Cocos Keeling Islands – Indian Ocean
After 10 days at sea and three days captive on Cups, it was time to make a break no matter how windy it was. We heard there was a ferry from Direction Island to West Island twice a week at 0830. We planned for the Thursday ferry and wanted to get to the island in plenty of time to catch it. The night before, we waited for what we thought sounded like a calm period and launched the dinghy which predictably wanted to fly away. David managed to keep it under control as I hoisted and lowered it with the windlass. Plop … splash … it was in the water. The locals, had they had a good view, would have enjoyed watching us try to capture the dingy hoist halyard which flew loose (my bad) in the wind and took several frustrating minutes to snag with the boat hook as it started to rain. One hand for the boat, one hand for yourself … where does the extra hand for holding on to the halyard come from?
The morning was very windy … how surprising... with a good chop on the water. David bailed remnants of torrential rains during the night from the dinghy and fueled up. We're still in the outer anchorage as no boats have left, so our trip was a 15-minute soaking wet one to the ferry dock. We had a dry bag packed with one of our laptops and a stick with photos to send to Gentry. No internet for two weeks has been a difficult challenge. The things we become accustomed to that soon become “necessities”.
Once ashore, we beached the dinghy on a fine sand beach and got our first look at Direction Island. Oh my, the island was a sight to behold. Several covered picnic areas looked inviting. There were hammocks strung between palm trees, a large cistern for catching rainwater, paths in all directions and the familiar tropical sound of a feral rooster crowing somewhere off midst the thick stand of palm trees. We were delighted to discover there was a pay-for-use internet hotspot right on Direction Island. We canned the ferry idea in favor of setting up our internet headquarters right here.
As always, things are easier said than done. We were able to access the Cocos Island Wifi system without a hitch. We filled in all the required info on the form and then it transferred us to PayPal to pay. “What's our PayPal password?”, David queried.
“Um, I'm not sure, try ...”, I replied, “it's in my notebook on board. It could be ….”, I offered, wracking my brain.
“Nope, could it be …?”. He entered another password, mistyped it and tried again.
“How about …?”, I suggested once again.
Well, this went on for a few more tries and no luck. We tried creating a new account, but it wouldn't let us with our current e-mail and credit card. Nothing left to do, but return to the boat and get the darned PayPal password and start again.
In the meantime, however, we took a good look at the anchorage area. We counted 28 boats, 18 with ARC burgees waving. We noticed a couple of boats had left … one, in particular, from a primo spot. Maybe it was time to move into the lagoon.
We launched the dinghy and sloshed our way back to the boat … much quicker with wind and waves behind us. We were so wet from the ride in, it made little difference. We had noted a couple of bombies on our way back and made a mental note to avoid them with Cups. As soon as we started the engine and began hoisting the anchor, the Federal Police showed up. They were cool … “Go anchor and we'll catch up with you in awhile.”.
A 10-minute, .6 nm move into the lagoon and what a difference. We anchored in 14' (4m) of the most brilliant turquoise water there ever was with an unadulterated view of palm trees ashore. I watched as the anchor dug in, I let out scope and the chain pulled taut. The friendly Federal Police showed up within a few minutes, apologized for the mix-up and completed paperwork in record time.
The best news of all? With our trusty old Alfa antenna, we can pick up the wifi signal on the boat AND I found the PayPal password. Life is good.