As readers can imagine, much time and research was put into picking this route, securing our passage, and getting all the pieces of the puzzle together just to get the vehicle to Savannah. While going to Australia via the US East coast was neither the shortest, nor most obvious route, it was the ONLY way to get an over-sized vehicle to Australia WITHOUT trans-shipping. By oversized I mean one that won’t fit in a conventional 40ft hi cube container. Hence Savannah being our chosen departure port (it could have been Baltimore as the ship also stopped there). We have a couple of overlanders ( with future plans to ship to Australia ) following the shipping blogs so I’ll be outlining the shipping process in more detail than most people would normally be interested in – bear with me on this one if you are in the latter group ( or just skip to the bottom ! ).

Driving towards Savannah, we kept a close eye on the progress of our ship coming from Europe, the “Talisman” ( hopefully the name is a good omen ). So far so good. At the time of the screen shot below it had left Southampton ( UK ), it’s last European port call. Ships are seldom delayed on the open seas but port hold ups are the norm these days. It stops only in Baltimore before Savannah and then has only two stops before Melbourne. The code “NO” means it is a Norwegian ship. I’m always amazed how many ships there are on the ocean at any one time.

The route taken by the Talisman from Germany to Australia. Think there is scheduling issue in Baltimore, it should only be there one day. It’s 33 days from Savannah to Melbourne.
The Wallenius “Talisman” steaming across the North Atlantic towards Baltimore, the first stop before Savannah.

Having enjoyed exploring the sights of Savannah, there was now much work to do preparing the van for shipment. The next series of pictures show how we spent that time.

We visited this high clearance car wash on several occasions to clean the vehicle as thoroughly as possible, especially the underside, wheel arches, the engine and radiator ( reportedly areas of close inspection by the BioSecurity people at the Dept. of Agriculture in Australia). Vehicle fumigation is done at the port prior to loading on the ship.
Shipping via RoRo one pays based on vehicle dimensions in cubic metres (LxWxH). Everyone removes ANYTHING that unnecessarily protrudes – so off came the front nudge bar.
Just a fraction of the gear we carry which was all pulled out, cleaned rigorously, and packed into stackable ( and collapsible) crates. The five military style fuel bags fold down to almost nothing yet hold 100 litres (26.5 US gallons ) of fuel, more than doubling our driving range to 1,400 kms ( 870 miles ).
In preparation to drive the vehicle in Australia one needs a “Left Hand Drive” warning decal and a decal showing it’s country of registration ( CDN indicates it’s a Canadian registered vehicle ). While driving on the left in Australia will be familiar to us, driving a “left hand drive” vehicle on the left side of the road will not !
Prior to clearing ( stamping ) our Carnet out of the US, the Border Patrol folks closely checked our VIN against the Carnet. Conveniently they allowed us to have this done the day before we took the van to port.
Our copies of the Carnet ( CPD ) stamped in and stamped out of the US.

Once in Savannah contact was made with the local representative of our shipping agent and, just like in Buenos Aires, a port delivery date and time were firmed up. As in Argentina, we had to deliver the vehicle well before the ship arrived and have a “port escort” arranged. Access to US ports is, as one might expect, VERY tightly controlled. Shipping insurance was also arranged, it costing almost as much for our van to be a month on the ocean as it does for it to sit for a year in our driveway – and with a whole bunch of coverage exclusions !

Arriving at the port, security was predictably tight. We met our rep, Logan right at the gate.

One needs to be accompanied by an employee with a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential ) clearance to enter any US port. It was the same process in Brunswick. Of course there is a fee for every such escort !

Interestingly it costs exactly the same to ship the vehicle to Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane. We chose Melbourne simply because it was the first stop in Australia and closest city to Tasmania, the state we hope to explore first. Crazy to think that, after 33 days on a ship across the Pacific the very next thing we plan to do in Australia is…….put it on yet another ship !! Victoria state also seemed to be one of the easier states to insure our vehicle.

Removing licence plates – a favorite souvenir in some ports and a hassle to replace. We took them with us.

