Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Malacca Straits and Hong Kong

26th October 2008


Goodbye Indonesia!


Checking out of Indonesia was very relaxing since customs and immigration make daily stops at Nongsa Point Marina. At 09:30 we cast off and headed the 15 or so miles across the Singapore Strait to Sebana Cove Marina. There was very little wind and we only managed to fly the headsail for a few brief minutes. Very soon, we were into the shipping lanes and it is very busy here - probably the busiest stretch of water in the world. With 5 large ships bearing down on us from the port side, we managed to get ahead of the second and, from that point, we had it fairly easy ducking behind one from the starboard side and keeping clear of two that had just upped anchor and that headed straight for us.


Sebana Cove is up a small river with a shallow entrance and we were on a falling tide but negotiated the entrance without difficulty and motored the 3 miles upstream to the "Resort". Checking in was simple and all done on-site even though the marina and complex seems to be in the middle of nowhere. The Resort consists of a Marina, hotel, pool, restaurant, air-conditioned gym, golf course and ferry terminal to Singapore. All built very nicely out of tone and very well kept. We also have free Wi-Fi here and spent the opportunity ringing folks at home, unfortunately Pete's daughter Bobby wasn't available a real shame as we really didn't know when we would be able to call again.


27th October 2008


We ventured into the small township close to Sebana Cove. The hotel arranges a shuttle that leaves at 10am and picks you up at 11:30am. After 10 minutes we realised that 1 & half hours was far too long as there was nothing there. We bought a few meagre supplies which consisted of reconstituted meat& gristle burgers & vegetables that had been well past their sell by date.


Even though the complex was very luxurious to us it felt like a prison. The yachts were crammed in &

apart from the pool there really wasn't much to do, we'll be glad to head off soon.


28th October 2008


Another day of boat jobs!


29th October 2008


We filled with fuel and chugged down the river to its entrance. There, we dropped the hook alongside another yacht and settled down for the evening and an early start the next day.


30th October 2008


Pete....


At 04:30, I got up with a feeling of unease since the wind had built a little and I started getting Naz ship-shape. Just before 05:00, the rain started and the wind blew like crazy 50 or 60 knots. I was out in the cockpit when the nose blew off the wind and we were broadside to it heeling at an improbable angle. Yup! we were on the move with about 500 yards to go before the mud bank. It was impossible to use the engine to round the nose up top the wind and I jumped to the front of the boat and coaxed the poor windlass to let enough slack on the snubbing line to get it off and then dropped another 15 metres of chain. That did the trick and, amazingly, we still have a windlass on the deck! I measured how far we had dragged on the GPS and calculated 250 metres.


The wind abated after about 45 minutes but kept quite strong until about 07:00 so we decided to stay another day and see what the weather was going to do next.


It is the first time Naz has dragged. We had 4 times scope out in thick potters clay (as was discovered when we pulled the hook) but the bouncing caused by the breaking waves was enough to hoick the hook out. Note to oneself: if there is swinging room, then dump loads of chain on the bottom.


31st October 2008


Today, we set off and motor-sailed around the bottom of Singapore dodging tugs, tugs towing barges, VLCC's, passenger ferries, cruise liners, local wooden boats, frigates and police boats all deciding to turn sharply to drop anchor or up anchor and head for us. We have now anchored by a small island at the bottom of the Malacca strait. The area that we targeted to anchor is packed full of local moorings (Plastic oil cans) and so we have anchored at the entrance to the local village. he village is half on land and half built on floating platforms. Very interesting, stinking of fish and infested with flies.


We overtook boat that was anchored with us the other day just before arriving here. They wanted to know which way we were going to drag tonight before deciding where they were to place themselves.


Indonesia & Malasia should be banned from having plastic, it's everywhere from drink bottles to bags and as you motor/sail you go through thick rubbish that goes on for miles a real shame. They also should be made to go barefoot as the amount of single flip flops & sandals floating is unbelievable!


1st November 2009


So. Having dropped the hook in a small area of deep water in not an entirely ideal spot alongside "Carronage" the other night, we went to bed. At 04:00, the wind picked up from the exposed quarter to about 40 knots broadside as the tide kept us pointing South. We slowly swung on out extensive scope until the depthsounder was reading 2.3 metres and we were staring at the nearby mudflats reflected in the warm ambience of the lightening. Fortunately, some freak of weather allowed the nose to point towards the channel (rather than the shallows) and I motored out further into the narrow channel and Fliss dropped the second anchor (already prepared and flaked out) to keep us off and reduce our swinging scope.


Carronade (we don't know their names) sat up with the engine running for a couple of hours.


So, this morning at 09:00 , we drove not sailed the 15 miles to Pulau Pisang again no wind at all.


2nd November 2008


Pete...............


At 02:00 this morning, there was also no wind but we set off motoring with the tide bound for the Water Islands (just South of Melaka). This is a 70 mile hop with no stops in between and we expected to get there at 16:00. However, 20 minutes after starting out, the wind picked up from precisely the direction we were travelling and blew 25+ knots in our face. Being dark, we did not know what was coming next and so put 3 reefs in the main ready to hove to. We did hove-to a couple of times when the wind picked up and by 06:00, we had fought to gain 11 miles. I was tired, Fliss was not feeling well and the thought of short tacks between the fishing paraphenalia near the shore and the shipping lane farther out for another 20-odd hours did not appeal. We turned around and went back.


Carronade had had another worrying night as the change in conditions had put them on a lee-shore. We had thought that they would have moved around the other side of the island by the time we returned but they whether to see where we would go and moved as we arrived back to anchor, this time, to the South of the island. In our brief chat from boat to boat, we learned that they were awake again doing anchor watch last night.









Watch out at night for the tugs and unlit tows






Fliss....


