Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Still in Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

As happens so often out here, the weather forecast changed. After the light northerly winds for a couple of days instead of clocking back north and then down to southeast, the winds kicked up strongly from the southwest. That is fine because this bay is on the north side of the island and we are sheltered from either southwest, south or southeast winds. This morning we moved the boat closer in toward shore to provide greater shelter (and to make a shorter dinghy trip ashore). Winds are sustained 30 knots in this tucked-up area of the bay, and gusting much higher. This is a far cry from the weather forecast. Hopefully things will calm down to predicted levels this afternoon. The 12-year-old boy, Jamie, on S/V Espirit had asked Zachary to go fishing with him in their dinghy this afternoon. I think Zachary was really looking forward to just the 2 boys being off by themselves in a dinghy in this bay. But that won't happen if the winds remain so strong.

Magnetic Island is the home to koalas and platypuses (platypii ? ) and other strange creatures. We had planned to walk some trails this morning and look for wildlife, but that plan was before the winds kicked up so strong. Now I am not so sure we want a wet dinghy ride into the waves just to see some koalas. After all, we have seen koalas many times in the Houston zoo.

The crew of S/V Espirit joined us for beer-battered fish fry night before last. The fish that we had caught appeared to be a Spanish mackerel to us except it had wide vertical stripes down the sides. We figured that was just how they looked in this part of the world; our fish identification info is all for Atlantic fish, not Pacific. Later we learned from a friend in Fiji that this type mackerel is called a Walu (at least that is what they call it in Fiji). Whether it is called a Spanish mackerel or a Walu or some other name, it tastes delicious! We enjoyed getting to know Chay and Katie, and Zachary enjoyed playing with their son Jamie. Jamie holds a second-degree black belt in karate and placed second in worldwide competition for forms and weapons in karate last year. Zachary holds a yellow belt and was impressed that a kid not much older than himself has a second-degree black belt. Jamie is in 8th grade level education because he skipped one grade; a very nice boy and a good playmate for Zachary in spite of the 4 year difference in their ages. Jamie spent hours on our boat one afternoon playing DS games with Zach.

The agent in Indonesia emailed our CAIT (cruising permit) already. He had insisted we submit the application 12 weeks in advance of arrival in Indonesia. We submitted the documents and wired the funds ($240 USD) on June 27 and already have received the CAIT! Certainly did not take 12 weeks, but you just never know with governmental agencies so I guess it was best to do it with plenty of time to spare. The CAIT requires you to list every place you might stop in Indonesia. We had planned to arrive at Benoa, Bali and clear out from the same place. We would visit just Bali and simply sail through the rest of Indonesia. But when we received the CAIT it indicated a whole bunch of destinations for us to stop in Indonesia. The agent said that for an additional $250 USD we could clear in at Kupang. This would allow us to visit Komodo (to see the dragons) and numerous other anchorages/islands enroute to Bali. Then we could sail through Indonesia and clear out at Nongsa, Batam (just across the shipping strait from Singapore). The agent said we could stay as long as 90 days in Indonesia if we clear in at Kupang; but we can only stay 20 days if we clear in/out at Bali. If we do the 20 days at Bali then we will be given a Visa-On-Arrival. But clearing in at Kupang and staying anything longer than 20 days will require us to obtain a Social Visa from the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin.

Our time to spend in Indonesia is pretty tight because we want to be in Phuket, Thailand, by early December; so there is no way we can spend 90 days in Indonesia. But we could spend less time in Singapore and less time in Malaysia and increase our time in Indonesia by a couple of weeks, so the Kupang route sounds feasible. We told the agent that we will wait until we arrive in Darwin to decide whether it will be 20 days in Bali only or the Kupang route for 30 to 40 days. Indonesia has never been of any interest to either Bill or me (only Bali); but so many people have told us how much they loved Indonesia that maybe it is a place that we shouldn't skip.

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