Last night this was our view out at P Satang Besar,
however just an hour before sunset, a very big thunderstorm/squall blew in, gusting 25-30 Knots,
We were certainly chucked around a bit, but the anchor held really well, and after an hour or so of torrential rain, it calmed down, and Kathy could get on with her pie baking. She has been very resourceful with the cooking, since we haven’t been to any decent shops for several weeks now and supplies are low.
This morning we woke early to a lovely calm bright day. We were heading into Santubong River today, to finally get ashore and to some supermarkets and to check into Malaysia. The journey to this river means crossing a sand bar, which is only 0.5 meters deep on the chart, but today we have a 4 metre tide, at 10 AM so as we are 2 hours away we needed to get going pronto, and hit the bar not long after High Water. Also there are many unmarked wrecks and a few dangerous rocks on the way in.
Once at the river mouth, the sea was so calm, not much current and a huge array of little fishing boats with nets everywhere we had to weave our way through.
Below is our view from our anchorage. There’s a little group of jetties we can use to go ashore with our dinghy, but we can’t tie up to them. It’s a very tranquil spot with a great view. The only downside is that I expect some wildlife to visit us on the boat tonight, also last year 3 crocodiles were shot after killing some locals here, so I’m hoping they don’t bother us.
Below I have posted some pics I took in Indonesia on our way across
Tied to a coconut, probably not good in a storm.
Now we are about to go ashore, this will be fun, it’s been a few weeks since we were in a shop that sold bread or lettuce, I’m looking forward to getting some Diet coke, and Kathy is keen to replenish her well depleted vino blanco supplies.
Yesterday we arrived in Sarawak, but we had no internet still. Today we set off towards Kuching, where we would get some connectivity, we had planned to travel about 7 hours to arrive at Pulau Satang Besar (Big Satang Island), but a big squall came through, this lasted for a few hours and headed us with strong winds and waves. By the time the squall had passed we didn’t have time to get to Satang in daylight, so we settled on an island quite close to us called Talang, this island is a turtle sanctuary, and in the picture below you can see the big beach, where they visit to lay eggs at night. Just as we arrived, as if they had organised a welcoming party, a massive turtle appeared next to the boat and put on a little show for us. On the way over last night we had a pod of Dolphins visit us as well, so at last we see some decent aquatic life, other than flying fish.
We had a long trip over here, being low on fuel and having no wind was a pain, we had to balance speed and fuel consumption to get here. We spent three days getting here, and I will put some pictures of our trip up on the next post, but here is one of the many squalls we had to endure. Right now we are happy to be anchored and catching up on a weeks worth of emails, facebook posts and tweets etc. Tomorrow we will try to get to P. Talang, then the day after to the mainland where we can get ashore and check in, then get some supplies sorted.
On Tuesday morning we were just relaxing a little before we left Tarempa for the last time, when we heard a groaning/growling sound from the bow, I now recognise this as the chain dragging over rock. After all our anchor woes, I really didn’t want to be stuck in rock again, and we shouldn’t be, as we are a distance offshore and anchored in sand.
I ran up on deck, and noticed the wind had swung to the west, pushing us towards the shore, and we were again over the reef, in about 8 metres depth. So I guessed as the wind slacked, the chain fell onto the rock. I winched us in, bringing up about ten metres of chain to get us away from the shore, but then the chain jammed, it was hooked on some rock. “Not my day today”, I muttered to Kathy as I came below to reset the windlass power trip, which had tripped under the strain of the chain trapped under the rock.
Back on deck, I released 10 metres of chain, went to the helm, and could see on the chart plotter track, we had done a big clockwise circle to get to where we were, so hard to starboard, and off we went, there was no resistance that I could tell, and the boat headed off, past where the rock might have been, and into deeper water. Back to the windlass, and I pulled up 20 metres of chain, checked we were back in deep water, and returned to the relaxing mode, feeling smug that I had one over on the rock, Rocks 2: Sister Midnight 1:
An hour later, we headed off to spend a night or two at the waterfall bay in Temburun. This is a small village at the end of a winding cove.
