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Logbook:       Indonesia (July to October 2015)

In late July, we said good-bye to Australia and headed off to new adventures in Indonesia.  Over the next three months, we traveled over 3100 nautical miles (3600 statute miles) through the Indonesian archipelago.  Along the way, we saw some beautiful islands and seascapes, did some incredible scuba diving and learned a lot about this country's fascinating history. 

We traveled through Indonesia with the Sail2Indonesia Rally, which was the first rally we've ever participated in.  Our main reason for traveling with the rally was that they would help organize all of our paperwork with the officials - Customs, Port Authority, Immigration and Quarantine.  The paperwork required to travel through Indonesia was significant and complicated, and at times, even with the help of the rally, it was still a challenge.  Additionally, corruption is a known problem in Indonesia, and by letting the rally organize our interactions with the officials, we could avoid situations in which we might be asked to pay a bribe. 

The Sail2Indonesia Rally was organized by the Island Cruising Association of New Zealand, and our local rally contact, Raymond Lesmana, is an Advisor for Yachting Development at the Ministry for Tourism of Indonesia.   Fifty boats from nine different countries participated in the rally, and the experience levels ranged considerably from a few brand new cruisers off on their first adventure (mostly Aussies) to Europeans and North Americans who had a few ocean miles under our keels, and at least one boat which had already completed a circumnavigation and was going around a second time.  In addition to the official paperwork, the rally organizers also set up a schedule of events at 20 different anchorages throughout the islands.  We were not required to follow the exact schedule, which is a good thing, because we weren't very good at that!  But, as long as we showed up at the initial check-in, the interim visa renewal, and the final clearance stop, or informed Raymond of our intentions to do something different, there were no issues.  We followed the same general route as the rally but skipped some of their stops and added some of our own that looked appealing to us.  Traveling over 3000 nautical miles over three months required that we keep moving - it was a full schedule!

As we traveled through Indonesia, we stopped at a total of 20 anchorages. 
This was our general east-to-west route from Thursday Island, Australia, to Singapore.

Passage from Thursday Island, Australia, to Debut, Kei Islands, Indonesia (July 21-26, 689 nm, 4 days + 21 hours).  We timed our departure from Thursday Island with the outgoing tide and had a fast ride - at one point, our boat speed was reading 6.2 knots, but our speed over ground was 11 knots!  Forty minutes after leaving the anchorage, we had our sails up and the engine was turned off - and it stayed off until 30 minutes before reaching our destination almost five days later.  The sailing on this passage was the absolute best we've ever had on a long passage.  We had southeast winds for the entire voyage, averaging about 15 knots, which is about perfect.  The wind never got over 20 knots, and the least we saw was a few hours of 8-10, but during that time we had a helpful current, so our speed over ground stayed up over 5 knots.  And, the seas were gentle - never more than a meter and sometimes less - very nice!  We sailed wing-and-wing almost the entire way, jibing our wing-and-wing sail configuration once, when we made the turn around the corner of Papua, New Guinea (Irian Jaya on the map above).  A few hours before arriving at our destination, we took down the genoa pole and finished the trip on a starboard tack broad reach.   We saw only a few light squalls at the start of the trip, and after that, it was easy sailing.  We did have to keep an eye out for fishing boats, but by giving the coast of Papua New Guinea a wide berth (we stayed 50 miles offshore), we avoided most of that.  Rich had one heart-stopping moment in the middle of the night when a flying fish flew into the cockpit and landed in his lap - he told Jan the next morning he thought she'd have to use paddles to get his heart started again!  After that, we closed both side cockpit curtains during the night.  We had more flying fish on our decks during this passage than we've ever had.  We kept in touch with the other rally boats via a daily sked on the SSB radio and also saw a few of them enroute.  Although we were all sailing toward the same destination, by sailing at slightly different speeds and on slightly different courses, the other boats came and went.  There was only one that was in sight the entire trip - Tashi Delek, a British boat with Mike, Meryon, Tim & Pim on board.  We were usually a couple of miles apart, but we could see their sails by day and their lights at night.  There is great comfort in having another boat close by during a multi-day passage - kind of like a security blanket.

Tashi Delek sailing nicely off our port quarter
Lots of flying fish on our decks on this passage

We followed Tashi Delek into the harbor at Debut and were happy to find a spacious anchorage.  We and Tashi Delek anchored toward the back of the pack with good spacing between us.  Over the next couple of hours, a few more boats came in, and everyone tended to anchor behind the boats that had already settled in, but at one point, a boat came in and anchored between us and Tashi Delek - swinging way too close for comfort.  The skipper of the boat was unapologetic and refused to move, saying they were having electrical problems and couldn't use their electric anchor windlass. (For some unknown reason, the four able-bodied people on board the boat weren't able to pull up the anchor by hand, which the two of us have had to do a couple of times!)  Oh well!  We and Tashi Delek both picked up our anchors and moved to new spots - there was still plenty of room, so it wasn't a big problem, just a little annoying. 


The Republic of Indonesia is a nation of over 17,000 islands, which are scattered along both sides of the equator over an area of 740,000 square miles (1.9 million square kilometers).  Indonesia is the world's 7th-largest country in terms of combined land and sea area and is 15th-largest in terms of land area. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta, which is located on the island of Java.  Java is the world's most populous island with over 140 million people; the population of Jakarta is 30 million.  With 250 million people nationwide, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India and the United States.  87% of Indonesians are Muslim, 10% are Christian, 1.7% are Hindu (mostly on Bali) and less than 1% are Buddhist. 

Indonesia sits on the western edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire.  It has about 150 active volcanoes, and the country experiences numerous earthquakes and occasional tsunamis. Indonesia has the world's second highest level of biodiversity in the world, including the endangered orangutan, which can only be found in the dwindling rainforests on the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra.  The incredible underwater biodiversity in Indonesia make it a popular destination for scuba divers. 

Indonesia's history is fascinating.  It is home to the famed "Spice Islands" - these are the islands Christopher Columbus was searching for when he unwittingly found North America.  Before the Europeans, Arab traders sailed to Indonesia in the 11th century and brought the Muslim religion to the previously Buddhist and Hindu islands.  The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Indonesia in the 1500's, but the Dutch gained control of the Indonesian spice trade in the 1600's.  The British and Dutch warred over the Banda Islands (at that time the world's only source of nutmeg) and in 1664 came to a settlement wherein the Dutch maintained control of Banda and agreed to surrender control of New Amsterdam (New York) to the British.  The Dutch formed the United East Indian Company (VOC) and colonized the Banda Islands, as well as other areas of Indonesia.  During World War II, the Japanese invaded and occupied Indonesia.  In 1945, Indonesia declared its independence from the Dutch but that was met with vehement opposition.  The Dutch finally recognized Indonesia's independence in 1949.

Before departing Australia for Indonesia, we downloaded the book Indonesia etc., written by Elizabeth Pisani, an American-born/British-resident woman, who has lived, worked and traveled throughout Indonesia.  It's a great read and gives incredible insight into this country. 

Debut, Kei Islands (July 26 - 30).  Just prior to entering the anchorage at Debut, we hoisted our yellow Q flag (quarantine flag), to signify that we needed to clear in with the various departments of officials, and we were informed by the rally organizers that we should wait on our boat, and the officials would come to us.  After anchoring and re-anchoring, we had a hearty breakfast, cleaned and organized the boat a bit, and waited...and waited.  We understand that 50 boats arriving at one time was surely a bit overwhelming, but Indonesian officials are not particularly well trained in efficiency, and they love paperwork.  At around 6 p.m., the Immigration and Quarantine officials finally showed up at our boat.  It took them about an hour (and a few cups of coffee with heaps of sugar and some chit-chat) to do our paperwork.  As they were leaving, the Customs boat stopped by and let us know they were heading home and would be back around 10 the next morning.  Customs got started around 11:15 the next morning, and we weren't first on their list - they didn't get to us until 4 pm.  We're not sure what method they used to determine the order for checking in boats, but it was not first-come, first-served.  Some of the boats that arrived after us were cleared in before us, and one or two that arrived before us were cleared in after us.  Officials from a couple other islands were brought in to help with the workload, and clearance requirements and procedures varied from boat to boat.  Some people had their liquor cabinets taped up and secured (requiring that they be unsecured before leaving), others didn't.  Some officials asked for multiple copies of certain documents, and others didn't.  We also got mixed reports on what paperwork would be required when we were ready to leave Debut for the next anchorage - and there was definitely paperwork.  Welcome to Indonesia!



Locals give us a warm welcome as we arrive in the Debut anchorage

With the frustrations of officialdom behind us, we were ready to enjoy the welcome festivities organized by the rally, and they started the next morning.  Rally participants were instructed to wear our blue rally shirts (given to us by the Indonesia tourism board) and told to gather in our dinghies in the anchorage and arrive by parade together.  Most of us tried to "car pool" to avoid a dinghy traffic jam, and our friends Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen) rode ashore with us.  The welcome ceremonies were amazing - with everyone from the village on shore to welcome us, shaking our hands and taking our pictures.  They played music and performed local dances, and the Vice Regent made a speech - in Indonesian, so we recognized nothing but the words "Wonderful Sail to Indonesia" because that was the name of our rally.  After the welcome ceremonies, we paraded through the streets to the local elementary school, and we split up into smaller groups to visit some of the classrooms.  The kids did not speak English, and only one couple in the rally fleet spoke Indonesian, but we ended up having a great time singing songs to one another.  What we found incredibly ironic is that after singing the song "If you're happy and you know it" to them in English, they then sang it for us in Indonesian!  After the school visit, we were transported by bus to an area where we could buy lunch from some local vendors.  We didn't recognize much of the food, but found some things we enjoyed, mostly by following recommendations from some of the other yachties.  We were then taken to the local swimming pool, which was formed by damming the river, but we opted out of the swimming since we weren't sure how polluted the river might be.  After the trip to the pool, we were allowed to go home for about an hour, but we needed to come back ashore for a special dinner and celebration back at the school that evening.  Apparently the rally organizers had not been clued into the fact that most yachties are in bed by 9 pm!  That evening, there were more speeches and an incredible buffet dinner prepared by the locals.  Again, we didn't recognize some of the foods offered - we tried some more new stuff, some of which we liked and some which didn't really appeal to us.  After dinner, there was music and dancing.  We finally got home around 10:30 pm, which was way past our bedtime!

