According to the Bill of Lading, the containers left Laem Chabang, Thailand on the "Uni-Aspire", on March 4th, and then met up with the ocean transport vessel, CSCL Brisbane, in Hong Kong, on March 8th.
Our cargo containers were two of probably hundreds (maybe thousands?) then transferred to the CSCL Brisbane, which then left Hong Kong on March 10th.
How do we know all of this?? AIS!!
Cargo ships that are over 300 gross tons, and all passenger ships are required to have AIS (Automatic Identification System) transmit/receive technology. This is a technology for unique ship identification, and tracks the ship's course, speed, and position in real-time, communicating this information to other ships with AIS receivers, and to AIS base stations. According to Wikipedia, AIS integrates a standardized VHF transceiver with a positioning system such as a GPS receiver, with other electronic navigation sensors, such as a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicator. Ships outside AIS radio range can be tracked with the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system with less frequent transmission.
AIS is also a tool for cruisers (as we hope to be in the near future!) so we can see and be seen on the receivers of large ships during ocean passages. We've heard of and seen videos of cruising boats being summarily run over by large shipping vessels, at night, during bad weather, or even in broad daylight. Small cruising boats are very hard for a large ship to see, even if there is someone on the ship standing watch and looking out. Frequently, there is no actual person on watch looking at the water, and the ships are guided pretty much by instrumentation and computers.
As a personal anecdote, last year in October, as we were crossing the Gulf Stream from Miami to the Bahamas, for a week-long vacation on a chartered sailboat, we were very nearly trapped in the middle of a live-fire exercise drill by the US Navy, who did not realize we were in the immediate area . Fortunately, we were listening on VHF channel 16, and heard their warning for the start of the drill. We radioed back our position, and that, even under motor, we would be unable to clear the area in time, and they acknowledged and moved off to another place for their practice session. I'm sure the watch officer got a dressing-down for that oversight, but from just that example in broad daylight, one can definitely see the value of AIS!
Here below is the Brisbane's published schedule, which is updated as it changes, and we see that it is due in to Miami on April 11th. Of course, we plan to be over there, in our current boat, to see if we can get some live photos of its arrival, so we will keep everyone posted.
If you would like to track the Brisbane's progress yourself, here is the link to it on MarineTraffic.com:
They have some very cool real time maps of all the vessels they keep track of, along with last known positions, etc. Since the underlying communication system, VHF have limitations on their range, the base stations don't always know where the ship is at this particular moment, if it is out of range. I do wonder why they don't go to a satellite-based system, which could solve that issue, but I'm sure there are better minds than mine working on that (at least I hope so!)
We hope to see all of you in Sarasota for our unveiling on the 23rd of April. I know it is a Monday, but what a great excuse to miss work! If the date changes, we will send out a post and email, but that is the plan right now. Hope to see you there!