Biak to Rajah Ampat

Sailing from Biak directly to Rajah Ampat takes us a bit off-piste as we ended up taking a more direct route over the top of Waigeo. Off piste and over “The Line” again……and again as Tyrii comes up with another idea, who can sail along 00, 00, 0000 longest without falling off, sounds good to me………….. let’s never grow up!
Timing is everything and route planning up here is a window job, wind is either full on or full off, tide is strong and seemingly in need of organisation. Combine the two and you can throw your route planning out the window.
So we had to either heave to or park up overnight, we threw some tea leaves on the chart and followed the direction of the longest one into a bay, charts are great, they are two dimensional, I can cope with this, driving into Arago, this bay has a name I can spell and pronounce, a third dimension is encountered, it’s the uppity one, the vertical one, 2-3000′ of it, sometimes sheer from the sea but in this case a small beach was to be seen under the vertiginous surfaces. Sand! Perfect we all cry, I am wary, experience tells me beware the topography, what goes on above ground is normally a good indication of what the sea-bed is up to. Eventually after much debate we decided to drop the hook into 6 mtrs-sand just to the left of the really big bommie leaving us room to swing round right onto the family of smaller bommies, Audrie tells me I have a special look when it’s not just right…
The oven was fired up and Team Pizza goes into action, Tyrii is our Doughman, Aeneas is the Toma-toer, all conducted by head-chef and domestic goddess, Audrie. I quickly improvise and create a man job that sounds important, words like “check” and “gen-locker” “voltage” are thrown around as I finger a beer from the fridge and head up onto the foredeck…..
After a truly wonderful meal, the first gusts fall off the hills, later this is joined by a squall with horizontal rain, our pizza restaurant is turned into hell’s kitchen with the boat whipping around the hook, an impressive group of fishing boats arrive to take shelter from the outside, they are long, 30 feet and tented through the middle, they surround us peering out of the rain, their psychedelic lights flashing everywhere adding a slightly surreal element to a very real situation. We are a great attraction, not may sailors come this way.
In three years we haven’t quit an anchorage at night, a vote was taken, usual sailors fashion, mine’s worth two and yours doesn’t count, are you listening Donald? unanimous, “LUGTFOOH”, was initiated. Thank you Sass planet for giving us the ability to unwind the chain from the bommies and steer the boat out of a pitch black, wet, reef strewn hole into open sea, the fishermen thought we were crazy as we almost ran them over whilst exiting, all great fun in the cold light of day………………………what short memories we have!
We adopted a virtual hove to position all night (whilst the “cats and bats with sticks” threw their worst from the mountain tops; hey we have Kids:-), sailing at 2 knts to avoid rafting ourselves onto a tree trunk, it’s not “IF” but “WHEN” sailing at night through Indo. Sounds a bit dramatic but during the day there at times when you have to hand steer through the forest.
Light brings energy, and, the ability to read the pilot book, Auds finds another island that promises to be a bit more yacht friendly, Kawe, after arguing for an hour about the pronunciation we decide on KAAAAWWWE’, it has three anchorages marked in the guide, A,B and C, inspirational stuff, one of them is in sand and mud 9-15 mtrs with all-round protection, it’s anchorage “A”. We dance a small jig together both thinking the same thoughts, “uninterrupted sleep tonight”
Surely as an author and provider of maritime information, if you had visited Kawe you would have given its anchorage a more suitable name. And surely if you had visited you would have used a depth sounder rather than a “Wizards Wish-Stick” to measure the depth, not this author this time it would seem, we sounded 37-50 mtrs right to the head of the bay, which incidentally was very open to our current SE’ster, I wasn’t prepared to take soil samples to further destroy the Guides’ veracity.
Moving swiftly along, we now have 20+ knots on the beam and an opposing tide as we head for Wayag (a fish is caught and lost, it was huge and tasty) the jewel in Indonesia’s crown, our fingers are crossed as we sail for this Limestone labyrinth, 3 hours later we surf the breakers accompanied by a pod of dolphins into the most beautiful anchorage we have ever seen, first impression in the sunlight, it looks almost artificial, its soooooo chintzy, every island is velvety green, they all appear to float as the architect of this Archipelago fitted shadow gaps to every island, the shapes are surely manmade. Nope its just mother nature showing off, Tyrii’s first words, “Daddy I want to live here”, say no more. Oh, just one more thing, TODAY, IT’S ALL OURS!

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