Dinghies gather for our grand entrance
Welcome speech from the Vice Regent
Traditional dance performance


Precious school kids
Parents often asked us to pose for photos with their kids.
The parents didn't have cameras,
but they had cell phones!
Local musicians

There were more events scheduled for the next day.  There was a mangrove tour scheduled for first thing in the morning, but we didn't go - and neither did most of the others - we heard that only three people showed up.  The schedule was a bit too arduous for most of us.  There was a "Culture Carnaval" event scheduled that afternoon in the nearby town of Langgur, so we decided to check that out.  We went ashore shortly after lunch and they took us by bus to Langgur, where we were treated to more local music and dance performances, as well as another speech by the Vice Regent.  After the performances, we were invited to walk in a parade through town.  It seemed like half the town was walking with us, and the other half lined the streets watching the parade.  It was fun for a while, but we were inland, so it was hot and sweaty and the parade went on for 2 hours!  At the end of the parade, the locals offered for us to eat from some plates of food which they had carried in the parade (and hot sun) for the past two hours, but  there weren't many takers.  The locals also wanted us to stay and dance with them, but by now, it was late afternoon, and the general consensus among the yachties was that we wanted to go home.  When we arrived back at Slip Away, we prepared the boat to depart Debut early the next morning.  There was yet another day of rally activities on the schedule, but this was all a bit overwhelming to us, and we had decided to move on to the next stop (Banda) because we were interested in doing some scuba diving there.  As we were making our departure preparations, an announcement came in on the VHF radio that there was a buffet dinner on the wharf put on by the locals, and we should all come ashore to enjoy it.  Since our dinghy engine was already stowed on the stern rail, and we were tired from the parade, we passed on that buffet.  As it turned out, that was a wise decision because several folks got food poisoning that night. 

Young men perform a warrior dance
Walking along the parade route
Dance performances along the parade route

Passage from Debut, Kei Islands, to Banda Islands (July 30-31, 201 nm, 34 hours).  The distance to the next rally stop - 200 miles - is a difficult distance for us in terms of passage planning.  Our choices are to either depart just before sunset and do two overnights, or leave very early in the morning (a couple of hours before sunrise) and travel one very long day and one overnight.  Since we were approaching a full moon, we decided to go with the early morning departure and weighed anchor at 3:30 am.  Our biggest concern leaving Debut was avoiding entanglement in any fishing lines or nets.  The first couple of hours of this passage were spent motoring through channels between islands, most of which were a couple miles wide.  We were a bit nervous at one point when we saw some flashing lights off our starboard side, and Rich spent a good bit of time on the foredeck with a spotlight keeping a sharp lookout for any possible entanglements, but the channels were clear and we made it with no problems.  As we turned west and headed into open water, the sky was starting to lighten, and we were able to set our sails and turn off the engine.  Our first day of sailing was a bit boisterous, with winds in the low 20's and seas running about 2 meters, but the wind and seas were coming from astern, and we barreled along toward our destination with speeds ranging from 6 to 7 knots.  By late that night, the winds and seas had moderated, and with a full moon, it was a beautiful sail.  We kept a watchful eye out for fishing boats, but didn't see any.  We arrived in the Banda Islands mid-day on our second day out.  Had we known the passage would be so fast, we could have slept in a bit longer on our day of departure!

Banda Naira (July 31 - August 12).  We were the first rally boat to arrive in Banda, and as we pulled into the harbor, we were trying to determine where to anchor.  Anchoring in Banda is a challenge because the harbor is quite deep.  The recommended method for anchoring in Banda is to med-moor - dropping an anchor just off the shoreline in about 80-90 feet (25-30 meters) of water, and then running a line to shore and tying it off either on a tree or the sea wall.  Our cruising guide indicated a few places where it was possible to med-moor, and we motored around the harbor scoping things out.  As we did this, a guy from one of the small guesthouses along the seawall waved to us that we could tie up there.  Maneuvering Slip Away into position while avoiding mooring lines for local boats was a bit of a challenge, but then getting the line ashore to tie off before the wind blew us off-kilter proved to be even more of one.  We tried unsuccessfully a couple of times and eventually motored out to the middle of the bay, dropped our dinghy into the water and put the outboard on it.  Jan then maneuvered Slip Away into the parking spot, and Rich ran the line ashore and he and Eddie from the guesthouse tied us off.  Lucky for us, the guesthouse ashore was the Naira Dive Resort, and Eddie was the divemaster - we were in a good spot!  An hour later, our friends Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen) pulled into the harbor.  There was room for them to pull in on our port side, but again maneuvering was tight, and full-keel sailboats just don't steer well in reverse.  Eventually, Evergreen pulled in bow-first and rafted up to Slip Away, running a line ashore from their bow and another from their stern to a large mooring nearby.  Once we were settled, the folks from the dive shop invited us ashore and welcomed us with a fruit drink.  Very nice! 

Shortly after getting Slip Away settled, Rich mentioned to Jan that he felt like he was getting a cold, and Jan too was feeling a little under the weather.  Once Evergreen was tied up, Jon said he had a sore throat, and the next day, Heather was sick too.  As other rally boats started arriving, we learned that a significant portion of the group had bad colds.  Others in the fleet were dealing with "Bali Belly" after the dinner on the wharf.  A couple of unlucky folks suffered with both.  Needless to say, it was quite disheartening to have so many sick people in the fleet after just our first rally stop in Indonesia.   


Slip Away & Evergreen moored in front of the Banda Naira Dive Resort

Banda was a designated rally stop, but there were no planned events here.  We were eager to do some scuba diving, but with our bad colds, diving was out.  We spent a couple of days laying low because we felt lousy, but even when we started feeling better, it took a while for our sinuses to clear up enough to be able to dive.  But there was quite a lot to see and do in Banda above water too. 

The Banda Islands are the original spice islands.  Prior to the mid-1800's, the Banda Islands were the only place in the world where nutmeg was grown, and nutmeg was in high demand for it's reputed health benefits.  Europeans even believed that nutmeg would ward off the plague.  When the Dutch colonized the Banda Islands, they set up the Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC) here, and there was lots of leftover evidence of this colonial period.  We enjoyed tours of the ruins on Banda Naira, as well as the spice plantations on Banda Besar.  Additionally, there was a volcano to climb - Gunung Api, which last erupted in 1988.  It was a steep and difficult climb to the top (666 meters or 2200 feet), and the trip down was even more challenging trying to keep our footing on steep trails with loose rocks.  But, we did it! 

Cloves, nutmeg and mace drying in the sun on Banda Besar Island
Cloves still on the tree
Buildings leftover from the Dutch Colonial Period


View of Gunung Api from Banda Besar
Taking a break during our Gunung Api trek,
with Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen)
and Cynthia (s.v. Psycho Puss)
On top of Gunung Api


Banda Naira Waterfront
Ayu took us on a great tour of Banda Naira town
The Dutch Fort Belgica on Banda Naira

With most of the rally fleet in port, the social scene here was quite busy and fun.  We enjoyed happy hour ashore most evenings at a few different venues, and we helped organize a couple of gatherings at the Naira Dive Resort.  Eating out here was inexpensive, although there wasn't much variety - nasi goreng (fried rice) or mei goreng (fried noodles) were the primary options.  The one place on Banda Naira for exceptional food was the Cilu Bintang Estate, a relatively new hotel located in a beautifully renovated Dutch colonial mansion.  Cilu Bintang offered a buffet dinner that was fantastic and very reasonably priced - about USD $10 per person - and groups of yachties went there on a regular basis. 

Rally yachts moored along the seawall at Banda Naira
The delightful Cilu Bintang Estate

Finally, a full week after our arrival in Banda, we were well enough to go scuba diving.  The timing of our visit to Banda was not exceptional in terms of the season - the water was a bit chilly and visibility wasn't great, but we still enjoyed the dives.  We did three dives with the Naira Dive Resort - Banana Island, the Gunung Api Lava Flow and Tanjung Burung (on the northeast corner of Banda Besar).  All of the dives were quite good, but the wall at Tanjung Burung was stunning because it was covered with colorful sea squirts (tunicates) and soft corals.  We did one dive in Banda on our own - a "muck dive" in the harbor - and there was quite a lot of interesting life (as well as a bit of trash). 

Banda Dive Boat
Tiny Crested Nembrotha Nudibranch
on the Banana Island Dive
Very large Bumphead Parrotfish on the Gunung Api Lava Flow dive


Our first-ever sighting of a Marbled Stingray
Another new sighting for us - an Orange Anemonefish
Colorful tunicates and soft corals covered the wall at Tanjung Barung

Most of the folks who live on Banda are Muslim, but our impression was that not all of them were extremely devout.  While we heard the call to prayer numerous times during the day, we never actually saw anyone praying.  The first call to prayer came at about 5:15 a.m., and the chant was broadcast quite loudly throughout the town via blown-out and distorted speakers.  It usually woke us up, and to be honest, we found it annoying.  Jan asked one of the local men with whom we had become quite friendly if he got up and prayed at the 5:15 call to prayer, and he sheepishly replied "No, I continue sleeping."  Some of the local ladies wore head coverings (hijabs or jilbabs), but many did not, and when Jan asked one of the women about it, she told her it was optional.  It seemed to us that some women liked to wear a head covering because they thought it was fashionable, not necessarily because it was a religious requirement.   

We liked Banda a lot, but one of the things that we did not like about it was the trash, which is a huge problem throughout Indonesia.  On Banda, there was a fair amount of garbage strewn along the road sides and in the harbor.  When we first arrived here, the folks at the dive resort were pulling some garbage out of the water just in front of their seawall, and they expressed to us their frustration that the majority of the locals don't care and throw their trash in the harbor.  During our stay in Banda, one of the local schools organized a day when the students picked up trash around town, but their efforts were barely noticeable.  A local young woman named Ayu who took us on a tour of colonial ruins told us that she was taught in school not to throw trash along side the road and in the harbor, but then she would see teachers doing it!  Perhaps the most disturbing sight for us was when a large inter-island ferry pulled into Banda Harbor.  As it was leaving, folks on board threw their trash overboard and left a trail of plastic bottles, bags and who-knows-what-else littering the harbor. 

