Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Sail Indonesia 2008

Indonesia in 3 months, 100+ boats, 15 supported locations

One of the main aims of Sail Indonesia (later dubbed Motor Indo for lack of wind) is to bring tourism to underdeveloped areas of the country. What most participants had not realised at the outset is how tiring it is to be on show - waving, smiling and shaking hands with lots of people at every location over a three months period; when they want to melt into the background themselves. Early on we realised the vast effort that the local people had made to welcome the ‘yachties' and resolved to make every location- which we did. This will be one of the lasting memories that however tired we were of the bureaucracy, long speeches, food queues, endless enthusiastic practising of English that these friendly people who scraped by with subsistence farming and meagre fishing had spend days preparing for our arrival and had usually waited hours in the tropical heat.


The route

The route

The rally route took us to the following main locations

Kupang, Timor

Kalabahi, Alor

Lewoleba, Lembata

Seaworld resort, Maumere, Flores

Mausambi, Flores

Labuan Bajo, Flores


Lovina Beach, Bali

Karimun Jawa, with a side trip to Borobodur on Java

Kumai, Central Kalimantan


Departure from Darwin

Departure from Darwin

This is not to be recommended - using a sewing machine down below with Sea Bunny rolling in 25kt gusts in Fannie Bay. But needs must and Susan made five hatch covers and main hatch mosi screen. This ambitious and successful project made us unable to stow the boat the day before departure and left us a little short tempered. Our intention to cross the start line late, not wishing to be too close to the other hundred odd boats, was over an hour late.

Darwin to Kupang - 26 to 30 July

Darwin to Kupang - 26 to 30 July

With little wind the trip was a mixture of motoring, motor sailing and short spinnaker runs and keeping a look out for fishing boats, floats and fish traps. We may not have seen the ones that were unlit! In the afternoon of Tuesday 29 land is sighted and the wind pipes up to 25-30kts so we are running under poled out genoa only. We keep to the deep water to the south of the marked shoals in the centre of Selat Roti on the basis that the fish traps will be in shallower water. As we turn up Selat Semau the genoa is furled and we continue slowly at about 4kts under motor. Sea Bunny finally arrives at the anchorage off Kupang at 0400 ACST 30 July, having had some difficulty locating the anchored boats against the town lights. Later in the morning after resetting our clocks to local time we tune into the VHF net and learn about the clearance procedure.

Kupang 30 July - 5 August

Kupang  30 July - 5 August

The bureaucracy surrounding the clearances will become the main topic of conversation over Bintang (beer) until we leave. There appears to be a dispute between the organisers of the rally and the local customs which has resulted in boats being inspected and then served with an impoundment notice. When it is our turn two customs officers are relayed out to the boat. They ask for coco-cola, which we don't have, then chocolate. We are reluctant to part with any of our dark chocolate so Susan makes them mugs of hot chocolate, which is probably not what they had in mind. One of the officers carries out a perfunctory search, backing off from looking anywhere which was difficult to access, quite the reverse of what a UK officer would do. After this we are "cleared" but nevertheless have an impoundment notice stuck to the boat, as with the other boats.

All the days in Kupang are filled with frustration over some aspect of administration. It is like Chinese whispers but with the criteria changing when each skipper presents boat documents. A lot could be written here, suffice it to say that one Australian boat went home. We will never know how many copies of crew list, boat photos, CAIT's ship's papers, passports, medicine list ARE really necessary but it felt that several trees worth were utilised to satisfy the parties involved. The impoundment, with 14 different nationalities involved, was bordering on an international incident and made CNN. We set a date on which we would involve the British Embassy but fortunately the situation was resolved the day before when the ministry of fisheries guaranteed to customs that all boats would leave Indonesia before 30 October

Removing the impoundment notice

Removing the impoundment notice

The impoundment notice was removed for a yet another small fee by a smiling customs officer on the last day of scheduled activities. We will never know the whole story but the relief was palpable.

During this period Sea Bunny could not be moved from the open roadstead anchorage to a more comfortable spot in the next bay. There was a daily boat vigil with several boats dragging and being rescued by the crew from other boats including the customs boat, which hit the US boat Oz.

Daily life and dinners

The conditions for landing on the beach were sometimes hazardous through the breakers and the organised boat boys, for a small fee, are excellent at retrieving and launching the dinghies. They also dispose of rubbish (we don't go into where it then goes). When returning officials to the beach yachties try to dump them in and after one successful dunking there was a whipround for a replacement phone. Because of the breakers we, along with 40% of the boats, could not get in for the Governor's dinner when it was so bad that several dinghies were flipped and one lady just avoided a nasty injury.

The shore base was Teddy's bar which sells Bintang. Most evenings we join up with Nanette and Stuart (Truest Passion) to stroll through the scruffy and noisy but friendly town, avoiding the motorbikes, to the food stalls; eating cheaply with the locals for about £1 each. The yachties here buy sweetmeats and share them out so there was quite a festive feel. We are able to attend the mayor's dinner under spread canopies by the beach. This takes what will become the usual format - speeches, dancing and a mainly fishy buffet. The Mayor apologises for the problems and promises to fix them. He also says he will "clean up" illegal activities on the waterfront - presumably the only fuel available will be at the "official" price of 12,500 Rph/l. Does this mean that no one will get beaten up by undercutting?

Fuelling - a chore

Our fuel has cost 8,000Rph/l delivered by jerry can and laboriously decanted via the baja filter to our tanks. Indonesia is the only country so far where there is not the facility of a fuel bowser or a fuel jetty where a boat can refuel - even Galapagos had a boat with large drums that was able to come alongside! We see that this decanting in the doldrums will go on the regular chore list.

Kupang city tour

Kupang city tour

On a cultural note we opted for the City Tour which incorporated The East Nusa Tenggara Museum where the crafts and artefacts were poorly displayed and mainly labelled in Bahasa. The caves where the Japanese hid during the war proved more of a diversion. The demonstration of acquiring from the tree and processing palm sugar satisfied the sweet toothed amongst us. On the way back to Kupang the guide took us to the market and helped us pay a fair price for the fruit.

Boti tour

Boti tour

The Kupang Regency kindly laid on a free tour in buses with attendant police cars and ambulance. Our hosts and interpreters are dressed in shirts and ikat sarongs, the motifs on these identify the owners village. At our comfort stop, Soe, three hours into the journey into Timor the local beehive houses are indicated. The authorities are trying to replace them but the owners rebuild their smoky homes which have a very small doorway and no windows saying that these are warmer than the new home in front! Then it was up a winding road to Oinlasi where there was a betel nut and palm oil welcoming ceremony and dancing while we drank coconut juice.

Another two hours up a dirt road took us to the isolated mountain valley village of Boti. Here we were all welcomed and presented with an ikat scarf. In this traditional village only clothes made from locally grown cotton may be worn and the village is self sufficient as much as possible. Ancient animist religious rituals are practiced here and we witnessed the first hair cutting of a three year old in an elaborate ceremony in which a pig was sacrificed. After a delicious meal and farewell ceremony before the buses headed back down the mountain. Another village where the inhabitants had been waiting hours gave us a farewell ceremony in the dark in the middle of the road. After such a tropical hectic tour the dinghy was launched into surf at 2230 hours.

