Wednesday Lauren made what we hoped would be the last accident-related medical appointment.  We made an appointment at a dental clinic that was within walking distance of our backpackers and could fit her in on 24-hour notice.  The first filling went just fine, but the second one turned into a bit of a nightmare.  She’s still a long ways from being able to fully open her jaw, so the dentist had a hard time filling the second molar properly.  After calling in another dentist to help she finally got the second tooth finished, but wasn’t at all happy with it.  Because we’re headed offshore, she was nervous about some sort of small gap that was left and so we waited for an hour or so while she took some post-filling X-rays, conferred with another dentist, and generally seemed to be fretting about the state of the second filling.  After an hour or so she finally let Lauren know that she’d decided it did indeed need to be redone and asked if Lauren could come back at 6pm.  Lauren went to the second appointment on her own, and didn’t come back in the best mood.  Apparently drilling out the filling put in earlier in the day was a long and painful process and the dentist still wasn’t satisfied after the second attempt and kept asking questions about our flight time on Thursday and when Lauren would make it back to her home country to have it done properly.  Not exactly the best note to end on, but when Lauren woke up Thursday there was no more pain from the twice-filled tooth, so we went to the airport.

DSC_0453 The big blue Indian Ocean

When we arrived at Christmas Island, we were met by the same quarantine officer that cleared us in on the boat.  He walked over for a chat while everyone waited for luggage.  When we walked out of the airport, Cedric was waiting for us.  Cedric is a South African agronomist turned professional skipper whose partner is Nola the nurse at the hospital.  Nola introduced us and guessed that we may need someone to help look after the boat while we were away.  Ced was perfect for the job.  It only took me a few minutes to show him around before we left and he did a great job while we were gone, even putting in a fair amount of time working on the outboard engine when it wouldn’t start and separating the fuel from the water that had collected in the tank.  We’re continually shaking our heads at what great people there are here on the island.  I think all of the boats that have stopped here have stayed longer than they originally anticipated. 

On the way back to the boat, Ced told us that the Belgians were concerned about us.  We drew a blank at first, but then remembered that Markus aboard S/V Marionette is  Belgian.  We’d been held up long enough that Marionette had caught up with us.  We spent Thursday night and a couple of the early Friday morning hours catching up with Markus and his new crew over the free public BBQs on the beach here.  On our way into shore to meet them for dinner, Lauren had another unexpected adventure.  We were both hungry and she was trying to balance a plate of potatoes in one hand and a light in the other while pulling in the dinghy painter to get into the dinghy.  Things didn’t go quite as planned, and before I knew it potatoes, plate, dive light, and hat went flying as she belly flopped into the ocean face-first.  She was a little shaken up, but in a few minutes she was dry and fine with no lasting effects aside from a serious desire to re-make a the potato dish in a hurry.  We used the left-over potatoes to make round two and headed in.

DSC_0348 Back to beautiful sunsets at anchor

This morning I put a dive rig on to hunt for the dropped items.  With all the coral and the steeply sloping topography, it took several minutes, but eventually I found the plate and light (still watertight and working). The hat is a goner.  I never dive alone unless it’s some sort of work dive, and while I was looking for the plate, I had a few moments of light-headedness that were atypical.  I never did get to feeling comfortable, but things didn’t seem too bad, so I kept looking for the hat and eventually came up without it and grabbed a brush to clean the growth and barnacles off of the props and shafts.  There were quite a few barnacles, and when I finally came up after banging them all off, I didn’t feel too well.  It was an odd feeling, but I seemed to have water in both of my ears and my head just wasn’t right.  I was suspicious that there was a problem with the air in the tank, so I checked the filter in the compressor and sure enough, it was no good anymore.  After changing it and promising to check it before filling tanks instead of after diving, I laid down to rest. 

Within an hour and a half or so I was feeling back to normal, but I still called off any more diving for the day and we went ashore to take care of some errands.  We started our normal round of pre-departure errands: mailing postcards, sending emails, checking out with customs, lugging jugs of water, etc.  We’re planning to leave for Cocos Keeling on Sunday.  The cyclone season officially starts in November, and we’re sailing through the dangerous region.  December is when things get really dangerous and we should be in South Africa before the end of November.  While we were in Perth, we looked over the SW Indian Ocean cyclone tracks for the last 12 years in September, October, and November, and it looks like the odds are in our favor, with only one moderate tropical storm in the last 12 years crossing our intended path during the next two months.  We’ll be keeping a closer eye on the weather than we have before, but we have a long way to go, so we’re anxious to get going.