Friday morning our friends on s/v Gryphon 2 arrived a little after dawn. An hour or so later, the Australian Police – who serve the customs and immigration function here – showed up at our boat to clear us into the country. The two men were quite professional and friendly, and after the usual questions and form filling and passport checking, we were cleared into the country. They provided us with a “code of conduct” for visiting boats which explained what we were allowed to do and not do while staying here. Very reasonable stuff, although certainly more restrictive than most islands we have visited. There was no fee involved. Overall a MUCH better experience than when we entered Australia on the mainland.
We are required to go to Home Island (where the majority of the people live here) to pay an anchorage fee. Since we wanted to get SIM cards so we could get Internet, we wanted to go the same day. When Australia took over the Cocos Islands, a largely Malay-derived people were living here. So, they are Muslim. Interestingly, although they speak Malay normally, they also speak English – with an Australian accent. It was a bit weird to us, after all the time we spent in Malaysia, to hear that accent. We should have realized though, that the facilities would be closed on a Friday because they are Muslim.
We had the crew of Gryphon 2 join us in our dinghy for the trip over. Fortunately, a small grocery store was open, and we learned that the place where we can buy phone cards is only on West Island – the other island of significant population and where the airport is located. Chris needed to find out if there was a dentist on the island because of a problem with a tooth. So, we walked to the medical center. In the process of asking for directions, we met several of the local people who were all quite friendly.
Unfortunately it is too long a ride across the lagoon to go in our dinghy to West Island. So, we would have to wait until Saturday or Monday to go back to Home Island and take the ferry across. So, more time before we can get Internet. To offset this disappointment, we think Direction Island is a beautiful spot! The water is delightful, the beach on the island is beautiful and they have nice little rain and sun shelters, hammocks near the beach, and a BBQ fire pit. There is also a marked nature and historical trail around the island which we will have to walk at some point. No one lives on the island, so we have our own private island in paradise!