Kupang to Kalabahi, Alor Regency

Before departure for the overnight passage; there is much discussion between crews as to how the tidal streams for Indonesia should properly be interpreted in order to arrive at the top of a Selat (strait) at the right time to be whooshed down it instead of going sideways or backwards at a vast rate of knots. Not the sort of place for the engine to go on the blink. Another consideration is how 'safe' it will be sailing along the coast of Timor.

What little wind we have dies way and time is spent with the iron maiden on and filling the water tanks. There is a significant set from the east for most of the night. The wind returns at 0330 and by 0430 we need a reef; the second reef goes in at 0630 as we are creaming along at 7 knots. As Susan had volunteered Richard as the Wednesday net controller she had to take over his watch at 0800 as a fishing boat was playing what we call 'silly bee's' so an eye on it was needed. During the morning it becomes clear that Destiny 3 has engine problems; so supervised by Truest Passion she makes her way to Lembata. Aqua Magic loses her propeller and Renaissance 2000 tows them back to Kupang. The other three boats that stood off for Aqua Magic have missed the tide for the selat and have had most uncomfortable night in wind over tide conditions. For us the wind dies again and as we approach Selat Pantar - overfalls adverse tide, about 2-3 knots with eddies to 4 knots is experienced. Once in the Selat, surrounded by mountainous islands, the tide turns from 2 knots against to 1 knot with within 10 minutes of the predicted time - clever Richard!.

The crowded anchorage off Kalabahi is made at about 1600. In the limited shallower areas the anchoring dance is done three times to no avail. As the light fades we eventually anchor outside most boats in 23 m, attaching an additional 30m of chain to the existing 60m.

Kalabahi.- Alor Regency.- 7 - 10 August

Kalabahi.-  Alor Regency.- 7 - 10 August

The pattern of chores during the course of our stay in each major location has now fallen into a rhythm- ATM visit in this cash only place, acquiring fuel using our two twenty litre jerry cans, getting sheets and towels washed, purchasing fruit and vegetables, checking correct location and navigation for next stop, urgent boat maintenance and, most importantly dancing to the tune of the local harbourmaster while remaining unfazed. Between us all on the rally information and help is freely given amongst laughter and binteng.

Kalabahi is a tropical port, slow moving and lazy, with the punishing heat alleviated by the sea breeze. When this happens in the afternoons several catamarans drag on shore and it is all hands to the rescue!

A colourful traditional boat complete with drummers led our convoy of dinghies in for the welcoming ceremony.

Kalabahi - Expo & dinner

Kalabahi - Expo & dinner

Then off to the football field for the Expo of local crafts from each area of the Regency. In the evening, under extremely poor lighting an ambitious programme of beauty contest, fashion show, dancing and efficiently served food unfolded. So much effort had been made and so little able to be seen. The local people and we enjoyed it all and after a group photograph we retired to bed for some much needed rest.

Kalabahi "City Tour"

Kalabahi City Tour

Up at 0600 next day to decant fuel before starting a long day tour.

The guide for our very elderly bus is Ahmad who explains that in order to promote the local ikat weaving industry civil servants have to wear ikat garment for work every Thursday and that everyone coming to do business with the regency has to wear it. At the very well represented Alor Museum there is an extensive display of the weaving. The patterns are dyed by effectively a tie-dye process. The sorting of the different lengths of dyed section and putting onto the loom must be an extremely time-consuming process. The weaver sits in a frame with her feet on a cross-bar. The loom is held in front of her and secured around her back. Tension is maintained by her legs and body. It doesn't look as if it would be comfortable after any length of time!

The other major display in the museum is of bronze moko drums. The shape is hour glass with a base of 60 cms and height of 100 cms decorated with motifs being precision engineered from the 14C Dongson period in N Vietnam. Initially used in bartering, they are now in family collections and used as part of a brides dowry, villages and welcome ceremonies.

About 13 km from Kalabahi up a very rough road the traditional village of Takpala comes in sight. The three tribes here all speak Papua dialects so our bahasa speaking guide is not understood but the warrior challenge and welcome dance at the entrance to the village is universally understood. Each antiquated hut houses thirteen families and is on three levels most of which is used for grain storage . The top of the custom houses are decorated with an ornament in the form of an open handed effigy symbolic of a blessing request to the Lord . The dances watched convey the acquiring of moko drums. Afterwards it is thought that some of the dancers ikat is amongst that for sale. It is difficult to visualise the goods on offer back in our own home and we settle for a wooden comb and garish piece of ikat.

Lunch is held on Mali beach where the bamboo music band of Pulelang Elementary School gives an excellent music and dance performance.

Finally at the recently developed Memorial Forest Buiko we each plant a sandalwood tree for our relatives to visit when they come to Alor. The logic of this is lost on most of us considering the amount of paperwork we have had to produce and the poor upkeep of the site.

After eating ashore at a food stall with a group of ralliers we tune the boat TV into the national channel and watch some of the Olympic opening ceremony from Beijing with English commentary.

Kalabahi - Alor Besar tour

Kalabahi - Alor Besar tour

Third day, same process this time the tour goes west to the village of Alor Besar. After the usual ceremony we view an ancient small wooden naga, in a little rusty corrugated iron shelter, a tomb reputed to contain more than 3000 skulls and more moko.

Then the piece de resistance, a 500 year old Koran, beautifully written on leather and kept in a wooden box. The chances if its survival look bleak as the man touches it with his bare hands! The afternoon is spent at a beach barbeque of local foods and some relaxing snorkelling in an abundance of coral - mostly soft with some sea fans. It's good to be back in the water again.Article

Alor to Lewoleba - Lembata Regency

Alor to Lewoleba - Lembata Regency

The alarm goes off at 0415 and after stowing the extra chain we are away down the calm “fiord”, with lots of fishing canoes. The wind goes up, down and round and there is quite a swell running. Lots of VHF talk between the boats about possible anchorages. We eventually anchor in Teluk Balaurin amongst lots of coral heads. Later more boats arrive and all anchor safely even in the dark. Richard shortens scope in the early morning as the wind had come up and taken us towards a depth of 4.5m. At least one boat leaves during the night as they swing over bommies.

Next morning we take photos of This Way Up and Nimbus passing in front of Lli Api volcano on Lembata, which will tower over our anchorage at Lewoleba. About 0840 the wind comes up and we can sail but it drops as we come under the wind shadow of the mountain.

Lewoleba -Lembata Regency - 11-15 August

Lewoleba -Lembata Regency - 11-15 August

In the anchorage there are many warnings about boats swinging in different directions and hitting each other. After a few anchoring dances we end up at the eastern end of the anchored boats, where there is plenty of room in about 10 m.

Ashore a jetty has been constructed for our dinghies and a well planned area with sheltered seating and “tourist information” table.

