We are about to freighter our sailing vessel „Cheglia“ from New Zealand to Southampton, UK. We had been in contact with Sevenstars for a while. This trip first was announced for March 2020, and all of our planning was geared towards an early March departure.
Cheglia was still under repair in Opua, and the schedule was ambitious. I flew back to NZ on February 5th, Lydia had to stay home due to her back injury. Remember these days before Corona? You could just book a flight, depart and arrive on time – all of that without restrictions.
We hoped for quick seatrials with our repaired Cheglia (thank you SeaPower in Opua) to check all systems, before we contract with Sevenstars. Besides the fact, that these guys are not known for modest pricing, their contract is cut throat and not negotiable.
I signed a few contracts in my life, but this thing was a new experience. We all can appreciate, that a sea transport of a yacht is not easy. Schedules are difficult to set, maintain, and to keep. Weather, not enough bookings, diverging boat owner‘s priorities, timing with shipping companies etc.pp.
I learned a few things:
AGW WP = All goes well, weather permitting (which basically makes the schedule meaningless for the shipping company) is an official INCO term…
However: „demurrage of € 15.000“ means, this is the DAILY fee charged to the yacht owner, if the ship had to wait for a yacht, which has to make itself available on short notice.
Cancellation fees are UPWARDS of 80% of the total contract value, if cancelled at least 30 days prior to departure, going up to 100%, if cancelled short notice.
The crux is, the contract allows Sevenstars to delay the departure practically unlimited, without yacht owner had a chance to cancel the contract, or getting his 25% downpayment back – „unfair“?
Well, knowing all this we signed the transport Agreement 13.3.2020. The good news: engine, gearbox, generator, bowthruster, all work well.
Meanwhile, the estimated time for loading in Auckland had slipped to „on or about“ 4.4.-15.4. … „MV Minervagracht“ was en route from Singapore.
Then, New Zealand hit the „Corona brake“ level 2 on March 21st, two days later Level 3, and effective March 25 Level 4, practically a complete lock down, a corfew for all here, which were not deemed „essential services“. The scheduled arrival date was moved to May 3 rd and then to 5th, 2020.
Sevenstars mailed, that under Level 4 delivery crews to bring the yachts to the freighter are not considered essential services. Lock down. MV Minervagracht stopped and anchored in West Australia. And still does so today, April 6th.
to be continued