Nick Schofield explains the situation to officials who greeted Cheetah in Lovina on Bali's north coast. They were allowed to stay the night before moving on the next morning.
Nick Schofield explains the situation to officials who greeted Cheetah in Lovina on Bali's north coast. They were allowed to stay the night before moving on the next morning.

Coast sailors navigate brave new COVID-19 pandemic world

DUSK forays into locked down villages, occasional harassment by some officials, warm welcomes by others and constant uncertainty have become the reality for one Sunshine Coast couple whose dream cruise of south east Asia has become ensnared in the global COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Nick and Sharon Schofield perched high above their yellow catamaran Cheetah before access to land became all but impossible due to the pandemic.
Nick and Sharon Schofield perched high above their yellow catamaran Cheetah before access to land became all but impossible due to the pandemic.

 

Teacher Sharon Schofield and her building certifier husband Nick of Mudjimba left Mooloolaba a year ago on their catamaran Cheetah to surf and explore island chains from Rote to Thailand.

It wasn't until they had reached Phuket that rumours began to circulate among the cruising community about the ever-tightening restrictions being implemented.

Nick said while they had heard stories of guns being pulled on yachts seeking safe anchorage, most they had dealt with had been really nice, although it had been awkward getting into some places.

In others he said they were treated as if they had leprosy.

 

The Schofields sailed down Sumatra's west coast before crossing the Java Sea to Java's eastern tip before heading down the Lombok Strait to their current location at Lombok's southern tip.
The Schofields sailed down Sumatra's west coast before crossing the Java Sea to Java's eastern tip before heading down the Lombok Strait to their current location at Lombok's southern tip.

"It's been hard getting money out," Nick said. "In one place I rode at dusk to an ATM on the back of a motorbike," Nick said.

"We were helped out in the Mentawis by John McGroder of the surf charter boat Barrenjoey. We did a bank transfer (via internet) to him and he organised cash, food and fuel. We wouldn't have made it without it."

 

The Schofields were enjoying a dream they had made reality until the COVID-19 pandemic introduced unplanned for issues.
The Schofields were enjoying a dream they had made reality until the COVID-19 pandemic introduced unplanned for issues.

The couple was thankful they installed new motors before leaving Australia.

The need to keep travelling regardless of wind conditions has meant the motors have been running for the equivalent of 10 days as they've made their way from one end of Indonesia - a country of 17,000 islands that stretch the width of Europe - towards the other.

Now with Cheetah moored in Marina Del Ray on the southern tip of Lombok, the couple face harsh re-entry requirements to Australia despite the fact they would have been in extended isolation.

Northern Territory rules require arriving yachties isolate in a nominated hotel for 14 days at a cost of $2500 a week and that their vessel be placed in a marina at additional cost.

Nick said they could just as easily anchor in Fanny Bay for two weeks but struggled to understand why even that would be required.

"We're the most quarantined people anywhere."

But he said their situation was infinitely better than others cruising yachts who had arrived exhausted at a safe anchorage in the middle of the night only to be told to leave immediately. He said friends in the Maldives were trapped on their boat unable to leave or go ashore.

 

Sharon Schofield and an uninhabited island the couple were unable to explore due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Sharon Schofield and an uninhabited island the couple were unable to explore due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In a post to friends on Facebook Sharon wrote of part of their trip.

"The Indonesian government were kind enough to provide an uninhabited island in the Telos group for yachties to gather, and set foot on land.

"Many boats here have nowhere to go as borders everywhere are closed and Indonesia is restricting travel.

"We spent three days on the beautiful island of Barabang (other boats will be there for months) but have decided to continue back to Australia.

"We need to consider cyclones, winds, currents, safe anchorages, fuel stops etc so it may take a month or two to get to Darwin.

"Meanwhile we are healthy and happy, enjoying the beauty of this amazing coastline, appreciating the kindness and helpfulness of locals, other yachties, Australian friends, and friends of friends who are here in Indo."

The Schofields are planning their final leg home, likely to track to the top of Timor before dropping south to Darwin, where worked needs to be done on the boat.

For now though they're enjoying uncrowded surf and a secure anchorage after weeks of uncertainty.



JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! Coffs/Clarence is spoiled for choice

Premium Content JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! Coffs/Clarence is spoiled for choice

From slashing cane to peeling prawns, there’s something for everyone

Second high speed driver caught in a week

Premium Content Second high speed driver caught in a week

Police allege the driver was more than 50km/h over the limit

Marina rescue: man removed in intricate operation

Premium Content Marina rescue: man removed in intricate operation

Emergency services were back at the Coffs marina this afternoon.