Approaches to Tasmania

41:51:17S
151:51:40E
Friday, January 07, 2011

We have been at sea for a week and have 189 miles to go before we reach Tasman Island; a little under a if we keep up this speed. A cause for celebration you would suggest. But no, various emails from Customs and Immigration make it clear that we are not welcome at all UNLESS we pay an enormous sum of money OR move only between designated clearance ports. They are saying that they will not issue us with a cruising permit because we had one in 2008 when we left Sydney in the old boat. Apparently you have to be out of the country for 3 years before they will issue you with a new cruising permit and the three years won’t be up until May this year. What in heavens name is this all about? Do the Australians actually want tourists? Tourists in yachts tend to spend rather more money than backpackers. Then perhaps this is why they paid so much money to get Oprah over to publicize the country. I remember an add on TV a couple of years ago when some lithesome ‘Sheila’ said they’d got the crocs out of the swimming pool, sharks off the beaches and the prawns on the Barbie – so why not come over. Well I can tell you why. Forget the Tasmanian devils, crocks or sharks, there is a bloody-minded customs man going out of his way to make you feel unwelcome. Perhaps I will email Oprah after all.

On a brighter side we are having a fantastic sail, charging along at a constant 9 knots with a strong wind on the beam. Forecast shows a bit more wind from the north so we will be able to bear off. Straight into the welcoming arms of Australian Officialdom and ridiculas bureaucracy. Watch this space.

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