Customs cleared! Planning the trip to Baltimore

I’m a little late in posting; busy week at work.  On Tuesday May 4 I received an email from the broker that Customs had cleared the car!

Customs release email

This was much quicker than expected!  I immediately reviewed my schedule to see if it would be possible for me to get out there Friday (yesterday) to pick up the car.  No way to make that happen.  I had work commitments I couldn’t possibly get out of.  In addition, I still had to get registration and plates from Wisconsin DMV and that was to be an unknown process in terms of timeline since the official line is that it takes 6 to 8 weeks…

I called the Wallenius customer service people to see how much it costs to leave the car at the port until I can get there.  They indicated that my car is now in demurrage –another one of those wonderfully arcane shipping terms, look it up:  I get 5 days of storage free of charge.  The second 5-day period of demurrage is charged at $0.34 per 110 lbs for the 5 days with a $10.12 minimum charge.  Doing quick math tells me my featherweight 1800 falls in the minimum charge bracket.  The scheme for the third 5-day period is similar but at $0.61 per pound.  I was afraid to ask what happens to my car after it sits there for longer than 15 days.  I should be there to rescue it by the time 10 days have elapsed so I’m in for only $10.12.  We’ll see…

When I picked up the Fiat in ’08 I was faced with unexpected charges for which they would take no cash nor personal checks or CC’s so I’ve placed my broker on alert in case I need to call her and have her post an official payment for me if that happens again.

Tuesday morning I called Wisconsin DMV headquarters in Madison to inquire as to obtaining temporary plates and registration on the spot.  They indicated it’s not their MO but if the local branch feels up to it they might be able to fax the documents  to Madison for an on-the-spot registration issuance.  This is what my friend Mark did when he recently imported his Citroen GS: When I got to the DMV, everybody was pretty friendly; then the clerk called Madison and was told the paperwork had to be sent in for their review and it would take 6 – 8 weeks, end of story.  Man, this is not going to be easy.  I went back in the car and immediately dialed Madison again and related my story to Sharon, the clerk that took my call.  I put in an impassioned plea for help that was compelling enough for her to put me on hold 10 minutes to discuss the matter with her “supervisors” (bad enough to have one, she has two).  She returned to the line to say that if I was willing to spend on overnight mailing of the paperwork and an overnight return mailer back to me, and oh, the $4 expedite fee, they would turn it around in a day for me if I addressed it to “Andrea, Room 851”, her supervisor.  At this point I was willing to walk to Madison to get this deal done, FedEx fees and the $4 expedite charge seemed like a genuine bargain.

I returned home from a business trip at 6 pm Thursday evening and rushed home to with enough time to web search the closest FedEx drop off that I could make that evening.  Lucky enough, it was a few blocks away with a 7:15 pm pick up time.  I typed a letter to Andrea profusely thanking her and detailing all that I was enclosing in the envelope.  I placed all the documentation, forms and fees in as much a foolproof layout as I could and got to the FedEx box around 6:45.  After all this, I still had time to make it to my son’s Alex (10) baseball game where he hit a home run but they lost the game after all.

FedEx tracking confirms delivery of my envelope to them at 9:43 Friday but I can tell they didn’t get the return shipment to me since the FedEx tracking for that slip is not yet live.

My plan now is to fly out next Friday at 6 am arriving into BWI at 8:55.  Port hours are 8 am to 3:30 with an  11:30 to 1:00  lunch break.  I need to pack some tools for the trip so I’ll have to check the bag but I should make it to the port terminal to get this done before their generous lunch break.  Complicating this is the post-911 port security requirements (TWIC) so that a regular Joe just can’t stroll in to the port terminal area without having a special TWIC pass.  This pass is sufficiently difficult and expensive to obtain that it has spawned a cottage industry of escort services who do have TWIC clearance to get folks like me into the ports.  The tricky thing is, if you get caught in the middle of the lunch break with your escort, the meter is running and the money just continues to flow on this project.  Small consolation that it’s dollars and not Euros any more…    I’ll be calling A-1 Escorts this week (not making it up) to inquire as to their charges.

I have yet to reach Lothar in Maryland to see if we can connect and tour his collection.


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