Lewoleba welcome

Lewoleba welcome

For each regency visit nationalities take it in turn to represent the fleet during formal ceremonies. It is the turn of the British and out of the four British boats Susan has been volunteered. So prepared and ashore by 0800 she is ready but the local bigwig has not shown up so the usual waiting begins. After discussion with officials Susan is asked 'do you have a man' well yes. In this very male dominated society we had forgotten that women in ceremonies do not set the right tone. So Richard and his deputy (Paul from Dream Weaver USA) approach the symbolic village gate. Fermented coconut milk is poured around the gate the remainder is given to Richard to drink. He obliges and then chews and spits out the offered betel nut and smokes the local clove and cinnamon tobacco palm leaf roll-up. Fortunately this goes out fairly quickly but not before Susan snaps a happy hippy photo to send back to the UK! He is then presented with and dressed in two tubes of purple stripped ikat, one tied with a strip of palm leaf as a skirt and one over one shoulder as a sort of sash.

Led by welcoming dancers he is allowed through the gate to the main road where a large group of locals wait with escort ponies. Here we are bundled onto the back of the trucks and the stragglers go pillion on motorbikes. The procession, led by a police car, then sets off for a two hour parade through the town and miles of surrounding countryside. It becomes an endurance test of the waving, smiling and laughing sort. On the official programme this was listed as a cultural carnival - were we the caged animals on show to the locals lining the roads? Towards the end it is realised that we must be becoming dehydrated as speedy motor cycles appear alongside with water. Most of the fleet go back to their boats to sleep off all this excitement. At subsequent official events it became obvious that a high number of the fleet had opted out, not wanting this sort of local attention.

Lewoleba - gala dinner

Lewoleba - gala dinner

In the evening we meet up at a local bar with the Dutch contingent from Pelican and Mary Eliza for a binteng at 17,000 Rph for a bottle, as opposed to 25,000 Rph in the restaurant were the gala dinner is held. After a while we equate all purchases to the price of binteng. On behalf of the British, Tom off Katanne gave a very moving reply to the governor and presented him with the mandatory plaque.

Lewolein tour

Lewolein tour

Up bright eyed and bushy tailed the fleet are herded in five coaches with police escort for the trip to Lelowein village, arriving three hours late to be greeted by the patiently waiting people. After the now routine ceremony and dances we are given a tour of the village where demonstrations of traditional everyday activities, such as making rice flour, spinning cotton and distilling palm wine to make a fairly palatable rum are shown. Most impressively the whole ikat weaving process from carding the cotton, through spinning, dyeing and weaving to the finished article is explained A photo of these women laughing, exposes their bare gums, a result of chewing betel nut. The chewing starts in childhood and becomes addictive with the elderly in a very relaxed state of mind from near continuous chewing. Everyone appears to wear a little bag containing a supply of the nut.

Although not permitted to see the sacred rain-making ceremony we wait on the beach for a "catching fish by hand ceremony". A seine net is laid by two men about 50 m out in the bay - about waist depth - with the ends taken to shore. Most of the village population then rush into the water and start catching the trapped, sardine-like, fish by hand. These they secrete wherever available, in folds of skirts, on palm-leaf strings, down ladies' tops or in buckets. Some even hold them in their mouths while catching others. It is quite a spectacle to see these sedate people forsaking all modesty to catch their daily food. At the other end of the beach we relax in the shade and some have a refreshing swim. Another day in paradise sees us back on the wharf at 1800hrs.

Lamalera whaling village tour

Lamalera whaling village tour

Overnight Susan develops food poisoning and opts for a quiet day on the boat the next day. Fearless Richard takes the tour to Lamalera a whaling village some 50 miles and 3 hrs away over very bumpy dusty roads a local bus, open sided with longitudinal seats.

The village is tiny and rises steeply from a small volcano sand cove. Because of the small numbers of whales caught it is exempt from the international whaling ban. The men use traditional boats and spears for the catching. Evidence of the last catch, maybe three months ago, is on racks all around the village. As lunch is being eaten on the beach, the fishing boats come in and Richard helps to drag one up over the wooden logs, this could be a scene from Moby Dick! The catch seems to be exclusively manta rays. After some persuasion from the guide and as the people are so poor, Richard barters well for whale tooth's one each for Joshua and Jake and another nautilus shell. More souvenirs which we might forget to take back. That evening we forgo the farewell ceremony as Susan is still feeling frail.

Lambata to Maumere - Sikka Regency,15 - 18 August

Lambata to Maumere - Sikka Regency,15 - 18 August

Susan is feeling a bit better and is OK to depart and we leave after Richard has shopped for money (ATM), soso ( milk), roti (bread) and anans(bananas). We intend making for the islands at the NE corner of Adunara Island. Pelikaan is ahead of us heading through the narrow approach when she does a U-turn, on passing they say they have chickened out because of depth. 101 Anchorages says there is room for 4 or 5 but by the time we have rounded the outside of the islands there are 10 boats in the anchorage and we have continued on to Sagu Bay. There are some 8 boats already at anchor, but we find a slot at the eastern end, off a beach and coconut plantation. Before the anchor is satisfactorily safe chain pulled out and snubber attached we are surrounded by many local boats with very inquisitive people all wanting to practice their English and obtain gifts. After courteously saying hello to each individual we retire below and ensure the saloon curtains are closed. Later a BBQ is enjoyed.

For the next anchorage the SE Asia Cruising Guide “commends” Pulau Serbete an island inside a substantial reef system in an area that is otherwise off soundings. After a slightly nail biting circular route we make our target an area just to the east of the island where drying sand is shown on the chart. In fact the reef seems steep-to with only a very narrow area of anchoring depth and eventually we find a sort of lagoon with 15 m depths over sand and drop the pick. In the dinghy we check with the lead line at 7m at the edge, shallowing to 5. Pelikaan is anchored on the S side off the reef, fairly close so we go over for a cup of lemon tea. For as far as the eye can see boats have left. The wind blows up a bit from the SE and it become quite choppy. We consider leaving but realise it is too late to arrive anywhere in good light, so stay. In fact the wind drops again overnight and we have a fairly quiet night, until the tide turns around 0400, leaving us stern-to the chop. We depart next day reversing yesterday's safe approach. The sails are up until under the shadow of the land at the north of Flores. Our intention was to go into the anchorage to the west of Tangung Gedong, hoping that most of the boats there last night would have left but this is not so and we continue on to the north shore of the large bay, Teluk Hading with good clear water and good coral. After anchoring close to the edge of the drop-off, falling back into about 5 m we decide that the swell is too much and we reluctantly head for the alternative on the south side of the bay where we are promised, from 101 Anchorages, a gently shelving sandy bottom, 8-10 m. Wrong! the whole bay, inside the drop-off appears to have a coral bottom, with occasional sand patches. At the third anchoring dance we settle in a passable spot. Approaching low water there are bommies under us with least depth noted of 2.6 m - only 0.3 m beneath the keel. Fortunately tomorrow morning's low water is 0.5 m higher than when we anchored so all will be ok. There are a couple of local canoes around but they go about their business without taking much notice of us. The following day is a day of contrasts - particularly as regards the wind. We leave the anchorage at 0810, waving to the children on the beach. Initially there is a light northerly and we sail; after 10 minutes this dies and we motor; after another 10 minutes we have 10-15 knots from the east, sailing again; 10 minutes later it dies and we motor; 10 minutes later it comes up from the SE, 15-20 knots; then we see whitecaps ahead and suddenly we have 25-30 knots, two reefs in the main. This lasts for 50 minutes until we come under the lee of a headland and motor again. This continues a couple more times until we are through the pass between Pulau Babi and the main island of Flores, after which we have a good sail, close reaching in 15-20 knots to the anchorage at Sea World. This is not the location given us by Sail Indonesia, which is 8 miles further east at Wodong.

