New Country, New Challenges

Cruising is not a piece of cake. Besides the offshore sailing, the next most challenging aspect is preparing to live in a new country. If you are a speed cruiser; one who joins the ARC or one who has taken a year or two off of the work routine, you might fly through a country that none of these prepartions are needed.
For those of us taking our time and finding joy in the experience of a new country, this next bit is for you.
Aside from the clearance in procedure our next step is to clean the boat. Often that means a marina or access to water and washing machines. While there are those that envision cruising as living in a bathing suit -that is not reality. Nights are often cool and in some cases cold. We’ve worn long underwear with two or three layers and fleece on top and on top of that even full foul wx gear. And while we don’t wear our foullies all the time, there are times that an errant wave will splash the boat and spritz one with salt water. All those need to be washed. Everything salt water touches. In the boat we attempt to localize areas that salty clothing goes. If it is beyond our smell tollerance we place it the wash pile and pull out more clothes. We usually have 2 loads of clothing when we finish with a passage. Then another two loads of our “crew covers” that protects our interior fabric and cushions. Getting salt on foam cushions usually involves replacement of that foam.
After washing the boat, the gear, and our clothing; the next step entails getting local currency. Once we have money in hand we have two new tasks: Fresh fuit and veggies as well as replacing any meats a country may have taken for destruction, and finally communication.
For communication we rely on a local SIM card. In years past WiFi was the preferred way to connect. Now getting data through the cell phone network is the easiest. Once the phone’s have cards we usually buy or sometimes get one free a MiFi device. That device acts as router for a SIM card and one can then connect all the devices up on the boat to the MiFi and it’s just like home.
And last; depending on how much time you expect to spend in a country it comes down to money. Here in Australia we expect to spend about 18 months. It’s a big country and we would like to see a few of the tourist places. That and join a tennis club, visit friends, and make all boat projects easier. To complete those task we need a car and to get settled comfortably we need a bank account to pay all the local bills.
Yesterday we went to open up an account. NZ was and I assume Australia is far ahead of the US in banking. In NZ if we wanted to pay anyone (business or personal) with an account on any bank in the country we could easily through online banking. In the US we can only move money through accounts at the the same bank. Sad, I know. In NZ we used Westpac. I was happy with them and everything worked perfectly.
We go into Bundaberg to set up an account. The only Westpac in town is moving and the branch is closed for two days. We’re getting ready to move South so I am not liking this. Some of the locals said they like the Com Bank. With the Com Bank one can do much of their banking needs at the post office.
And so…. we stop in there to set up a new account. We spend roughly an hour getting the employee all the needed info, visa stuff, tax number, address in Australia, sign this form and that form. After which we wrote a check to add money to the account. All looked good until she checks the banks rules for foreign checks. A check over 5k Aus requires a few extra bank procedures so we elect to write one for under 5k Aus. Again, all looks good until she discovers that even though we expect to wait until money is in the account, the bank will not accept any foreign checks until the account has been open for 6 months! A circular Cluster F——. You know what I mean. How can we start an account and put money in and use if for 6 months if we can’t deposit a check for six months. We don’t want to hit the ATM up daily to take cash out and then put it in a local bank. THAT, is not making our life easier.
In the end we cancelled the account, deleted everything and walked out frustrated. Tomorrow we will go to the Westpac and try to get a local account. I am hoping even if they say we need an account for 6 months they will accept our over 6 months Westpac account in NZ. We’ll see. It is close the final task we need to do for a successful stay in …..Oz.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

ps  We went in Friday to set up the new account and they made an appointment for us to return …. Monday. Further I know I’ve left out some cruising updates and well hopefully get to fill a few in as time passes.