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
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
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,
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The ancient Buddhist temple of
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
(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.
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
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
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
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.
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.