Sea World Resort Anchorage near Maumere - Sikka Regency - 19-23 August

Sea World Resort Anchorage near Maumere - Sikka Regency - 19-23 August

Sensible room left for monohulls entails anchoring in 20+ m and dropping back into 30+ m. Having sniffing all anchoring spots several times we drop our anchor. at the third attempt, in 20 m close to the stern of Scot Free II and Liberty and drop back on 90 m of chain to be in 30-35 m with Solan 40-50 m to port. This will be OK as long as the wind is offshore but an onshore wind will cause total chaos. The remainder of the day is spent doing the chores and deciding on the most appropriate way to see this part of Flores. Stuart and Nanette (Truest Passion) advise a hire car with Arnot as driver from the resort and to leave at 0500hrs so that we are up the mountain before the cloud descends so we will team up later with Bill and Lyda (Viajero Aus).

After a good nights sleep we flag down a empty bemo along with David and Patti (This Way Up) and Maryon and Warwick (Nimbus II) which takes us all the way into the port town Maumere for 7000 Rph. Our mission was to find a capacitor for the generator. Having followed the detailed instruction given and taken several wrong turnings the appropriate shop had a suitable 25 µF capacitor that is slightly longer than the original, so it will be a tight fit. After the grocery store and market yielded milk fruit and vegetables we made a two bemo ride back with all the other passengers getting off at various points until we are the only ones left. Susan had a rest while Richard manipulated the capacitor into place.

Sea World - welcome

Sea World - welcome

The mountainous landscape of the island of Flores has both absorbed and preserved a high degree of cultural diversity because of its location enroute to the Spice Islands and its people are a mix of Australoid and Southern Mongoloid. Each area has cultural arts cooperative to rediscover, sustain and develop regional art and culture. So against a magical backdrop of the fleet at anchor, the music of the Sanggar Bliran Sina from the Sikka-Krowe village of Watublapi regaled us with animistic agricultural songs marking the tilling planting and harvest seasons with surprisingly powerful harmonies. A gong and bamboo ensemble holds the rhythm for dances that mark life transition ceremonies, and lilting serenades are accompanied on homemade violin, banjo, ukulele, guitar and bass fiddle.

The finale was when a male performer climbed up a bamboo pole to dance the 'Tua Reta Lou'. This not unpleasant whining and chanting made a quality introduction into what was to be a memorable cultural evening in more ways than one! Most enthralling was a group of children playing unusual homemade instruments, a cut down double bass, odd shaped violin, long glockenspiel were the ones what we could make out. Then there is a comedy play about domestic violence and gambling basically saying 'live in harmony and respect other people'. During dinner some yachties rather let the side down to the embarrassment of many. So far at every shore stop, the youngest member amongst us, at nearly 3 year had been averted from destroying stage equipment etc by many caring hands. No one was quick enough now and he threw sand on the food of a lady participant. She tapped him on the leg, at which his fathe went to hit her and a fight started between her husband and the father. They were rapidly separated as police rushed in, in force. Much saving of face ensued. This would surely be an evening difficult to surpass in quality and excitement.

Maumere - Canoe races

Maumere - Canoe races

The annual canoe races take place the following day at what we now call Indo time, starting 3 hrs late with crowds of laughing spectators and many, many canoes. Rumour had it that the winning canoe receives 1 million Rupiah, big money, so this is a serious event. The armed forces were there to see fair play and it proved to be a good family day out.

The dinghy is hoisted and we are ready for an early night as it is 0330 alarm tomorrow, when there is a VHF call that there is a cultural show onshore and only two yachties there. Several boats respond and go ashore. This happens repeatedly through out our trip, as the communication between the local Regency and Raymond and his wife Dewi, the rally organisers sometimes leaves a little to be desired.

Sikka tour

 Sikka tour

Kelimutu is the reason for our 'crack of sparrow fart' departure the next day. We are through Maumere in the dark and up into the hills as dawn developed.

Arnot, who's English is very good stopped many times to acquire things of interest, fresh cloves, cocoa pods, cashews, tamarind, betel nuts and vanilla pods. Richard ate the whole cocoa bean instead of sucking the sweet flesh from around the bean, no adverse effects though apart from a bitter taste. Arnot was so enthusiastic about his country and its people that the long humid day whizzed past in the charming company of Leida and Bill. We peeped into a colourful early morning market and had a coffee break in Moni before finally heading up the mountain. The scenery was stunning with plantations, market gardens and paddy fields occupying the valleys and many of the hillsides.

Kelimutu National Park contains three plunging crater lakes at the top of a volcano and after paying our entrance fee - 20000 Rph per foreigner (2500 Rph for locals) it is about a kilometre along a good path to the lakes. First there are two, separated by a narrow ridge. One is deep chocolate brown and the other a brilliant turquoise, with yellow sulphur at the edges. To view all three the staircase to the highest lookout Inspiration Point is taken, the third lake is a dull greenish brown and there is a stunning view down to the valley before clouds begin to form. On the way back an information board reveals as analyses of the water. The turquoise one is rich in iron, 4000 ppm and extremely acid with a pH of 0.37. The others have significantly different analyses with much less iron and are much less acid. Well worth getting up for and we are tired by our lunch stop - staple food, nasi goring special and Bintang. Arnot is insistent that there are many photo stops on the way as he is so proud of his country - we get good at pretend photos.

The afternoon stop is at Sikka village which was the first Portugese settlement in Flores. Today it is a centre of Sikkanese weaving; the guide book warns that visitors are pounced upon to buy. This did not prepare Lieda and Susan for the mobbing, screaming and pinching for attention by desperate women whose aim was to make a little money. Though prices were low and garments were good only a piece each was purchased because the mayhem was exhausting - no wonder Arnot chose to stay in the car!.

On a more restful note the old Portuguese church with an elaborate roof which is reputed to resemble an upturned Portuguese ship proved soothing. Also of interest was a disused longhouse, not a large one but substantial with 3 or 4 family rooms as well as the communal area.

After this wonderful day we were too tired to go ashore to eat.

Teluk Mausambi - Ende Regency - 23 - 25 August

Teluk Mausambi - Ende Regency -  23 - 25 August

Motor-sailing to Teluk Mausambi, about 40 nm, we reflect on how much we are using the engine and think that perhaps there should be more than two jerry cans on board. The anchorage turns out to be a very rolly roadstead, with the onshore sea breeze and a bit of northerly swell. Several boats, mainly catamarans, are anchored behind a bit of reef at the western end of the beach, this looks a bit tight and not noticeably less rolly so we go to the eastern end. Ashore a beautiful dinghy pontoon has been built but it does not reach to the beach at high water and there are significant rollers. We watch several of our mates jump ashore getting a soaking, so we go up to the shelter of the reef at the western end and walk back.