There wasn't much in the grocery stores here in Banda, but if we caught the produce market just after the ship arrived, it wasn't bad
Muslim wedding party
The inter-island ferry leaves a trail of trash as it departs Banda Harbour


Although we were the first boat to arrive in Banda, we were one of the last to leave.  Most folks left a day or two ahead of us headed for the next rally stop on Buru Island, but we decided to take a pass on that one and sail directly to the following stop, Wakatobi.  With everyone gone, Banda suddenly seemed incredibly deserted.  It was amazing to see how this small island came alive with activity as the rally boats arrived in port and then settled back into its normal sleepy self when everyone left.  Although there is some tourism in Banda, it's pretty low key because this isn't an easy place to get to.  There are only a couple of flights into Banda Naira each week - from the neighboring island of Ambon - and those aren't very reliable.  The Naira Dive Resort had no guests staying with them the entire time we were there, but it was the low season.  An example of the rally's effect on the island could be seen at the ATM.  There was only one ATM in town, and it was empty every time we tried to get money out of it.  Fortunately, we had exchanged sufficient dollars into Indonesian rupiah before leaving Australia.

Ironically, for us, lingering in Banda an extra day ended up being an excellent decision.  On the morning of the day we were planning to leave, a boat named Chamalou arrived in Banda.  Chamalou had been delayed in Debut for over a week, and as they were leaving, they were asked if they could take Slip Away's departure paperwork with them.  Prior to leaving Debut, we had obtained the Customs clearance document and thought that was all we needed, but once we were underway, we learned that we needed several more pieces of paper.  Our rally contact Raymond told us not to worry because he would get it to us at some point, but we were still a little nervous about sailing around without our proper documents.  When Chamalou arrived in Banda, they called us on the radio to tell us they had our paperwork, and we dinghied over and picked it up from them.  Great timing! 

We ended up spending 12 days in Banda and really enjoyed our time here.  This was an historically interesting stop and we did some good diving too.  Since we were moored just off the Naira Dive Resort, we became quite friendly with the folks working there - Usman, Eddie, Vijay, Melda and Ica.  They were incredibly gracious and welcoming people, and we were sad to say good-bye to them when we left. 


Banda friends Melda, Usman & Ica

Passage from Banda Islands to Tomia Island, Wakatobi Group (August 12-15, 375 nm, 3 days + 2½ hrs).  The passage from Banda to Wakatobi is one we'll never forget.  When the other rally boats left Banda on their way to the stop at Buru Island, several of them mentioned on the radio that the sea had turned a brilliant fluorescent green during the night.  They described it as beautiful but eerie - and it was. 

With the exception of a few hours of motor-sailing in light winds on the first night of this passage, we once again enjoyed excellent sailing conditions.  On the first night of our passage, the fluorescent sea appeared around 9 pm while Rich was on watch, and when Jan came on watch at midnight, he was eager to see her reaction.  Jan came up into the cockpit wiping the sleep from her eyes, then looked around, and could only say "Wow!"  It was unlike anything we'd ever seen, and from what we understand, it is caused by large amounts of bioluminescent bacteria in the water.  When the sky was cloudy, the sea reflected off the clouds, and there was no horizon, so it was like floating in a green fog - a very odd feeling.  When the sky was clear, there was a stark line at the horizon, with a black sky meeting the bright green sea, and the stars were brilliant (there was no moon on this passage).  We saw the bioluminescence every night on this passage, although it was brightest on the first night, and then we never saw it again.  This was definitely an unforgettable experience. 

When we departed Banda for the Wakatobi island group, we were initially planning to go to the island of Wanci, which was the designated rally stop.  While enroute, a few other boats reported that they had decided to anchor at the island of Tomia (about 30 miles south of Wanci), near the Wakatobi Dive Resort, and that the scuba diving there was outstanding.  So, we altered course and headed for Tomia.   

Tomia Island, Wakatobi (August 15 to 24).  A friend of ours in the U.S. had told us about the Wakatobi Dive Resort a few years ago, saying the diving was reputed to be spectacular and the resort quite posh.  Most of the reefs in this area are maintained as a private park - the resort manager told us that they pay the locals not to fish on the reefs.  We did see some locals fishing in this area, but it was not over-fished, and most of the reefs were quite healthy. 

We were able to do quite a bit of diving in this area on our own, and the diving was excellent, but many of the dive sites were too far away for us to go to in our dinghy.  The resort was amenable to having us dive with them and/or eat meals at their facilities, but prices were quite steep.  We never ate at their restaurant, but we did decide to splurge on a day of diving with them. 

On our diving day with the resort, we did three dives - two in the morning and one in the afternoon - and the diving was outstanding.  The reefs were alive with hard and soft corals, and the divemaster was great at pointing out small creatures to us.  We saw our first pygmy seahorse, which is about the size of a fingernail and well camouflaged - extremely hard to see!  The fish life was excellent, and we also saw anemone shrimp, an orangutan crab and several varieties of nudibranchs, including our first-ever "solar powered nudibranch."  The dive boat wasn't especially new and fancy, but it was roomy, and there were only eight total divers on the boat that day with two divemasters - four divers per divemaster is a nice ratio.  In between dives, the boat crew provided each of us with a face cloth dampened with warm fresh water and scented with mint - divine!!  There were a variety of filling snacks on the boat for between dives, and it was enough so that we didn't really need to eat lunch during the lunch break.  That was a good thing because after paying for the dives, there was definitely no money in the budget for lunch at the resort.  Although it was an expensive day, we were glad we did it because we saw a couple of the dive sites we couldn't reach in our dinghy and some critters we'd never seen before, and, it was a nice, luxurious treat too!  Also, we ended up using credit card points to pay for the dives, so it was almost like it was free! :-)


Rich enjoying a break between
 morning and afternoon dives at the Wakatobi Dive Resort


Fish life was good on the Wakatobi reefs
This pygmy seahorse appears to be pregnant!
Solar-powered nudibranch - something else we've never seen before

Although most of the rally fleet went to the designated rally stop in Wanci, there were a few other avid divers anchored in Tomia with us - Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen), Val & Stan (m.v. Buffalo Nickel), Brian & Sandy (s.v. Persephone), Peter & Lynn (s.v. Sunchaser) and Jan & Jack (s.v. Anthem) - so we could always find at least one other couple to go out diving with us.  Val & Stan's motor yacht Buffalo Nickel has a large tender with a driving station, and one day the four of us ventured a bit further afield in it.  We did a drift dive, so while the two of us were diving, Val & Stan stayed on the surface and followed our bubbles, and then we did the same for them.  Very nice!  On another day, Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen) and the two of us each took our dinghies and dove the "House Reef" just in front of the resort.  The currents were quite swift in that area, so we dove with our dinghies on tethers so they drifted along with us.  The House Reef was teeming with sea life and one of the best dives here. 

The rally participants who attended the events at the designated stop in Wanci said they really enjoyed them.  It was a shame to miss the festivities, but we didn't regret our decision to go diving instead. 

Juvenile Yellow Boxfish
Orangutan Crab is the perfect name for this guy!
Rich enjoying the scenery on Magnifica Reef

Kroko Atoll (August 25 - 29).  From Tomia Island, we did an overnight passage to Kroko Atoll (158 nm, 28½ hours).  We had good sailing conditions for the first two-thirds of the trip, but eventually the winds died out and the engine came on.  We'd been forewarned that as we headed further west, we should expect to do a lot of motoring, so perhaps our good sailing conditions were nearing the end.  In the early morning, as we neared Kroko Atoll, we motored by the island of Komba with a plume of smoke rising from the Batu Tara volcano (the volcano takes up the entire small island).  It's an eerie feeling passing so close to an active volcano on our boat. 

Kroko Atoll was located near the next rally stop at Lowoleba, but we skipped that stop because the description provided by the rally organizer said that the "main attraction is traditional whale hunting", which they still do today.  No thanks - we'll pass on that!  Several others in the rally fleet also skipped the Lowoleba stop in favor of hanging out at Kroko Atoll, so we were in good company.  Kroko Atoll was a lovely spot to just hang out for a few days, and the snorkeling was quite good. 

Boats anchored at Kroko Atoll
(photo taken by Lesley on s.v. Paseafique)
Hello Nemo!
Leaf Scorpionfish pointed out to us by Jon on s.v. Evergreen

North Hading Bay, Flores Island (August 21 to September 1).  We departed early in the morning from Kroko Atoll in order to get to North Hading in good light (47½ nm, 9 hours).  We started the trip motoring in light winds, but by noon the wind had come up to 10 knots, so we decided to fly the spinnaker.  We had the spinnaker up for about 40 minutes, when the wind built into the high teens - too much for the spinnaker - so we took it down and continued with just the headsail.  That lasted for about 90 minutes, and then the wind completely died, so we furled the headsail and motored the rest of the way.  At least we got some exercise on this passage! 

North Hading was a wonderful and peaceful spot for just chilling out for a few days - super clear water, beautiful white sand beach, great snorkeling, no pre-dawn call to prayer, no one knocking on the hull trying to sell us something.  We especially liked that we could just jump off the mothership and snorkel and swim all over the bay - no need for the dinghy.  We loved it here.

Although the snorkeling at these past couple of anchorages was excellent, we saw some areas of the reef in rubble.  We learned that poachers come in and dynamite the reefs in order to catch fish which they sell in overseas markets.  This is a problem in several places in Indonesia and was very disturbing to us - we even heard the dynamite blasts a couple of times.  The locals recognize that this is destroying their reefs and their livelihoods, but the poachers have been hard to catch. 

Slip Away at anchor, and one of us snorkeling at North Hading
(photo taken by Gerrit on s.v. Fruit de Mer)
Egg Cowries - another new sighting!
Pink Anemonefish in their folded-up home

Maumere, Flores Island
(September 1 - 8).  From North Hading, we continued west along the north coast of Flores Island to the Sea World Resort anchorage near the town of Maumere (37 nm, 7 hours - no wind, so a motor trip).  This was a rally stop, and we needed to be at this one to extend our visas.  A few boats had arrived here early so they could get a head start on the visa extension process.  Our rally contact Raymond thought he had everything organized for us with the Immigration Office in Maumere and felt he didn't need to be present - but he was wrong.  Those unlucky few rally participants who arrived here early ran into roadblocks, confusion, conflicting information and headaches.  Raymond had left his friend Conrad in charge since he wasn't there, and Conrad was quite good at arranging our transportation to and from the Immigration Office and helping us fill out paperwork, but he had no influence with the Immigration Officials, so the visa extension process stagnated.