This was worrying Kathy as it’s a complicated journey, not far, just 7 miles or so, but most of the journey is between shallow rocky reefs, which twist and turn. The charts are no use here, because they are out so much you would certainly be on the reef if you followed them. So we overlay google maps images over the charts, these are spot on, and you can actually see the reef clearly on the images.Also we had waypoints from others who had made the journey before, so I wasn’t too worried. As it turned out, besides the software continually crashing, or not picking up the GPS data, it went well. the reef was easy to see.
The village in Temburun is typical of many here, it’s a road built on stilts at the side of a steep hill that is too steep to build on, off the road are houses built on stilts. It runs for maybe a mile along the coast, and has a couple of shops, and a public jetty for the residents. Everything is basic, but they have everything they need, water, electricity and a 3g signal, sometimes. Our reason for visiting was to see the waterfall, which is claimed to be one of the areas main attractions, It’s certainly a big waterfall, and when we visited had plenty of water flowing, but the path up, and the visitor area is terribly dilapidated, and deserted /overgrown. We only made it halfway up the hill. However it was worth the walk, the view was wonderful, and seeing Sister Midnight sitting at anchor a long way away made me realise how comfortable I had now become about anchoring and getting the boat to hold. On our way back to the dinghy we had a walk through the village and along the way the local people, especially the kids were very keen to say hello, or ‘hello mister, how are you’and to make us feel welcome.
We are making use of the fact this may be our last internet connection for 10 or more days, as that is how long it will take for us to meander over to Malaysia.
On Friday we hope to be in the lagoon at Pulau Bawah, I nicked this pic from the internet.After that 3-5 days sailing the 250 miles east towards Kuching in Sarawak, there are a couple of islands we can stop at on the way, but we may just slog on through the night(s) to get there quicker.
What a palaver, we went ashore this morning (Monday), and checked out with Customs, Immigration and the Harbour Master. That all went well, but took a an hour or so of waiting in offices while officers ‘typed’ (on a typewriter) our clearance papers. For my kids, you can google typewriter, it’s like a computer and printer in one, but it doesn’t crash as much.
We did a bit more provisioning as we won’t see any shops now for over a week, maybe two. Then back to the boat to prepare to leave. We are going to a big waterfall that cascades down towards the beach and provides a good display from the anchorage, or so we read. It’s rained heavy here today and yesterday, in fact I got into the water collecting mode yesterday and managed to fill two 30 litre jugs with rain water, so the water fall should be on full form.
So up with the anchor, and away, well that was the plan, I had 60m of chain and 30m of rope out, as we had anchored in 24m of water, but we had fallen back to a spot over the reef, which is very rocky, and only 8m deep. consequently as we had been swinging around for several days, and going from 30 knt gusts to flat calm nights, the rope had wrapped around the rocks. We couldn’t do anything, the rock was in about 15m of water and I couldn’t see it from the deck, or when I went snorkeling. I tried motoring around the point but we were stuck. Also at this point I was close to a catamaran in front of us. Thankfully their skipper was a diver and after I pleaded for his help, he was happy to oblige, but had to go ashore and would do it tomorrow. That was fine, we were checked out, and tomorrow we would be illegals, but I don’t think anyone will mind under the circumstances. I sat down to chill for the rest of the day, looking at our position on the GPS I understood now why we hadn’t moved very much over the recent squalls, as we are pinned to this rock.
About 4PM our neighbour knocked on our boat and said he would do it now, so we leaped into action, it took 4 or 5 dives before he got the rope clear, but pulling up the chain brought us right up to his boat, he was lying over our chain. His wife motored forward, so we decided to get the whole thing up and re anchor, but by now it was 5pm and the sun would set in an hour. It was too late to get to the waterfall now, that requires very careful eyeball navigation between reefs to get into the bay. So we motored into a bay next to the town here, we had met some Americans on a large powerboat out of Singapore who had motored in the bay, they said it was great, and we had good charts, so off we went, just 20 mins away.
