Christmas Island

Digiboat's "Product Testing"
Simon Blundell
Mon 9 May 2011 01:48
10°25.63S 105°40.13E
Arrived sunrise on Sunday morning after a gentle night's motoring.
Had been instructed to pick up a "yacht mooring" near the wharf. Weel quite a sea running from the north straight into the bay, with a surf on the beach which is apparently generally dead-calm. Only 2 moorings visible, one in the surf zone near the jetty, the other too close to the rocks on west side of bay for our length. Anchoring is prohibited in the bay. While motoring in circles considering our options, I noticed a couple of Coke bottles tied together so went to check these out, as it happened they were attached to a monster rope which could only be from a big mnooring block. Problem was no loop in the rope and extremely short - too short to pull up onto the deck, so hung over the side and clove-hitched a rope around the mooring warp. It was just below a broken splice so had "something" to stop the hitch sliding up and off.
No response from Harbour Master on VHF on approach, and satellite phone signal unreliable (probably due to the high cliffs surrounding the bay), so hung out for an hour or two waiting for someone to see our yellow flag and send officials aboard. Around 9:30am (local time) received a VHF call from Customs telling us to all come ashore and visit their sea-side office in a gazebo under a palm tree. So we launched the dinghy and all went ashore to one of the most relaxed, easiest and cheapest (no charges at all!) "Clearance Formalities" sessions I've ever experienced.
Then up to Hbr Masters office, but Sundau so not working. A cleaner let me in and I used his own desk phone to call him. No Problems, come in tomorrow - he says with sounds of babies playing in the background. What about the Coke bottle I'm tied up to? No Problems, it's one of our work moorings and not a yacht mooring, but No Problem, it's a very heavy weight, holds our big barges.
A quick visit to nearest supermarket to buy olives and a local sim card (my Vodafone sim no good here, only Telstra network), then back to boat to call my kids and sort out the mooring.
Now I learn that a Telstra SIM has to be "activated" by calling a number, spending 10 minutes dealing with automated prompts to decide what to do and what plan etc, only to then be put through to an operator in India or Pakistan who says "How can I help you?" I tell him I'd just spent 10 minutes answering prompt questions about activating the phone, so chances are I want to activate my new sim. "What plan?" Well I'd answered that question already via prompt. "This number to activate?" Yes, that was another question already answered. "Your name and date of birth?" I wrote these on the form when I bought the sim, you can get them from that, and besides my age has nothing to do with my ability to use a phone.
Thank you Sir, your phone will be activated in 4 hours. UNBELIEVABLE. I buy sims in every country in the world, walk outside the shop and use the phone immediately. Mr. India or Pakistan can be no further help so I patiently wait out the 4 hours.
Grab the Hooka gear and a long mooring line and dive down under the Coke bottles, aabout 5m down I find a big spliced loop in the mooring warp, so I feed our line through and double it back onboard. At least now the boat is securely moored, although the swells beam-on make for an uncomfortable ride.
After 4hrs and 15min I call back. Sorry sir, we are making technical babble changes and you will be activated in 24 hrs. UNBELIEVABLE.
So I try "I'm captain of a ship and just arrived after a week at sea and must make many many calls to officials or else the Coast Guard and Navy will be sending out search parties to look for us"
I can connect you to a number, I'm told. So... I can call you, and you can connect me to other numbers so in fact my phone works, but you wont let me use it - I start my rant. Yes Sir, and other phones can call you also. Not much help, I tell her, because I can't use my phone to contact anyone and tell them the number that apparently they can call me on! 
It's now the next morning, approaching the 24 hrs, and phone still not working.
Plan to clear-out today and probably depart tomorrow morning. The lack of protection from the seas at this anchorage is annoying us ...
Shore party checked the scene last night and returned uninspired. They are going to rent scooters today and explore further, but are not too hopeful in a place with 1500 population (plus 2000 detainees). And mostly Miners and Port workers.
Moral of this story - DON'T BUY TELSTRA - do NOTHING to encourage this company to continue surviving.