By the time we arrived in Maumere, it appeared that the process was finally organized and starting to move along.  Upon arrival, Chris (s.v. Tulu) gave us a form to fill out, and then we met Conrad at the Immigration Office, where we filled out more paperwork.  We left the paperwork and our passports with the Immigration Office - we didn't like the idea of leaving our passports there, but we had no choice.  We were told our extensions would be done in a few days.  The early-arrival folks had already been waiting for over a week and were frustrated and getting restless.  The situation came to a head the next afternoon when a Customs official showed up on the beach and threatened to start impounding boats unless everyone showed them proper paperwork.  Needless to say, this caused a huge uproar among the rally fleet, and someone immediately got Raymond on the phone.  Raymond apparently does hold a position of some influence in the Indonesian government because he was very quickly able to get the Customs official to back down and go away.  We can only assume that this Customs official was looking to make some money in bribes. 

While we waited for our visa extensions, we did some touring.  Peter & Lynne (s.v. Sunchaser) had organized a tour to Kelimutu, a volcano with three different-colored crater lakes.  They invited us to join them, and Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen) came too.  It was a very long but fun and interesting day with them and our tour guide Ignez.  In addition to the volcano, we visited some local villages - one where the women were doing traditional ikat weaving (while chewing on beetlenuts), and another where the men were building a traditional thatch-roofed house.  At the end of the day, we were almost home when Ignez decided to take us to his house for a sampling of Arak, a local moonshine made from coconut palm.  By that time, we'd been on the road for almost 12 hours and just wanted to go home, but we bore with it for a short while.  The drive to and from the volcano took several hours, the roads were terrible, and traffic was erratic, so although we enjoyed the trip, it was stressful at times.  We are amazed at the stamina of the Indonesians - long days of events and tours don't seem to bother them!

Two of the three tri-color lakes at Kelimutu. 
The third lake was a deeper green. 
Our tour guide Ignez was quite a chatty guy!
Lunch at a roadside restaurant with our tour guide Ignez,
Peter & Lynne (s.v. Sunchaser) and Jon & Heather (s.v. Evergreen)


Traditional Ikat weaving done by local ladies
Building a new traditional home for the village chief
This is the village chief's present home

As we continued our wait for the visa renewals, we did a few boat chores and topped off our fuel tank.  There was no fuel dock here (or in most of Indonesia for that matter), so we needed to haul jerry jugs of diesel from shore with the dinghy.  It's a lot of heavy lifting and at times quite precarious, as Rich hefts the jerry jugs on to the deck from the dinghy.  Since Maumere is considered a major town, we were expecting an opportunity to restock some provisions.  There was a decent selection of fruits and veggies at the local street markets, but a walk through the "major" grocery stores in town yielded very little - a couple cans of corn and a bag of taro chips.  Jan was happy that she had provisioned so heavily in Australia because we still had good stocks of basics on board.  The best thing about the Indonesian grocery stores was that they sold Magnum brand ice cream bars for about USD $1 - the same ones that were USD $4 in Australia.  

The anchorage in Maumere was an open roadstead and generally calm, but occasionally there was an onshore breeze that made it lumpy and uncomfortable - fortunately, that was not a frequent occurrence.  We were anchored just off the Sea World Beach Club Resort, which is a small resort with a few guest bungalows - nothing fancy but quite good for Indonesia, and the proprietors and staff were super nice.  Since almost all of the rally fleet was present for the visa extension, we had an opportunity to catch up with some of the folks we hadn't seen for a while.  There were daily happy hour gatherings ashore, and the resort also organized a couple of beach barbeques with good food at a reasonable price (about USD $10 per person).  At the entrance to the resort property was a small spa where one could get massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, and the spa was booked with yachties eager for a little pampering at a very small price.  Jan enjoyed an hour-long full body massage - nice!  One last item of note - Maumere is a Catholic area, so there were no morning calls to prayer in this anchorage at the typical 04:45am - Yippee!

Having fun with some of the local kids
Empty beer bottles after happy hour
at the Sea World Resort
Shopping for produce at the local market

We had submitted our visa-extension paperwork on a Tuesday afternoon and were hopeful that they might be completed by Friday, but things remained at a standstill until the weekend.  Then, it was as if someone suddenly put the heat on, and the Immigration officials worked through the weekend. The first group of passports with visa extensions came back on Sunday night.  We got ours back on Monday, and we left Maumere on Tuesday.  We were quite lucky that both of our passports came back at the same time.  In more than one instance, couples got their passports back on different days.  One family of three - one of the first to arrive in Maumere - had two of their passports back but was still waiting for the third when we left.  They spent two weeks in Maumere getting their one-month visa extension - third-world organization and efficiency!

Nagar Ujong (Sept. 8) and Riung (Sept. 9 - 11).  From Maumere, we continued west along the northern coastline of Flores Island.  On the way to the Nagar Ujong anchorage, winds were light, but we had a lovely day of sailing, with all of our sails up - genoa, staysail, main and mizzen.  We didn't break any speed records that day, but we didn't need to be in a hurry (44 nm, 10 hours).  We spent a rolly and uncomfortable night in the Nagar Ujong anchorage and continued on to Riung early the next morning.  Winds were lighter on the way to Riung, so we motored (44 nm, 8 hours).   

Riung is a small village with several offshore islands which are designated as a marine park.  We spent a couple days snorkeling here, and found it to be OK, but not quite as good as Kroko Atoll and North Hading.  Riung was a rally stop, but we were now ahead of the schedule because we were eager to get to Komodo National Park to do some scuba diving.  Although we would have preferred to do an overnight passage to get to Komodo more quickly, there was a lot of fishing activity off the north coast of Flores Island, and we didn't want to run into any Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) or unlit fishing boats, so we did day hops along the coast.

Stilt village of Riung - complete with satellite dishes!
Squid fishing boat

Lingeh Bay (Sept. 11).  We had reasonably good sailing conditions over the next couple of days as we worked our way west, but we didn't particularly enjoy either of the anchorages we stopped at.  When we arrived in Lingeh Bay (35 nm, 7½ hrs), canoes full of kids descended upon us (and the three other boats with whom we were traveling) begging us for pens, notebooks, or anything we were willing to give away.  Although we recognize that we have access to so much more than these kids, we try not to encourage this behavior.  We prefer to trade with them, e.g. if they bring us a piece of fruit, we're happy to give them a notebook and a couple of pens.  But there were lots of kids, and they were very persistent, so we gave away all of our pens just to get them to go away.  One adult paddled out with his kid and brought us a coconut, and we gave him a t-shirt for the kid. 

Slip Away sailing along the coast of Flores. 
That's a FAD in front of the small local fishing boats. 
(photo taken by s.v. Evergreen)
Slip Away anchored in Lingeh Bay with local kids
 which our cruising guide described as
"a little spirited with their expectations." 
Local kids in Lingeh Bay


Gili Bodo / Sabibi Island (Sept. 12).  The next anchorage - Gili Bodo or Sabibi Island (40 nm, 7 hours) - was our last stop enroute to our ultimate destination of Labuan Bajo.  We pulled in, dropped our anchor and were setting up to take a shower (we shower in our cockpit and hang up sunshades for privacy) when a local boat pulled up selling souvenirs - wood carvings, shell ashtrays and stuff like that.  Rich popped his head out of the sunshades a couple times asking the guy to come back later, but he wouldn't go away.  Finally, Rich went out on deck buck naked and told him to go away - Yikes - (so now we have a new strategy to scare off unwelcome visitors - appears it's quite frightening)!  The vendor went away, but did come back once he saw the cockpit shades were rolled up.  That first vendor tried to play hardball when negotiating with Jan, so he did not make a sale, but early the next morning another stopped by, and we found him quite pleasant and struck a deal.  After buying our souvenirs, we took off for Labuan Bajo (14 nm, 3½ hours) on the western end of Flores Island. 

Komodo National Park - Waecicu Bay / Labuan Bajo, Flores Island (Sept. 13 - 18).  Since the town of Labuan Bajo is the gateway for visitors to Komodo National Park, the harbor is quite busy with boat traffic.  Friends who were here before us recommended anchoring at Waecicu Bay, just two miles north of the Labuan Bajo harbor, and Waecicu was quite pleasant and calm.  These same friends had also recommended a local dive shop - Uber Scuba - and shortly after dropping our hook, we called the dive shop and made arrangements to dive with them the next day.  Although we often like to dive on our own, many of the dive sites in Komodo have a lot of current and require local knowledge.  The diving here wasn't terribly expensive, and the shop offered a discount if we dove with them multiple times. 

We did nine dives with Uber Scuba over the next four days, and the diving we did here in Komodo National Park was some of the best diving we've done in the world, and certainly the best in terms of new and unusual creatures.  The diving was quite diverse - from strong currents and swimming with manta rays and other pelagics, to a muck dive where we saw smaller stuff like ribbon eels, a blue-ringed octopus, a pair of ghost pipefish and a Rhinopia or weedy scorpionfish.  When we found the Rhinopia, even the divemasters were thrilled - squealing into their regulators and high-fiving each other.  One of the divemasters was so excited that he used up all his air, and our friend Heather had to share her air with him.  Every day was a new diving adventure and we loved it.  We saw seahorses, frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, turtles, and lots of different nudibranchs.  The fish life was plentiful and the corals were colorful and healthy.  This was a true highlight of our time in Indonesia. 

The days that we were diving were full days - the dive shop picked us up at our boats at 8 a.m. and it was usually 6 p.m. (or later) when we got back.  We had one day off from diving and spent a morning exploring the town of Labuan Bajo.  Although the town was ramshackle and dirty, it did have an nice Italian restaurant which served good pizza.  We were able to get decent produce at the open-air market, but again the local supermarket had little to offer. 

Uber Scuba Dive Boat
Thorny Seahorse at Siaba Besar
Manta Ray at a cleaning station - the smaller fishes are cleaning
dead skin and parasites off the ray


The Blue-Ringed Octopus is very small
 (maximum size 10 cm or 4 inches) but quite deadly
Although they look like pieces of seaweed,
these are Ghost Pipefish
The Rhinopia or Weedy Scorpionfish that caused so much excitement


Pelagic fishes on the Cauldron Dive
Giant Frogfish
Stunning, fish-filled reef at Siaba Besar

Komodo National Park - Rinca Island (Sept. 18 - 19).  After our diving adventures with Uber Scuba, we left Waecicu Bay and headed to Rinca Island (19 nm, 3½ hours), one of the islands located within the park.  We anchored at Rinca Island in the bay nearest the Loh Buaya Visitor's Center, aka the Rinca Ranger Station.  As we were arriving, friends who were already anchored in the bay were going ashore to check into tours to see the famous Komodo Dragons, and they offered to include us in the arrangements.  The next morning, we went ashore shortly after dawn - the tour started at 6:30 a.m.  An early start was recommended to give us a good chance of seeing active dragons.  Our tour lasted a couple of hours and we saw several large dragons.

