So now that we have bought the barge, we need to transport all the necessary gear to the boat for our voyage back to the UK. This is where the fun really started. Up until this point, finding a boat, agreeing the sale, and having the repairs done after the hull survey was relatively straight forward. However, trying to find a way of getting ourselves with all of our stuff to Sneek as a one way trip has not been so easy.
After drawing up a long list of items that we needed to take we set about organising a hire van for our trip. Other than the obvious things that you would normally take on any trip like clothes, wash stuff etc. we needed a number of large or bulky boating items such as a life raft, flares, life jackets……and the list goes on.
Getting there in a hired van
This was our starting point. We rang one of the larger more well known hire car companies. They had no problem with us hiring a van to go to the Netherlands, but we had to get the van back to the UK. They did not do one way trips (even though they have Europe in their company name!). It turns out, after ringing around, that none of the hire car companies allow you to hire a vehicle for a one way trip. So, we had to have a re-think.
Sending items via a ‘we can send your luggage.com’ style courier
Our next thought was to use one of the internet international courier style companies that people often use these days to send large items abroad. These companies will transport items such as ski equipment, bicycles, and surfboards for those who prefer to use their own equipment when they are on holiday. We stumbled upon these whilst looking for something else, but decided to give this method a try.
Again, a relatively straight forward procedure (we thought). Pack your stuff, weigh it, get a quote. So pack it weigh it, and get a quote we did! The price didn’t look too horrendous. Just to make sure though, we rang the company and checked that the packages were OK to send. We did query whether the life raft would be OK as it was quite big, but we were told that the only package restriction was an upper weight limit, and we were under that limit. We were also told that we didn’t need to book until two weeks before we sent the packages, so that gave us plenty of time also.
Feeling rather upbeat that we had managed to fathom out a way of getting our items efficiently to Sneek, we went ahead and booked our bus tickets from Oxford to Gatwick, and our flights to Amsterdam. All seemed to be organised, and all done well in advance……until we came to book the parcels in. We tried booking each one in online, and neither of them were accepted. Martin then promptly rang the company to find that there was a volume restriction, as well as an upper weight limit. What was worse, is that most of the other companies that we rang had the same policy!!
We were now stuck with bus tickets and flights booked and paid for, but no way to get the parcels to Sneek. We had two options. Option a) hire a van in the UK, and get someone to drive our stuff to Sneek (and then they bring the van back), but we worked out that this option was rather expensive, as we would have to pay them for their time as well. Or option b) keep looking for a courier.
At this point we were not only pressed for time before our trip to the Netherlands (we had just over two weeks at this point before we were due to set off), but Martin had organised a surprise trip for my birthday, and we were going to Iceland for a week in a couple of days time. Thankfully, at the eleventh hour we managed to find a company that would transport the parcels to the marina in the Netherlands. Martin paid a deposit on his credit card, and the rest was to be paid on delivery of the goods. Great, another hurdle jumped at this point. We then went off on our trip to Iceland, feeling happy that this was now finally sorted.
…………..But that wasn’t the end of it! Whilst we were away the couriers phoned firstly, to say that they were now ready to deliver, please could we pay the remaining fee via bank transfer. We phoned and reminded them that they already had credit card details. “Oh no, we can’t take the remainder like that. It has to be via bank transfer or PayPal.” Thankfully, I do have Paypal as a method of payment (Martin doesn’t). But I can definitely say that in the middle of nowhere in Iceland, where the only Wifi is on a minibus when it is moving over rough ground covered with snow is not the easiest way to make transaction via PayPal on your phone!! We then received another phone call from the courier saying he couldn’t find the marina, could we give him directions?…..err, no we are in the middle of Iceland! We gave him the address and left him to get on with it.
Anyway, the parcels have arrived now, and we are getting ready for the off tomorrow. In the meantime here we are having a lovely time in Iceland. 👌😁