We found a spot in between the reefs, that should have been good and dropped our anchor, as soon as we tried to back down on it, I felt the crunching of anchor skipping over rock through the chain. Without further ado, Kathy headed to the chain locker to flake chain, while I started to winch up. Imagine my joy after just a few metres of chain coming in, the winch ground to a halt with the chain ever so taut. I had managed to somehow wrap the chain around a rock again. I released the chain a bit and motored around, then tried again, this time the chain broke free with a loud twang/shudder which Kathy felt below. I had to repeat this 2 more times before we got the anchor free again. By now we were both feeling with the score at rocks 2: Sister Midnight 0: the rocks had the upper hand on us, and we left that bay. Now we only had 20 minutes left before sunset, and anchoring in the dark was not something we wanted to do. We raced back to Tarempa town and started all over again, fortunately, we found a spot well out of town, where we had once anchored before and held well, this seemed to work ok, we have 50 meters of chain out in 16m of water, not much of a scope but it’s holding well. The weather is supposed to be calming down now and tomorrow should be another baking hot day.
Before all of this fun, we took some pictures walking around the back of Tarempa town, which seems a little more upmarket.
Self contained street lighting, that doesent seem to work if it’s cloudy in the day
A voice outside could be heard repeatedly calling ‘Sister Midnight’ as we sat eating breakfast late this morning. It turned out to be the lady from one of the neighbouring catamarans. She had swum over to invite us, along with the crew from two other boats in the area, to a get-together that evening on their boat Backchat. We were all to bring along some food and drinks, so I spent the afternoon preparing a rice salad and some roasted cashews and peanuts for our contribution. We had little else to offer, not having done any shopping for a while. Paul took the dinghy out to snorkel and film in an area a bit further off while I got on with that. At 6 o’clock we got ourselves and the food ready and rowed the short distance to Backchat. It made a change to sit and chat with other ‘yachties’ and swap experiences, and past and future destinations. I did zone out a little during the more technical conversations, but Paul picked up some useful tips for catching fish that he is keen to put into practice when we get out on the sea again. Four hours later, after ending the evening playing a complicated mathematical dice game that was way beyond my understanding :-), we dinghied back to our boat under an exquisitely black, starlit sky. One of the many pleasures of life at sea is the sight of a non light-polluted night sky.
Monday 22nd May Juara Bay
It was a lot cooler this morning, and time to move on again. Juara was to be our next port of call, on the eastern side of Tioman. It’s described as having just one long white beach and no coral reefs, and is also the destination reached at the end of the recommended jungle trek across the island (I was pleased to be reaching it via the water, though where it’s blissfully millipede-free). During this passage Paul tried out one of the surefire tips for catching fish, using a wooden lure shaped like an aeroplane. Still no takers, though – maybe because his plane has no wings on it (!). We arrived in the bay just after 1 o’clock and anchored in 8 metres of water – it was a doddle with no coral to worry about.
Crossing a rather choppy sea early in the evening, we beached the dinghy, collected some water for the tanks from a tap at the end of a pier and set off to check out the village. Lush green rainforest rose steeply on one side of us and on the lower slopes, raised, chalet-style accommodation lined the main pathway. There is a distinct ‘hippy’ vibe to the place, largely due no doubt to the fact that it is geared towards backpackers. The accommodation is interspersed with cafes offering western food and all day breakfasts. People were gathered, commune-like on the nearby beach smoking and chatting: it’s an ideal cheap resort to live the simple life for an extended period. No alcohol is served in the cafes but like many places in Malaysia there is no objection to bringing your own cans of beer or some wine as long as you ask first.
We ate in one of these beach cafés and made do with guava juice to accompany our meal (chicken wings and tofu burger with fries). While we ate, two female travellers from Sydney on the next table were getting to know, and swapping stories with, a guy on holiday from Kuala Lumpur. He told them that Tioman, especially Juara, is a popular spot for rest and relaxation with stressed out workers from Malaysia’s capital city.
Tuesday 23rd May
The sea got decidedly choppier during the night and I woke up several times due to being jolted roughly from side to side in the V berth. Paul hadn’t fared too well in the cockpit either and we were both awake early – up in time, too to hear the dreadfully upsetting news about the bombing in Manchester. Much of my thoughts for the rest of the day were taken up with it. The time difference, climate and location felt so far removed from the awful event but were no less distressing, especially with family and friends caught up in it. It rained on and off all morning. We sat in the café from the previous night watching the showers while we had breakfast and then walked along the beach to have a look at the turtle hatchery, one of several projects set up by volunteers to help wildlife and nature on the island. The hatchery is a fenced structure where eggs laid on the beach by the turtles are placed and monitored, away from predators and poachers so that they can be released into the sea when hatched. It’s possible to book appointments to see this but we needed to get going. Hopefully there will be other opportunities because it’s something I’ve always wanted to see.
