November 14, 2011

Checking in to Oz

As luck would have it we checked into Bundaberg on the busiest day they’ve had this season (nine boats arrived) on the day after the biggest drug bust they’ve ever made (Bundi is now famous for rum and coke...). The result was the check-in system, which we’ve heard is normally super efficient, wasn’t. And as the sun was setting and we still hadn’t been checked in, and hadn’t slept much since 1 am—I was definitely getting grumpy.

Technically we should have been one of the first boats checked-in, considering that we were first into the harbour… But it didn’t work that way. The boat we were meant to follow was somehow missed in the check-in line-up and as the day went on and everyone else was processed we stayed put in the crowded and insecure quarantine anchorage.

As we sat the wind rose, the current shifted and our anchor dragged. And of course we bumped a brand-new, very posh boat--leaving a small dent on them, a scratch on us and creating an irate skipper (who eventually calmed down and apologized when he realized we really didn’t do much damage).

When we finally got into the dock the process did go smoothly. Customs and immigration had clearly researched us before they spoke to us (which is weird, we forget that some parts of the world are wired in) and they carefully checked our answers against what they knew of us—noting that one of our forms had some incorrect info on it.

Aquis is thorough but not nearly as ruthless as we were led to believe. Considering we worked hard eating everything (and traded a bunch of stuff away) we didn’t lose as much as we expected. Gone though is our lovely French Poly vanilla, my sprouting seeds (which I expected), all our beans and lentils, my oatmeal (which was pretty dodgy anyway). I was surprised that our flour, rice and powdered milk all got to stay. And our handicrafts were also left with us—though we had to swear that a gourd rattle we have has pebbles in it, not seeds. And we also had to pledge that it would never, ever leave our boat.

I did laugh at a few things the Aquis guys graciously overlooked. Shortly after asking us if we have seen any ants, bees or termites aboard an ant walked across the counter. We all pretended not to see it. They also didn’t look too hard at any of our woven baskets—after a brief shake test (where the results were kind of ignored—those tiny beige bugs do sort of look like dirt) they were all handed back to me.

The irony is Barb on WGD told us she’s seen more bugs on the produce here than we saw in the South Pacific—so there you go.

Our check-in was finally over at 7:30 pm--much too late to head out shopping for replacement food. Thankfully we have friends. Barb made us a great dinner and we spent the evening laughing too hard and perhaps over-imbibing. Connect 4 came round for drinks and commiseration and we all celebrated.

We’re in Australia man!


Del Viento said...

Felicitades! Quite an accomplishment, that's a big damn ocean. Eager to read your first impressions of Australia over the next several weeks. Michael

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Glad to hear you are all safely inspected, injected and totted up for a great stay.