ahhhh - it now makes sense why we have been receiving all the attention and have been interviewed by the Indonesian army, navy, police, immigration and customs as well as embassies.
We had a third crew member join us in Kuching from Singapore who had only two weeks holiday before she had to go back to work so she offered to fly into Kuching in Sarawak and sail with us around to Pontianak in Kalimantan Indonesia.
I included her in our port control crew documentation and she was included in our immigration check out.
When we got to Pontianak we did port control arrival and immigration again and had all our documents stamped by the authorities. Two days later when we were due to depart I took a copy of the crew memberís return ticket to Singapore, her passport and also got her to write a letter stating that she was leaving the vessel and signing off as crew. I then took her to immigration and customs when we were checking out and gave them copies of those documents as well. If you are not already doing this. I would strongly advise you to get departing crew members to supply you with such a letter and take a copy of their flight details and passport as you will see below.
Unfortunately, through some confusion and miscommunication, the authorities here in Indonesia still had us down as being a total crew of three, not two. You can imagine when they heard that two crew had been found - they would naturally be concerned about the missing íthirdí
Fortunately I had a number of copies of the departing crew memberís letter and flight ticket and was able to clear up the confusion quickly with each authority.
Had I not had that documentation - I think Iíd still be under questioning.
The other significant part of the confusion was the horrible story of the Air Asia flight that crashed not far from here last week. We heard about it on the HF radio and discovered that we would soon be sailing directly through the debris field and were not sure of what we would find.
You can imagine then, when the entire Indonesian navy and airforce, along with many other participating countries had been out searching for wreckage and survivors from the air crash, suddenly got a report of two people rescued from the sea not far from the impact area how they might react given that they had only been recovering bodies until then.
Compared to the heartache and tragedy of those unfortunate passengers, crew and their families and friends, our accident was inconsequential but I can now understand how the first report of us on the island might have kindled some hope, if only briefly.
All the authorities here have been asking me when I will return to my vessel and try and repair her or strip her of all her gear. I have explained that she is lost and that in appreciation of the amazing generosity, courage and hospitality of the local fishing village, I made it clear to them and to the authorities here that the community had my permission to take anything off Australis and use it for themselves. This included a brand new outboard still in its box, fuel, food, ropes and everything else.
The amazing thing was that over the next day or two as the fishing boats returned from the wreckage laden with equipment and gear from Australis, each person still came to us to check if we wanted it before taking it home themselves.
For an isolated community subsisting on local fishing effort with few resources or facilities, their humbleness and generosity of spirit was overwhelming and I have made sure that the authorities here in Indonesia understand our appreciation and the fact that the local community had our permission to strip our vessel.
At least we now know that parts of Australis are being used by wonderful people rather than sitting on the ocean floor.