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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oct. 25th, 2010 – Arrival at Bundaberg!!!!!

The last night at sea was relatively calm and thankfully uneventful. We were both real anxious to get into Bundaberg safely, therefore neither of us slept well during our off hours. There were no more ships spotted, although we both stayed on red-alert during watches. I listened to my audio book on my watch and found that this or listening to the i-Pod while doing a little cock-pit exercising are about the best ways to get through watches like this. Frank wanted to be up for the pass through the reef, so at 2:30 I awoke him and he stayed up with me after I awoke from my nap. We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and a becalmed approach into Bundaberg.  We passed the lighthouse at 8:30 AM, called Bundaberg BMR 488 (Bundaberg Marine Rescue) on the VHF to announce our impending arrival. We were directed into the Bundaberg Port Marina and then instructed to anchor near the yellow Quarantine buoy to await further instructions. We dropped the hook at 10:30 AM.  All about us were yachts awaiting clearance and the air was abuzz with anticipation.  There are 4 "Q" berths that were already full with boats being inspected. We were 4th in the queue after those boats cleared. At around 11:00, 2 of them finally pulled away. They had been on the berth since 8:00 AM. We realized we were not going to be able to just clear in and then get our long awaited nap. Finally at nearly 1:00 PM the other 2 boats cleared away and we were called to the "Q" dock. Two women and one man boarded us. One woman searched the boat for drugs while the other two officers sat down in the saloon. The man was from Immigration and the other lady was Customs. I think they asked us every personal question possible including our blood types and the names of our first-born. All the while, Olivia, the drug search officer was going through the entire length of our boat looking for illegal substances. The phrase "In-depth" doesn't even cover it. Then we were asked as many questions about our boat and her contents. Everything from do we have flares, weapons, mace, spear guns to what and how many RX drugs are aboard. When was our last hull cleaning, haul-out, where had we anchored last? It went on and on for nearly 2 hours before they declared us OK to enter the country on the condition that we report in to Customs and Immigration every 90-days and that we repeat this drill in 12-months time. We were given the paperwork and instructions for doing so. These three departed and told us we were to await the Quarantine Officers before being allowed to interact with anyone or to get off the boat.  And then we sat – presumably while they went to lunch.

Eventually two more officers boarded us, one a government representative from Canberra (Australia's capital), who was there to question us about bio-security matters and to give us information about these matters during our stay. He gave us more forms to complete and instructed us to report to him after 12 months. The other was there to inspect our ship's stores and to evaluate our yacht for the "Time-limited Practique" clearance. This is the method by which they evaluate the amount of wood on a yacht to ascertain the threat level this would pose to Australia regarding termite infestation. Huh? Australia is worried that boats entering Australia are bringing termites into the country. Hence if a boat has a lot of wood then it poses a potential threat and is subject to a very expensive termite inspection requiring sniffer dogs and the like, at the expense of the owner. He seemed very concerned about our teak interior. Eventually, he gave us a 12-month permit, for a mere $330 (AUD). Once again, we will be required to submit to this same inspection at the end of a year. Well, we've been told that Australia has a terrible termite problem so if we don't have them now, we very well may have them after being here for a year! This incredibly rigid clearance is new just this year and will be the norm for all arriving yachts, henceforth.

At 3:30 we were declared "cleared-in". We moved to our berth, got showered and dressed and then went to shore to pick up our Rally packets, check in at the marina office and head to the cruising club for the welcome dinner at 5:00.

The Bundaberg Cruising Club knows how to welcome weary cruisers who have just had their boats stripped of consumables. They had set up a table overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies, eggs and bread for sale at pennies on the $. We were handed two large tote bags full of welcome goodies: coupons, hats, snacks, ground coffee, can coolers, etc.  It was like Christmas in October!  And because they took pity on the arriving yachts, a dinner of meat pies and frittata was provided for $5 per person (AUD). We ate and visited until 7 PM when we could no longer stay awake then we returned to Destiny for a nice long sleep.

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