There have been extensive preparations for our visit. Stalls have been erected - there are restaurants, fruit and vegetable sellers, small groceries, laundry, massage, medical centre, tourist information and ikat sellers. Tables have been constructed under cover so we sit with others and have a cold Bintang from one of the stalls. With regards to information about the ceremony tomorrow, we all agree that it will be when the welcomer arrives and, somewhat to the amusement of the guides, that the only person who knows when that will be is his driver! Ashore early the next day it is learnt that this will be in the evening before the gala dinner. For gala dinner, unless commented upon separately, read cassava, rice and taro, bones with chicken and fish with lots of chilli. Usually after patiently queuing, there is not enough left so the order is either eat before going or afterwards which will be quite late. We go for a long walk with Mike and Rosemarie (Jemimah) through the first village and on to the next, more substantial village coming back along the beach. They are staying ashore until tonight as their boat is very rolly. We learn that Margaret (Aqua Magic) is in the local hospital with suspected pneumonia later downgraded to bronchitis, Dr Tom (Nada Brahma) will check tomorrow.

The evening dinner was excellent, spaghetti bolognaise and what looked like cottage pie (what a change) as well as more local food. Two of the houses in the next village were burned down today. Dave (This Way Up) suggests a 50,000 Rph per boat whip-round which Susan goes off to implement, partly assisted by Richard. We collect 800,000 Rph in a short time and this was presented to the surprised and overwhelmed recipients after the welcoming speeches. The cultural performance commenced with a game in which two teams have to collect tokens while grovelling in the dirt it was so dusty at ground level that Susan went and sat with the local female dignitaries and enjoyed detailed explanations of the dances in perfect English. Afterwards, however late, the yachties are usually expected to dance and tonight was no exception.

Teluk Masambi to Labuam Bajo - West Manggarai Regency - 25 August to 2 September

Teluk Masambi to Labuam Bajo - West Manggarai Regency - 25 August to 2 September

Another fairly rolly night and, with some reluctance in view of the amount of effort the locals have put in, we decide to leave. The proposed destination is one of the bays to the west of Tangung Karterbileh. More information was hoped for through the net this morning but it was too broken to get any sense. Our choice is Teluk Ciendeh, which appears to be a substantial bay with a large expanse of water depth under 20 m. We are conscious that the base information for CMap here is UKHO Chart 1697, at a scale of 1:509,540 and based on a 1933 survey and are mindful that major hard pieces don't more!

In the event the offshore reefs are roughly where charted and easily visible with the light behind us. We anchor in about 6 m close to Finn and Hans (Pelikaan) and Tom and Nicolette (Katanne). There is a substantial fishing fleet of largish boats, most of which have outriggers extending some 6 m either side. These look like enormous spiders. Ashore looks like a typical partially stilt house area with both Christian and Muslim villages with extensive fish drying racks leading up from the shore line. The fish look rather like whitbait, very small. Not wishing to offend, we cautiously head for some large buildings at the eastern end of the village, an old lady beckons and indicates that this is ok and waves us up towards a market area which has finished business for the day. It looks as if it is partly a wholesale operation for whatever is contained in the piles and piles of pineapple shaped pandanus woven bags by the road side. After much sign language and a tasting by Susan these contain sea salt as there is a predilection for salted fish here.

The following entourage of children grows as we buy roti and head for the beach. Leaving the shopping in the dinghy we go to play a version of 'what's the time Mr Wolf' with the fifty odd children who have now gathered to gales of laughter. Many photos are taken; the children are content just to see the pictures. Several teenagers join us for English practice and with them as interpreters a very elderly smiley couple, sans teeth, join in the photo game but do not want us to print out a copy for them. As we leave the boys kick their footballs into the sea, for us to retrieve from the dinghy. Ken and Jo (Ken B) have arrived and we go over for a chat.

Before the sun gets too hot the next day Susan hoists Richard up the mast to replace the LED tricolour light with a filament bulb, following a Yachting Monthly article pointing out the drawbacks of using LEDs in navigation lights. While up there he also refits the lightning dissipater, without the extension mast which had failed on the way from Darwin. For Susan this is a deck scrubbing and wind scoop fitting day while Richard attends to bilge and bilge pump related problems. Later we abort an attempt to go ashore at the west side to view a large vessel that is being painstakingly renovated; as it is now low tide and we can see sand bands in the shallows so return to the boat to read have drinks and a barbeque.

The engine overheats the next day on leaving the anchorage; as the seacock to the strainer has not been opened following yesterday's repairs. Black marks are given for not adhering to the standard practice of removing the main switch when the seacock is closed. With the usual sailors profanities Richard replaces the impeller, which has lost all 12 of its vanes while Sea Bunny drifts with no steerage way. All appears ok but later on speeding up the temperature starts to rise again. So shutting down the engine we sail slowly back into the bay, initially at about 1 ½ knots but this has improved to 3, under main and poled-out genoa by the time we are back. We anchor under sail in virtually the same position that we had left. The impeller is still OK and the vanes of the old one are found in the end of the heat exchanger. We chill out and read or write for the remainder of the day as it is too late to leave for Riung.

Several canoes keep a respectful distance watching while we prepare to leave at 0700 the next day. When we are ready, Susan beckons each over and hands out lengths of rope. Having now learnt that locals always wear balaclavas for sun protection we no longer think of them as potential pirates! By 0850 we are at the approach waypoint and motoring west in pursuit of the boats that have left Todo Bay heading for Riung in Ngaga Regency. With the iron maiden on we overtake This Way Up, Oema, Keshi and Aqua Magic and are about 1/4 mile ahead of Jean and Jerry (Oema) when she reports a flooding incident. This Way Up offers a manual pump, we offer our 3000 gph emergency pump and turn back to rendezvous with them. After briefly stopping the engine to extract the pump from on top of the fuel tank, taking the washing down from the guard rails and putting out precautionary fenders we pass close alongside Oema and effect a transfer with no difficulty. This Way Up dinghies over with additional help and assorted helpful bits.

We stand down after Oema report that the water level is under control and that their engine is ok; so they do not require a tow and we proceed to Riung. Wanting some fruit and vegetables we head into Riung proper and are rewarded with pak choy and tomatoes from the late picking in the market. Riung has a traditional Ngada village layout of two rows of high roofed houses on low stilts. Their faith is a mixture of new Christianity and old animist which is the belief the all objects have a life force or soul.

On our way back to the boat we investigate the very substantial new pier/breakwater that has been constructed at the west of the anchorage. It is low water and the whole structure is surrounded by drying rock, rubble and spoil. Later we learn the Ngaga Regency have not compensated the villagers on whose land the structure is built and so no government vessels can use it. We unexpectedly find eggs in the one corner store ashore and carefully carry them back in a hat!

The islands will wait until tomorrow when we deploy two anchors near Greg Leanne and Jack (Keski) and snorkel for the rest of the day. Oema will return our emergency pump after they have installed one that La Pasarola is passing over to them in a few days - hope we don't need it!

