Day 235 : Its the little things in life that matter

9 March 2011

High Point: Beating Steve in a “MAN OFF” while seeing who handled a saw better!!

Low Point: Being Freezing cold and losing the feeling in every extremity of my body waiting outside at the port in the Bitter New Jersey wind.

No Point : I now carry a pen around with me just in case someone else asks for my signature… Nice!


It is said that success is measured in inches not miles and yesterday was testament to that. For all of Marthas 28,000 miles travelled, her 25 countries ticked off and 4 continents conquered it was down to 1 inch whether or not we would be getting home this April. Yesterday on a bitterly cold winters day in the bleakest of ports just outside of New York the dream of FTFE almost finished.

Here`s what went down…

We knew there was a small issue with Martha’s height as Steve and I bordered the train at New York`s Penn Station at around 7.30am on our way to meet Rick Harty and his team at Transportation Services International. That said neither of us really knew what the day ahead was to hold as we sat and drank our 3rd coffee of the morning on the train heading out of Manhattan to industrial New Jersey.

Upon seeing the open flat rack that Martha was going to call home for the next 3 weeks as she is transported across the Atlantic Ocean Rick and Steve worked out that we needed to lose  14 inches from her height so she could safely negotiate all the bridges on her transfer from the warehouse yard to the port itself.  9 inches came from the removal of all non essential items on the roof, the bikes, the flags, the aerial and finally her beloved blue lights (will they ever work again!). Next came a “trimming” of the back ladders as Steve and I put bragging rights on the line in a “saw off”… watch the video to see who won!

All added up we still were about 2 inches shy of our mark and so it was decided that once she was in place on the flat rack the air would be let out of her tires until we were well under the 14 ft total we needed to be. Thanks to some expert thinking from Rick and the team from Tuminos Towing (using their flatbed truck to provide a ramp for Martha) along with some unusually great driving control from Steve she was soon up on the rack with air flying out of her tyres. Soon enough we had reached just around 14ft high and with strapping down she was compressed to just under our mark and everything looked rosy.  Rick then appeared around the courner walked straight past us put his head against the cab and suddenly with one sentence all seemed lost…

Day 235 - New York (13 of 22) “We`re still over height, the port won’t accept you” he had just found out that unless we lost another 20 inches Martha would be considered an over height vehicle and couldn’t be accepted for the ship. It had been hard enough to lose the first 14 inches but to lose another 20 was impossible, it simply wasn’t going to happen. Just so you understand, Missing a shipping date isn’t like missing a bus, there isn’t another one round the courner and 2 NEVER EVER come at once! It could take weeks or months until the next ship would be able to take the fire engine across to North Africa and abruptly all the momentum of the past 8 months and all the hard work of the past 2 years would be lost!

Rick ran back to his office to see if he could pull in some massive favours at the port while Danny from DAS services continued to secure Martha down to the open rack. There was little that Steve or I could do at this moment and in all this waiting around and thinking the cold REALLY began to get to us! Small issues like not having a truck driver to actually get Martha to the port seemed inconsequential to the fact that she wasn’t even allowed to enter it anyway!

It felt like an eternity of waiting until Rick appeared and said that we had “by the luck of God” managed to secure a late port and had about an hour to get it to the port and into the hands of the customs officials, rapidly all hands were at the deck! We had been given the smallest of windows to make this happen and we weren’t going to drop the ball.

And so in movie military fashion, the truck (with driver found and Martha sitting high on the back) gunned out of the loading yard with cars and trucks front and back providing almost a presidential motorcade for the old girl, and she seemed to relish in her elevated position!

On the way to the port we faced our last test of the day when a bridge passing over the highway was much lower than we first though. Measuring only 13ft 9inches it was 2 inches shorter than Martha was on the flat rack. Rick looked worried as the truck driver pulled over on the hard shoulder and started to inch closer to the bridge.

Martha closed her eyes, breathed in and ducked down as low as she could go as the top of the cab missed the bridge by less than one inch. You could hear a collective sigh from everyone there as she finally made it through!

She arrived at the port with 30 minutes to go and it`s here our day had to finish as we couldn’t go any further due to security reasons.  We had all done our very best to make sure Martha was ready for shipping and as she disappeared around the courner I felt like a parent dropping a child off to school for the first day.

Thanks again to Rick and all the team at Transportation Services International for all the hard work and for keeping the dream alive!

Talk about the little things in life … J


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2 Responses to “Day 235 : Its the little things in life that matter”

  1. Poor Martha. Without her blues and ladders she must be feeling naked. Without air in her tyres she is on her knees; she probably thinks she’s going to the breakers yard. Poor Martha.

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