Leg 16 Part 2 - Cocos Keeling
By: Geoff On: 27/12/2013 07:05:19 In: SPENT
18th - 20th October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
I had an early start getting everything ready to go up the mast and replace the broken spinnaker halyard. Got the climbing gear out and rigged all the lines ready for the allotted time of 9:00 when Tony had offered to come and help get me up the mast. Once up there, I found no trace of the old halyard which had slipped down inside the mast but the block it ran through was badly damaged and difficult to turn. I sent it down onto the deck for Susan to check and see if we had a spare of that size - 100mm - which we didn't. I came back down to the deck and we asked around to see if anyone had a spare. Of course Richard had something bigger which would do the job and lent it to us until we are able to get a replacement.       
While on the deck we pulled the old halyard through and the end was completely missing. The spliced eye of the rope had failed and it must have been the stainless steel eye that damaged the block when it went. The new halyard was run outside the mast, as Eddie had advised we should have them for these long ocean passages. The port spinnaker halyard was also showing signs of wear so we also replaced that but had to mouse that down through the mast as I didn't fancy a third trip up the mast and we were running out of time, having to catch the ferry at 14:00
We took our dinghy across to the ferry dock, collecting Wolfhound on the way, and were tied up and on the ferry by 14:00. Sotto was still refuelling from the fuel barge that turned up and Tom brought Richard and Claire across at the last minute before the ferry departed. Mariela were not so fortunate as the ferry would not wait for them. They, along with Tom and Alvi managed to get a lift on the fuel barge to Home Island and the later 15:30 ferry across to West Island.    
Once we arrived on West Island we were bussed the 6 kilometres from the terminal to the town, where we were dropped off outside the pub. From there we crossed to the restaurant to post our names on their blackboard before 16:00 as this was the booking procedure, then on to the Coop where we had to pay for the provisions we had ordered in advance and picked up a few more items to add to the delivery. The goods were being delivered to the ferry later, for our return trip to Direction Island. It was then on to the visitors centre to have a look around and get some internet connection.
The terrace there was packed with the Oyster fleet all trying to catch up with emails and download the latest weather. Naturally, we only had our new iPod with us and spent all our wifi ticket time trying to download the Weather Track app, which didn't complete, so we got nothing! Susan was able to get on Facebook to post a message that we had arrived here safe for all the family.
We had a stroll around the very small community, the golf club was interesting with two holes being played across the island airport's runway, requiring clearance from air traffic control before playing! Being a predominantly Muslim community and a Friday, everything was closed, the Coop and visitor centre stayed open especially for us! It was a long wait until the pub opened and we were able to get a seat and a drink.
The Champagne tasting was there, from 18:00 to  20:00 to be followed by the quiz, a local weekly event, which the fleet had been invited to attend. During the tasting, we crossed the road to the restaurant for our dinner. The food was very good but was like eating in a works canteen! We had the beef pie and chips and chicken curry with rice, followed by chocolate caramel cake and ice cream. The Champagne tasting was still going done well with the fleet when we returned to the pub and they appeared to have just about sold out when it finished.
One of the locals, who had lived on West Island for 15 years, was telling us that it had all changed so very recently. The Malays who mainly live on Home Island and were the former imported labour for the copra plantation, had only recently started wearing Burkas and veils but that as recently as eight years ago only wore loin-clothes or skirts. The islands were declared a British dominion in 1857 then the descendants of the original plantation family, the Clunies-Ross, were virtually awarded the islands by Queen Victoria in 1886. The islands became an Australian dependency as recently as 1955 with their government paying the Clunies-Ross family for the islands in 1978.
Susan entered the quiz, with her team comprising of Serendipity, Ludo from Yantina, Gerry & Tim from Wolfhound. They named the team Miss Spent Youth and lead first & second rounds. Unfortunately, our buses back to the ferry terminal arrived during the music round and they were unable to conclude the event - we think this may well have been crafty planning to ensure that no one from the  fleet were able to win and take the $100 prize money!
At the ferry terminal, the provisions were already loaded on the ferry and we set off straight back to Direction Island. When we arrived, it was low tide and they were unable to use the normal ramp onto the dock. It was pandemonium with everyone fighting to get there provisions off the ferry and onto the dock. Paul Ducker would have disappeared between the ferry and the dock if I hadn't pulled him and his box of shopping back onto the dock at the last minute - another unfamiliar look of terror on his face as he knew he was going in!
While we were waiting to load our dinghy, I suddenly came over very ill and had to retire to the bushes where I lost all of my dinner over two brief visits. We managed to get the provisions on the dinghy, back to and onto the boat before I had to rush to the heads and loose what was in my lower digestion system. Having enjoyed the dinner earlier, we were very surprised to have been affected in this way and could only assume there had been some cross contamination in the kitchen that kicked off my allergy to fish. We later found out that Richard was similarly affected, spending a couple of hours in his heads when he got back!
Saturday 19th October 2013
We had a tidy up from our rushed departure for yesterdays ferry and Susan put a load of washing on. I managed to have a bowl of cereal and a coffee with no after effects from the night before! Amelie had arrived the night before and moved in from the outer anchorage. We called to see them on our way to have a stroll around Direction Island and visit the rubbish pit and burn our normal rubbish and the packing from the provisioning. We were invited aboard for a drink with them that lasted until the unofficial beach BBQ started, that we weren't going to. Having disposed of our rubbish, we walked along to the BBQ just to say hello to everyone and ended up leaving about three hours later!
When we were attempting to board the dinghy, for the return trip to Spent, I somehow ended up in the water, but managed to get Susan back still dry!
Sunday 20th October 2013
Caught up with some paperwork then got the facemask and snorkel to go hunting for my prescription sunglasses that I had left in the water last night. Looked for about 30 minutes without success before Alan from Sulana arrived and offered to help look for them. He kindly found them for me!
Back on the boat we carried on getting ready for our departure tomorrow.
We were ready for the 14:30 ferry early and so took our rubbish ashore before boarding the ferry for the trip back across to West Island for the official beach BBQ. This took place at the north western tip of the island at Swimming Beach/Trannies Beach which was a wonderful beach and supposed to have the best sunset. Unfortunately, it was mainly overcast and the sunset didn't show! The beer, wine and Champagne flowed, the BBQ smoked, some locals turned up with their children and it was a real Oyster family event.                           
The buses came again to take us back to the ferry port for the transfer back to Direction Island and our order for pies was ready and waiting for us to take with us. There was the usual pandemonium on the dock getting off the ferry and into the dinghy so we sat back until the rush had died. Susan said her throat was on fire and so went straight to bed once we were aboard Spent. I sat up running the generator for a while to make sure the freezer was down to temp. with the new load of provisions.