It really has been a miserable few days! You really cannot relax as which ever anchorage you chose you are guaranteed that the wind will blow in the wrong direction putting you on a lee shore. You really don't know what to do! It appears that if you anchor one side you get hammered by Sumerta winds that hit you early in the morning, if you anchor the other side you get hammered by squalls again that hit you early in the morning, if you decide to get up early & leave you'll just get hammered! so in summary you just get hammered what ever you do. Are we enjoying Malaysia? No not really.


3rd November 2008


Success this time! Another 2 boats joined us in the anchorage yesterday and everyone must have been watching everyone else since we all pulled the hook up at 04:30. Fliss had got up to check the weather and all looked clear and calm. She woke me up and ordered us to weigh anchor and depart. We took the passage through the two islands that comprise Pulau Pisang (Pisang means "banana" in malay) where C-Map shows less than 2 metres. Carronade had been through the previous day and had not recorded less than 15 metres.


The day was better than some previously encountered although we only sailed for about half an hour since the wind was either light or heading us too much. However, the thunder clouds dissipated as we approached within 3-4 miles and we had very little wave action that causes us to stop in our tracks.


We arrived at 17:30 and therefore had a very good run. Scary Monster (SkeerdeMunske) should be appearing soon since they have been with us all day and the other two smaller boats got lost in the haze about 6 hours ago - they will have to arrive by night - not nice as C-map shows you running across land and it is a direct digitisation of Admiralty chart 3947 - so that is no better!


Fliss..... no other boats appeared in the anchorage so we an only assume that they anchored on the other side.


Our plan is to use this anchorage as a base to explore Malacca as there is a ferry on Water Island that runs daily to the mainland from there you can get bus into Malacca.


4th November 2008


We had a lazy day and just motored to the other side of the island to see if any of the other boats were there, they weren't!


The Island itself is quite pretty but really it's just a resort under going renovation.


We originally thought we'd take the ferry across to Malacca but decided in the evening to take Naz over. That way if conditions deteriorate whilst we're ashore we'd be able to get back quickly.


5th November 2008


Fliss....


This morning, we upped the anchor and started motoring out to Malacca. After about 20 minutes, I did not like the look of dark clouds coming from that direction and my nervous system told me to get back where we had come from. Just after dropping the hook in our original location, the heavens opened and the wind blew and we had a number of thunderstorms blow through with a bolt of lightening much too close for comfort. The rain eventually abated but the wind continued setting up a set of waves coming straight into our anchorage. As a second set of clouds darkened the horizon I thought that, maybe, it would be a good idea to pull the hook up again, motor hard into the headwinds and chop and go around the other side of the island. This we did and the water is much quieter - we can see the general area where we were originally anchored and it is now covered with white caps.


We are very glad that we did not take the ferry to Malacca otherwise Naz would have had no-one to take care of her. As soon as the weather turns in our favour, we are getting outta here and going into a marina in Port Dickson for, hopefully, some security.


So, we are now hoping that the infernal conditions don't turn 180 degrees and hammer us from another angle - you really never know in this part of the world.


Have we upset the Gods????? maybe they don't like Arak as their nightly toast.


6th November 2008


Fliss got up at 02:00 this morning and suggested that we do a run for Port Dickson, I got up and stood on deck and did not like the headwinds and so we stayed. Big mistake on my part and I should listen to Fliss since the winds did stay light and now they are blowing 20 knots again and we are bouncing in our anchorage. We are hoping that the winds abate tonight (or swing slightly favourable) and we get an opportunity to head for Port Dickson early tomorrow morning. Fliss is getting cabin fever here and so we must get somewhere where we can do a bit of sightseeing and get off Naz for a while. A little retail therapy would go down a treat.


So, sailing here really is long, long periods of boredom interspersed by shorter periods of anxiety and panic. The rosy tint of the cruising life has worn off and it is simply hard work at the moment. We know that others are feeling it too. Oh Well, this will be a taster for Red Sea headwinds (although I believe that there are plenty of hiding places up the coast there and no sudden wind shifts or thunderstorms).


Fliss....


I was not happy at all! Here you have to be ready to leave as and when the conditions are clement. I can understand the skippers reluctance in leaving but we have spent far too long sitting on Naz. Our fresh provisions are non existent so we're having to be “creative” with our meals.

If the conditions are god tomorrow morning WE ARE LEAVING, even if it means tying the skipper to the mast, I will take Naz out.


7th November 2008


Well, we upped anchor yesterday at 02:45 and had calm weather until we reached Port Dickson. Actually, just South of Port Dickson where there is a marina that has a posh complex of swimming pool, gym, bar, internet, water, elec etc for 7 quid a night. Not bad at all and.....we can go to sleep without having to worry about where the wind is coming from next. The tall buildings all around have lightening conductors (which is good) but shelter us from the breeze so the daytime and evenings are sweltering.







You don't get this in the UK















For 7 quid a night











We arrived at about 11:00 just before the wind picked up and blew a good'n all afternoon. In the afternoon, we used the internet to research flights to Hong Kong. Fliss has Hong Kong on her "Must Do Before I Die" list and has talked about it many times. Well, we found some cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur and a cheap hostel right in the centre of Tsim Sha Tsui (Waterfront of Kowloon). Transfers, Flights and Accommodation came to 170 quid each and expenses should be low as long as we are careful. We leave from here on the 11th and return on the 15th (4 nights) by which time, so we are told, the NE Trades should have at least started to whimper into life.


So, we have found somewhere secure and Fliss has got her wish to "do some different other than sit on the bl*&dy boat".


Fliss....


I'd seen an advert in a paper in Singapore offering cheap flights to Hong Kong so when we checked into Admiral Marina I asked the girl on reception if it was possible. She said 'yes it was and it was very cheap &easy to go from Admiral Marina”.


It'll do us both the world of good to have some time away from the boat, it'll recharge our batteries for the next gruelling legs up the Malacca Straits.


The Asians really have wonderful Marina's as they are all set in luxury resort complexes. Admiral Marina is in a lovely setting with a great pool, bar, restaurant & a very good WIFI signal. The staff are immensely friendly and helpful and the answer to every question is “Yes”.


