See you later Dayan Island and Indonesia – we’re off to Australia! The last few days we’ve been very busy prepping Toucan and getting all our ducks in a row for our clearance out of the country, which in Sorong is a tortuous full-day process.
It’s been quite a wrench to leave Dayan Island – not just because we’ll miss Hans and Debora and all the Saleo family but also because it’s hard not seeing the building work through to completion.
We have no doubt the family will get it finished in our absence, but it’s been so rewarding to see it all coming together and to be part of that process. Not to mention we’ll miss the beautiful surroundings, the snorkelling and diving, and the birdsong in the mornings.
But – even though we wish we’d been further down the track with the building work, it’s truly amazing to compare what we started with in January this year to what we have now.
I suspect the Saleos may be grateful for a bit of a rest, now that we’re no longer breathing down their necks!
Last week, our new speedboat was delivered to Sorong by Renol and Morales (accompanied by their families).
Morales and Bruce then took it up the river to Wick’s boatyard for the motors and steering to be fitted.
It’s fast – Bruce reckoned they clocked 25 kts with just one 40 HP on the back and were lucky not to be picked up for speeding by the police boat that passed them going the other way! (on second thoughts, I don’t think there’s too many traffic regulations here, either on the roads or the water).
Unfortunately, another cruising boat that had checked out of Sorong last week had to return due to engine problems, so Wick’s mechanic was busy with them and didn’t have time to fit our motors. We were hoping we could do a sea trial by taking the boat back to the island for a day trip with our now-fixed freezer, but it’s not to be. The boat will be stored on the hard and fitted out closer to our return later in the year, and Wick has kindly offered to keep our freezer in his workshop until then.
Instead, we’ve been getting organized for the roughly 1000 NM passage to Thursday Island, and then the further 400 NM or so to Cairns. It’s been a while since we’ve had the sails up, let alone completed a long passage, so I hope we can remember what it’s all about! On Monday, Bruce went up the mast to check the rigging, and then we hoisted the main sail to give it a good clean and discovered to our horror yet another legacy of our rat visitor a while back – a hole the size of my fist chewed out of the bottom of the sail! The little bastard – good job he’s already dead because Bruce was threatening all sorts of revenge and torture. We’ve patched the hole as best we can until we can do a neater repair back home.
And then yesterday was our big day of checking out. We’d been warned that it would take most of the day, and it was true. We started at 9 am by visiting the Quarantine office who were relatively speedy in giving us our paperwork, including a cryptic note in our green healthbook (given to us when we checked into Biak in 2019 and never needed since) to “keep the ship clean, set a mousetrap, and put a light on the back steps”. Perhaps word of our rodent visitor had got around. After that, it was time to go to Immigration (there’s a particular order you have to do this in). They took our passports and paperwork away to process and then we waited. And waited. For two whole hours. We were the only people in the office so it wasn’t exactly busy, so who knows what they were doing. They then informed us they needed to come to the boat and wouldn’t give our passports back until that had happened. So Iki, our patient driver, drove us the half-hour back to the boat, where the two immigration officers proceeded to play out a little charade – they brought a computer and scanning machine onboard (neither of which were turned on or connected) and then took photos of themselves pretending to process our passports. How we stayed calm and continued to smile is something of a miracle, but there is absolutely nothing else to do when your passports are being held to ransom. By now it was lunchtime, so we grabbed a quick sandwich from the boat, and then headed back to town to the Customs office – a very large, swanky building on the hill with a great view of the harbour. At least they had comfy chairs in the waiting room. The Customs guys were really nice and did their job efficiently, but they also had to come onboard the boat. So back we went again, this time with seven Customs staff in tow. At least they actually had a purpose. They inspected our engine serial numbers, asked us for our medication list and did a cursory inspection inside the boat. Last stop was the Harbourmaster, who issues the all-important port clearance for the boat to leave the country. Jufri, the Harbourmaster, is a very nice man but he tells us we’re missing some important paperwork from Customs – our Vessel Declaration. So back we go to Customs, where they’re still filling out the forms. We spend the time chatting to our friendly Customs officer, Charlie, who gives us tips on how to scare crocodiles away by hissing at them. It’s now nearly 5pm, so clutching the all-important Vessel Declaration, we return to the Harbourmaster’s office, where the staff are now all in the parking lot doing line-dancing. I kid you not. It’s a thing on Tuesday afternoons, apparently. Finally – finally! – we pay our fees to the Harbourmaster (the only fees we have to pay all day, and they’re calculated on the amount of time the boat has spent in the country. $50 for two and half years isn’t too bad) and we’re done.
What a crazy day and a crazy place! No wonder so many people form a love-hate relationship with this country, and we’re no different. We’re looking forward to going sailing and some peace and quiet (we hope). It should take us a couple of weeks to get to Thursday Island, and then we’re aiming to be in Cairns by the end of April for a family reunion with our boys. Can’t wait!!