Teluk Lingeh is the next stop 50nm away and it takes a while to buoy the stern anchor and get the bower up, then pick the buoy and stern anchor up. Once they are up we are on our way, eyeball navigation back to the approach to Riung, then out to the west. We arrive at the bay by 1500 hrs in very poor light just after Patrick and Margaret (Aqua Magic). The reef seems to extend much further than shown in 101 Anchorages useless guide or Admiralty chart or CMap. Aqua Magic, a monohull, heads across a part of the reef that is visible to us. We assume they have found a pass over it but then they stop, move again and then stop again. We turn and call on the VHF and as suspected they are on the reef. As we are unable to get close enough to heave a line Richard deploys the Walker Bay side and Susan rows over with a long warp, intending to bring it back as there appears to be a bit of current from them to us. Meanwhile Brian and Anne (Hybreasail) have arrived and can get closer so Susan takes the warp to them. All effort is to no avail as the boat is wedged firmly between bommies and will have to wait for high water. Now the light has completely gone and Susan is too exhausted to help navigate to the anchorage behind the reef so drop the pick as they say virtually where we stopped. Local canoes arrive and try to encourage us to move closer to the village and as Hybresail need petrol, a helpful local goes on board to help them.. At about 2200 Hybresail's dinghy is over at Aqua Magic to help her off the reef. Richard goes over with Ralph from El Misti. With two dinghies helping her round Aqua Magic is freed quite easily and anchors in deeper water outside the reef.

As we leave the next day Hybreasail is also departing from the village. As courses converge she stops dead in the water and fearing that she has gone on the reef we call up, but it is only the usual of plastic around a propeller. As the wind fills in we set both sails, so the engine is only giving us a boost and bringing the wind forward. This is quite effective, but not something we often do. Tim and Barb (Rubicon Star) organise a barbeque on the beach at Gili Bodo that evening. If there had been a competition for the most elaborate grill Viajero's tripod with a suspended rack which can be turned by pulling on one of the supporting wires would have won hands down.

A whole roll of precious kitchen towel is used in the morning to clear up the mess made by changing the engine and gear box oil. Afterwards the gears do seem to engage a little better. Like many of our fellow cruisers we have developed nasty coughs - the scrub burning and increased humidity being contributory factors and as coughing for Susan can be very tiring she rests for the afternoon while Richard snorkels enjoying the diversity of soft coral. Evening drinks are on This Way Up.

When a local boat plays 'silly bee's' with Sea Bunny the next day, it is realised the engine gears are worse not better! There is much cussing and attempts before the gears will engage and this will be the pattern until the two year old gear box is replaced in Singapore about two months later. Immediately we anchor south of Labuan Bajo off the Eco Lodge, there is a local boat alongside offering diesel, water, laundry and water taxi services - what service.

Labuan Bajo - West Manggarai Regency - 2-4 September.

Labuan Bajo - West Manggarai Regency - 2-4 September.

On the next net Richard reminds everyone that this is the first dry of Ramadan and that we should be sensitive to religious rituals of the Muslim population during this month long period. Susan rests while Richard takes the shopping list and heads for the ramshackle old town in the water taxi. Having heard of a supermarket just up the road from the bank, excitedly Richard investigates to find baskets, trolleys and checkouts but fairly small limited stock. 200ltr of fuel are decanted during this stay in wind and enthusiasm from the guys; which leads to much spillage thank goodness that a separate bottle of washing up liquid is kept for washing the deck down afterwards. Ashore we join Lin and Craig (Solan) for a meal in modern colonial surroundings. Our first earthquake is experienced leaving us a little shaky!

Daybreak boat time sees Richard changing the alternator while Susan rests. Ashore in a large overgrown littered park near the beach a dance the Caci is being preformed in our honour. A man pretends to be a buffalo dressed elaborate headdress and hide is being captured and tamed. It appears to be a repetitive whipping dance showing great male prowess over the beast and lasts from 1400 until 1700 with different men taking the lead. It is a regular local event and thoroughly enjoyed by the crowds who come in on motorbikes. We stop off at Keshi for Susan to consult Leanne about allergic itchy rash on her hands that has reoccurred. She is doing all the right things but is advised to avoid getting the hands hot - difficult! The cultural welcome in the evening comprises the rally representatives being presented with a token live white cockerel the significance of which is lost on everyone including our interpreter. The evening food is followed by dancing and the obligatory audience participation even Richard has become a regular.

Labuan Bajo to Mataram Lombak Island - Via Rinca - Komodo National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site - 5-12 September

Labuan Bajo to Mataram Lombak Island - Via Rinca -  Komodo National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site - 5-12 September Labuam Bajo to Mataram Lombak Island - Via Rinca -  Komodo National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site - 5-12 September

We have chosen to take Sea Bunny up the narrow channel to Loh Buaya on Rinca instead of visiting the very tourist orientated island of Komodo. So against bright sunlight the next day we weave our way through the reefs, whirlpools and islands to the anchorage off. While looking for a good location, the gearbox problem re-occurs and we have to go hard astern to avoid hitting Te Wai Pounamu. We anchor further out in 20+ m at the third anchoring dance. There is little room between us and the shallows. Late afternoon ashore a two-hour walk for the next day is booked intending to team up with Peter and Jen (Tiaki). Susan lists their names as Charles and Diana much to their amusement! As it is so furnace hot we head back to the boat for some shade after studying the dozy dragon, a large ugly monitor lizard close to the park office. Richard calls them nasty looking pieces of work! At up to 3 metres in length and weighing in at 90 kg I suppose they are. Near the jetty some long tailed macaque monkeys wait in the shade.

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We all met at the ranger's centre at 0700 the following day and pay our dues. There is a shortage of guides and so are regrouped to team up with Dave and Patti and crew from (This Way Up). Along the well worn trail are water buffalo and a lazy pair of mating dragons. Our guide, Viktor, points out the female's nest which has a number of false tunnels spread over an area about 10 m across. She will move the nest to prevent the eggs being eaten by the male and the young spend their time in trees to avoid being eaten by their parents! At the waterhole there is a water buffalo drinking from the muddy pool apparently oblivious that a dragon is possibly stalking him. The dragon lethargically saunters off as we arrive over to the Timor deer and wild horses that are in the distance. As we continue several dragons are sighted, heading mostly in the same direction up the hill. Towards the viewpoint another group calls that they are downwind of a group of dragons feeding on a buffalo carcass - smelly! In fact there are 14 dragons of all sizes on a well consumed and stinking body. It is quite a gruesome sight with the dragons climbing over one another to get at the food. A murder of crows is waiting for pickings on a nearby tree. To have killed such large prey; the dragon has only to bite it wait for a couple of weeks, when it will die from infection caused by the bacteria in their saliva. Later we send in a photo of the frenzy via This Way Up and Ulah for the rangers as this sort of sighting only happens about twice a year. The viewpoint affords a massive landscape of sun bleached undulating mountainous volcanic dry savannah and lontar palm with a cluster of boats tucked into the small anchorage below - breathtaking!