Perfectly posed Komodo Dragon
Not looking very friendly in this shot!
This Dragon seems to be smiling for this photo with our tour mates -
Trevor (s.v. Peregrine) and Karen & Will (s.v. Chantey)

After the dragon tour, we went looking for more wildlife underwater.  The Wainilu muck dive that we had done previously was near the entrance to the bay where we were anchored, so we headed off after the dragon tour, and by late morning, we were underwater.  There was a slight current on the dive, so Rich held on to the dinghy tether while we dove.  It was a good dive, and we again found some great stuff - a seahorse, ribbon eel, leaf scorpionfish, couple of stonefish, and a cuttlefish - but it was harder to find unusual stuff with just two sets of eyes, instead of the eight sets of eyes we had on the last dive here.  After our dive, we continued on to an anchorage at the island of Sebayor Kecil (13 nm, 2 hours).

Sebayor Kecil (Sept. 19 - 21).  Sebayor Kecil was a nice, quiet anchorage, and we enjoyed some snorkeling and time with friends Will & Karen (s.v. Chantey) and Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen).  We would have enjoyed lingering in Komodo to do more diving, but we had committed to meeting a friend at Lombok Island in just a few days, so it was time to get the show on the road.

Moyo Island (Sept. 22 - 23).  From Sebayor Kecil we headed out on an overnight passage to Moyo Island, off the north coast of Sumbawa Island (152 nm, 28 hours).  As we departed Komodo National Park, we sailed past another smoking volcano on Sangeang Island.  This passage was a mix of sailing and motoring, and at night, by staying at least 5 miles offshore of Sumbawa, we successfully avoided any FADs or small fishing boats.  We'd heard there was some excellent snorkeling at Moyo Island, but after what we had seen in Komodo, it was a bit of a let down.  Nevertheless, we always enjoy getting in the water, and just under our boat, we saw some of the biggest garden eels we've ever seen. 

Gili Air (Sept. 24 - 25).  From Moyo Island, it was another overnight passage, and again a mix of motoring and sailing to Gili Air (92 nm, 18 hours).  As we motored past Lombok Island in the early morning, the view of the Mt. Rinjani Volcano was spectacular.  Gili Air is a small island just off the coast of Lombok Island, but it's a big tourist destination, and lots of folks come here to learn to scuba dive.  This small island was wall-to-wall small hotels, guesthouses and dive resorts, and there were a number of beach bars and restaurants.  Several of the rally boats were anchored here, and we all went out for dinner that evening and celebrated a couple of birthdays.  Good fun! 

Smoking volcano on Sangeang Island
Sailing past Mt. Rinjani on Lombok Island at dawn
with s.v. Sunchaser in the foreground

Medana Bay Marina, Lombok Island (Sept. 25 - 28).  We spent just one night at Gili Air and departed the next day for the short trip to Medana Bay Marina on Lombok Island (4½ miles, 1 hour).  Our friend Kara from Los Angeles would be arriving the next day, so we wanted to be ready for our guest.  We took several kilos of laundry to the marina laundry service, cleaned and organized Slip Away, topped off our fuel (more lugging of jerry jugs), and ordered some provisions from the small marina market, which was the best grocery store we'd found so far in Indonesia.  Our laundry came back after dinner the next evening, and we barely had enough time to take it back to the boat, stow away our clean clothes and put on all the clean cushion covers before Kara arrived.  Kara had had a long and arduous journey - three flights and a 90-minute scary cab ride to the marina - so she was happy to have that behind her. 

After Kara's arrival, we spent another day at Medana Bay, and she and Jan took a traditional pony cart to the market to buy some fresh produce.  In addition to the fruits and veggies, there was a fair amount of fresh fish and meat at this market, most of which was pretty smelly and had lots of flies.  Thank goodness we still had a good stock of Australian meats in our freezer!  Our timing was such that we were in Medana Bay for a rally event, and that evening, we enjoyed the dance performances and the dinner prepared by the local women.  We hadn't been to a rally dinner since our first stop in Debut, but apparently we had chosen well because those who had attended most of the rally events told us the food at this one was the best so far.

Transportation to the local market
Shopping at the local market


Outstanding percussion show
Lovely dancers
Adam on the left (son of the marina owner) translated the
officials' speeches into English for us


Local ladies delivering dinner
Rally participants digging into dinner

Lembongan Island (Sept. 28 - 30).  After the rally event, we carried on to Lembongan Island (48 nm, 7½ hours), which sits in the Lombok Channel on the way to Bali.  Kara was hoping to do some sailing, and the winds obliged so that we were able to sail most of the way there.  We sailed in a southwesterly direction, and with the strong south-setting current in the Lombok Channel, we also made very good time.  Given the strong currents around Lembongan Island, we were pleased to find a substantial mooring ball for Slip Away.   

Local fisherman out on the early morning flat calm waters near Lombok
After a calm start, the winds came up and we enjoyed a nice beam reach

That evening, the two of us and Kara joined the crew of s.v. Miranda (Geoff, Lynn and Kim) for dinner ashore.  Dinner was good and fun, but when we got back to the dinghies on the beach after dinner, the tide had come in farther than we expected, and Geoff had to wade into waist-deep water to retrieve them.  Although Geoff had anchored his dinghy and we tied our dinghy to his, the water was quite turbulent and we felt quite unsettled to think that the dinghies could have come loose and washed out to sea.  In hindsight, we should have pulled our dinghy further up on the beach and tied it to a tree.  Fortunately, we didn't lose the dinghies, but one would think that after 12 years of cruising, we wouldn't make mistakes like that!

The crew of Miranda took off for Bali the next morning, but we stayed to spend the day on Lembongan.  Lembongan is normally quite a busy island, with lots of day-trippers coming over from Bali just 10 miles (6 km) away, to parasail, jet ski and ride on inner tubes and other water toys.  That morning, things were very quiet - there was no activity on the water.  By about 9 a.m., we were questioning why the day-trip boats had not yet arrived, but we weren't really sure what time to expect them.  At about 10 a.m., with still no day-trip boats around, we headed ashore in the dinghy, planning to go for a walk, spend some time at the beach and maybe do a little snorkeling.  As we were pulling our dinghy up on the beach, a local guy rushed out to us and asked "What are you doing?"  We told him we were planning to spend the day on the island and wanted to leave our dinghy on the beach.  Then he told us there was a ban on all water activities that day - it was a "solemn day for the sea" - and we could get a big fine for coming ashore in our dinghy.  He seemed rather irritated with us, but how were we to know?!  There were no signs anywhere advising us of this "solemn day," and no one said anything to us the night before when we were ashore for dinner.  We were going to have to dinghy back to Slip Away at some point, going against the "solemn day" observance  - we could either do it now or do it later.  So, we decided to spend the day on the island and go home later.  We spent the morning walking around the village, visiting some Hindu temples and doing a bit of shopping.  After a couple hours of that, we were pretty hot and sweaty, so we found a seaside restaurant with a nice breeze and had some lunch.  After lunch, we paid a day-use fee at one of the hotels so we could swim in their pool.  This wasn't exactly what we had planned for the day, but it worked out OK.  When we got back to the dinghy that afternoon, we were half expecting a policeman to be waiting for us, but fortunately, there was not, and we launched it as quickly as possible and sped back to Slip Away on her mooring.  There are some beautiful beaches on Lembongan Island and all of them were deserted on that day.  We saw one guy test the waters and wade in, and someone from ashore quickly ran out and scolded him and he got out.  We also saw one power boat pull up to a mooring that day, but other than that, there was no boating activity at all.  We're not sure if their "solemn day" really benefited the ocean, but it probably couldn't hurt.  It sure was nice and peaceful on the water that day, but what poor timing for us!

Deserted beach on Lembongan Island
Hindu temples on Lembongan
Kara and Jan cooling off in a pool since we weren't allowed
in the ocean that day

Bali, Serangan Harbour (Sept. 30 - Oct. 9).  The next morning, we left Lembongan for Bali shortly before 9 a.m. just as all the day-trip boats were arriving.  We had a motor trip to Bali, but again, it was quick with the favorable current (13 nm, 2 hours).  We had made arrangements for a mooring in Serangan Harbour and were given a GPS waypoint for its location, but the coordinates were incorrect.  It took several phone calls before their boat captain finally met us and showed us to our mooring, which was about 2/10 of a mile from the waypoint they had given us.   

Bali is quite different from the rest of the islands in Indonesia because the vast majority of people who live here are Hindu; the Hindu religion spread to Bali from Java in the early eleventh century. When the Arab traders brought the Muslim religion to the region in the 1400's, Bali did not come under that influence because there was no major maritime port on Bali, and the island grew no significant spices.  The Dutch gained political and economic control over Bali in the 1800's, and Japan occupied Bali during World War II before Indonesia's independence.  Bali was and still is primarily an agrarian society, but it is also the most heavily touristed island in Indonesia. 

Once Slip Away was secure on her mooring, we headed ashore and grabbed a taxi to Nusa Dua, an area of Bali with fancy resorts.  We ate lunch at a nice restaurant and afterward, we took a long stroll along an oceanfront walkway which passed in front of several resorts.  We made sure we found the Club Med resort since Jan and Kara are both X-GO's.  We enjoyed seeing numerous Hindu statues and offerings with incense, flowers and other items placed in front of them.  Many of the statues had black and white checked cloths wrapped around them, and we noticed that some of the offerings had cigarettes in them.  We later learned that these items represent the forces of good and evil in the Hindu religion.