8th November - 10th November 2008


We spent a few days just exploring the local village & catching up on boats jobs.


11th November 2008


We set off about lunch time on Tuesday and the flight turned out to be 4 hours long rather than the two and a half that we expected. We arrived at just gone 10pm - our room in the Chung King Mansions had enough room to open the door before reaching the bed but it was clean and had a shower-cum-toilet en-suite (a bit like the heads on Naz). The Mansions are on Nathan Road which is known as the Golden Mile and is 50 yards from the airport bus stop, 100 yards from the underground station and a few minutes of walking to the Star Ferry terminal at Tsim Sha Tsui.


Fliss...


It really was a sensory overload! The billboards, huge TV screens all it up, thousands of people all milling about, the noise & cars was unreal after what we had been used to Pete and I felt completely out of our depths.


After trying to decide what to have for dinner (the Chinese menu's didn't look appealing) we opted for McDonalds. To us this was a major treat as we haven't had Western food in such a long time.


12th November 2008







Tai Chi in the morning











Main Island from Kowloon Waterfront









This morning we caught the ferry to the island and spent the day wandering through Wanchai and Central districts searching out the back streets and walkways where the locals hawk their wares amongst the market stalls. We took the tram up to the peak and were blessed with clear skies and not too much smog so had a good view right across to Kowloon and the New Territories. Lunch was in a local restaurant where I had roast pork and rice and Fliss had roast duck and rice. Hers was very disappointing and had too many bones and funny tubes attached. It was difficult dissecting with chopsticks. In the evening, we walked up Nathan Road and to the Poor Mans Night Market where thousands of people milled around the market stalls that sold every conceivable type of useless cheap rubbish and then found a local Indian restaurant that was not bad.





Central District Market














View from the Top








Fliss...


As we wandered along the waterfront towards the “Star Ferry” we were accosted by Chinese lady who invited us to join in a Ti Chi session. I was useless but Pete excelled at being terrible. Another life experience!


I just loved the diversity of life. The Chinese people hawking their wares whilst the sharp suited bankers strolled past to their elegant air conditioned office in a chic high rise sky-scraper...






Paper Lanterns














Outside the Mansions





The stuff the shops/market stalls sell are bizarre: we saw Deer Foetus's, deer antlers, bird nests, cages with live toads waiting in turn to be next for the pot, small terepines (illegal in the UK as they endangered species), conch shells & bizarre looking fish, do they really eat these things? And not to forget to the dried sea slugs.


The food, arggggghhhh!!!! skewered BBQ'd intestines, dodgy looking chicken legs. It seems that they really only eat offal... mind you saying that I thought that the meat & veg on the stalls looked delicious it's just the restaurants that serve the worst of the meat.


13th November 2008


Thursday, we again went across to the island and caught the bus to Aberdeen for a whisk around the harbour aboard a small ferry/junk. There were lots of these vessels lining the waterside and many plying tourists back and forth. We ended up having a very heavy collision with one accompanied by the sound of splitting wood and our ranting Chinese skipper. From there, we caught another bus to Stanley which is well know for its market (for tourists) before returning and catching the tube to Mong Kok to visit the flower market, the bird market and the goldfish market. In the evening, we walked to the Kowloon waterfront to watch the lightshow across the water that is displayed nightly at 8:00pm for 20 minutes. All the buildings on the Island light up, flash different colours and searchlights and laser lights pierce the sky from the tops of the larger skyscrapers - all to music piped from speakers along the waterfront. Evening meal at TGI Friday (we did not really like the Chinese food!).







(Dead) Bird Market












Main Island by Night








video






Fliss....


It's not that cheap to eat or drink out in Hong Kong.


It could be that we have lost all sense of “How much things cost in a big city” but a small beer at 42 – 50 Hong Kong Dollars seemed expensive (about 3.50 to 4.00 pounds). We're so used to counting the pennies and looking for the cheapest deals that we bought 2 beers at a 7-11 shop and took them back to the room. Much better deal at 17 dollars for two large beers.


14th November 2008


Pete.....


We again went across to the Island and caught the ferry to Macau where we wandered the length and breadth of the main island there. Macau has changed since I was last there and they have added the Macau Sky Tower (identical to the one in Auckland) and a number of huge casinos. However, search out the back streets and you can still find quiet squares and plazas that could have been transported directly from Portugal. Back in Hong Kong, we went to the little stall that sold alarm clocks to find it closed. We needed one to wake us up for the flight the next day so spent another half hour trying to find another shop selling them. Dinner in a disappointing pizza place and then knackered to bed.

















Portugese Macau











So, loads and loads of walking and doing. Luckily, the temperature remained in the low to mid 20's and the humidity was low which made it very pleasant indeed even though our legs are about to drop off.


Fliss.....


It was amazing and lived up to and exceeded my expectations, I loved it. What a fantastic place. Hong Kong in my opinion has everything you could want it's not just a big city, it's a living breathing energetic island not to be missed! I'm so glad we took the opportunity to go. It was the 2nd time around for Pete but he also had a great time.







Macau Tower












Macau Main Casino







Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Indonesia

10th September 2008


Pete ........


We left the anchorage in Rinca and headed towards Labhuan Baja with an early start. My tidal calculations told us that the tide turned in our favour at 12:10 but we thought that we would butt some tide to start with. We got the sails up and just about managed to hold station for an hour until the breeze gave us a lift and we watched a fishing boat come outside of us and then across the main stream to the other side of the bay. We followed and found a counter current and ghosted along until the narrows where we put the engine on and motored against 5kts. Just around the corner, we dropped anchor to wait for 12:10 and then set off again - into the current and we eventually arrived in Labhuan Baja having not seen any favourable current for 9 hours.


