We dropped the hook just before sundown on Saturday night but we wanted to wait until Monday to clear customs, immigration and quarantine because there are hefty overtime fees for weekend or off-hour check-in. No matter, we and the boat needed a hosedown, a tidy-up and a rest before we let innocent people approach. Plus, the quarantine officers will take all our fresh produce, dairy and who knows what-all-else and we were keen to eat it. And so we did. The vegetables and Roquefort went onto two pizzas, most of the eggs became an omelet, the yams became crisps, the limes went into margaritas. By the time we worked our way through the fridge there was precious little left for the taking.
Monday morning found us again riding a bucking bronco, even though we were at anchor, as a big swell and high winds stirred up the harbor. Customs called us on the VHF around 10am and asked us to bring the boat into the marina for clearance. It wasn’t easy in the 25 knot wind but Skipper skillfully got us alongside the Q-dock without mishap and we were boarded by two officers who together would take care of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine.
As always, there was a lot of paperwork to fill out. We had our visas ready, and Jack had done a lot of the preliminary form filling, so most of the time was spent going through our stores and inspecting the timber parts of the boat for evidence of termite infestation. We passed, and we had very little of the prohibited foods left onboard so it all went very quickly. They even let us keep our hardcooked eggs and our cheese.
Getting the men off the boat turned out to be harder than getting them on, as the wind had picked up and it was blowing us away from the pier, straining the docklines. As the burlier of the two put his full force on the stern line to pull close enough to jump off he leaned hard against the port railing and *snap* broke it clean off the lower fitting. Oops. We got no apology but they did say we could file a claim against the Australian Border Force for the repair.
There are two courtesy moorings in a more protected part of the bay but they were occupied so it was back out to the bouncy anchorage for Escape Velocity, where we stayed for the rest of the day. It was just too rough to dinghy ashore. So one more day without setting foot on Aussie land, no internet access and only the hardboiled eggs and some cheese left to eat. We dug some hummus out of the freezer, made deviled eggs and opened a jar of French cornichons et voila! a Huffman Platter lunch, named for George Huffman who brought the artfully arranged combo to Escape Velocity for sundowners one night in Ponce, Puerto Rico, back in 2014. Dinner was lasagna unearthed from the freezer so no one starved. No one ever starves on EV. It might get weird, but there’s always something to eat.
Tuesday we finally got off the boat. The first stop ashore is always the rubbish bins then the chandlery for a courtesy flag. That done, we walked the mile and a half into town where we quickly found ice cream, SIM cards and groceries and just generally appreciated using our legs again and speaking English. Well, a kind of English, anyway. It’s clear we have much to learn and need to get closer to our Aussie friends for interpreter services.
The weather has us pinned here in Coffs for a few more days. My sister and brother-in-law will beat us to Sydney but we want a drama-free last 250 miles south so we’re going to sit tight and wait. Our moment will come.