I’m on my way to France on Friday to start the handover process. Robin and the kids will be joining me on Sunday and we will start provisioning for our first voyage.
These past few weeks have been a bit frustrating, because since Wildling moved out of the construction yard at Outremer and into the water, there are no more photos or updates from the guys at the factory, so I’m hoping everything is still on track for the handover.
I’ve finished off most of the administration details we needed to get done before handover. We arranged insurance with Pantaenius Australia, who provided us a competitive price for cruising in the Mediterranean. I’m happy to use Pantaenius because we had them for our previous boat and I found them to be excellent. They even handled a small claim we made when our dinghy disappeared (a long story) and couldn’t have been more helpful and professional about it.
I also have to get an MMSI number, which is a 9 digit unique identifier used by international Search and Rescue organizations to lookup information about our vessel from their worldwide database if we have an emergency onboard. We need to program this number into our VHF DSC radio and our AIS system. Since we are Australian flagged, we have to follow the Australian process for getting an MMSI, which, like many things to do with government agencies in Australia, is inexplicably convoluted and slow.
You would think that since the MMSI is an element of safety at sea, that they would give you one when you provide all your vessel details, which is what they do in the USA via an online registration process that takes about 15 minutes, but no. Instead, I had to study for and pass an exam on marine radio operating procedures (which by the way was super informative and I strongly recommend it to any sailor, MMSI or not) and then wait 4 to 6 weeks to receive my operator certificate in the mail. Then I can submit an MMSI application form along with a copy of the famous radio operator certificate and wait another 4 to 6 weeks to get my MMSI number. I didn’t realize all of this until last week, so I did a crash study course and sat my exam on Friday afternoon, and now I’m just 12 short weeks away from having an MMSI! As long as we don’t have any emergencies at sea in the meantime, everything will work out fine!
The good news, is that EPIRBs (radio becaons that send the position of survivors in the water to the COPAS-SARSAT satellite network) do not require an MMSI. Instead they have their own internal identifier code. I’m buying our EPIRB in France, so we will have that if we have really major problems.
I also had to get a custom made, stainless steel marking plate with our official registered number and vessel length. This is needed to comply with the Australian vessel registration marking requirements and needs to be permanently attached to one of our interior bulkheads. I have our shiny new marking plate with me and will attach it when I get to the boat.
I’ll post an update when I get to Wildling, along with lots of photos!