We met a guy called Joseph who supplies yachts and he delivered 100 litres of fuel for us and told us that, when the Tide is high the tide turns to go North & East, and when low, it turns South and West. From our measurements, that still does not stack-up.



11th September 2008


Fliss....









Local Tourist Boat








The town itself is ramshackle with falling down huts, rubbish in the streets, cats with hardly any fur & little shops selling bugger all.. the road into it is chaos with loads of cars & motorbikes. It might sound terrible but it does have a real life to it... as you walk down the road everyone says hello & then giggles... the kiddies stare at you with these lovely big brown eyes and once you look back they give you a wave.... We like the Indonesians they are open & friendly people.


Today we took a Bemo (small mini bus) to the SOOPERMARKET which according to Joseph our fuel guy was a huge shop. the Bemo driver asked for 5000 Rupees each and when he stopped at the SOOPERMARKET he wanted 10,000, his co-pilot/money taker in the car laughed when Pete questioned it and agreed that it was, in fact is, only 5000 (45p each) we must have paid way over the odds compared to the locals.


The SOOPERMARKET was in fact a row of shacks selling veg & stuff... we bought Pak Choi, spring onions, carrots, toms, ginger, chilli's & ginger so it's stir-fry tonight. They did have chicken but I couldn't face it as the whole place was swarming with flies and it had a dull grey pallor.


I made a major social mistake as I pulled out a bottle of water and started drinking when Pete said to stop as it was Ramadan!!! they cant drink or eat during daylight hours & the market was full of Muslims... anyway I said" Permissi" which means excuse me and they were fine about it.... whoops!


Two boys asked us where we were going and they offered us a ride back on their mopeds. I was little reluctant as they drive like Sterling Moss & they didn't have a crash helmet for me, anyway I said to the young guy. OK but no wheelies, driving fast or weaving in & out traffic... bless his heart we must have

driven at about 10 miles an hour we chatted all the way back. Pete had a crash helmet I didn't. Great way to get back to Nadezhda.


We left Laubhaun Baja for Sabajor Besar and anchored in 17m of water we reversed back toward to reef to make sure that we would not hit it at 2.5:1 scope. It was the shallowest we dare go and the nearest the reef that we dared go, the depths drop off to over 30m quickly. The water clarity is amazing and you can see the bottom in 25m of water. It is also very warm in the water and so great for snorkelling.


The best marine life so far. We saw a bizarre frilly fish that looked like seaweed not knowing what it was we gave it a wide berth, we were later told that it was incredibly poisonous and one sting from it would require an emergency trip to the hospital.


We had the usual trinket sellers bring their small boats alongside. These guys are true professionals and will not take no for an answer. They will try every trick in the book! One local boat came alongside and promptly put his wife & young baby in our cockpit we had already bought a small wooden trinket box from another boat so we really didn't need another. I gave the wife a pair of flip flops and they eventually, once they realised they were on a hiding to nothing left.







Souvenir Sellers








12th September 2008


We moved to North Komodo today for some more snorkelling. Without a doubt the anchorages are stunning. It's a shame that we are racing through here but not having checked into Indonesia causes a lot of worries, more than likely a handful of Rupees would sort it out! But we'd rather not get on the wrong side of an official.


13th September 2008


We were due to leave yesterday but a Canadian boat came in and asked if we wanted to join them doing a "drift" snorkel through the pass between the islands. Not a bad bit of snorkelling as we all held onto a line attached to their dinghy and floated though the pass at about 4 knots with the tide. The coral was not spectacular but we managed to see a group of Giant Trevally's that were almost as big as us.








Nadezhda at Anchor








14th September 2008


Pete .......


Today, we upped anchor and headed towards Bali. The winds have been kind to us and we spent the whole day doing 7 knots (5 over ground). It seems that the tides are always against us for most of the day! Anyway, the wind has died now but we are getting some tide with us under engine again. We shall see how far we get and whether we can time arrival in Bali for morning or early afternoon. The tide through the pass between Lombok and Bali Flows South continuously at this time of year (so we are led to believe) and so we do not want to shoot past overnight whilst trying to stay still!


Slowly, the wind died, backed, went the other way, turned 180 degrees and I spent a lot of time poling out the jib, bringing it in, moving the boom preventer from one side to the other etc until we ended up just motoring.


15th September 2008


Pete .....


At about midnight, the wind increased over 15 minutes to a force 7 at 60 degrees to the port side and, luckily, we already had 2 reefs in the main to stop the sail from slamming back and forth. We rolled in a good bunch of headsail leaving a scrap out and were zooming along at over 7 knots (4.5 over ground). I reckoned that it was the effect of the gargantuan Tambura Volcano that was 30 miles away and that, as we approached, the wind would come more on the beam. Slowly, it did and life became a bit more comfortable. Tambura is 9630 feet high and its flanks spread for 15 miles in all directions. Eventually, the wind died as we came into its shadow and then increased and headed us again in the morning until it eased back to a broad reach again. If you think about the way that wind would swirl around a symmetrical cone, then that should make sense.


Eventually, we decided to stop and have a rest at Pulua Maddang Island and spent the night in a lovely sand and mangrove fringed bay.


16th September 2008


We headed off to Maddang Island on the NE tip of Lombok and the wind increased and headed us. Wanting to get there with good light, we used the motor to bang into steep sided waves and 20+ knots of headwind that were emanating from the Great Rinjani volcano (12,000ft - son of the Great Houdini). After a few hours of hard motoring at 3 knots we tucked ourselves behind the Islands where the smoke onshore was drifting in the opposite direction and found an anchorage in peace and quiet. The peace was broken at sundown with 2 mosques having a karaoke wailing showdown that never abated.


Fliss....


It's such a shame to race through these beautiful spots but we really don't like being illegally in the country. I rang Bali marina last night and asked for a berth - they do not have any until the 20th due to the World ARC boats and anchoring outside is a bit dodgy. I asked if it was therefore ok to anchor off Lombok until that time and they told us it was no problem and that we could then check-in with customs and immigration once they had space.