We were on our way again by 1 o’clock, heading back to Tekek on a blustery afternoon. I had another sailing lesson on the way which if nothing else, at least focused my mind on something constructive for a while instead of dwelling on the events in Manchester where I was helpless to do anything. The lesson took the form of steering into the wind and keeping the boat there while Paul gets the sails down. It’s the ‘keeping it there’ part that I struggle with but with perseverance and practise using techniques that aided my understanding, I managed to do it (I just need to keep doing it correctly now). On reaching Tekek we anchored in the same place as before. It was in a very sombre mode that we went ashore for provisions that evening, after learning more about the casualties in Manchester. Little Saffie, the youngest victim was the best friend of my granddaughters back in Leyland. Heartbreaking news to take in, and it’s tough being so far away from family at times like these.
Wednesday 24th May –Tekek
There was quite a fierce squall during the night. Paul had put the engine on in case we had to move apparently, but I was so exhausted I had slept through it all. We woke to a drizzly, cool morning that felt more like an English spring than a tropical Asian high season but it was a welcome respite from the intense heat. We had a lingering breakfast of toast and coffee while discussing where to go next. It looks like we’ll be visiting a group of islands called The Anambas on the northern tip of Indonesia. The internet was down all day so we couldn’t look up any further details about them, and since it was cooler, there was nothing else for it but to catch up on chores. Paul worked on attempting to get the watermaker to work and I did some cleaning…and some reading. We went for dinner at The Coral Reef in the evening where the internet is good and I was able to phone home to at least give some moral support. While we were waiting for our food there was an invasion of flying ants. It was quite an amazing sight, especially when hundreds of them fluttered in front of the lights hanging just outside the restaurant – like black snowflakes. One of the guys came and fixed up a sticky insect ‘catcher’ in the end because they were all over us and the table. The girl who served us told us it often happens after a rainy period. We were joined by some infinitely more welcome cats after the meal. One of them was keen to get closer to see if there was anything left for him :).
Thursday and Friday were lazy days on board with a few trips ashore to get essentials. There was quite a squall on Friday afternoon which had everyone on the boats out checking that their anchors were holding in the strong gusts. It didn’t rain, but the force of the wind threatened to carry our canopy off the top of the boat and we had a bit of a struggle to get it folded up and put away. While we were doing that, the dinghy started bashing against the side of the boat and the rope that was tethering it pulled a stanchion with such force, it broke at the bottom. We could see at least one boat getting assistance from the harbour master because of the problems they were having and it struck me that squalls can be just as troublesome and alarming at anchor as when out at sea.
On Saturday, which marked the first day of Ramadan for Muslims, the humidity drove even me to have a swim when we took the dinghy to the beach opposite to us (I don’t like to swim in the deep water round the boat, especially after Paul’s painful jellyfish experience). It was fine in the water for a while but we could still feel our skin burning and we left it until late afternoon before going out again. Our intention was to have a walk before buying some provisions and going for dinner in one of the restaurants. The look of the beach much further along the coast had appealed to us when we’d first arrived but it had been too far to walk in the heat. In fact, it was still humid when we set out but the sun wasn’t far off setting so we strolled slowly up the steep road to start with. The area is where all the monkeys gather in the trees and foliage on either side of the road. They were everywhere when we looked up, staring back down at us defiantly (and possibly aggressively) from branches and power cables or grooming each other on the grass verges.
It was a pleasant walk once the sun had gone and we headed for a holiday resort we’d spotted on the beach to have a look around. We passed family groups enjoying the seafront in the cooler evening temperature, and then we came upon an actual beach bar. Not just any beach bar (it was empty, due to Ramadan probably), this bar served alcohol! It would have been rude not to stop and become its only customers after we’d sought out the sole staff member to ask if the bar was open. We sat at a table with a great view, watching the antics of the kids on the beach until the inevitable flying insects drove us on. We’d spotted a Chinese restaurant earlier so we stopped there for our dinner: seasoned vegetables and rice, with fish of the day for Paul.
