El Oro meets Padang, Sumatra

Digiboat's "Product Testing"
Simon Blundell
Wed 2 Mar 2011 13:49
01:00.018S 100:22.945E
We had another very slow 24 hours with little wind and whatever there was, just happend to be heading us, even when we changed course!  We must have angered the wind gods in Phuket.  The plan now is to sail through the Sunda Strait (past Krakatoa) and then east along the north side of Java, where we hope to get better breezes.  The mountains of Sumatra are shielding us from the NW/NE monsoon - and mountains they are!  One near Padang is over 8400 feet! (Kosciusko is only 7000 feet.) 
We were entertained again yesterday evening by a pod of dolphins playing in the bow wave and doing their great victory leaps out of the water.  Also saw a sea snake for the first time in my life, quite happy, swimming along.  He was a long way from land, so I presume it was a sea snake.
Arrived Padang early this morning - fairly large port with about 15 cargo ships outside the harbour and a mass of fishing boats inside.  Simon went ashore hours ago to do battle with the Indonesian immigration authorities so we could go ashore, but alas, we are still waiting.  Filled in the time with game 3 of the first round in the "El Oro Scrabble Doubles Tournament".  Sorry to report that Bar and I lost so the score is now 2 to Al and Tim and 1 to Bar and me.  The next issue is whether we were playing best of 3 or best of 5.  And I thought Scrabble was a simple game, but am discovering that it not only involves some understanding of the English language, but a mastery of gamesmanship.  Thank heavens for the Scrabble Dictionary, otherwise there would be blood on the decks!
There is not a lot of evidence of tsumani damage in Padang.  It seems that the 2004 tsumani did the most damage on Nias from what I can read in the cruising guide.  It was off the Richter Scale, the second largest ever recorded by seismograph and the second deadliest - 230,000 people died!  The damage in Aceh showed evidence of waves 30m high travelling inland.
Returned finally from a day of beaurocracy and baksheesh. Have, of course, organised the dreaded Green Book and various pieces of officaldom wallpaper required for Indo cruising permits, but through an agent in Bali - our intended first "port of call". Really tossed the system into tormoil today by entering in Padang, After a FULL day of bluffs, smoke and mirrors and downright purgery, we are officially "here". Managing to carry a smile for the whole day, after <2hrs sleep the previous night I'm sure helped. The Baksheesh was minimal my Aus standards and most of the officials just enjoyed the opportunity to lecture you for an hour or more on their importance (all while sitting in "offices" with the ceiling panels dropping off to the floor in mid-sentence!) Immigration was performed in the living room of the chief imm-dude, until he realised he didn't have the right stamp and cursed and abused my local "chaffeur" because we had to drive 20 min into his office to complete the formalities. Anyway 2 btls of JW-Black put a smile back on his face (this from Langkawi so very cheap in the scheme of things).
TW and guest gone ashore for the evening and dinner "Padang style"which is interesting in that they charge you for what you eat, not what you order (I lunched ashore today). This does beg the question as to what happens with the half eaten plates of food that are returned at the end of the meal???
Anyway, an interesting day ashore in Padang. The locals are friendly and helpful. Most tourism here I gather is for surf charters so the place is not overly "rob the Westerner" oriented (you seen many wealthy surf bums?).
Refuel tomorrow then charge for Bali for organised Clearance, although I believe that 90% of that is now completed!
Certainly hoping for some favourable sailing conditions en route... shame to carry all these rags and not shake them out...