17th September 2008


Pete ....


Yesterday, we found that the tide swung Naz on her anchor at 16:00 and decided that we would leave to get some tide North at 02:00 and that it would turn West at 04:30 so we left early leaving the moaning mosques to their antics. All worked out fine although we had no wind to start with. The full moon was high and the going good and, as the sun rose, we found that we were surrounded by hundreds of small fishing canoes with outriggers.


Of course, the easy time could not last and we soon had those 20+ knot headwinds again that could not be sailed into due to the constant 30 degree wind shifts so we motored hard again to make landfall at Teluk Kombal.


18th September 2008


It has blown like stink here ever since we arrived at Teluk Kombal and the white water off the headland discourages any further movement.


Nomad Life arrived yesterday and have had the same problems getting here as we have. In fact, everyone that we have spoken to that have come the same way as us have moaned about the difficulties of sailing in the lee of the islands. I think that we are currently sitting in a wind acceleration zone and that it will die altogether if we move 15-20 miles West.


19th - 21st September 2008


Pete.......


We shared a car with Nomad Life and went to the main town (Mataram) via the monkey forest. The monkeys were very cute and we fed them peanuts that the driver had picked up en-route. Mataram was the usual busy Asian town with heavy traffic, lots of scooters and no road rules. All we did was a bit of food shopping and then returned via the scenic coastal route. We are sitting on a mooring buoy (one of about 15 placed in 30 metres) that the local village have placed in the bay. Local lads sit by the beach and offer services to yachties and we feel that the dinghy is safe to leave there. I think that the village runs a bit like a commune and that income from the buoys and other services are shared to some extent. The local lads are really friendly and we are going to organise fuel and water to be delivered to the beach today in jerry cans.







Monkey and Baby








We have not heard any good news about Benoa Marina in Bali. Apparently the fuel is very expensive and dirty, the water is not potable and the marina is also a good way out of town. The only reason that we wanted to go there was to formally check in. However, we met "Lasse" yesterday (a German family - we last saw Ben when we were hauled out at New Caledonia) and they told us that they managed to do Customs and Immigration at Mataram. The local lads know where to go so we shall be there early on Monday morning in our finest clothes to give it a go - it is not guaranteed and depends on who is working on the day! That will save us the pain of 55 miles of headwind over tide to Benoa. Lasse are still here and we will go and pick their brains about the whole process. If all goes well , we will visit Bali from its North shore by bus and, possibly hire-car.


Sunday was a day of work (Friday being the holy day of rest here). I pulled the loo pump out and took it apart, examined and put back together again. After a few pumps, water was leaking out again and, having taken it back out and dismantled again, I found that the outlet valve was leaking and that the thread for one of the screw fixings was stripped so I applied a bit of sealant adhesive and put it aside for the day to set securely.


The cockpit floor has been oozing water when trodden on in a couple of small places so I got down to the job of cutting and prising the rubber caulking out from between a selected number of teak seams only to find that some strips of teak were a bit loose and one came off altogether. After much preparation, I applied glass fibre resin and stuck down the various bits. I think that it is really a sticking plaster repair since I am expecting the whole floor to come loose sooner or later. The real fix would be to lift all the glued strips of teak, re-prepare the floor underneath and re-glue everything - unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the materials to do the job properly on this occasion and there is always the risk of splitting one of the slats when I prise them off.


22nd September 2008


Today we are trying our luck at checking into Indonesia!


Pete ....


Our first stop was at the wrong place - probably the local harbour master - but the friendly chap made a phone call, gave our driver some directions and instructions and we drove off to immigration in the main town (Mataram). Our driver made another phone call and we waited for 10 minutes until given the nod to get out where we were met by a chap who turned out to be the main harbourmaster of the island. He escorted us through to an office where a very friendly immigration official dealt with our formal entry to the country. He asked some pertinent questions about why we were checking in at Lombok (not an official port of entry) and why we had not gone to Flores, Komodo etc and I did a bit of skirting around the truth that satisfied his curiosity. Fliss, meanwhile, was wowing the harbourmaster with her Indonesian phrasebook and told him (in Indonesian) that Stewart, her brother, was a Harbour Master in England (fairly close to the truth)... the response was something to behold as he announced to the Immigration officer that Stewart was also a Harbour Master. After that, everyone he met, he told them the same thing. I reckon we scored massive brownie points on that!!!! He was dead chuffed!


Next we had to go with the Harbour Master. His assistant jumped in the car with us to show us the way and we drove to a small village. The locals all smiled & waved at us, the Harbour Master's assistant said that they didn't see many "round eyes" & the locals thought we were unique.


The harbour master's sidekick spoke English quite well and formalities went smoothly. We managed to check-in and out in one easy process. Then came the sting! Fliss & I knew it was coming as we understood a few words that the Harbour master had said. "Berapa" came up a few times which means "how much"... We were asked for a gift and I said "Berapa?" & they said "as much as you would like to give"... it's really difficult as too little would be an insult & you obviously you don't want to pay too much. I got out a 50,000 rupee note our & offered it as a gift from both boats, the Port Captain said no it must be a gift from each boat... so Judit with a face like thunder also gave them a 50,000 gift. She should have gritted her teeth and smiled sweetly!! I believe that, once asked for, you cannot refuse because that would mean the harbourmaster would loose face, and we had to offer as little as possible without offending, and do it graciously so that we also did not lose face - the way of Indonesia. 50,000 rupiah is about three pounds and 12 pence. Our driver and car for the day cost 300,000 rupiah (18 pounds and 75 pence between the four of us).


On the way out the Port Captain said to his staff "Hey guys her brother is also a Harbour Master in England!"


