BOAT TO AUSTRALIA

DAY 503&504: DILI – REST DAYS.
Day 503: Thursday – talk about being in the right place at the right time. Kym the captain and Ross the first mate came and saw me at the hostel this morning and after a little chat my bike and I got the thumbs up for $100.

Friday night or Saturday morning, I am off to Darwin on a 14-metre catamaran. I am pretty lucky because at this time of year there are very few boats heading south. The Lorna Marlise just happens to be going back for repairs. I then had to spend most of the day cleaning everything in readiness for clearing Australian customs. Like New Zealand, they insist that everything is very clean. With departure within the next 24-36 hours I thought I’d better get out and see some of Dili before I leave.

I went to the very modern Resistance museum which told the story of the Temorise fight against the Portuguese and then the Indonesians. I followed this up with a walk along the waterfront. I had a look and could see the Lorna Marlise moored a few hundred metres offshore and she looked all right.
Day 504: Friday – Very exciting. I am moving onto the boat this afternoon. Still wanted to see a few things in Dili before I leave. So first off I walked up to the ex-Portuguese/ Indonesian torture prison with Martian a French guy staying in the guest-house. We then came back and I checked out of the guest-house…………had some trouble getting my $46 back as I had paid for 7 nights but ended up only staying 2. I won in the end……..but left her in a rage. Shame we didn’t part on good terms.

I then put everything into a taxi. I had already taken the bike to bits. Getting down to the marina, we had to load everything into a little dinghy and ferry it out to the boat. I have a single bed right up the front in one of the pods. Here I stashed the tyres for the bike and my panniers. I put the frame of my bike in the boat’s dinghy which hangs off the back. I have been told if we need to abandon ship…..the bike will be going over the side.

Don’t have to be back on board till 6 p.m. So I got off for the rest of the afternoon. Went 7 km along the coast to see the big Jesus statue which is perched on the top of a hill looking back to Dili. The last thing before getting back on board was a trip to the supermarket to stock up on snacks for the next 6 days. I bought $25 worth of chocolate. That evening we had a few guests and a bit of a dinner party.

DAY 505: DILI – WETAR STRAIGHT – DAY 1 AT SEA
Saturday: The spare parts for the boat finally arrived and at 1 p.m. we were on our way. There are just the 3 of us now, Kym, Ross and I. We were going to be 5. But at the last minute 2 people coming up from Darwin couldn’t make it.

It means we will have to work a little harder. Our route for the next 6 days is along the Temorise coast and then down to Darwin. We started with one engine and the main sail. It was rough from the beginning. I took a seasick tablet straight away……..7 hours later, I could fight it no more. I filled a bucket in a very short time. In 17 months this was the first time I have thrown up. It was for the better because I felt alright afterwards. This sailing game is completely new to me. Missed the sunset because I was keeled over. Once the sun left it was pitch black. You could only see the stars, some shooting and the little lights from the villages along the coast.

Then in quick time we had a number of incidents on the boat. The outboard motor on the back of the dinghy started to slip off. We had put a harness on and hanging off the back step of the boat got a rope around it and secured it back to the boat. Because it was rough and dark we couldn’t do much more.

Then the boat’s steering went and we started going round in circles………….problem was a wire had come off.
We all have to take turns of being on watch. Being a novice I stayed up with Ross to learn the ropes. It is difficult steering into darkness. Around 2 a.m. we had a favourable change of wind and it was up on deck changing sails. I have learnt how to tack – pulling sails in and letting them out again. With 3 sails up we turned the engines off and we were ripping through the waves.
We might have beds but we don’t sleep in them. We all crash in the cockpit or close by.

DAY 506: WETAR STRAIGHT – TIMOR SEA – DAY 2 AT SEA
Sunday morning – waking with calmer waters we were able to reach the outboard motor and haul it back to the dinghy. I put a rope around my bike because yesterday it looked a little dodgy with the rough seas and the angle of the dinghy.

Come 1 p.m., é4 hours into the trip we had done 177 km. In the afternoon we saw two freighters and that was it. I have recovered from my sea sickness and I got to see a perfect sunset followed by a very quick setting of the new moon. Just before the sunset we saw some dolphins chasing fish come past the boat. We passed some Islands, but all you could see of them was a flashing lighthouse. 11 p.m. we did a sail change. I am starting to get the hang of this sailing. I have now been entrusted to do a watch on my own.

You have to keep an eye on the autopilot and make sure we are still heading in the right direction and on the look out for Indonesian fishing boats with no lights and pirates. I was in the cockpit from 6:30pm – 8:30pm, 10:30pm – midnight and again from 2am – 4:30am. We are now in Australian waters.