Hindu statues and small offering plates scattered around them
Krishna & Arjuna Warrior Monument at Nusa Dua
Kara & Jan at the entrance to Club Med

The next day was Kara's birthday, and we had a big day planned.  A friend of Kara's had referred her to a Bali tour guide named Mully, and she had arranged for him to show us around the island that day.  Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen) had pulled into Serangan Harbour the previous afternoon and also joined us for the island tour.  Mully started our day by taking us to see a traditional Barong & Kris dance performance, and from there, we stopped at the Tegenungan Waterfall and then visited some Balinese craftsmen (silversmiths and woodcarvers) and traditional family homes with Hindu temples in them.  We made our way to Bali's cultural capital of Ubud, which sits inland on the foothills of the central mountains, and there, we celebrated Kara's birthday with a lovely lunch at a nice restaurant.  After lunch, we visited Ubud's famous Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, and Mully then took us to see some terraced rice fields. On our last stop that day, we had the opportunity to try Luwak coffee, which is made from coffee beans which are eaten and then excreted by a Luwak cat before roasting (very smooth!).  It was a great day, and Mully was an excellent guide.  Mully told us he could show us more of the island the next day, and we all agreed we'd be up for that.

Barong & Kris Dance Performance
Bali's Tegenungan Waterfall


Hindu temple inside a traditional Balinese family compound
Talented woodcarvers on Bali
Lovely setting and delicious food for Kara's birthday celebration


Rice terraces on Bali
Mum & baby macaques in the
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
This is the Luwak cat which processes some very fine coffee beans!

Kara had decided that she'd like to stay at a hotel for the last few days of her vacation, so on our way home that night, Mully found her a place in Sanur, which is a quiet beach town, far from the rowdy party scene in Kuta and not too far from the harbor where we were moored.  We made sure she was checked in and settled, and then Mully dropped Heather & Jon and the two of us back at the harbor.  We got home late, showered, ate a quick dinner and fell into bed.  Early the next morning, Mully picked up the four of us at the harbor, then Kara at the hotel, and we were off on another full day of touring.  On our second day with Mully, we saw Hindu temples - the Royal Water Temple and the Ulun Danu Baratun Temple - more countryside with rice terraces and volcanoes, and ended the day with drinks on Kuta beach.  We tried to get to Kuta Beach in time for the sunset, but the traffic was horrific and we just missed it.  After two days with Mully, we felt like we saw a good bit of Bali, and we really enjoyed his tours.  The next day was Kara's last on the island, so Jan met her at her hotel in Sanur for some shopping and lunch and said good-bye.  That evening, Jan cooked dinner on Slip Away for Jon's birthday, but we made it an early night because we had an early flight the next morning to the island of Java.

Royal Water Temple
Entrance to a local home decorated for a wedding


Ulun Danu Baratun Temple on Lake Bratan


The essence of Bali's interior - volcanoes and rice terraces
These little gasoline stands were perfect for scooters,
 which are the main form of transportation on Bali
Traffic jam on the way to Kuta Beach

Borobudur (October 4 - 6).  The crews of Evergreen and Slip Away flew from Bali to Java the next morning, landing in the city of Yogyakarta, where a driver from our hotel met and transported us the 1½ hours to the town of Borobudur.  That afternoon, the four of us rented bikes from the hotel and pedaled around the area for a bit.  The following morning, the two of us decided to go for the sunrise tour of the Borobudur Temple.  Heather & Jon thought they'd sleep in, but that wasn't really an option when the 04:45am pre-dawn call to prayer was blasted over loud speakers that seemed to be pointed directly at our small hotel.

The ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur was built in the early 9th century.  It is the world's largest Buddhist monument and was constructed from two million block stones.  It is believed that the temple was abandoned shortly after it was completed due to a decline in Buddhism and a shift of power to East Java, and centuries of volcanic eruptions buried it in layers of ash.  In the early 1800's, the site was discovered and cleared. In the early 1900's, the Dutch started on the restoration of Borobudur, but it wasn't until the 1970's that a multi-million dollar restoration project was undertaken. The restoration was completed in 1983, but then in 1985, opponents of the Indonesian government set off some bombs on the upper layers and damaged some of the smaller stupas.  That damage was repaired, and in 1991, Borobudur was designated a World Heritage site.  Borobudur is Indonesia's most popular tourist attraction. 

The sunrise experience at Borobudur was a little disappointing, not only because there were a lot of other tourists so it wasn't very peaceful, but also because the air was not clear.  There was a lot of smoke in the air - perhaps from farmers burning their fields, or maybe it was just pollution from the 140 million people living on Java.  But, despite the crowds and the smoky skies, we found the temple to be amazing, and it was beautiful in the morning light.  Over 2,600 of the stone building blocks have intricate carvings on them, and there are over 500 Buddha statues.  We spent a few hours exploring the temple, as well as the surrounding grounds and Borobudur museum.

Borobudur Temple
One of the Temple Entrances
Crowds and smoky skies detracted from the sunrise experience


Each of these stupas had a statue of Buddha inside
Buddhist Monk getting some photos with his tablet
Carvings along the lower levels of the temple depicted life on earth

We finished our temple visit by noon, and since there really wasn't much else to do in the town of Borobudur, the four of us decided to take a tour to the volcano museum at Ketep Pass, located between the Mount Merapi and Mt. Merbabu.  Mt. Merapi is Indonesia's most active volcano, and last erupted in 2010. 

Our flight back to Bali left the next afternoon, and we had arranged with the hotel to have a driver take us in the morning to the ancient Prambanan Hindu temple, which was on the way to the airport.  The staff at hotel had been incredibly hospitable during our stay - we would highly recommend the Cempaka Villa in Borobudur.  Our driver, Eko, was the same guy who picked us up from the airport - a super nice guy who spoke English fairly well - and he was happy to stop and show us sights along the way to Yogyakarta.  

The delightful staff at Cempaka Villa
On the way to Yogyakarta, we found this group of young tourists
experiencing a traditional method for plowing rice fields

The car we were riding in was a relatively new SUV-type of vehicle, but it was not the same one Eko had when he picked us up from the airport.  Eko told us the other car was owned by the hotel, but it was booked for a tour that day, so he borrowed this one from a friend.  (Eko does not own a car.)  As he was driving along the highway, suddenly two other cars pulled up next to us and forced us off the road.  The guys didn't particularly look like thugs, but it was obvious that this was not a friendly situation, and all of us were quite nervous.  After pulling over, Eko got out of the car, and a lively discussion took place out of our earshot - not that we could understand anything they were saying anyway!  Before coming to Indonesia and while here, we'd heard stories of police extorting bribes from ordinary citizens, and we were wondering if perhaps that's what was happening, but these guys were not in uniforms.  Eko is a small guy, and he looked quite helpless surrounded by this group of five men with bouncer-type physics.  We saw phone calls being made, and Eko pulled out his wallet, but he didn't appear to give them any money.  Finally, Eko came back to the car - visibly shaken.  He told us that our car was being repossessed, and these were "repo men."  He was able to convince them that he was not the owner and that he was driving tourists.  The repo men needed to wait for the police before they could actually take the car back, and the police were busy on some other business at the moment, so the repo men let Eko take us to the Prambanan Temple.  Eko drove us to Prambanan, with the repo men following close behind, and dropped us off.  We figured we would not have a car when we finished our tour, so we took our bags with us - fortunately, we didn't have a lot of heavy luggage.  Eko told us he would be waiting for us when we finished.  We thought we'd probably never see Eko again, but we could catch a cab to the airport, which was not far away. 

Prambanan Temples.  The Prambanan complex of Hindu temples was built in the middle of the 9th century, an estimated 50 years later than Borobudur.  Prambanan is the largest Hindu-temple site in Indonesia, and this too is a World Heritage site.  There were originally 240 temples in this complex - 8 main temples, 8 small shrines and 224 smaller "pervara" temples.  Reconstruction of this site started in the early 1900's and continues today.  The 8 main temples and 8 small shrines were reconstructed, but only a couple of the pervara temples were rebuilt, and in 2006, an earthquake did significant damage to the site.  We found Prambanan to be quite a spectacular place.  The complex covers a large area, and the possibility of reconstructing this site in its entirety seems an impossible task.  There were piles of rocks everywhere, but that was part of the charm. 

Prambanan Hindu Temple Complex
We were required to wear sarongs over our shorts in the
 main temple area, but they were provided free of charge
Two of the beautifully restored temples in the main area


Restoration work at Prambanan
Ganesh is the Hindu god of wisdom and learning
Pieces of the puzzle that have not yet been reassembled

After finishing our tour of Prambanan, we found Eko, true to his word, waiting for us.  The police had not yet shown up, so he still had the car.  It was lunchtime, and we had time to stop for lunch before our flight.  Eko wanted to take us to his favorite local restaurant, so he did - and the repo men followed.  While we were eating lunch, Eko came in carrying our bags which we had left in the car.  The police had shown up and the car was gone.  Fortunately, Eko was able to retrieve all of our stuff before they took the car away, except he missed Heather's hat, which was sitting on the back seat.

Eko regularly brings clients to this restaurant and told the restaurant owners what had happened that day with the car.  After finishing lunch, the restaurant owner's son kindly drove us to the airport, and Eko followed on a scooter to make sure we got there safe and sound.  Such nice people! 

The friendly restaurant owner's son who gave us a lift to the airport
Eko says good-bye to us at the airport
Adventures with friends Jon & Heather (s.v. Evergreen)

Back to Bali (Oct. 6 to 9).  When we arrived back at Serangan Harbour, it was with great relief that we found our dinghy where we had left it.  We really hated leaving the dinghy ashore while we were gone, but since our flight to Yogyakarta left at a very early hour, there was no one available to bring us ashore.  After much discussion between Heather & Jon and the two of us, we agreed that we would shuttle the four of us ashore for the trip.  If our dinghy was stolen, then we'd have to share Evergreen's dinghy for the next few months.  But, fortunately, it didn't come to that.  It was still dark when we went ashore the morning of our departure, and we parked the dinghy under a very bright light, and locked it to a rail.  When we came back, it appeared untouched, and one of the locals had put an offering in front of it to protect it.  Thank you!

After the trip to Java, we really needed to get moving.  We had another visa renewal coming up in less than three weeks, and the location for that was 750 miles away (about 5 days of travel time).  The bulk of the rally fleet was pretty far ahead of us now.  But, before leaving Bali, we snuck in one more excursion - a dive on the USAT Liberty wreck, which is located in Tulamben on the northeast coast of Bali.  Our friend Laura Taylor in Australia had recommended the Matahari Resort and Dive Shop for diving on the wreck, and they offered an attractive day-trip package, which included transportation to and from our location in South Bali (2½-3 hours each way), as well as two dives and lunch.  We booked it. 