Next Customs! this is where we were expecting problems as Naz was over an hours drive away and there had been rumours that the Customs guys were demanding 25% value of the boat as an import tax. However, a nice chap met us and dealt with us efficiently - he had been seconded from Benoa in Bali where customs are used to yachts and so we think that we were lucky to have picked the right day. He also agreed to sign us in and out again in one sitting (Customs must be done at each island visited). And there we go! 6 hours after setting out, we were fully fledged visitors to Indonesia.


23rd & 24th September 2008


I finished preparations and re-caulked the cockpit floor, fixed the light in the main cabin and re-installed the loo pump. I have pumped it a few times and am still searching for a leak. Maybe tomorrow I will feel confident enough to put the tools away.



25th September 2008


Pete ......


At 02:00 this morning, we dodged our way out of the anchorage through the fish farms and set sail for Bali. After all the wind we have had over the past week, we have found that we are having to motor once again. Our destination is called Lovina Beach. Chartplotter shows this as firmly aground


Fliss....


Last night I asked Pete is he had taken a bearing on the way out of the anchorage missing the reefs & the fishing platforms. “No problem” he said “I'll just head for the right light and we'll be fine”.


Anchor up and we slowly made our way out only to notice a shape approaching Naz in the water, I quickly grabbed “our serious beam” torch to see that it was in-fact the fishing platform which is by the reefs. Sharp turn to the right ensued. The light Pete was heading for was the wrong one and the one he meant to aim at was turned off! Thankfully we weren't that close!


As the sun rose we saw hundreds of small unlit fishing boats, you would never see them in the dark, luckily Pete has stayed well off the coast so we didn't have to dodge them.









Local Fisherman






We arrived at Lovina Beach Bali at 15:00 - after starting early we just relaxed in the cockpit & had an early night.


26th September to 3rd October 2008


We spent some time getting to know Lovina and chilling out.


Pete. .....


Early on the 28th, we went off with Graham, Judit (Nomad Life), Ben, Corolla and their 2 kids (Lasse) with our private driver headed to Ubud, Bali's cultural centre, where we planned to stay for a couple of days. First, we visited a Buddhist temple. From there, we climbed up into the hills where the rice paddies hung precariously to the steep slopes and then higher still where spices (cloves and nutmeg) and eventually coffee was grown. The scenery in Bali is beautiful with steep valleys, paddies, lush vegetation and volcanoes. We took a stop at a shack by the side of the road and the owner had his own mini-zoo. The centre-piece was a chameleon-like creature about 3 feet long and he also brought another smaller one that he encouraged us to hold. He had a couple of fruit bats that we could pick up by the legs and they did not seem to mind one bit. They really do look like flying foxes with fury faces and long tongues that that they used to lick the salt from our skin. Fliss and I had a go at having the enormous snake (a python I think) hung around our necks although holding up such a weight for too long was difficult and when it turned its head and stared straight at you from a few inches away it was a little daunting.





Bat, Mongoose and Snake and Orang Ingerris (Me)





















Fliss...


I don't mind snakes but this one was huge! After a few minutes it started to squeeze my neck and I could really feel the pressure, needless to say I gave it back sharpish!


Pete.........


We gave a donation of 10,000Rp (75p) and carried on eventually to Ubud. Ben and Corolla had been recommended a place to stay and having looked at a couple of other places, it seemed pretty good and quiet at 80,000Rp per night including breakfast. The accommodation was a set of small bungalows around a courtyard that doubled as the the owners private temple. All of the architecture here is very fancy built of brick and topped with soft black-sand cement that is cast into rough shapes and then beautifully carved into flowers and Hindu gods (mainly looking like demons with big teeth).


Graham and Judit decided to go upmarket and stay in a place for 90,000 but there was really no difference in quality. We joined them at their 'hotel' for the evening meal that was buffet style and included about 20 different dishes. The venue was upstairs, open sided with a thatched roof and we sat on a raised area cross-legged on cushions around 2 low tables. Very nice.









Ubud, Dinner with Graham, Judit, Ben, Corrola and kids























Ubud has grown up since we last visited 7 years ago and has much more traffic, is noisier and more polluted. Still, Fliss and I took a walk out of town and through the surrounding villages and paddy fields and Fliss took herself off to a spa and had an hour and a half of massage, mud-wrap and floral wash. Being the centre of art in Bali, Ubud is teeming with paintings, carvings, clothes and anything else that can be sold. Unfortunately, although the workmanship is superb, we could not find anything that we liked and managed to save our money.




Ubud Outskirts













Livestock Transportation, taking the corners was hilarious











The trip back to Lovina Beach was supposed to be another tour of the Island but our driver seemed to have another agenda. We did managed to convince him to stop at a couple of places but it seemed that the everywhere we went, the locals wanted money for everything. At a Hindu temple, we had to wear a scarf around our waists and a woman tied one around Ben and then asked for money. Ben gave it back but the woman still wanted money for the simple job of tying it around his waist - she got short shrift. So, the pestering hawkers drove us home.


3rd October 2008


Pete ....


Yesterday was spent with last minute tidying, provisioning, carting and rowing goods to Naz and rubbish the other way. We have made good use of the old Avon since our arrival and no use of outboard engine and it has been hot work rowing back and forth. The reason for this is that, when we arrived, the "Sail Indonesia 2008" rally were here in great numbers and the beach boys set up a cartel to look after each dinghy for only 15,000Rp per day. Of course, we did not want to pay but this sort of mafiosa activity means that we could not leave our best dinghy ashore with an engine on it. We are happy to report that the puncture repair stood up to a test of over one weeks use without reinflating.


We are so glad to be leaving Lovina. During Ramadan and its Grand Finale (end of Sept) there were Mussers in the Moskies screaming "Allah White-Bum" until four each morning. Ramadan-a-dan-alana-ding-dong would have been much better. After their period of celebrations, the Hindu temple started its rehearsals for a grand opening later in the month with tortuously repetitive chimes, cymbals and xylaphones of Gamelan "Music". It is the sort of music that can only be concocted by a mad Brahman in the throes of feverish near-death. Once that had finished, the local Muslims (now on holiday) sang very poor karaoke until 4 in the morning.


