It's good to be back in Aus, isn't it?

Apr 15th 2020

After everything that's happened, the days in our little turquoise paradise are numbered and swimming in clear waters will be a long lost memory once we get to Darwin. Reluctantly, we finally head to the local provincial capital Tual to clear out of Indonesia. Tual does not yet have any corona cases but we don’t really feel like walking around after the welcome we got in Banda.

We settle on 10th of April as day of departure, booking Jhord our local contact, to drive us around town to complete the formalities. Jhord drives us from immigration to customs to harbour master to get stamped and we chat about his legal studies, small kids and life under corona threat.

Socially distancing at customs

Tual is a really interesting looking city and we’d love to explore more but all we manage that afternoon is to leave the country legally. Indonesian bureaucracy is a slow moving beast.

The view from customs
With our passports finally stamped by customs and immigration and a harbour master clearance for the boat, we are free to leave.
The moon illuminates Tual on our last night

We say farewell to Phillip that night and start the engines early in the morning of the 10th April. Australian Border Force has been notified and have told us we will be required to self-isolate on the boat in Darwin for two weeks. We already knew this from other returning boats who started arriving in Darwin from the end of March. We are prepared, or so we think.

Just before we leave Tual, we hear from Storyteller, reporting they got intercepted by a small but armed pirate vessel near Saumlaki, following them for hours. Our passage plan immediately changes to give Saumlaki a wide berth and we head to Darwin without stopping anywhere. We stay well offshore after leaving the Kai islands, and make it to Cape Don on the Australian mainland three days later.

The passage itself is fairly uneventful, the most exciting thing to happen is the Border Force plane fly over and the associated radio exchange.

Super cloud action on the way
From Cape Don, it is another couple of days sail through the murky green waters of the Van Diemen Gulf, where it is imperative one works with the strong currents or suffer the consequences (i.e. go backwards).
Back to murky waters

Ausland ahoy

We survive this too, and arrive just as the sun starts setting over Darwin on the evening of the 15th April, tired but relieved. Our relief was not to last.