Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 24 Sep 2013 07:53
Snorkeling here in the beautifully clear water is a delight. It's been a bit windy most of the time, but it has relented and allowed us to get in the water. There's a channel at the eastern end of Direction Island where the continuous reef has been breached and there is a constant flow of quite fast flowing water into the lagoon, regardless, it seems, of the state of the tide. It's called 'the rip' and snorkelling it is quite an experience. It's the closest we've ever been to flying! Being fast flowing one assumes it's bringing in nutrients which attract small fish, which in turn attract bigger fish and so on, so the fish life is great to see as you shoot past. Bigger reef sharks are there too, but so far haven't been a problem. It was a little disconcerting when we arrived to have half a dozen circle the boat as soon as the anchor was down, but they were only small (3ft or so) and soon disappeared. According to the locals they are attracted by the engine and even gather around the police boat when it comes over to check boats in. We had to go over to Home Island to check in and it was all very relaxed, partly due, we think, to having come from Australia. Boats coming from Indonesia seem more of a concern and the police boat comes over to clear them in.
Unlike most of the east coast of Australia where we were often the only boat in an anchorage, there were about 8 boats already here when we (and Jacaranda) arrived. It's a bit of a focal point for any yachts going west, whether arriving from Australia, Indonesia or Malaysia. One boat left yesterday and most of the others, including ourselves, hope to leave later this week. An SSB net has been established and boats will call in twice a day (morning and evening).  Needless to say there have been sundowners and BBQs on the beach.     
Our windlass is working again, but the problem still exists and we don't know when it will jam next. Hopefully it will work long enough to get the anchor up, but if not we might have to do it by hand. This is not the place to start taking the windlass apart. That will have to wait for a future port where we have better access to parts. 
Tried sending just one picture (reduced size), but even that fails to upload!