The drive to and from Tulamben was a white-knuckle ride.  Driving in Bali defies description - we would never attempt it.  Roads are narrow, often without a center line, but then no one pays much attention to that anyway!  Traffic is heavy and drivers weave in and out among cars and hordes of scooters.  Our driver that day was especially aggressive.  We're pretty sure no one could have gotten us there and back any faster, and somehow we made it safely.  Jan rode in the front seat on the way up to Tulamben, and she had her eyes closed for about half the trip - and not because she was sleeping.  On the way home, she quickly jumped in the back and let someone else ride shotgun.  Yikes!

The Liberty was a U.S. Army cargo ship, which was beached on Bali in 1942 after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.  In 1963, tremors from the eruption of the Mt. Agung volcano on Bali caused the ship to slip off the beach and into the sea.  The ship now sits on a sand slope in 25 to 100 feet (8 to 30 meters) of water, and it's one of the most popular dive sites in Bali.  The diving on the Liberty wreck was excellent.  The four of us (Heather & Jon and the two of us) dove with a divemaster, and he pointed out lots of little critters to us that we would have never found - some were so small that we had a difficult time seeing them.  Fish life was good on the wreck, and the water was warm - 82F (28C) - so we did hour-long dives and never got cold.  Both of our dives were done from the shore, and it was a bit of a hike from the resort to the beach where we entered the water.  We carried our weight belts, and "porters" carried our tanks for us.  The porters were VERY small ladies who balanced two tanks on their heads - amazing!

Jon (s.v. Evergreen) admiring the wreck
We never got a photo of our porters
 but found this one on the internet
Turtle hanging out among the wreckage

The morning after our trip to Tulamben, we left Serangan Harbour on Bali and returned to Lembongan Island to position ourselves for an early morning departure the following day.  It was a short trip to Lembongan (12 nm) but a slow one (3 hours) as we were now fighting the current that gave us such a fast ride on our way here.  After arriving in Lembongan, Rich jumped in the water and cleaned the prop and the waterline, while Jan prepared food for the passage and plotted the course to our next destination.

Passage from Lembongan Island to Karimunjawa Islands (October 10-13, 424 nm, 3 days + 7 hours).  We departed Lembongan as the day was dawning (5:30 a.m.) so that we could get well clear the coast of Bali before sunset.  FADs and small fishing boats abound near Bali, and some of them are unlit at night, so we wanted to put as much distance as possible between us and the coast before dark.  Winds and seas were calm that morning, and we motored north working our way up the east coast of Bali.  We stayed fairly close to the island as we traveled north because the strong south-setting current in the Lombok Channel eased a bit on the edges.  There were lots of local fishing boats out that morning, and they were packing up and heading home shortly after we got started.  By 11:30 am., we rounded the northeast corner of Bali.  We were motoring in light winds, but we were happy that we were now starting to pull away from the island.  Just before sunset, the wind came up enough that we were able to sail, albeit slowly (10 knots of wind, 4 knots of speed).  We were able to sail most of the rest of the way to Karimunjawa, which made us very happy, but the incredible amount of boat traffic, especially at night, required vigilance. Most of it was fishing boat traffic, and since we were pretty far offshore, they were primarily larger boats with lights, although not necessarily configured in accordance with international navigation rules.  There was also some shipping traffic, including tugs and tows which were also not always properly lit and did not transmit an AIS signal.  At one point on his night watch, Rich noted in the log that he counted the lights of 30 boats.  Another late afternoon log note from Jan indicated that on her watch, she saw FADs, fishing boats, a tug and tow, a cargo ship, and she had a bird in the cockpit with her too!  Some of the fishing boats liked to steer close to us, which made us quite nervous - especially because they would not answer a radio call when we were trying to determine their intentions.  We'd heard from some others that fishing boats come close to yachts so that bad spirits on board their boat will jump off onto ours.  Gee, thanks!! 

Bali's highest mountain,  Gunung Agung towers over the northeast coast
Many of the local fishing boats had beautiful paint jobs
Small fishing boat traffic along the coast of Bali -
they really did like to come close to us!

We, too, had been fishing as we traveled throughout Indonesia, and we caught our first fish on this passage.  Our lack of catching anything up to this point, and then the size of the fish we finally caught are a sad indication of how over-fished these waters are.  We caught three mahi mahi on this passage - the three smallest mahi mahi we've ever caught.  Only one was of a size that we considered big enough to keep.  We successfully released the smallest one we caught, but the next smallest one was hooked through his eye, and we didn't think he would survive if we released it, so we kept and ate that one too.  After catching a third small fish, we pulled in our fishing lines, disheartened by the state of the ocean here. 

While underway to Karimunjawa, we started talking about our options for the next few weeks.  After Karimunjawa, the next rally stop was Belitung (still 300 miles away), and if we wanted to stay longer in Indonesia, we would need to leave Karimunjawa shortly after we arrived to get to Belitung in time to renew our visas (we needed to arrive a week before the expiration date).  Our other option was to stay in Karimunjawa for a few days, then sail to Belitung to arrive a few days before our visa expiration date, clear out and leave Indonesia.  There were a few rally stops after Belitung, but we didn't particularly feel like we would be missing a lot if we skipped those, and we'd save the USD $30 per passport visa renewal charge.  A factor influencing our decision was smoke and haze from fires on the island of Kalimantan.  Every year at this time, palm oil farmers "slash and burn" their fields to prepare the land for the upcoming rainy season, creating a haze that spreads over a significant portion of southeast Asia.  The smoke and haze this year was particularly bad, and we were expecting to run into it when we reached Belitung.  By continuing north to Singapore, although we would still have to deal with the haze, we were hoping it would lessen the further we got from the source.  When we received word that Rich's friend Larry Dietz and his wife Marlene would be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in early November, that sealed the deal.  We would enjoy the smoke-free Karimunjawa Islands for a few days, sail to Belitung and check out, and continue on to Singapore.   

Karimunjawa Islands (October 13 - 18).  There are 27 islands in this group, and they sit just 50 miles (80 km) off the coast of Java.  The Karimunjawa Islands are a get-away for locals from Jakarta and other cities on Java, so there's some infrastructure here - an airport, paved roads, a dive shop and a few restaurants.  Karimunjawa was a rally stop, but we were several days behind schedule so didn't make any of the events, but we did catch up with a few other stragglers from the fleet.  We enjoyed some scuba diving and snorkeling excursions here, and on another day, the crews of Evergreen and Slip Away rented scooters and toured the island. 

There were lots of these pelagic tunicates in the water column here
Dance practice in the school yard


This barrel in the middle of the intersection signified a round-about
Scooter gas station
Boardwalks through the mangroves

Passage from Karimunjawa to Belitung (October 18-20, 312 nm, 2 days + 8 hours).  Our departure from Karimunjawa was another early one - we were underway by 6 am.  A couple hours after departure, the wind came up and we set our sails and turned off the engine.  We had really nice sailing winds for most of this passage, running our engine just over 10 of 56 total hours, and seas were quite pleasant.  Although we'd done some motoring during our travels through Indonesia, we were very pleased that we'd been able to sail as much as we had.  In prior years, other yachts reported that they motored almost the entire way - motoring 3,000 miles uses a lot of diesel!  The fishing and shipping traffic on the first night of this passage was the heaviest we'd ever experienced.  In the late afternoon of our first day out, we remarked to each other that we didn't see any boats around us and since our route was taking us over 100 miles offshore, maybe there wouldn't be so much boat traffic that evening.  We were wrong!  As the sun set, lights came on, and Rich's log entry at 9 pm that night said "Fishing boats everywhere!"  Shortly after Jan came on watch at midnight, the numbers of fishing boats started to diminish, and our second night on this passage wasn't quite so bad. 

Belitung Island (October 20 to 24).  Just before arriving in Belitung, we hit the haze from Kalimantan - the air became heavy and smoky.  There were also fires on Belitung, which made it even worse.  Although Belitung was supposedly a pretty island to visit, our goal here was to check out and leave as quickly as possible.  But doing our departure paperwork took some time.  Our rally contact Raymond was here handling the visa renewals for the fleet, but for those of us who had decided to check out and move on (about a half dozen boats), he put us in contact with his friend Jonny.  We gave our completed departure paperwork and our passports to Jonny the evening we arrived in Belitung, and it took him three full days to get our clearance paperwork completed.  We were glad that we didn't have to sit in the officials' offices waiting all that time. 

Sailing wing-and-wing on our way from Karimunjawa to Belitung. 
The white speck on the horizon in front of us is s.v. Evergreen.
Anchored in the smoke at Belitung

While Jonny was sorting out our clearance paperwork, we had some time to kill.  The day after arriving in Belitung, Rich wanted to do some boat maintenance, and Jan caught a ride into town with Heather & Jon and another couple.  Jan thought they were just sharing a car to do some grocery shopping, but it turned out to be an all-day tour.  They made a 30-minute stop at a school, which turned into a couple of hours, but it was an enjoyable visit with students who were training to work in the hotel industry. After the school visit, they stopped at the produce market, and one of the school students helped them with making their purchases.  Then, it was lunch and a stop at Kaolin Lake on the way to a park where they saw a tarsier.  The tarsier is the world's smallest monkey and one of the world's smallest primates, and it's an endangered species which exists only on a few islands in the Philippines and Indonesia.  On the way home from the park, they finally stopped at a grocery store and Jan got home after dark.  Although Jan had asked Jon to text Rich and let him know what was going on, our phone had run out of credit, so Rich didn't get all the communications, and he was worried sick about her.

The students at the hotel-industry school wanted us to try some
of the foods they were learning to cook, and they were quite good!
Cute little Tarsier
Beautiful blue Kaolin Lake on the site of a former silica mine

While waiting for our clearance papers, we had a discussion about our fuel supply.  We last topped up in Bali, and had run the engine about 40 hours since then.  We had about 330 miles to Singapore, and Rich told Jan he was 95% sure we had enough fuel to get all the way to there, even if we had to motor the entire way.  That made Jan uncomfortable because the last couple miles of the trip involved crossing the Singapore Straits, which is one of the heaviest shipping traffic areas in the world.  Jan was nervous enough about crossing those shipping lanes, and the last thing she wanted to do was run out of fuel half-way across!  In addition to the fuel in our tank, we had two five-gallon jerry jugs of diesel on deck.  Like everywhere else in Indonesia, there was no fuel dock here in Belitung, but we could get our jerry jugs filled at a local gas station.  So, we decided to dump those jugs into our main tank and get them re-filled.  We had no idea how badly this plan would turn out.

