Season 3, Episode 11

Why Is There A Seaport In A Show About Farming?

“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s …” the crew from Where The Food Comes From. Why are we up in the sky? The answer will soon follow. Where The Food Comes From visited the Port of Savannah, GA November 18.

How about a few fun facts? You are probably saying, No Donna, not again! but here it goes. The port opened in 1744.  And as of 2021, the Port of Savannah – part of the Georgia Ports Authority System – is the third busiest port and the fourth largest container port in the United States spanning over 1,300 acres.  Shipping vessels are unloaded 24/7. I don’t know, but I really do hope they get holiday bonuses.

Camera crew filming host Chip Carter

The Savannah River runs in-between both sides of the port and is 18 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean making for easy travel for shipping and cargo vessels.

But, as the demand for moving shipping containers grew the Port of Savannah did not. So what did Georgia do? They built two satellite terminals, The Garden City Terminal and Ocean Terminal. Now Port of Savannah is also creating an area to accommodate larger vessels by the pilons on the side of the berth.

Arial view of the Port of Savannah

Aerial view of the Port of Savannah

Expansion area at Port of Savannah

Expansion construction.

My fun facts can go on, but honestly I can’t understand all the technical language used, remember I’m a nurse, I’m still learning. Back to the shoot.

We arrived at the port and were escorted into the main lobby. It was here we met Manager of Production and Program Strategy Emily Goldman who also became our tour guide. She gave us orange vests for security reasons. This is becoming sort of routine for us — apparently orange is security’s best friend; remember our orange hairnets in S3, E3 Stuckey’s – An American Icon Reborn?

Security was not limited to Emily and our fashionable vests, we also had a Port Authority Police escort all day. Meet Port Authority Policewomen Felicia Daniels – well not her exactly – but her police pickup truck. She is a bit camera shy. Felicia was in charge of making sure we stayed within specific boundaries around the cargo containers and that we did not get run over by all the trucks, planes, and automobiles driving around the port. Okay, planes are a bit of an exaggeration.

At one point the police truck was unable to back up without running over the crew, Chip, and Regional Sales Manager Judd Bare during his interview. So, it was Felicia who had to reroute the vehicles driving across the docks preventing, what could have been, quite an accident.

Ports Authority police truck.

Ports Authority policewoman Felicia Daniels escorted us throughout the day.

Long shot of cranes loading containers onto cargo ship.

Container trucks being directed by Ports Authority police truck.

The Interviews

Our first interview took place with Senior Director of Operations & Projects Susan Gardner between stacks and stacks of refrigeration containers. We were in the shade, and it was very cold and windy. Between the noise and chattering of my teeth, I could not hear the interview. But, again you will see it in the episode.

Chip with Susan Gardner in shipyard.

Chip and Susan Gardner

Judd Bare and Chip in shipyard.

Judd Bare and Chip

Up next – the interview with Judd and Chip. This interview took place on the berth (you may know it as a dock). Thank goodness we were in the sun. Even though it was still windy at least my teeth stopped chattering, but I was too busy taking pictures and missed the interview.

The Berth is like a Packinghouse…

In my head the berth is a lot like a packinghouse and remember I do love a good packinghouse. It is very organized and efficient. The machinery was in the way to get a full view of the workers. But, believe me there are a lot of them. On that note, let’s talk equipment.

The first piece of equipment is called a Spider Crane. Usually small, a Spider Crane is used for lifting and moving cargo containers to be stacked in smaller areas and can be adjusted depending on the size of the containers. The crane is able to move an amazing three tons and lift to a height of 68 feet. Doesn’t sound too small to me.

Check out this video I snapped — you can see the Spider Crane placing one cargo container on top of another.

Let’s continue the discussion about the equipment. It was so fascinating; I could have watched it the rest of the day. I really wish you all could have been there it was pretty incredible. Then again, you can see it in the show.

Up next the blue colored Rail Mounted Gantry Cranes (RMG) and the orange colored Rubber Tires Gantry Cranes (RTG). Both are management cranes and their use is contingent on the amount of the port’s automation. Emily did try to explain the difference to me, but I still could not understand all the technical language.

Picture this…

After 2 ½ seasons you have seen Where The Food Comes From doing some wacky things. From meeting true honest to goodness moonshiners, playing and breaking equipment at the Agricultural Fair in Tifton, frolicking with water buffalo, yours truly climbing cow fences and so on. So why is this important? Let me tell you. In my opinion what we did next is the stupidest thing we have done to date.

Menacing view of inside of the sawmill.
Water buffalo laying out in the field.

Picture this: A 90 foot crane, a rickety metal stair case zigzagging up the side of the RMG Crane with eight steps a section (yeah I counted them). Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the wind was still blowing. Where do you go from here? Up of course. What! For real!

Now we were given plastic hard hats. My thought, “Like they are really going to help.” To get the full effect of the insanity pictures speak louder than words. This time it was not Emily escorting us up, but Equipment Operator Chris Miracle.

Chip standing at base of crane.

Chip standing at base of crane.

Cameraman climbing the crane's stairs.

Cameraman Craig heading up the crane.

Crew at top of crane

Crew discussing the next scene.

View from top of Gantry crane

View from top of the crane named "The Blue Monster."

Not to seem like a coward I forced myself to climb up this intimating blue monster. I was close to the top, specifically one level lower than the crew. To give you an idea of how high a 90 foot crane is, look at how small Emily is in the picture below. Insanity on steroids right!

Located at the very top of the crane there is a little cabin, which houses the controls to move the crane and slides along a rail to retrieve the cargo. It reminded me of a sand crab shimmying across the beach. Naturally, the purpose is to move more shipping containers. Chip, Chris and cameraman Jake did climb up into it to film a segment. According to Chip it was a pretty smooth ride.

As for me? I had my fill of the blue monster and was already making my way down, which honestly was harder than going up.

Where to next?