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Having seen such a lot in such a short time we leave after lunch mainly to get away from the searing heat. We rip up the next Selat, with tide initially against us as it swings to the east, then with us at up to 4 knots in the main passage to anchor in Gili Lawa Laut. We enjoy a snorkel before the beach party organised by Charles and Sherrye (Forza). The next day after snorkelling with turtles and the first sighting of a blue puffer fish; Richard visits the beach hairdressing salon before we host happy hour on the beach.

picts/DSC_9107 Sumbawa.jpg

The next five days it is up early to make the next anchorage invariably motor sailing. Firstly to Teluk Wera, passing between the impressive volcanic island of Sangeang and the eastern end of Sumbawa. Then to anchor off the headland of Tanjung Pantjo. On the way skilful nursing to engage the gears was required before we could drop the pick in the more sheltered of bays - then off for drinks with Brain and Ann on Hybresail. Next stop was off the narrow shelf at Kananga. The anchor goes down in about 15 m but we are in 6.5 m when we have pulled the chain out and in 25 when the sea breeze dies and the wind goes offshore. Later in the evening we put out more chain. By the evening we are joined by Hybreasail, Aqua Magic, Viajero, Devon Gypsy, Tiaki, Gitano and Keshi. On the net in the morning we hear that Nimbus Two had had a night fright when fishermen dynamited close to them.

picts/Gili Lawang (P1020117).jpg

After another day we reach Palau Medang and then to Gili Lawang, a cosy hole surrounded by mangrove and reefs. Hybreasail, Keshi, Pelikaan and Mary Eliza are already there and we squeeze in for a quiet night. After taking photos of Keshi in the sunrise next morning we retrace our track very slowly out into the channel.

Photo: Anne, S/Y Hybreasail

There has been an immense amount of discussion as to where the boats should anchor for Mataram the next Sail Indonesia destination. The designated waypoint for the anchorage is about a mile from shore. With an onshore breeze and visible reefs it is not prudent to close the shore and there are no visible anchored yachts. Intending to stop on the south side of Teluk Kombal we continue through the strait between Lombok and Gili Air. Half way across the bay we see waving from a stationary dive boat. We drop the sail and close to investigate to find from Nicolette (Katanne) that their outboard has packed up on the way back to Gili Air. So after a short tow the motor manages to get going again and we decide to anchor in the crowded bay at Gili Air - decision made. We go ashore meet up with lots of others and tuck into wonderful seafood served elegantly while seated on cushions overlooking the Lombok mainland.

Mataram - Lombok Island - 12-16 September

Mataram  - Lombok Island - 12-16 September

Well - we have reached the most eastern end of Nusa Tenggara region and the dryness has at last given way to the lush green paddy fields of Lombak and we need a bit of a rest. Gili Air is one of three small touristy off shore islands where chilling out is the order of the day. So next day we take a leisurely donkey and trap ride around followed by more seafood yum, yum. To transport those of us on the island to the Regency Dinner a boat is hired and Tom (Katanne) knows the shore stop. The dinner location is a bare parched field, surrounded by vehicles, where only rush mats seats await us. After the usual speeches we are given fruit drinks and fruit then asked to wait for sunset. At the appropriate time Allah was praised and banana leaves of food are passed round to share. This was certainly different and very memorable dinner. Later we understand that the Regency declined to pay the amount that the designated hotel wanted to charge for dinner so at the last minute the local mosque suggested that they allow us to share the breaking of their fast at sun set - this still being Ramadan. We thought that if the ralliers had been briefed before hand then the overall behaviour of the group would have been better but perhaps this would have meant some loss of face for the organisers. The ride back was great fun and we ate ashore. We had arranged to go diving with Peter and Lottie (Lovina) so next day we went over to make arrangements and celebrated his birthday with coffee and cake. This proved to be a very expensive coffee break as our all singing and dancing phone fell out of its bag into the bottom of a wet RIB and decided not to restore itself!

The wind can get up in these most perfect of places and the following day saw us cancelling our diving and beating an early morning retreat, as the boat swung into the shallows, to a mainland where we picked up a mooring in Teluk Kumbal. Our tour guide for the day had to take a water taxi over to the mainland to meet us and then wait while Richard helped Ralph and Jenni (El Misty) free their anchor from a mooring buoy.

Initially we go into Mataram for the usual money changer and a visit to the Mayura Winter Palace which used to be part of the Balanise kingdom's royal court in Lombok. What was left following the battles between the Dutch and Balanise is a crumbling floating pavilion. Opposite we are given an indepth guide around the largest Indian temple on the island - Pura Meru which was built by a Balinase prince in an attempt to unite Lombok.! Our guide commented that there were 1,0000 mosques and only 32 temples - that's not bad going for an 80 km square island!

At the holiest temple compound on Lombak - Pura Lingar - there are supposedly monuments to indigenous Sasak culture ('Muslimish'), Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Caltholic religions. When asked where the monuments to the Christian and Catholic faiths were our guide, a Hindu, replied that the faiths mingle in the waters of the fountains. The holy eels could not be enticed out of their hiding place for our offerings of boiled eggs presented at the sacred pond by a female priestess on our behalf. The last Hindu temple Gunung Pengsong had spectular views of oceans of green rice fields and distant volcano, Gunung Rinjanis, - quite stunning. We were then driven in a circuit of the central area dipping down to the south coast via fields of tobacco, corn and peanuts being tilled by antiquated ploughs pulled by water buffalo. At Kuta we viewed the traditional thatched rice barns of the Sasak villages and then up to the resort area of Senggigi to view a small pagoda, Pura Batu Bolong, that juts out over the sea on a rocky out crop with crabs crawling over the well draped statues. The windy day made this a wild romantic setting. The driver kindly took us to the shopping mall even though it was past sun set and time for him to eat.

As the food over at Gilli Air had been so good that we decided to take Sea Bunny over the next day so that we could have another feast unfortunately this entailed spending the day at anchor in 25 - 30 kt winds very rolly. But we didn't drag into the boat about a boat's length away and the food was worth it though the ride back from shore was very wetting!

Gili Air was in fact so relaxing theat we hardly took any photos!

Bali here we come - 17-23 September

Bali here we come - 17-23 September

After motorsailing for a day and a half we are anchored in 6m at Lovina beach. At least it is not rolly and getting ashore is easy. A tourist trap of sun, sand and very hard selling of souvenirs. It felt that there was fierce competition for any money spent; not suprising on an island still trying to attract tourist numbers following the bombings in recent years. Here we get our agent to extend our Indonesian visas. At 17.30 every day the local community put on a beach activity - bull racing, top spinning contest, masked dancing and a well attended dinner.

Though there is not Balinese word for artistic everything hand created is done with such care from palm leaf strips made into figurines to carved coconut pieces used in decoration - all done so quickly and beautifully presented. S had the required massage and long awaited hair cut and felt like a new woman!

Pictures from a land tour of Bali.

  • Bali volcano
  • Old crater
  • Street decoration
  • Temple bathing
  • Temple on the lake
  • Terrace cultivation
  • Wood carving
Bali volcano1 Old crater2 Street decoration3 Temple bathing4 Temple on the lake5 Terrace cultivation6 Traffic island7 Wood carving8
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It happened that on our wedding anniversary (which we had forgotten about until mid morning) we and Bill and Lyda (Viajero) were enjoying a long day sightseeing trip around the island. Our tour took in volcanic views from a restaurent perch and the painting and woodcarving hill villages then into Ubud for a leisurely lunch. Everywhere the scenery was of lush green slopes what a contract from dry Lombak. Rice paddies either flat or near vertical edged with corn or peanuts lie in the baking sun for as far as the eye can see.

S went with others to a traditional Balinise house for an evening meal. Here the present keeper (headmaster of a tourist college) explained the traditional Balinise way of life including the open air male cooking routines supervised by his wife, the enclosed garden containing the family shrines where the group was led in Balinise meditation, the importance of the daily offering of food to their ancestors at the altar at the front of the house. It was a soothing visit for the soul in such a commercial place.