DAY 507: TIMOR SEA – TIMOR SEA – DAY 3 AT SEA
Monday morning, I got up after very little sleep and straight away we did a sail change.

We are now in the open sea and there is nothing to be seen. At 1 p.m. 48 hours into the trip we had covered 397 km. We are eating very well on the boat. Kym cooked a chicken curry for the first night……..which I ended up having the next day for breakfast. It was steak sandwiches last night and tonight we had noodles,leftover steak and leftover chicken. The nights on the boat have been cold. I had to wear a thermal top and jacket. We are out in the middle of the ocean but still see a few birds flying around.

DAY 508: TIMOR SEA – DAY 4 AT SEA
Tuesday was an uneventful morning. In 24 hours we haven’t seen a single boat. Then after lunch while I was on watch I spotted 100 dolphins come over and join the boat.

They stayed for over an hour playing with us. It was a wonderful sight. I went up to the front of the boat. I felt as though I could reach out and touch them, they were so close.
Less then an hour later we had more visitors with a very low fly pass by the Australian coast guard. They then contacted us to find out who we were…………..actually they all ready knew. I guess it was just to confirm. At 1 p.m. today we had sailed 611 km in 72 hours.
I said we eat well on the boat and this afternoon we had the BBQ out on the back deck cooking a New Zealand lamb roast.

DAY 509: TIMOR SEA – DAY 5 AT SEA
Wednesday. We are now entering into our 5th day at sea. Mid-morning we had another low fly-over by the Australian customs. The sea is very flat and we have had to motor a fair bit. Come 1 p.m. we had done 802 km in the last 96 hours.

2 p.m. we spotted land for the first time in a few days. Bathhust Island was my first sight of Australia. Tomorrow morning – Darwin will be the real Macoy. There is never a bad sunset out here. Every night it is just absolutely beautiful. We were under sail for the latter part of the afternoon. We had a good wind and at this speed we were going to arrive in Darwin at midnight. So we had to drop the sails to reduce the pace so we would have an arrival in Darwin shortly after dawn. I went on watch at 9 p.m. and stayed in the cockpit till 4 a.m. It was a little nerve-racking looking out into the dark and knowing that by getting closer to Darwin there would be a bit of traffic around.

DAY 510: TIMOR SEA – DARWIN, AUSTRALIA
Thursday – after 1137 km and 137 hours at sea. Just before 7:30 a.m. we tied up at the wharf at Callum Bay, Darwin.

We had to stay on the boat till 8:30 am and await the arrival of Customs………Filling out the arrival card was pretty easy and I finally got a stamp in my New Zealand passport and now I am back to being a proper New Zealander, just as well because my British Passport is now full of stamps and visas and will have to be replaced because I will have trouble using it. After customs,

the police turned up with the drug dog. It was fairly young and had cute little slippers on all fours and was sliding enthusiastically all over the boat. Two departments down and all good. We still couldn’t get off until we got the final clearance from Quarantine. They started by confiscating last night’s dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese and the leftover roast from the night before. Then my bicycle became the center of attention. I thought I had cleaned it really well. There was still dirt in the cassette and there was talk of embonding the bike on the boat. I quickly explained that the bike needed to come off. Then there was talk of the bike going for a special cleaning. What a hassle……..also min fee $ 550.00. I was lucky because they cut me some slack. I got some tools out and dismantled the cassette before giving it a good clean in a bucket of soapy water. Thankfully it then passed the test. I then had to get my tent, sleeping bag, roll mats and hiking boots out for inspection.

I was relieved when they all passed. About 11:30 a.m. we got the all clear and I finally stepped ashore on to Australian soil. I then took my time to put my bike back together. Had one little last sleep on the back deck and at about 2 p.m. I started cycling. It was a bit strange. After so long in Asia I really don’t know if I am ready for Australia just yet. It may take a few weeks to get use to the culture change and the new price structure. No more $1 meals eating on the street.
When I was in Indonesia I met a family from Darwin travelling around.

They have offered me some space to camp in their yard. I e-mailed them just before I left Dili and the return e-mail read when you get here just come on out. Here is the code for the gate and make yourself at home. So I headed out to Nightcliff. Darwin is very quiet and there was no-one around to ask for directions. There were lots of different and interesting birds to be seen – I did make the 12 km in quick time and have now put my tent up on the pavers next to the swimming pool. They have a big backyard with lots of nice trees. There are also wildlife around. Lots of rabbits and a small Goawana. Winter in Darwin and the swimming pool is looking very inviting. The beach is only 5 mins away. Swimming there is out because of the very high threat of crocodiles. The customs office mentioned 300 crocs had recently been pulled out of the harbour.

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