The broken stanchion was repaired over the next couple of days. I helped when it needed to be held steady while Paul applied the sikaflex – in the sauna-like heat on deck! I went from reading a book set during a particularly cold winter where a woman resorts to warming her frozen hands on a hot kettle, to cooling my hands and body down using an icy cold bottle of water on the bow. On Monday evening, taking a short cut through one of the holiday resorts on Tekek, Paul noticed the fabulous sight of a fruit bat colony hanging from the branches of trees in a small clearing. Unlike the ones we’d seen in the Hongs in Thailand, these bats were silent but not any the less fascinating for that. I wondered what time of day they all set off for food and what it would look like when they did, and received an answer the following evening at sunset when we were travelling back to the boat in the dinghy. We saw hundreds of them overhead, all flying in the same direction – to where the food is presumably. It was an amazing sight, made all the more wonderful because a storm was brewing and the dark clouds and rising moon created an authentic gothic image in the eerie twilight. The ‘echoey’ mournful call to prayer provided an apt soundtrack to the scene. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera to hand to capture it all, but Paul took this great shot of them in the trees. The cat caught my eye because he looked to be in a bad way but just after I took the picture, he jumped up to run another cat at quite a pace :0)
We upped anchor from Tarempa after an official reception dinner thrown by the authorities here. This was similar to one we had in Las Palmas and in St Lucia on the ARC. Lots of difficult speeches, and daft awards. It was for the participants of the ‘Sail Malaysia’ rally, but Raymond, who was running the rally was happy for us to attend. He was also happy for us to go to the dinner barbecue the next day on the beach resort island of Pidi, just a few hours away.
Dementors, feeding on our hull. (video to follow)
So we stocked up with some last minute fruit and Veg, I bought 4 big bottles of the local version of Coke, you don’t see much coke here, and I remembered back to the ‘stop the war’ march I attended in London some time back in protest against Blair’s Iraq war, and there was a strong anti coke lobby there, an Arabic version of coke was on sale everywhere. I wondered if Indonesia, which is a very strict muslim country in many areas actually frowned on coke, and probably most American, and UK goods. I have noticed when asked where I am from, when I say England, I don’t get an enthusiastic interested kind of response, as I did in Malaysia. I’d like to say Ireland, and see how that goes down, but that would be fraudulent. So I bought the local version, just like coke in colour and fizziness, but the aftertaste is identical to the mouthwash my dentist uses, hideous. I wanted to give it away to passing fishermen, who would probably love it in these baking conditions, but with it being Ramadan and they are fasting, it might be rude. Tarempa is a fascinating town, it’s mostly built on stilts except for a few buildings hacked into the cliff walls.
The market is an interesting place to visit and pick up fresh food
Twilight zone or Dr Who?
So off we set, down a channel between several large islands to the barbecue location.The route was strewn with dangerous coral. The first one was right in the middle of the channel and very shallow and very obvious. We had to motor towards it, then turn left to avoid it. It was ten minutes away when Kathy and I started our ‘heated debate’ about the best way to look for coral and to signal to each other what to do about it. We honed in on the difference between ‘having the sun behind you’ and ‘having your back to the sun’, which to me seemed identical, but to Kathy, one was quite clear, the other not. At some point during this debate, I remembered we needed to look out for the reef ahead, and sure enough, there it was just about to pass under our bowsprit. Crikey cor Blimey, I thought, full astern, hard to port, and we missed it, we probably had a good minute or two before disaster, but we both felt a bit stupid after that. I set the course for the correct way around the reef and all was fine. However, a couple of local guys in a small fishing boat must have been horrified to see us motoring at full speed to our demise, and had sped over to try and avert another shipwreck. On arriving they insisted we follow them, and for the next hour we weaved in and out of large patches of coral until we emerged on the other side of the island safely. We didn’t really need them, as the course they led us through, was almost identical to the one we had plotted, but it was ever so kind of them to help. The guy below didn’t pay attention eitherAnother sobering experience.
