Across the USA 2013 #12 (Turtle Delivery to Port)
We have been working with Murphy for many years. We know his 1st law; “If anything can go wrong, it probably will.” We waited patiently in the dusty parking lot of A1 Escort Service near the Port of Baltimore. In order to enter the Port, either to pick up something or to deliver something to be shipped, you need a certified escort with the proper credentials, preferably one who knows where he’s going, where you need to go, what papers you need to have, (which ones you don’t need), and who to give them to.
Seabridge International had recommended A1 Escort Service. As the clock ticked after the two-hour lunch break we started to wonder if we’re going to spend the night there. Because of morning traffic into Baltimore, we had been advised not to leave Wrightsville PA before 9:00 AM. That meant we actually arrived at A1 Escort Service’s parking lot about 11:00 AM.
Not to worry. Garret Taylor, the owner of A1 Escort Service, arrived and when he saw that we were still waiting, things started to happen. Paperwork in hand, I followed Garrett through a maze of potholed side roads to the entry of the Baltimore Port. Monika had to stay behind. Only one person is allowed to enter the Dundalk Marine Terminal with the vehicle being shipped.
First stop was a massive 15-foot high gate like something you’d see in a penitentiary. I parked next to a tall pillar obviously designed for semi truck drivers. Garrett jumped out of his escort car and reached up to grab the phone and hand it to me. The person on the other end lethargically asked me for my name, driver’s license number and if I had some other paper – (I could barely understand her). Garrett just told me to say yes. After a short pause, a white slip of paper popped out of the slot below the phone. I grabbed it and we continued to the next gate where a second officer inspected my driver’s license and my white entry slip, gave a friendly wave to Garrett, and opened the crossbar. We then wound our way through a maze of warehouses and parking lots. I followed carefully, snapping pictures along the way. The first stop was Customs. There were a couple of drivers waiting but it took only a few minutes. Two different people inspected the documents Garrett instructed me to hand them, including the original Vehicle Certificate of Title. I did have a stack of other documents including multiple copies of the Vehicle Certificate of Title, an official letter from the Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service with my taxpayer identification number and my Passport, none of which were needed.
We then proceeded through the continuing maze of parking lots to a second building. I’m still not sure what the function of that office is. They did re-inspect all the paperwork again, including the original of the Certificate of Title. There was no problem but they asked when we’re going to be returning with the vehicle. When I said it would probably be 3 years, the officer raised his eyebrows, pause for a moment, and stamped the original title “EXPORT APPROVED”. Beneath the stamp it said “US Customs and Border Protection”. Since I thought we had already been through Customs, this office must have been a secondary Customs and Border Protection check.
We then drove around a couple of warehouses to a large parking lot full of 5th wheel and travel trailers. Garrett directed me to what he considered a safe place to park and we waited. After about 5 minutes, agent Lewis Hubbard arrived in a golf cart with his clipboard in hand. He checked the VIN number and looked the vehicle over. He noted that all external compartments were securely double locked except for the driver’s door.
He then asked me if we had carefully measured the vehicle. I said yes we had. He asked me if I was satisfied with those measurements. I said yes. He said, “That’s good for me.” I handed him the key to the ignition and took a few more pictures including some of the outside of the truck and camper, showing that there was no damage at this time. I was surprised and relieved by how simple it all was and how friendly everyone was. Lewis assured me the parking/holding area was well lit and under 24-hour video surveillance. He said with the vehicle parked right under the Custom’s nose, they didn’t encounter much crime.
We drove back to the office of A-1 Escort and paid $62.50. Garret apologized for the delay and gave us a ride to the Transportation Center to catch a taxicab to the underground and eventually to the airport. Where was Murphy? Aside from proper preparation, we could not believe how simple the whole process had been.
The next day we landed at Heathrow International Airport in London, England where an old friend of Monika’s met us. Sinking into the plush leather seats of the Range Rover, we had arrived. Never mind that our Turtle V would be sitting in the Port of Baltimore holding lot for 10 days, waiting for the next ship to dock. It was time to go to a Pub and have a pint of ale and some proper fish & chips.
We were beginning to wonder if we were going to spend the night in the parking lot of A1 Escort Services.
We wound our way through a maze of warehouses and parking lots. I followed carefully, snapping pictures along the way.
Garret Tayler, the owner of A1 Escort Service, was very knowledgeable and friendly. It helped that every one at the port seemed to know him.
The final Port inspector gave us a friendly wish for a safe trip. He did say the parking/holding area was under 24-hour lights and security cameras.
The Turtle V was safely on its way. With a sigh of relief, we relaxed on the underground metro to Dulles International Airport.
Arriving in England, it was time to pop into a pub have pint ale and some proper fish & chips.