Logan, our port escort ( and shipping line representative ), was amazing. Made it all go smoothly in Savannah. Here holding our licence plates after I had removed them.
The paperwork was very simple. They confirm the vehicle is yours (VIN), check your dock receipt, and tell you where to go ( in the port I mean ! ). From start to finish, less than 2 hours in the port. Faster than any other port we’ve been to when delivering. Leaving Cartagena and Brunswick was very easy. Let’s hope it’s the same in Melbourne.
A lot of heavy equipment is also shipped by RoRo. Logan gave us a quick tour of the port so we could see what was being shipped from Savannah.
Not our ship, but exactly the same style, it was loading the day we dropped our van off. Vehicles of all kind are driven in from a large door that opens in the rear. The next image is our ship, the Talisman.

The ship that will carry our van, Wallenius’s “Talisman”, approx 67,000 tonnes, and 241 metres long.
With multiple levels inside, these types of ships can be adjusted for unusual size vehicles.
Our van, parked among hundreds of others going to ports all over the world.
Keys must be left on the driver’s seat, doors unlocked. Multiple people will drive it before we get it again in Melbourne. Leaving it unlocked is indeed a bit nerve wracking ( moments after we drove away there were already a few port workers checking it out ). The sheet of paper taped to the dash explains the starting procedure of the van.
All vehicles are “tagged” so port workers know which ship to put it on ( and when it goes ). It’s meant to ensure none get missed ( but some do – hopefully not ours !!!! ). “MEL” means Melbourne, our destination.
For added protection we taped the cabinet doors closed. We also took photos of the vehicle on all 4 sides showing the condition it was in ( perfect ) when we left it ( hopefully we’ll find it in the same condition when we see it again on the other side of the world ! ).

We’d both confess to a sense of sudden detachment ( and more than mild concern ) leaving our precious rig sitting on a distant port, with ( like all others ) doors unlocked and keys on the seat, especially after our last shipping experience – let’s hope the Savannah port security is good. Between us leaving the van at the port and the Talisman arriving to take it away, just one process remained – fumigation. The shipping line contracts a local company to fumigate EVERYTHING on the dock that is heading to Australia. It’s designed to kill any bugs/pests on/in the vehicles. They take all vehicles to a separate area, create a plastic “tent” around them and then pump in “Profume” ( sulfuryl fluoride ) as dictated by the Australian BioSecurity folks. We are assured the smell will be gone by the time we get the vehicle back and it won’t harm us 🤞. While the vehicle had not been fumigated when we left. Savannah, I asked the fumigation company to send me some pics when they did it ( I was curious as to what it was like ) – they kindly obliged and I got these images just before I uploaded this blog.

Our rig in the fumigation “tent”
We were squeezed in between heavy industrial equipment.
Presumably the blue tape indicates it’s been fumigated.

With the van now out of our hands all that remained was to arrange flights back to Kelowna which was straightforward. No real flight “deals” were available out of Savannah ( it’s so small ) so we took an easy one-way car rental to nearby Atlanta, spent a night relaxing in a hotel there and flew home via Calgary the next day. It took less than 5 hours to do in the air what had taken almost 9 days by road !

We flew home on what must have been Westjet’s most brightly painted plane.

So, what next ? Well, for now we can only wait, hope the “Talisman” arrives in Savannah on time, the ship picks up our cargo and successfully delivers it to us in Melbourne by the end of January. Wish us luck ! I may get time to do an update or two in the coming weeks but if not I will start up the blog again in early January once we fly to Australia.

In the meantime both Lois and I hope you all had a wonderful festive season and that the New Year brings you all much joy, good health, and time with your loved ones. Thanks especially to so many of you who have shared your comments along the way. We love hearing from you all so keep them coming in 2023 !

Post Script: The Talisman did indeed arrive on time ( Christmas Day ) and left as scheduled ( December 27 ). On the morning of December 28 we received word that our van was loaded successfully, so it’s on its way. No turning back now !