We took our empty jerry jugs ashore to the local bar/restaurant which was the popular watering hole for the rally participants, and the owners of the bar/restaurant took the jugs to the local gas station and had them filled.  When the full jugs came back that evening, we loaded them in the dinghy and brought them out to Slip Away.  The anchorage was a little lumpy - the wind usually came up in this anchorage in the afternoon and created wind chop, and it had not yet completely settled down.  To get the jerry jugs on board Slip Away from the dinghy, Rich steps on to our boarding step and hefts them on deck.  He got both jugs of fuel on deck successfully, but after hefting the second one, the boat lurched and he lost his balance and started to fall.  He fell into the water up to his knee, but caught himself on the lifeline with his right hand and pulled himself up.  As he pulled himself up, he felt something tear in his shoulder, and shortly after that, he had severe pain.  Jan put ice on his shoulder and gave him ibuprofen, and he was able to sleep that night, but the next morning, when he tried to move his arm in certain ways, he had a lot of pain.  Our friend Peter (s.v. Sunchaser) is a doctor, and Rich called him the next morning and asked if he could stop over.  Peter ran Rich through a few simple exercises and told him he may have torn his rotator cuff.  He suggested that Rich rest the shoulder for a few days, then try some easy exercises, and if it wasn't better in a couple weeks, he should get an MRI to determine the extent of the damage. 

Our clearance papers finally came through that afternoon, and early the next morning, we took off for Singapore.

Passage from Belitung Island to Pulau Boyan, Indonesia (October 24-26, 317 nm, 2 days + 7 hours).  We had extremely light winds on this passage north to the border of Indonesia, so motored the entire way.  Skies were hazy, the air was smoky and it was stinkin' hot and humid, especially inside the boat with the engine running - not a particularly pleasant passage.  We had a full moon on this passage but we couldn't see it because of all the smoke in the air.  On the bright side, there weren't as many fishing boats in these waters, so the night passages weren't as stressful.  In the early evening of our second night out, we crossed the equator back into the Northern Hemisphere.  Slip Away had not been in the Northern Hemisphere for over five years - since crossing into the Southern Hemisphere in May 2010 on our way to the Galapagos Islands.  As we approached the northeast border of Indonesia, we motored through the very industrial and very dirty Bulan Channel.  It was early afternoon when we arrived at the Boyan Island anchorage indicated in our cruising guide, and though not particularly appealing, we decided to drop our hook and spend the night.  We had a reservation at a marina in Singapore starting the next day, so intended to cross the Singapore Straits the next morning.   

The sun barely broke through the thick smoky haze
Shipyard along Bulan Channel

Our friends Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen) were traveling with us and reached the anchorage a couple hours after us.  They were having a hard time getting their anchor to set in the soft mud, so ended up anchoring at the other end of Boyan Island, about a mile away from us.  We couldn't see each other, but we could reach one another by radio.  Just around sunset, they called us on the radio to let us know that a couple of local guys had come by in a canoe and one of them had tried to climb on board their boat.  The guys didn't speak English, and Heather & Jon thought they were probably harmless (maybe wanted some cigarettes), and it took a while for them to get the guys to leave.  Darkness was settling in when Rich heard a noise outside and found the guys hanging on to the side of our boat.  Rich went out on deck, visibly irritated and telling them to leave, but they weren't getting the message (or were choosing to ignore it).  The only English they could speak was "No Ali Babba", but we had no idea what they were trying to tell us.  Jon later told us that he thought they were trying to tell us that they were not thieves.  Yeah, right!  We finally got them to go away after threatening them with bear mace.  That night, we made sure that anything of value was locked below with us.  Despite this disruption, we managed to get a few hours of sleep, and the intruders never returned.

Passage across the Singapore Straits (October 27, 17 nm).  Weighing anchor the next morning took us quite a bit longer than normal due to all the seaweed wrapped around our anchor chain, but we finally got the seaweed cleared away and the anchor on deck and were underway.  As we approached the Singapore Straits, we decided that Jan would keep her eye on the AIS and radar, and Rich would drive across the Straits also keeping an eye on the traffic.  The air was still quite smoky and hazy, and visibility wasn't great.  Jan struggled with the AIS because she hadn't been able to figure out how to turn off the alarms for all the anchored ships, but between that and the radar, she was at least able to alert Rich to keep an eye out for ships coming from the left or right.  Our fuel supply was good, so Rich wasn't afraid to use some of our horsepower to get across the shipping lanes quickly.  The shipping lanes are only 1½ miles wide, so it didn't take long to cross, but we did have to maneuver around a couple of big ships crossing our path, and we both breathed a sigh of relief when we safely reached the other side.  We made it!!

Flags required by Singapore when entering the WQIA -
Singapore courtesy flag (top), Quarantine (yellow),
and the 2 & 5 signal flags indicating we have
no passengers (only crew) on board
With the haze, it was difficult to see the big ships in the shipping lanes. 
Since they travel much faster than us,
they can be upon us in very short order.
Our AIS was maxed out with targets.


Once across the shipping lanes, we headed for Singapore's Western Quarantine and Immigration Anchorage (WQIA).  There, we hovered about as the Immigration Boat approached, took our paperwork and passports and cleared us in.  We spent a total of 30 minutes in the WQIA - what a breeze compared to Indonesia!  After clearing Immigration, we headed into the Oneş15 Marina.  The marina staff helped us tie up to the dock, and we took stock of our surroundings.  We were in a first-class marina, surrounded by modern high-rise buildings.  It was hard to believe that just a couple hours ago we were in the third world. 

Final thoughts on our experiences in Indonesia -

We had our ups and downs during our travels through Indonesia.  The local people welcomed us warmly and were genuinely happy to have us visit their country.  The scuba diving in Komodo National Park was some of the best we've done in the world.  The history of the Banda Islands was incredibly interesting.  And, the experience we had with the fluorescent green sea was truly unique and unforgettable!  However, some of the things we saw and experienced in Indonesia were disturbing - the omnipresent trash and lack of hygiene, reefs that had been dynamited, seas that were over-fished, and the destruction of rainforest and smoke and haze pollution from the palm oil plantation "slash and burn" practices on Kalimantan.  At times it seems like Indonesia's leaders are working toward correcting some of these issues, and at others, they arrogantly deny any problems. 

The problem of smoke and haze from the fires on Kalimantan (and also Sumatra) occurs every year, but this year was reportedly the worst on record.  Nineteen people died, over a half million were sickened and one-third of the world's orangutan population were threatened by the fires.  Singapore and Malaysia were affected with air quality indexes in the "very unhealthy range."  In an October 7, 2015 Reuters article: "Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla said his country had no need to apologize for a month or so of fire and haze each year. 'Look at how long they have enjoyed fresh air from our green environment and forests when there were no fires,' he said during a dialogue session with Indonesians in New York in late September. 'Could be months. Are they grateful?'"  

One of the things we are generally concerned about when traveling in developing nations like Indonesia is keeping ourselves healthy.  After spending any time on shore, one of the first things we do after getting back to the boat is wash our hands.  Also, any produce bought at the local markets was either cooked, peeled or if eaten raw (like cucumbers and tomatoes), soaked in water with a little bleach to kill any bacteria.  One of the problems that the participants in our sailing rally faced was sickness from lack of hygiene.  We were invited to rally events which included food prepared for us by the local people, and we felt bad turning down their food when they went to such trouble to prepare it.  But unfortunately, after a number of these events, several people were sick with food poisoning.  We even had one participant who had a bout of E Coli.  Although we caught that nasty cold at the first rally stop in Debut, we fortunately managed to avoid any major gastrointestinal distress. 

Traveling with the rally was a new experience for us, and for the most part that was a good experience.  We really enjoyed the camaraderie of the group, and it was always reassuring to have them nearby.  As is the norm with yachties, we all look out for one another.  We had a few doctors in the fleet, and they had occasion to help out a few folks - a young girl was thought to have appendicitis (though it turned out to be something else that mimicked it), a man was bitten by a brown recluse spider and ended up hospitalized for a couple of days (one of the doctors sailed back to the anchorage where he was located to provide assistance), and of course, Peter on Sunchaser helped us out when Rich hurt his shoulder.  Sadly, the worst injury of the fleet happened near the end of the rally when a woman fell down the companionway steps and broke her leg.  Fortunately, they were close to one of the few islands in Indonesia with a first-rate hospital and she was well cared for.  It seemed like our fleet experienced more bad luck than normal, so maybe those fisherman really did get some of those bad spirits to jump on to our boats!

Most importantly, the rally gave us a helping hand getting through Indonesia, which with its confusing regulations and endless piles of paperwork, as well as a bit of corruption, isn't necessarily the easiest country to visit.  We felt like we could always reach out to our rally contact - Raymond Lesmana - if we had questions or problems.  Although Raymond let us down by not showing up for that first visa extension, we believe he learned from that mistake, and overall he did a pretty good job and got us through the bureaucratic idiosyncrasies of this country with minimal headaches.  He generally answered emails or texts promptly, and he had good contacts throughout the country so always seemed to know whom to call when someone had a boat problem.  When we were in Java and the car we were riding in was being repossessed, it was reassuring to know that we had Raymond's phone number.  If we had felt at all threatened, we would have been on the phone to him.

We didn't do particularly well with following the rally schedule, but that was OK.  The rally schedule was focused on taking people off the beaten track and attending events put on by the local people.  For some of the rally participants, this was exactly what they wanted to do.  We enjoyed some of that, but since Indonesia is one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world, diving was a priority for us.  We also tend to enjoy lower-key interactions with the locals - the parties and parades weren't our thing.  It would be next to impossible to set a rally schedule that would meet the needs and desires of the crews of 50 different boats, so the fact that we were able to go off on our own yet still reap the benefits of the rally organization was a good thing.   

Sailing through Indonesia was hard work.  By covering 3,000 miles in three months, there were few opportunities to stop and savor the places we liked.  We needed to transit this area in a finite amount of time due to both weather patterns and bureaucratic regulations.  When we think back on our time in Indonesia, we remember some awesome experiences, but when it was time to move on, we were ready to go.