Cocos Keeling: it's really nice.

Sat 19 May 2012 14:16
Saturday, 19th May, 2012
Position 12:05.46S 96:52.88E    The inner lagoon, Direction Island, Cocos Keeling Atoll.
Well, it is quite fabulous here. I am quite alone, in my little private paradise, as three boats left last week, and so far as I know no one is due in for a day or so yet. Once the day trippers from the main Island have gone home for the day ( there were 10 today), I have the Island as well as the anchorage to myself. Unfortunately there is a problem with inland: mossies ++, but on the shore line it is ok, and no sandflies. It is the same old picture postcard stuff: white coral sand, plam trees, unbelievable blue water, blue skies, and those trade wind fluffy clouds. At the end of 'my' island there is a channel into the main lagoon called 'The Rip' The current is constantly flowing inwards, and in the Pacific we often had to use such channels to get into the lagoons: scary stuff. This channel has a bar, however, and is not navigable. However it is a haven for fish, and you get into the channel just behind the bar, and the current takes you through and into the lagoon, the current in the pass is strong, but it quickly fades, and you swim out into slack water and the shore. Absolutly fabulous coral and fish: best anywhere.
But I digress.  My last report had us still at sea, wondering when we would arrive. Well the weather served up an ace, with 19 kts of wind all night to lift our speed and bring us in here easily in daylight yesterday. And you certainly need daylight, for although the North pass into the main lagoon is wide and calm, the gps is all wrong, and we would have sailed straight into the island if on instruments alone. Then to get into the inner lagoon: some really shallow patches, with coral heads on either side. Vicky will remember those Pacific anchorages well (but in retrospect nothing like an oyster on port tack?). Anyway the omens were good, as four dolphins appeared to guide me in!  At anchor, 4 metres of crystal clear water over sand, more visitors: first 7 sharks, then 2 Australian police in a huge RIB. 'No worries mate, they are just reef sharks, cute, eh?' Formalities were a breeze: not at all like Australia proper, but I have promised to keep all my veg and cheese on board, and not to leave it on the beach, or sell it to the natives (?). Have also promised not to flush the loo into the lagoon, there are bio-loos by the day visitors area ashore, so OK unless cholera strikes in the night! Tested those black tipped reef sharks with an evening swim round the boat. Still have four limbs!
Today I have investigated my latest deck leak problem, not after all, the chain plates again, so maybe I have finally fixed that area. Downside is I have no idea where it is coming from, and impossible to test other than in a storm at sea: when the boat flexes enough to allow water in somewhere. Ah well, there are no repair facilities here, so nothing for it but to go on.
This evening motored 2 miles in the dinghy to Home Island to pick up some fresh water and recce the ferry service which will take me to the main Aussie community on West Island. Home Island is home to 500 Muslim Malays, a modern bungalow village has been built, and they drive around in golf carts. It is slightly surreal. A large mosque at the village green of course. Everyone very friendly, all smiles. Oddly though tomorrow, Sunday, is a complete rest day: no ferries, no shops open, so a rest day for me too: but will certainly swim the rip again.
Plan to leave on tuesday, 22nd. Police say everyone wants to get going when they first arrive, then they stay 6 months, and, yes, I can understand that. Time will tell.