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Info on Our Move to STX

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Dave
 Dave
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April 23, 2007 9:59 pm  

After reading this message board for over a year almost daily and even posting a few times, We are finally in STX for good! This board was a wonderful source of information and I thought I would give a recap of our journey. Maybe someone else will find something useful in this story.

First of all, I believe that there are no absolutes. What worked for my wife and I may or may not make sense for you.

Our first trip to St Croix was about 2 1/2 years ago, Labor day week. We fell in love with the Island instantly! within 48 hours we had bought a lot and before we went home we had bought a second lot. Once we got home we went to work on liquidating our rental houses in Lexington KY. 6 months later we bought a townhouse near Gallows Bay. One year after that, we bought another. Finally,on March 1 we closed on our last piece of Lexington real estate. We were on our way.

We have three grown daughters (not making the trip) and two German Sheppards who did make the trip. Here is how we did it.

First, we bought a used 20 ft container for $2,400. You can rent them but I will use mine for tool storage when I start building on our first lot. If you buy a used shipping container MAKE SURE that it has a current tag or else the Freight co will not load it on the boat. Next, I took the advice of a friend who had made the same move a year earlier and invested in silica desiccant. This is the stuff in the little packets that comes in new sneaker boxes,etc. U-Line is a packaging supply co with a website that sells silica in larger packets. We spent about $100-$120 on two sizes, one a little smaller than a pack of M&Ms and the other about three times that size. I think the smaller one was packed about 150 to the case and the large ones were packed about 80? My friend's container was randomly flagged by Customs in STX which caused a delay of over two weeks. Needless to say. he had pillows and linens with mildew problems ( he learned the hard way about silica). I think that the extra cost is cheap insurance. We put a small pack in almost every box and scattered the larger ones throughout the container. The company that I Bought the container from was able to recommend a trucking line that could haul the container down to Jacksonville for just over $1,000. I felt that this was reasonable (11 hr drive from Lex) and I did not shop this price.

Lee at Flemming's came highly recommended from many people on this board and I can say that he did a great job for us.
Some posts said that he was slow to respond but that was not our experience. Very good communication from Lee.

On march 3,we left Lexington with me driving my truck with the dogs and my wife driving her car. We stayed at Red Roof Inns in Columbia SC, Jacksonville and Miami because They all take pets. We rarely travel with the dogs and have not stayed at a Red Roof in years. They are in the middle of a chain wide refurbishment and were all very nice.

Once in Jacksonville, we took the car and truck to Sea Star at the Port of Jacksonville. Lee said that the cost on the water for the vehicles and container was the same from Jacksonville as it would be from Miami. With this in mind, we decided to use Jacksonville (less trucking fees for container) and that way my wife and I could be in one vehicle
(rented mini-van) with dogs to Miami.

We chose to fly out of Miami because It was the shortest non-stop flight and we were concerned about the dogs sitting on a tarmac somewhere (loose our luggage, no problem, loose our dogs, big problem!)

We flew American Airlines and again, everyone was very helpful. Make sure that if you are flying large pets. that you get CONFIRMED reservations for the pets. I usually book airfare on line to save $10 -$15 per ticket, when I read about all the qualifiers concerning pet travel, I decided to book it all over the phone, again I felt like this was cheap insurance. In our case, BTW, it was over $100 per ticket less to book round trip than one way!

March 6,4:30pm STX The dogs are off the plane and wagging their tails (so are we!) Our car and truck show up 5 days later, Lee takes care of all the paperwork and licensing EXCEPT insurance (he told us this upfront) and a couple of days later, our container has NOT been flagged by customs and is delivered to our home. Pillows and mattresses and linens do not smell funky, and life is good!

So, what did we spend? $2,400 used container, $1,085 truck container to Jacksonville, $3,200 to ship container form Jacksonville to STX (including duty and customs fees and del to our home, $6,000 to ship car and truck From Jacksonville to STX, about $275 for 3 nights at Red Roofs, $520 for airline tickets, $200 for doggie tickets $90 for rental car from Jacksonville to Miami. Grand Total: just under $14,000.

Some other info. Make sure that you have shot records from vet within 10 days of travel ( no one asked but why chance it?) Make sure that you have clear title and current reg for vehicles. If you have a car loan, talk to your lender and find out if they will let you take vehicle to STX, get in writing. And most important, stay calm!!

We were very lucky and it seemed that everyone at every step of the way went above and beyond. We are very grateful and glad to be here and look forward to being more active in posting and hopefully, meeting some of y'all.

You may have already seen us on the road. My wife's car is a teal Thunderbird that is kind of hard to miss. She calls it her island car!

Again, this is just one crazy couple's story, but it is information that worked for us!


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terry
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April 24, 2007 1:42 am  

THanks for the great post. You gave some new (to me) information.


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Marlene
 Marlene
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April 24, 2007 2:25 am  

Thanks Dave. I am coming down soon from Michigan and my husband is already there. Good post and good info. Were there other places you inquired about for a used container? I want to buy a used container as well and don't know where to call first.

