The days are flying by here at Cocos-Keeling. We've been continuing to work on boat jobs with leisure activities in-between.
Here's what we've been up to in summary…
- Fixed HF transmit problem by replacing antenna feed cable from tuner to backstay
- Filled jerry cans with fresh water kindly supplied by Vulcan Spirit
- Polished much of the s/s on deck, some of which (the original s/s) needed it badly
- Identified some chafe to be attended to (mainly where the lazy jib sheet rests on the staysail)
- Snorkelled the rip at low-water - quite a few nice fish but will probably be better on a flooding tide
- Sundowner ashore with most of the other boats here in the anchorage
- Sundowner on Zen Again with the Vulcan Spirits
- Day trip to West Island (via Home Island)
The visit to West Island was fun. We (and the Vulcan Spirits) were up before dawn to dinghy across to Home Island in time to catch the 0700 ferry to West Island. The 1.5nm dinghy trip was wet since it was into the chop raised by a 20 knot breeze. We left the dinghies ashore and walked out along the jetty to board the ferry. The ferry ride takes 30 minutes and all the local high school students were aboard, going to school on West Island.
On West Island we found the tourist office and then the Tropica restaurant where we had breakfast. The motel was full of RAAF folks taking part in an exercise with their P3 Orions. From there we had a walk around before finding a tour operator who took us on a 3 hour tour of the island ($30pp). We visited a number of beaches and the site of various government funded projects which have mostly failed. This place could be so much more successful but seems dogged by weak governance and a population too willing to take welfare instead of work.
Inter-island ferry at West Island
We returned to Home Island mid-afternoon and explored the village there. The place is very neat and tidy but unemployment is high. Many houses have several tinnies out front, so the fishing is good. The Cocos-Malays are friendly but quite uninterested in visitors, even making money from them. Businesses are open bizarre hours - for example the fuel supplier is open for 2 hours only and that only 3 days a week. Everyone drives either a golf buggy or quad bike. Nobody walks anywhere despite the village being less than 1km square. Apparently diabetes is rife due to lifestyle issues.
Home Island village - very neat & tidy
We departed Home Island at about 1600 and just made it back to the boat before a huge storm cell passed nearby. The low-level clouds under the storm were jet black and very threatening so we were happy it didn't go directly overhead. The anchorage here provides excellent protection from waves but little from wind. The anchor is well dug in!