23-28 September Day Hops to Karimun Java

On the second morning the windlass failed – it was the drive shaft - so it would only free wheel. How to haul in 50 metres of 10mm chain in heat? A rope around the rope drum of the windlass to the mast winch required 100 turns to lift 10 metres of chain and added 1.5hours to leaving the mooring each time and only at slack water. Muscle making work and this would now be required every anchor raising until Singapore! So coupled with the gearbox not being reliable, we advised boats to give Sea Bunny a wide berth in anchorges. Most nights we were surrounded by lit fishing buoys like candles on a cake.

Karimun Java

Billed as one of Java's last forgotten corners and also one of its least explored treasures. The Karimun Java archipelago of 27 islands is less than a pin prick on the map 60 miles north of Java but one of the most beautiful places to visit (i.e certainly not in '1000 Places to See Before You Die') White beaches iridescent seas and oodles of local charm. One could stay here indefinitely; but the harbour master cum store owner had agreed under the auspices of the Indonesian coast guard to look after the yachts of those doing a 5 day land tour of central Java and that included us. So we packed Sea Bunny up and made sure that the fridge and freezer were empty – good food planning.

Details of the Java trip can be found under Land Tours

Kumai River Adventure, Kalimantan from 8 to 14 October

In England at this point, Lou, Nick’s wife in Epsom has kindly agreed to supervise via our house agent the interior redecoration of our house to total cream while we are between tenants. What a great relief as otherwise S would have had to fly back and so miss this exciting part of our trip.

Timber barge

The orang-utans’ await us in Kalimantan, 170 nm across the Java Sea. The passage was a little fraught with engine battery alarms going off, water leaks, sheet lightening coupled with a lot of traffic. These were mostly ill lit tugs with long tows and coal or timber barges. In previous years boats had been unable to sail up the Kumai because of dense smoke from the land burning after logging. The sky was hazy and we carefully chose an anchoring spot where hopefully we would not have to move from.

Yellow Palace

The following day Kumai, which is a small port with freighters, Bugis and Madura schooners tied to the docks, did us proud. The local tourist office had arranged a busy day, a visit to a dayak long house, dancing displays and local market  in the main town of Pangkalan Bun. After lunch a hell raising motorized canoe trip on the Arut river – life along a logging industries river bank. Like India, all life was enacted there. The evening was spent at the 200 year old yellow palace, built of ironwood being watered, dined and danced to. We don’t think that the western world realises how evocative Muslim women can be fully covered with tight filling clothes – leaving nothing to the imagination. Have to say the toilets were the worst yet with a large group of ladies resisting the temptation to relieve them selves. Fortunately, the most useful thing learnt in the Girl Guides was to pee standing up.

Klotok WC

Plans have to be made for the river trip do we share a boat or no. Decision made to go with Stuart and Nanette from T P and Richard and Gloria from Aquarius 11 for 2 nights and stay in the lodge in the park. This turned out not to be such a good move, as the buildings were covered in mould and the two asthmatics were rather distressed by the morning. With a boat boy sleeping in Sea Bunny's cockpit, presumably to prevent theft we all went off in a klotok fitted with toilet and day beds complete with cook.

On the klotok

Without doubt the best way to see Tanjung Putting National Park which is one of Indonesia’s highlights, is by coursing the kumai river at a leisurely pace. Walls of pandanus fringe the waters edge, beyond which proboscis monkeys, agile gibbon and impudent macaques leap across the forest canopy. Up small unsullied tributaries we can see tannin tinted water the colour of rick tea. What do we say, apart from the lodge, this trip was one of the best in our lives, mainly because the primates are approached from the river not the roadside, which adds to the experience. The orang-utans in Borneo and Sumatra are the only great apes outside Africa and at Camp Leakey research centre we were overwhelmed by the amount of information, friendliness of staff and apes. We are snap happy taking zillions of photos at feeding times and when meeting them on the walkways. The klotok food was delicious, no boat chores or navigation for us and to lie on board in the gathering dusk watching the monkeys claim their sleeping trees was wonderful. All too quickly we were back on Sea Bunny with many good memories.

12- 18 October Belitung

The 200nm, 2day passage was varied with some motoring chiefly when it was raining, thundering and lightening. Nearing the end of the passage we shook the spinnaker out for a few hours - no holes in it after all this time.

Belitung was the final rally stop before the long Selat Riau and the notorious Singapore Straits. We were glad that we were not the first boat in as these people were carried around all day by the crowds! Now that would have been overpowering!

Locals must have come from hundreds of kilometres to participate on the long barren isolated strip of beach for our benefit, as every morning and afternoon for 5 days they provided some activity or entertainment, from beach running to top spinning. Enterprising stalls were, as always, quickly erected selling fruit, drinks and local crafts.

Flag waving

The gala dinner on the beach was very relaxed and Canadian Ken from Windbird presided over the duty honours. A flag of each nationality was carried, S representing the UK, and there was much speech making and flag waving from the 13 nationalities represented. Our hosts were indeed charmed by our exuberance. The dancing by the fully covered local girls was some of the sexiest we have seen on our travels.

We know that we will miss Indonesia the land of 13,600 islands and over 700 languages for its bureaucratic but happy heart.

Now in the final relaxing snorkelling days, there is much talk of where everyone is heading for. Our priority is to make for Singapore to find or order in a new windlass and yet another new gear box. Having seen photos of AIS ships positions in the straits, too numerous to count, we have decided just to eye ball the whole thing.

18-22 October Belitung to Singapore

We decided to do the passage on our own mainly for ease of crossing with the dicky gear box. During the next few days up to the Selat Riau we saw the most squalls and water spouts so far; interspersed with ship avoidence. At 0400 hours on the 19 we were in the centre of a small storm cell and crossing the equator - Sea Bunny is back in the northern hemisphere after 6 years. As this was second time around we celebrated at breakfast as Neptune did not wish to be woken or get wet!

Into the Selat Riau we joined the three musketeers, Tonic, Sauroni and Solan ( Athos, Porthos and Aramis) with Sea Bunny as D’Artagnan at the Cuma Anchorage. That evening we were ferried to one boat for food produced by another while the third skipper came and manually pulled our anchor up the next morning - such nice yachties. Then it was practice time for them getting their boat speeds right to cross the straits. We saw them cross all sails up, very brave and distinctive as they heading for Sebana Cove east of where we were going. We took copious photos of the three of them, some of which we learned turned into Christmas cards.

The 3 musketeers

The Singapore Strait is no less a gateway to other worlds than the Panama Canal, a bottleneck of shipping from east to west and back again. Our own crossing of the straits was in good visibility but when the word was given for us to nip in behind a tanker, the gear box that the skipper had been skilfully nursing for some weeks decided to play up again and for some heart stopping moments we thought that we would not make it. Then it was a long slog, via the reclaimed lands up the east side of Singapore to the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club to a berth. The latest Raymarine chart plotter on Truest Passion could not cope with all the AIS positions and gave up the ghost in the centre of the straits in a squall!  Apparently it can only handle 99 contacts at once! Later a firmware update was added so to resolve this.

The whole Sail Indonesia trip was characterised by the fantastic welcome we received from local people at each supported location and by several memorable side trips



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Last Updated on 19 June 2011

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