We anchored outside of the barbecue island in about 22 meters, this is getting normal now, what has become a major pain is the windless doesn’t like my rope, I have 50 meters of rope to haul in, in these conditions, and although the windlass grips it very well, it won’t let go, the rope is meant to fall off and drop into the chain locker below, there is a metal bar that forces it off the wheel if it didn’t fall off on its own, however the bar is sized for chain, and works well there, with rope, it often sneaks up the side of the bar and jams. Once this happens, it’s a major pain, one one end of the rope is 60 mtrs of chain, pulling hard on the windlass, and you can’t pull this up by hand at all, so I have been having to run a line back to the winch on the mast and haul the anchor rode up a bit to get some slack, tie this off then do the same for the other side of the rope. This can happen a few times when hauling up 50 mtrs of rope, and each time the rope gets a little mangled. As soon as I can, I need to replace this rope.
The dinner was fine, but very expensive, we paid about £20 / head for a bbq buffet affair, drinks were extra, 2 nights earlier, we had dined well in a Tarempa restaurant, both meals together with drinks came to £3. That’s my kind of restaurant 🙂
The next morning we motored around the coral in the dinghy, it was very shallow and just as I wondered if it was too shallow, and how lucky I had been so far with rocks etc, that we hit something. I couldn’t stop the engine, because the stop switch had been playing up, so I tried to put the engine in Neutral, but from the noise it was making, I knew I had broken something. So much of what I’m doing here is a learning curve for me, and I was just about to learn how shear pins work! Basically it’s a pin that connects the engine to the prop, if the prop should get jammed on something, the pins shears, the engine happily carries on and hopefully no other damage happens,I remember we carry spares with the engine so they are handy, but I must have been thinking of Stardust, as there were no pins around, they are about the same size as a 1 inch nail, which in an emergency, might work. So it was fun rowing back, I need the exercise, but I was also aware that there was quite a current flowing, being a full moon, fortunately toward the boat, but I was keen not to overshoot it, as the next stop north might be China. By the way, we only get one tide a day here, which is odd.
The rest of our trip was uneventful, one tropical paradise after another, as we skipped around the islands and coves of the NE part of Anambas. The weather has been lovely, sometimes overcast, but that brings welcome relief from the sun. The local fishermen are very curious about our boat, one young man Tommy, rowed over, in a dugout canoe, to say hello. He clung to the side of our boat staring in, so I invited him onboard. He seemed very impressed, he gave me a fish and wouldn’t accept any money from me. He sat there for ages just smiling, it would have been awkward, but I had a lot of epoxy work to do, and I was creating shear pins, from spare rivets, having found nothing better onboard. after an hour or so, he left when I explained we had to leave. Everything is done by gesture, as it’s very rare to find an english speaker here.
The snorkeling is the best so far, the water the clearest, and a great variety of life below the water, some of the coral, that looks like rocks, has mouths, purple and jagged, but ready to eat anything that gets close. rather scary.
Right now though, heres a picture of improvisation, when you can’t find the clamps, there’s always a way to hold things in place while the glue sets. (PS it only lasted a couple of days 🙁 )
The list of jobs on the boat is still growing, I rowed around the hull and cleaned off the tyre marks from the Dalac haulout, and polished the stainless rubbing strakes. I am a little disappointed that there is a noise coming from the cutless bearing/prop. I expect it’s the shaft rubbing on the bearing, it’s the same noise that caused me to haulout and replace the bearing. I didn’t have it before the fishing line wrap,I think I had a similar noise once on the baba 30, yet before launch, I checked and the prop shaft turned easily and wasn’t stiff at all. I suspect an inferior rubber on the bearing, or possibly a bent shaft or misaligned engine. yet I haven’t put any unusual stress on the engine, as you might get when you wrap a rope around the prop and bang the engine to a sudden stop in gear.
An interesting aspect of sailing here is the fact that the charts are useless, if you follow them you will be in big trouble, see belowThis route, the straight lines, was plotted on Navionics to clear the land, but google earth shows the error. Fortunately we have a good set of google earth images for all the coastlines around here which we load up on our OpenCpN chartplotter. They are great for spotting coral/reefs and the gaps in between where you might anchor. On the subject of cartography, best not let the flat earth people see this pic.
