FTFE Pivotal Partner Globalink : Helping us SEA the world

9 October 2010

“Without Globalink’s support and expertise the expedition would have been impossible” Steve Moore, Expedition Leader.

On Day 1 of the expedition, when Martha left the UK for France, crossing the English Channel was simple. Pre-book tickets, turn up, roll on and roll off!

If only the other sea crossings could be that easy. There are four, to be precise, that need to be in place to successfully circumnavigate the globe; namely Singapore to Perth, Brisbane to Auckland and the two monsters that are the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans… anything but roll on, roll off!

Steve, assisted by Lyndsey Baker (Stage 4 crew) started researching the options more than a year before the expedition started. Immediately the complexities of the task at hand hit home. Firstly, this might come as a surprise but Steve and Lyndsey didn’t know the first thing about shipping, aside from the odd trip to France with P&O. Secondly, with such small cargo it was virtually impossible to find the best person to speak to in the large world of shipping. Getting a call back to enquiries was a rarity. Thirdly, if Steve found himself talking to the best person (whom he’ll admit was more by luck than judgment) they didn’t know how to deal with his enquiry. Bizarrely they hadn’t been asked to ship a fire engine before! We can only assume the time and effort that would be required by the shipping companies we approached meant our request was not commercially viable for them. Finally, in the world of commercial shipping, schedules are not confirmed until less than 3 to 6 months in advance. They are often a few days out, some routes are changed, or scheduled stops omitted at the last minute. The economic downturn muddied the waters further. Shipping lines reduced their fleet sizes, thus reducing space and frequency, making planning 12 months in advance a real problem. The urgency was mounting as the expedition leave date loomed and it became incredibly frustrating. A massive amount of time and effort had been devoted to contacting literally hundreds of shipping companies and ports, but Steve was still no closer to understanding how it all worked. There was no talk of throwing in the towel but Steve describes this time as “proper sticky, as shipping was a showstopper bearing in mind that for two and half months of the nine month expedition we’re at Sea”.

Group 2Completely out of nowhere one of Steve’s emails was answered by a man called Richard Dexter at Bluefreight, an Australian based International Freight Forwarder. Richard explains, “Steve found the Bluefreight website on an internet search and approached us to assist on the Australia to New Zealand leg. I responded by advising him that we were members of a network of like-minded forwarders, called Globalink, and our members could assist globally. I then offered to become the logistics planner and the point of contact with our global members”. The rest as we say, is history. Richard Dexter’s intervention had single handedly brought the expedition back on track and removed shipping as a “showstopper”.

Richard, who has 13 years experience in importing and exporting wanted to help out for two reasons as he explains; Firstly, “I have been personally affected by cancer through my sister and secondly, knowing logistics and various countries import and export idiosyncrasies as I do. I could foretell some disasters waiting to happen, so I figured that with my global connections we could make the journey a little less stressful.”

Richard, you are not wrong! Just to put the complexity of the job in hand into context, at the time of writing, the Pacific crossing was only confirmed yesterday, and the Atlantic crossing remains unconfirmed. This situation is entirely normal in the world of shipping but imagine the problems for Steve trying to organise this on the road, as opposed to Richard project managing, it would have been impossible. The amount of time, the effort and money that Richard and Bluefreight/Globalink have saved FTFE by giving their time and expertise is staggering.

In addition to the actual shipping routes and times, I must mention the protocol on arrival at the various ports. This was something that we were all unaware of and are entirely reliant on Richard to hand hold us through the entire process. We can’t just arrive at a port, drive Martha into a crate and shut the door! Job done! Steve explains, “There are a whole host of procedures including steam cleaning, a period quarantine, packing, organising a crane to do the lifting, and we haven’t even mentioned the mountains of paperwork involved. Three days should do it……we hope!” In under a month we’ll experience this for the first time when we ship from Singapore to Perth.

From Richard’s initial reply his involvement has certainly snowballed, to put it mildly, quite possibly due to Steve’s enthusiasm and persuasion. Richard adds, “Steve is a real character and certainly and adventurous one. It was more the cause that impressed me as much as the attempt at a Guinness Book of Records entry, although I can’t see anyone else attempting this journey in a fire engine.”

As mentioned above, Richard arranged Globalink’s participation with the CEO Bill Siemens. He introduced FTFE at the last Globalink Annual Conference in Phuket and enlisted members in the countries that FTFE is travelling through to help with border crossings and customs etc. Richard adds, “Sandy Bedi at Jet was extremely helpful and critical to the success of the opening stages, particularly with border crossing assistance on Stages 1 and 2.” This has been of fundamental importance to date as the expedition would still be sitting at the Russian border! Richard continues, “the interesting part was the willingness of the Globalink members wanting to pitch in profit free to assist, and a huge thank you must be provided to the shipping line, NAPA Service and their agency, Partner Shipping Global for providing free transport and berths for the Australia/NZ and NZ/USA legs”. Globalink have also donated USD2000 to FTFE on top of everything else.

Richard has gone on to arrange shipping from Singapore to Australia, Australia to New Zealand, New Zealand to USA and USA to Morocco. He is writing about FTFE in each issue of Bluefreight’s newsletter keeping his clients/agents/associated parties in the loop, as well as updating his own website with Steve’s http://www.bluefreight.com/AnnouncementRetrieve.aspx?ID=38135 Richard is based out of Melbourne and he is also running a media campaign in Australia and some fund raising events in Adelaide and Melbourne, amazing.

Finally, Steve likes to run a tight ship (excuse the pun), “not in an OCD way, I just want to make sure I have covered everything” adds Steve. To this end Steve points out that Richard has been so incredibly patient dealing with his numerous questions often beginning with, “just one more question”, “no seriously this is the last question”. I asked Richard what he thought of Steve and whether he could pull it off. “Brave, a little crazy and I am envious, although I would have picked a better vehicle that wouldn’t require constant chiropractic work on a daily basis”, says Richard. He goes on to say, “I think he has covered the hardest parts of the journey now, in terms of terrain, although parts of Asia will be tough, Australia, NZ and USA will be a Sunday drive in comparison.”

Bluefreight and Jet are both members of the Globalink network. www.glnk.com www.jet-intl.com www.bluefreight.com

Paul Barham


One Response to “FTFE Pivotal Partner Globalink : Helping us SEA the world”

  1. FTFE seems to bring out the best in people… can’t all be down to Steve’s boyish charm, can it?