Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Thu 13 Sep 2012 12:28
It has been a good two weeks. Jim arrived on Saturday and has been accommodating himself to the rhythm of the boat. Small adjustments have had to be made all round but at least as far as life at anchor is concerned we can say that things are going very well indeed. We are all optimistic for a great time over the next weeks.
Saturday provided the first opportunity to sample the fleshpots of West Island. There weren’t many. Because there was no ferry scheduled for Direction Island after the time of the plane’s arrival we had to take the dinghy to Home Island. It took 35 minutes but the wind had moderated for a couple of days so the ride was not wet. We took the ferry across to West and caught the little bus into the settlement in time for a late lunch, but there was no eatery open on a Saturday. Nor was the internet facility available. We did some shopping in the “supermarket” but as the supply ship had not yet unloaded after arriving a month late, that was not very exciting either. John, our kite-surfing friend from Quantum Leap, was flying out on “Jim’s” plane and we enquired whether there was anywhere to sit down in the Arrivals Hall of Cocos International. We were told that there was a comfortable bench under a large tree in the shade. It was comfortable and we had a jolly time. Mags wandered off to inspect the first fairway of the golf course which crosses the runway; the tee is on one side, the green the other. But eventually we became a little anxious because the plane was over an hour late and we had been told by a policeman that the ferry waited for no man. The ferry departure time came and went but at last our friend came into view down the steps from a smart red Virgin Blue 737. We needn’t have worried - half the airport ground staff, six or seven people, live on Home Island and the ferry always waits for them or comes back. We caught the bus and the ferry, picked up our dinghy, and loaded ourselves, our substantial guest, his luggage (very moderate and sailorly) and the shopping and set off, packed to the gunnels in the gathering dusk. We found JJ Moon in the gloom – just.
Jim has been invaluable in helping with the usual small jobs about the boat. These have included a ticklish piece of soldering (we were pleased to be complimented by the expert on our natty gas-fired soldering iron) and the water-maker had to be taken out again. This was a job I thought would take all day but it was back in satisfactory operation within two hours.
More illegal would-be immigrants have arrived and more Sri Lankan fishing boats have been burnt. A few days ago a decrepit craft arrived with 100 passengers. Contrary to the duff gen I promulgated in the previous blog we understand from a friendly policeman that approximately 80% of applications are eventually successful. No wonder they keep coming at AUD 4000 a head. The Liberal federal government’s relaxed attitude has created a mini-crisis – Cocos has had to bring in additional law-enforcement officers to cope.
But it’s all interesting to the idle yachtie. We have had a very good time here. It is an unusual place and a great contrast with our recent stops. Somewhat against my stuffy nature we have joined the local custom of carving our ship’s name on a piece of driftwood, in our case a length of bamboo, and hung it from a palm tree for the benefit of posterity. Hm. It’s nice artistic work though; another of Jim’s talents.
We plan to sail tomorrow morning and hope to reach Rodrigues in the Mascarenes in about 13 days.