Marlene


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Dave
 Dave
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April 24, 2007 2:34 am  

Marlene, in our case we used a company called A-1portable buildings. They specialize in portable classrooms, job site office trailers, etc. You might start with this type of company in your local phone book. If they don't handle containers, they can probably steer you in the right direction. Also have them recommend a good lock! Our guy threw in a chrome hockey puck type lock and said it would do the trick! And it did.


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Trade
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April 24, 2007 9:30 am  

This is really good info, Dave. Thanks for posting it & glad everything (especially the dogs) arrived as scheduled.


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CMBickish
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April 26, 2007 1:57 am  

Did you have any problems with the temperature at either location (for the dogs). We are booking at the end of July and are afraid to go through Miami because of the 85 degree temperature rule. The airline said they don't fly dogs at that temperature. The only flights we can find leave at 11:55 in the afternoon. What happens if the temps are too high (dog and money-wise). I was thinking San Juan would be better but I am really afraid of having my dog on a long layover and changing flights without me.


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stxem
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April 26, 2007 2:21 am  

You will have a problem with in July with the Miami flight. It is usually 85 degrees + that time of day in July. Also, the temp in STX must be lower than 85 degrees when you arrive. The MIA flight gets in at 2.30pm so you will have a problem there too. They probably will refuse to check your dog through if the projected temps are 85+. However, they base this on the forecast--so you might get lucky and get an 83 degree day. But honestly, it really would be a gamble.

Where are you leaving from? Temps are hot all over the states in July. Your best bet is to get a late afternoon flight, arrive in SJU in the evening, and either stay overnight at a dog friendly hotel or take a late flight to STX.

I wouldn't worry so much about the dog not getting on the plane in case of a long layover (just ask the gate or flight attendant and they can call baggage to make he is loaded), but worry more about the poor creature being cooped up in his kennel for such a long time in the heat. Short layovers may be more worrisome regarding transferring the dog from one plane to the next.


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Jaye
 Jaye
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April 26, 2007 2:29 am  

CMBickish,
Did you ask the airline what happens (dog and money wise) if the temp is too high? Also, pretty safe bet, if it's 85 in Miami, it's 85+ in San Juan. Can you send the dog to a friend or relative now, before it gets any hotter? There have been many posts regarding this topic, with lots of good info. But.....the bottom line is whatever the airline says! If you research previous posts, you will find it also helps to shop airlines. Really good advise recently about doggie tranqs, they will make the dog thirsty (I know that from experience), and that, coupled with hot weather, doesn't sound like a good combo.
Are you leaving Island for good? If so, can you share your reason? If you already have, I apologize for not being up to date. Thanks.


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Anonymous
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April 26, 2007 3:28 am  

Have you called Miami...heard today they are already under the embargo....I dont think you will be able to go through there on anything other then continental.


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CMBickish
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April 26, 2007 3:36 am  

I have been lurking/minimally posting since July and have read the information. It has been great--thank you! I am moving to the islands, not from the islands. We are coming from Baltimore but are willing to drive to avoid a layover. We also found a flight from B-more at 8am and out of San Juan at 8pm. This seems like it would work with the temps but I am really worried about the layover, and what to do with our boy. The people that I have talked to have conflicting answers-but as advised I am taking names of all people I talk to.


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Jaye
 Jaye
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April 26, 2007 3:51 am  

Oh man, I hate to be so negative, but the names of all those people aren't going to do you any good at 8 pm. They are probably not on duty, maybe they don't even work there anymore. Take one more step. Get it in writing, and then hope the policy hasn't changed! As an aside, none of my business, but keep in mind these policies are for the protection of your dog. If they say it's not allowed, that is because they don't want the liability, and if they don't want the liability,.......why?


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MegC
 MegC
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April 26, 2007 10:29 am  

We are moving in August to STX. and hoping to bring our dog then, but she may have to stay with friends for a month or so if the heat restrictions don't permit her to come with us. Our plan is to fly in the late afternoon or early evening to San Juan and spend the night in a dog friendly hotel and then perhaps take the sea plane the next morning from Old San Juan. I hear the sea plane is great. Hope this is helpful.


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Dave
 Dave
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April 26, 2007 3:38 pm  

My experience with getting our dogs down to STX is that one should read as many posts as possible, call as many airlines as possible and ask as many questions in as many different ways as possible.

This was the one issue of our trip that kept me stressing until "the girls" were cleared through check-in. The 85 degree rule is almost always enforced, but there is always a chance of some minor flexibility. One of our concerns was with weight restrictions. AA website says any pets over 100# including pet container must be shipped through their cargo service. In our case, this would have meant that the dogs would have still been on the same flight and handled by the same ground crew, it just would have cost $1,000 instead of $200! I still don't know the actual weight of our dogs, but it would not surprise me if they were 110-120# with containers. AA check-in did not weigh them, so I consider that a lucky break for us. Also, AA check-in staff seemed to be made up of real dog lovers(at least on the day that we traveled). Everyone made a big fuss over them! Of course, there is no way to know that until you get there.