We have been away from a marina for some time now, and will get fuel delivered in tarempa this weekend, we just took a delivery of water.then next week, we head south to Bawah Island, at the bottom of the Arambas group, before heading east to Sarawak, which is part of Malaysia on the north part of the Island of Borneo.
Again, Internet is very scratchy out here, I suspect all the carriers/providers here share the same Radio link back to the mainland.
Just a quick post to say we are off exploring the islands now for as long as we can last before food runs out, 2 weeks max, It’s going to be very sporadic when we can get internet access, so don’t expect much from us.
In 2 weeks time we will be back here in the capital, Tarampa, and checking out for Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia, a few days sail away where we hope to go to the Rainforest World Music Festival, like a big WOMAD.
Last night we gatecrashed the welcome party put on for the Sail Malaysia ‘going east’ rally, by the local government and Indonesian tourist board. There was a display of traditional dancing, lovely food, (well maybe not for Kathy), and quite a few speeches by the dignitaries. also we all got a nice goodie bag at the end.
Today my fellow countrymen will be voting, in quite an important election, I predicted the last two important votes badly wrong, i.e. who on earth would vote for Trump, and the Brits would never be so stupid to leave Europe, So todays prediction is ‘Corbin hasn’t got a chance’, hopefully that will do the job. This will be the first time I am out of communication range during a general election that I can remember, so it’s going to be odd hearing the news some time after the event.
We left Tioman on Friday afternoon, leaving a bit late so that we would be crossing the main part of the route away from land at night. That way when we arrive at the Anambas islands we would be in daylight, there’s much more chance of running down a poorly lit little fishing boat near the coast than offshore. So I was happy to take on the big ships in the dark. Most of them have AIS and proper lights, we were going to be passing through some major shipping routes, as the ships hang a left from Singapore and head up towards Bangkok, Vietnam, China, hong Kong etc, they will be passing in front of us, and of course those returning on that route. The wind was from the SE and blowing a healthy 15 knots, so with all the sails up, and one reef in the main, we shot along, keeping the diesel for another day.
I put a quick post on the boat’s facebook page as we left to jokingly say that, unless we had pirate trouble, it should be a good journey. Just after we left Tioman, I checked the Navtex messages, this is like SMS for sailors, but sent from national governments, we have a special receiver, and it produces telex/teletype displays of brief messages, things like weather, or navigational warnings. I wasn’t to pleased to see the one that said their had just been a armed pirate attack, on our route, we would be passing over that spot about 2AM, the attack had happened a few nights earlier at 11PM, nice.
So we went into stealth mode, AIS Transmitter was turned off, so nobody could see us on that system, I also turned off the NAV lights when there was no shipping around. I kept in touch with SY Matilda and informed them of my new found knowledge, and they also turned off their AIS. I put the radar on so I could keep a good lookout. Matilda informed me that as they were motoring along, a tug, towing a barge, which was invisible, suddenly turned on their lights and AIS transmitter, they must have been in stealth mode too, as once Matilda had passed them, their AIS and lights went off. It’s just a bit worrying, that in a busy shipping lane, we are all turning off our lights and hiding from each other, this can only end badly. As it turned out, the sun rose, we put the AIS back on and sailed into a lovely cove in the western islands of Anambas, to rest for a night before proceeding to the main town of Tarampa on the central group of islands. I mentioned the pirate thing to Kathy then, as there didnt seem much point in worrying her en-route. It had been a great sail, and even though we were close hauled all the way, the boat had sliced through the waves with a very soothing motion, we were making between 6 and 7 knots over water, most of the time, sometimes more.
The cove we anchored in on the island of Jamandja, was just by a small island on the NE called Ayam, it was an idyllic spot, very well protected and we anchored inbetween reefs in 5m of sand.
I had a snorkel in very clear water and on returning to the boat was slightly startled to meet this chappy feeding on the hull, he’s much bigger close up, maybe 3ft. Later Kathy amused herself feeding him potato peelings, which he (or she) seemed to love.When we left, we headed straight out, and without thinking it through very well, straight into one of the reefs we had carefully manoeuvred around on the way in. Fortunately we were going so slow, we were able to stop and reverse out before we did any damage. From there we had a brisk reach across to the capital, 30 miles, in about 5 hours, again stockpiling the diesel.