If that was bad enough, the heat at midnight is still well in the 30's and the mossies somehow still manage to invade despite all of our defences.


Oh.....I nearly forgot the Trumpet practice from the boat on our starboard side and the Country and Western musik from the boat on our port side - minor irritations!!


4th October 2008


Pete ......


It is 15:15 Bali-time and we have just set off from Lovina and are motoring with about 2 knots of headwind. We were due to leave with Nomad Life at about 02:00 last night but I was feeling so poor that I did not eat all day and Fliss had a small bite of plain bread in the evening and promptly threw it up again. We are a little bit better today although Fliss is still one day behind my own gripes and we are hoping that she will find some recovery tomorrow. We have both managed to eat some breakfast today and so have something to be getting on with.








Sunset Leaving Bali







Fliss....


Last night I was sitting in the cockpit feeling really poorly wearing a black sundress. I watched a large seabird circling Naz, as I watched it prepared to land, the bird hadn't seen me and was preparing to land on me! I jumped out the way and it flew over my head and landed on the guard rail, it was as shocked as I was!!!! so funny! Pete came out and it made a strange cranking burping sound of a squalk and flew off....


5th October 2008


Perfect sailing conditions today! We sailed along comfortably at 7+ knots, maybe sailing in Indonesia isn't that bad!


6th October 2008


We have just dropped anchor at Bawean after a lovely sail. We had motored for 6 hours to get away from the grip of Bali and suddenly had enough breeze to clip along at 7 knots. The whole journey has been beautifully calm with a solid breeze that has kept us going at around 6+ knots. Last night, we furled away the headsail to slow us down and we arrived at the anchorage at 09:30. A little tricky since the sun was too low to see the coral patches and we came in very slowly. At one point, the depth dropped from 25 to 5 metres and we reversed hard to a standstill until we could make out the deeper water to port. Anyway, all safe and sound and ready to explore the little fishing village on the shore.


Graham & Judit called us up to see where we were. When they arrived they weren't very happy. Graham had tried to re-calibrate his autopilot, unfortunately the changes he had made had resulted in the autopilot weaving violently from side to side and it wouldn't keep a straight course. This means that they will be hand steering all the way to Singapore!


7th October 2008


Fliss........


Three young local lads came aboard and then offered us a lift to their village. Their boat was a dug out canoe that sat so low in the water, you dare not move in case you capsized it...































We arrived at the village after weaving our way through shallow reefs and the guys tied the canoe to a post & we had to wade through the water to shore, very funny as there was huge crab mounds (we think it was crabs) so one minute you were up to your knees and then the next to you ankles... finding a way through was difficult as you didn't know what the next step would bring....


I can't really describe the village really as it was really traditional! shacks in a jungle type setting, the bridge over the mud flaps was made out of broken up boats that rocked when you walked along it... fantastic! one of the boys took his to his home, he was obviously from a wealthy family as their house was made of brick with marble floors. The parents got out their best glasses & poured us a glass of warm strawberry Fanta and then offered us nibbles. The whole family/village stood in the doorway & watched us! The village is Muslim & the hospitality was amazing, in fact I was embarrassed as I never offered the boys anything when they came on Nadezhda.


Next was a break neck motorbike ride through the island... my driver stopped for fuel so of course we had to drive like Evil Kenevil to catch up Pete & the other lad, we only slowed down for pot holes!


We stopped at a cafe (shack) for a drink & spent a couple of hours chatting to the locals...


I really love it here! it really feels like Indonesia as I remember.... when they dropped us back on the boat I said to Pete here comes the sting, they'll want huge sums of cash! they never asked for anything.


Indonesia love David Beckham and in the rich boys house they had large pictures of him on the wall & Arsenal flags.
















8th October 2008


Pete ....


It rained. You could hear it coming as a loud hiss of water hitting the sea. We filled our tanks very quickly and it kept on coming with lightning and thunder to accompany it. The wind piped-up and we found ourselves on a lee-shore with uncomfortable swell rolling us about all day. Fortunately it abated before nightfall so we had a decent rest.


9th October 2008


Pete ........


We set off again with good winds towards.........we actually don't know where we are headed! There is a little island called Nangka near Belitung which is a bit out of our way and difficult to get into. Alternatively there is an island called Karimata that looks ok for anchoring but we have no other info on it. Otherwise, it is a longer haul up to Lingga but we would rather stop before then....we shall see. Nomad Life left the same time as us and are now 10 miles behind us. They are having problems with their autopilot that wants to zigzag them anywhere but the way they want to go and consequently they are having to steer by hand. I think that they will follow our lead in terms of where to stop since we have a spare control unit that could get them by until they can sort themselves out in Singapore.


10th October 2008


We are now hoping to make landfall at the Northern tip of Banka approx 1 degree 30' South and 105 degrees 40' East.


Today was a great sail with no problems and we slooshed along at 6-7 knots all day and all night.


11th & 12th October 2008


Pete......


Last night I saw another yacht sailing in the same direction as us a few miles ahead and we soon stormed past it leaving it gargling our wake. We even had to change course to miss it! There are loads of fishing boats and larger vessels running up and down the same stretch of water and so we have to be very vigilant and occasionally move out of the way of those who run by the rule of tonnage.


It appears that we are now moving into the ITCZ with its associated disturbed weather. For a few nights we have seen lightening flashes and I think that we have found ourselves in that area. Today, we saw a waterspout not too far away ahead and we dodged a couple of nasty looking rain squalls. Hopefully, all that will dissipate soon and will run away to the South as the NE Monsoon gets going (which is what we are waiting for before going up the Malacca strait).


13th October 2008


Pete........


