The following is a report from Nat Warren-White of the yacht Bahati at Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean.
“The ARC rally came through Bali as we were getting ready to leave and they were processed no problem at Bali Marina, which shows how “money talks.” Boats in the rally pay a big fee for the privilege and get first class service wherever they go as a result. Bali Marina is saying they are still encouraging folks coming from the east to clear-in at Kupang which is what we did — with ease as you know from our September story in ON. Clearing-out of Bali was no problem either, other than having to run around to the five different offices again which all keep different hours and because of Ramadan even those hours were irregular. So it took two days basically but no extra fees charged and everybody friendly and helpful.
“We are now at Christmas Island (10.25 S, 105.40 E) where we diverted on our route to Cocos Keeling due to autopilot issues which we hope to get repaired here. We require some good stainless steel welding and due to the large phosphate mining business and the illegal immigrant prison business here we are hopeful we can find. It’s a fascinating place! Strange, eclectic mix of multi-cultures all under Australian rule. There are practically daily boat-loads of illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and other places being sheparded in here by the Australian Navy patrol boats. Most of them are fishing vessels full of people who have paid their life savings to, hopefully, be given political asylum in Australia but most of them are simply “processed,” held in detention centers on the island and then “repatriated” to their home contries — a sad story. We talked with the customs folks here about it and there are clearly very mixed and conflicted feelings about it all at all levels of government and locally as well. A real sign of the times.
“Probably we will skip Cocos now and head straight for Chagos and then on to Madagascar taking a more northern route toward Africa due to the weather patterns south of here and the desire to see the northern end of Madagascar which is supposed to be off the beaten track and lovely. Will keep you posted!”
You can follow Bahati‘s travels at the Warren-White’s website.