At one point earlier in my search to find pet travel answers, I was convinced that we would have to take a very early (6:30am?) flight out of Miami to get to San Juan around (9:30am and still low temps) and then charter a small plane
to STX costing also around a$1,000. At that point, I thought, If it is costing this much,maybe we should just charter a plane right out of Miami? I thought that this was a great idea until I found out It would cost about $10,000! Not an option.

Bottom line is that our experience suggests that no one can provide 100% reliable info on getting large pets to the VI, so read, read, read and ask, ask, ask!

Good Luck!


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Becky R
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April 26, 2007 4:26 pm  

Dave, you are so right - I have told many people that several of my dogs exceeded the weight limit....and it was like people went blind and decided not to notice what they were loading onto the cart! I was really nervous when I had to let them out of the crate to be scanned - none of them are on Weight Watchers - I figured I was SO busted....fortunately, we got to know the ticket crew since we had 6 dogs going through with various relatives, so they just sort of waved us through other than the formality of scanning the dog and the crate.

That's where we got jammed up on the return trip - the 85 degree rule wasn't even negotiable except with Continental, who no longer landed the big planes on STX....hence the charter.....and I looked the private route, too. I haven't even posted about that because I figure if you've got $24K to fly dogs from St. Croix to Arkansas, you probably have your own plane, too!


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barbie
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April 26, 2007 4:54 pm  

thank you dave i did get in touch with flemmings they are great, the prices are good.they gave us a price of under $5000.00 to bring the container to our home in atl with 2 hrs loading time, that price is including all paper work. i think that's a steal!!.well i have not decided yet which vehicle to bring yet as i do not want to part with my little jetta.


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Anonymous
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April 26, 2007 8:14 pm  

Dave
Your idea of buying the 20ft container seemed like a great idea. I have a couple of questions. Did you secure the container down when you put it on your property (in case of storms or hurricane)? What did you eventually do with it? And... what is a current tag.
Thanks,


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Texas girl
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April 27, 2007 2:31 am  

Dave,

Your post has been so informative! Thanks so much for all the specifics. This information will come in handy for a lot of people, including me. Quick question: once everyone arrived safely on STX, did you have transportation arranged to your new home? There have been posts on here about taxis refusing to transport animals so I wondered how you got the dogs home.

Thanks again!


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campilates
(@campilates)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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April 27, 2007 6:44 am  

Dave,
Thought I emailed you in response to your info., but don't see my post. Would love to talk with you! Our situation is similiar.

410279 1430 or PM at campilates69@yahoo.com

cameron


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Dave
 Dave
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April 27, 2007 4:54 pm  

Charlie, I did not secure the container down (they weigh about 5,000# empty) but that is a good point, I will have to look into it. As far as tags, when the container is manufactured, a large 6"x8"? metal tag is attached to out side of door.
This tag will have basic info about tare and dimensions etc. There is also a date stamped on it, I THINK about 4 or 5 years past the mfg. date. Once this date passes, the container needs to be re inspected before it can go on the water. I am told that re inspection is less of a big deal if you live in a port city because that is where the inspectors are. I assume that they look mainly to make sure that there no leaks or daylight coming in.

Hope that helps!


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Dave
 Dave
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April 27, 2007 5:02 pm  

Texas girl, concerning getting our dogs from the airport to our house, on all of our trips down, we have rented from Olympic rental car. They are not at the airport, so they pick you up in a mini van and take you to their office. I called them and asked if they would drop ALL of us off at home and then take me to pick up the rental car that we used until our cars got down and they agreed. Don't know if this was because we are repeat business or if they do it for everybody or just a slow day for them, but they always seem willing to help! A nice tip for the driver also can't hurt!


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Betty
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April 27, 2007 7:07 pm  

Olympic did the same for me when I first arrived with 3 dogs. They are not the cheapest on island but they usually will go the extra mile.


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Texas girl
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April 27, 2007 9:48 pm  

Good to know. We will definitely keep them in mind when we make the move with our "kids".


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campilates
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May 12, 2007 10:04 am  

dave,

sorry I didn't call, it's been a long couple of months for me. Please email your # again and I will be sure to call.

cameron


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flounder
(@flounder)
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May 12, 2007 1:38 pm  

as far a securing a container......I put my 40 foot on blocks to keep air and rodents from living under it , my last 20 foot container the floor rotted out in a year as it was on the ground......I also used strapping for the container for high winds......placed 2 wind vents on top and a window and door in it ..........axle grease the hinges they will rust first and are almost impossible to replace .........good luck on your move and welcome to stx...........


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timcollins
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Posts: 3
June 26, 2007 12:52 pm  

we are moving down in august with our 3 dogs and my wife is going crazy about the airlines with them. either we will take a "first out" flight in orlando but hopefully we don't have a layover once we get to san juan. so we are keeping our fingers crossed that things will go smooth. cannot wait to get down there.


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