Terempa, or Tarampa, is the administrative town of the Anambas island group, a large part of it is built on stilts, it’s very Muslim, and it’s our first time in Indonesia, so we are keen to explore and see how things work here. Arriving in the afternoon on a Sunday, we decided to stay on board and go into town and do the formalities on Monday morning. We raised the Q (Quarantine) flag, which is a yellow flag, to let them know we are clean and waiting clearance. We motored around the harbour, which is very busy, some very large ships here, looking for somewhere to anchor.
Anchoring was fun, The island drops into the sea quickly, but there is a very shallow ledge of coral first, just a meter or two down, next to the shore, coming out some distance, after that it drops to between 10 and fifteen metres quickly, were the sea bed is strewn with rocks, then it goes to 25 mtrs and deeper very quickly. Our first attempt in what looked like sand, was on rocks, and we decided to move, the rocks tried to cling to my anchor, but I was able to motor forward and the anchor came free.
Next attempt was in the corner of the harbour, very close to the quay in 15m, but when we dropped back on the anchor we were close to another boat, so up came the anchor again, I was not to bothered, as that area is though to be ‘Foul’ or strewn with debris the anchor can get stuck in. So now after an hour of pratting around, with the sun keen to push on to the Atlantic area, we headed back to the deep water. We dropped the hook outside the other anchored yachts in 25 metres of water and by the time the anchor dug in, and with me putting out 60m of chain and 10 m of rope, we had backed down onto a catamaran, just a couple of boat lengths away. Normal boat etiquette would require me to move, but the owner came up, and despite we were almost close enough to shake hands, he assured me that he was happy with the gap, and saw no problems. As long as our anchor stays put overnight, we won’t be joining him for breakfast!.
Monday morning, and we dinghied ashore, we copied the other boats, a bad move as I have found that’s what other boats do, and often there is mass cockups because of the first boats decision. Apparently there is a much better place to tie up to, we will check it out tomorrow, However this one was fun, it was on a wall, with a rickety matrix of sticks tied together to make a climbing frame, to get from the dinghy to a long narrow wall, vertigo inducing or what. At the end was a gangplank arrangement to get ashore. Hat’s off to Kathy for taking that in her stride.
We went straight to Immigration, then the Harbour master, then Customs and finally Quarantine, who weren’t in. Everything done, but we have to wait for customs to come to the boat in the morning and search us for anything dodgy, like Coldplay albums, or anything from the 80’s. 😉
First impressions of Indonesia are very good, the people here are the friendliest we have met so far in SE Asia, everybody wants to say hello, the authorities have gone out of there way to help me check in, despite the fact I was missing mandatory documents. I think I’m going to like it here
Checked in, we had a wander, this town is very water based, a network of canals make up the main area, running between all the stilted buildings.
We found a good range of small shops, some white bread, plenty of fruit and veg, lots of hardware stores, shame I don’t need any, although yesterday, the anchor foot switch got so faulty, I replaced it with two bared wires sticking out through the deck. Does anyone know how wires switching a 12v solenoid can give such a kick, I expect it’s back EMF from the coil of the solenoid, but that was a surprise 🙁 . I don’t expect they have much call for that sort of switch out here. I’m kicking myself for not buying a spare when I saw them on a shelf back in Phuket. I knew then the switch was dicky.
Tonight we will stay on the boat, we had a chunky squall blow through this afternoon, 20-25 knots pushing us towards the Catamaran, but we didn’t budge, my transits are solid, however it feels like we got too close. I have decided to buy 150m of anchor warp to add to my anchoring arsenal, and also investigate anchoring on rock, the locals do it all the time with their fishermen hook style anchors, often flimsy things made out of rebar.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) after getting customs clearance, we will pop ashore, buy up a load of food and head off to explore the islands here. Again wifi may be sparse, we picked up a local SIM that gives us 40gb for 60Days, for about £4, but it’s finding coverage that will be the challenge. I got out 1.2 Million Rupiah from the ATM today, but with a bag of tomatoes costing 10,000 Rupiah (60p) it wont go far!