tom's truck". Well that's not what we found - our tow vehicle (the only one we could rustle up with a tow bar) was woefully inadequate and it didn't even budge. We ended up hooking up the cab from the container lorry, and it took 3 hours of coaxing, adjusting and realigning to ensure we didn't scrape the sides. There is very, very little room to spare in that box. With the boat, trailer base and sled, the load is probably about 2500kg.
- I built some dolly carts to wheel the sled into place. These looked quite pathetic but did the job - 2 x 2000x400x18mm sheets of ply with 3 x 100mm ø castors on each side, each with a SWL of 200kg. These were positioned at the door of the container as the sled was pulled out, so the total height had to be under about 170mm, which was the height of the container base.
- I had two girders 2.95m up and 3.8m apart, conveniently positioned for the lift. We used 2 x 5m polyester lifting straps (1000kg SWL - the purple ones) which looped under the boat near the beams, and hoisted with 2 x chain blocks (1000kg SWL, 3m drop). The straps and blocks were secured to the beams by 5 loops of 8mm dyneema core rope - a halyard, basically, with each series of loops tied off in a bowline. The load on all of these components was well within tolerance, a good thing as we found ourselves working under the boat while it was suspended.
- There were 5 of us doing the unload, and I think if you're going to do it by hand as we did that's the minimum you can get away with. The floats are 130kg each and the trailer base (shipped on top of the boat frame, in just the right position to get stuck in the container) was heavier. The main hull was 1000kg or so and we had to use the chain block to winch it in when we got stuck in a potholes.
- Getting the boat into the air was easy, getting it level on the trailer seemed to be beyond us until someone had the bright idea of fastening the beam mounts on one side of the boat to the girders overhead while it was suspended. This levelled the boat out as we lowered it. Chain blocks on both sides of the lifting strap would have done it too.
- You need an angle grinder to cut open a container. Perhaps you already know this - I did not, but happened to have one to hand. This was fortunate, as otherwise I would have looked pretty stupid.
- 33ft may not be enough to qualify as a very big boat, but it's ****ing huge when you put it in a shed!
The only thing I'd change would be to consult up the trailer plans before positioning all the bunks, and to put another dolly in the middle of the sled as by the time we'd extracted it from the container, the middle was sagging on the ground. It turns out 60x100x5mm steel box sections are actually quite bendy if you make them long enough. While I'm sure using a boatyard crane would have saved some nerves in the buildup, the alternative - having to assemble the trailer, load the boat, fit the floats (which, as it's a new model, I didn't have plans for) then drive from the coast to a major city on a bank holiday weekend - looks like a considerably worse option, even in hindsight.
Here's a video of the day, cobbled together from the few cameras we had that didn't fail just as we needed them.
A few people have asked for details and costs for the import process. There's not a huge amount to tell as it was all handlded by the shipper (in my case, DB Schenker). Most of the paperwork for shipping was supplied by the builder - all I had to supply was the TARIC code which would determine the import duty into Europe - the closest match was 89039110, which from the Philippines meant no duty was payable. Other costs were shipping, freight handling charge, customs clearance charge and disbursement fees, which came to £4380 and was all paid to the shipping firm, VAT (also paid to the shipping firm, who managed the customs clearance), then the truck delivery fee - apparently £400 or so normally, much more if you do it on Easter Sunday. Those were my costs as of April 2014, I can't comment on whether they're typical.