We motored with no wind overnight and approached the anchorage in Northern Banka as the gloom of night lifted on the Eastern horizon. The approaches are clear of hazards and the bottom shelves gently towards the beach. This is a bit of a novelty for us since most anchorages seem to be on steep-to shelves of coral in about 15-20 metres. It left us completely flummoxed in this vast expanse of shallow water - where shall we drop the hook? We decided that just inside the elbow of the headland looked best protected and it is certainly the prettiest so we motored in until we reached 6m depth and here we are.


The journey from Bawean has been very relaxing although we have had to use the engine for the last 15 hours. Never mind, we thought that we would be motoring a lot more than we have done and so feel that we have done very well.


14th & 15th October 2008


Pete.....


There is not a lot to tell since we arrived in Banka apart from the fact that we have run out of fresh food and are now digging into our special reserves of tinned food. We took a stroll along the beach and did a bit of swimming although the coral here is non-existent. We go into the sea to cool down since the water is a chilly 28 or 30 degrees centigrade once you get out of the warm shallows. We had a big rainstorm this morning which was refreshing and allowed us to do some washing, now the humidity has risen again and another dip off the side of the boat is in order.


















16th October 2008


Pete.......


So, this morning, we set off Northwards again towards the island of Lingga where we will stop briefly before moving on to try and find a shop where we can re-supply. No wind again so it looks as though we will be motoring all the way (140 miles). Tonight, we will cross the equator again and be back in the Northern Hemisphere so we will have to think of something silly to do to mark the occasion - maybe stop the boat for a while and go for a quick swim. Nomad Life are motoring about 1.5 miles behind us so, since it is so calm, we could raft our two boats together in the middle of the sea and have an Equator party?!?


17th October 2008


Pete .......


We crossed the Equator with no frivolities apart from a quick toast to Neptune and Rule Britannia played at full volume.


In the early afternoon, we motored into Pulau Mesanak (0 degrees 26' North, 104 degrees 31' East) and did very little for the rest of the day. In the evening, we watched the hundreds of aircraft coming and going from Singapore. It is 60 miles to Singapore but the orange loom on the dark horizon betrays its prescence.


18th October 2008


Pete ......


We motored to Tanjung Pinang (0 degrees, 56' North, 104 degrees 26' East). The cruising guide suggested that we make sure that water is still flushing through the engine since the plastic bags clog the engine raw water intake. The amount of rubbish floating there is indescribable with plastic bags, drinks cups, plastic bottles, styrofoam, plastic noodle wrappers et al. This is typical of Indonesia where they have not yet got around to understanding about rubbish that does not decay. Seven years ago, we boarded a passenger ferry that was covered with polystyrene cups, plates and plastic knives and forks.....on the decks, on the tables, the seats and shelves. Very soon, the crew were busy cleaning up and putting the whole lot into plastic bin-liners and taking them to the stern. Once all was clear and clean, they simply threw the whole lot over the back leaving a trail of black floating islands for miles.


At Labhuan Baja, we asked someone where to dump rubbish and they simply waved their arm expansively to the sea. We have been taking rubbish to the beach and burning it at the low-tide line.


So, where the folks have access to prepackaged goods, the area is littered with the detritus and here seems to be the worst of all.


Fliss.....


Tanjung Pinang is a major town in Bintan.... the water is filthy, loads of plastic bags & rubbish floating past the boat... the town itself is really quite nice, very Indonesian. Houses on stilts & a bustling centre... nothing like the UK where everything is clean & orderly... here is chaos. Men on freight rickshaws (bikes with a trailer type thing on the front) delivering 20 odd cases of beer to a shop... old ladies sitting on the pavement with a bowl of rice selling a few veg.. all around her is rubbish, scabby cats with no fur & half tails... The locals are friendly but the cruising book says that local knowledge advises against leaving your boot unattended... "Nomad Life" Graham & Judit are here also so we took it in turns to do boat watch duty.


19th October 2008


Pete ......


We headed to Nongsa Point Marina today (NE Batam Island) where we hope to do some provisioning and find out the best and easiest way to visit Singapore. Nongsa organise check-in/out and it was certainly simple to check-in with them when we arrived.


20th to 25th October 2008


Fliss...


I went with Graham & Judit to the supermarket here, it was like walking into Nirvana!!!! lots of fresh veg, meat & bread .... we then had steak, salad & french bread.... it wasn't as good as UK supermarkets but compared to the cockroach infested shops that sell bugger all it was an absolute delight!!!!


Life is cheap here, I bought loads of stuff and 10 litres of boat oil & the bill came to 50 quid... Malbrough lights for 200 are 6 quid!!!


Batam is quite a rich island as the Singaporese come here at the weekend. According to gossip the Singaporese are very chic and expect top quality everything. We wanted to find out and so booked tickets by fast-ferry to go there .....


We caught the ferry at 8am Indonesian time and the trip across was only 30 minutes...


Pete made a slight boo boo when he said Salamat pagi (good morning in Indonesian) to the Immigration lady in Singapore, she said with a face like thunder "I'm Chinese" whoops!!!! the conversation finished with a stern faced official... he still got a visa in....


We had a lovely day! we visited "Little India" and had a great curry for lunch! 2.50 for curry, rice, pappadam & some kind of doughy bread a real local doss hole but if the locals eat there it has to be good and it was!


















We then went to "Orchard Road" which is Singapore's equivalent to Oxford Street, nothing but designer shops.... BUT guess what!!!! there was a Marks & Spencers - St Micheals food shop... not a lot in there but I bought Ploughmans Pickles & Pesto sauces...


Little India was lovely just like a scene out of "Bollywood"


Then it was onto China Town, which was ok more touristy than the one in Soho....

















Singapore didn't seem to have an identity of itself but a mixture of Indian & Chinese.


Singapore is a really really clean city no graffiti anywhere and if you decided to do some street art they will birch you... They also have a law that if you go to the loo & don't flush they will fine you 200 dollars, how they police this god only knows!!!! mad laws like England where you can't buy a bible on a Sunday!.


A few more days relaxing at Nongsa Point and then Malaysia – here we come!