And I could walk 500 miles…

Hard to believe it, but, yes, we could have walked here faster. Current, wind and tides have not been working much in our favour. We’ve arrived in Belitung, a small island roughly halfway between Jakarta and Singapore. Only 300 miles to go until Singapore. It’s been a hard slog, getting here from Karimunjawa. We waited and waited until a favourable weather window finally arrived and we set off together with our buddy boat Impetuous Too. Just enough of an angle to sail. But, even with the full sails up and both engines running, we struggled to make any decent speed. Imagine cycling uphill with the brakes on, and you’ll get the idea. When you are doing 5 or 6 knots over the water (and at some points even 7 or 8) but you have 2 to 3 knots current against you … well that’s just simply frustrating. So keep that thought and then keep doing that for 3 days and bring in a few violent midnight squalls (which means you have to take all the sails down and get soaking wet) … not that much fun. And, how could I forget, there are also still the logs, FADs and floating rubbish bags to watch out for (although of course you don’t see these at night!). It’s also incredibly shallow all across the Java and Sumatra Sea, even in the middle of the ocean, far away from any land, the average depth is just 50 metres. It made for a very short, choppy and uncomfortable sea; a bit like being inside washing machine for a few days.

We ‘celebrated’ Christmas in the middle of the ocean, somewhere between Karimunjawa and Belitung. I couldn’t face the galley in all that chop, so noodles, pasta, bread, cereal were the menu of the day. However, Santa did manage to find our boat and dropped off a few presents. Nothing like some new Lego to keep the boys entertained while on passage, so that was a big hit. A proper Christmas dinner was had when we reached Belitung. No turkey; chicken did us just fine though.

It would simply be impossible to get here without engines, I think we would have been moving backwards. Unfortunately, our friends’ engine gave up as they approached Belitung. Tough sailors that they are, they tacked their way into the anchorage, adding a few hours to those last couple of miles. Lots of problem-solving and tinkering the next day and still no luck. It was another 50 miles or so to Tanjung Pandan, the main town, against current and wind. We decided to tug was the only option, so Rehua threw a line and off we went. Luckily, the two days sailing (read: motoring) up the coast were calm(ish). The final approach into town was not very evident. Charts were inaccurate (naturally) and the whole area leading into the harbour is silted up and very, very shallow. Fishermen kept signalling to us but it was impossible to tell whether they meant us to go in that way or stay away. Safety first, we dropped the hook outside and dinghied in to check the depth. All clear and we headed in, pulling our friends along. We all breathed a deep sigh of relief when both anchors were dropped inside Tanjung Pandam’s protected harbour. Duncan already found a great engine shop and they are on the case ordering new parts.

A quick venture into town and we were pleasantly surprised. It’s well developed, the locals are very friendly and welcoming, and it seems to be a thriving town. There’s quite a bit of tourism here, but of the local variety. Only Indonesians, Jakarta jet-setters, I suspect, and no other westerners around. Apparently, the island is not entirely muslim and we’ve seen a bit of everything. From fully covered up with jihabs to miniskirts and hair extensions. Hopefully that means there’s stuff to be found in the supermarket (think cheese, meat, beer, wine; all the things we’ve haven’t been able to buy for a while). We’ll find out in the next few days. Today we’re taking it easy. After school, we’ll head into town for lunch, perhaps in one of the hotels with a pool, so the kids can jump in and cool off. Last night, we found a great number of local food stalls, with delicious (and cheap!) Indonesian food, accompanied by live music. Very nice atmosphere.

We’ll spend at least a few days here to to provision and fuel up and then we need to do the dreaded clearing out of Indonesia. I say ‘dreaded” because our one biggest complaint about Indonesia has to be the paperwork and bureaucracy we’ve encountered at every visa extension. So hopefully clearing out with customs, immigration and the port authority will go smoothly here, fingers crossed!

In the meantime, we wish you all a happy, healthy and adventurous 2018!

From the Rehua crew xx


waiting waiting in…  Kariwhere? Just look on the hill to remember where we are … 


time to leave, heading towards the pass


our buddy boat Impetuous Too, zooming along nicely


Christmas Eve sunset at sea 


Not a bad show and remember, red sky at night … 


day-hopping along the SW coast of Belitung


local fishing boat


this one could do with a lick of paint


pulling our friends along


Tyrii gives them a quick nudge to help with anchoring position


view from our cockpit in Tanjung Pandan


Tanjung Pandan sunrise


first thing we notice when we venture into town: they have decent roads. Surely that must be a good sign. Maybe they’ll have decent supermarkets too?


And yes! Beer! Even the Belgian stuff, that’s the first time I’ve seen Duvel in Indonesia

“Monsoon Madness”

I suppose after years of an ultramarine and turquoise lifestyle most of you will say we deserve a bit of personalised wintery weather…….well it’s here in spades.                         Looking forward, the next four or five days will likely be the same as the last four or five days, coffee swilling,  deck pacing, weather downloading, meal cooking,  activity planning, most of which will not come to fruition because it’s wall to wall gigabyte sized squalls cut and pasted on top of a good 20-25 knts of spinoff from Cyclone Kai-Tak up north.  We had 48 knts over the deck at 0400hrs yesterday,  what fun, “damn I wish I had put out that extra 10 meters of chain in the afternoon”, you sit, number crunching at the helm, ears strained, listening for chain scrape, your buttocks unwittingly clenched, waiting, waiting, for the slip, the drift into deep black space………the reef clad shore 500mtrs away, but it doesn’t come, our Manson Supreme 60 pounder on 50 mtrs of 3/8″ holds like an advert, the rain increases to a grey, horizontally streaked mass, the wind backs a little and you relax ever so slightly in your seat………but not too much, accidents can happen! All three yachts were well lit by this stage and I suspect a mutual current of fear and loathing for this wearisome weather was aboard each and every one. The local Harbour Authority have called all ships into port due to 4-5 mtr swell outside and ferries are cancelled until further notice. We have scoured every weather model for a glimmer of letup, Friday looks promising, but wait, its madness to leave on a Friday, superstitious madness, so let’s look at Saturday, keep you posted on that one it’s not like we have anything else to do! Meanwhilst the fair is now in town in the form of a “four deep” raft of the most colourful, grubby, fishing boats ever to grace a waterfront, but the crews smile and laugh and caper like it’s a holiday park, just goes to show how bloody hard these guys are, all nets and lines are manhandled the only help a small boom type crane with a 2:1 block system.


Don’t linger downwind of these puppies!


No Parahandy culture aboard here, they are all SunnyJims.


That is cloud above, not so different from when all galley stoves are fired up.


Thes guys are flyweights in boxing terms, all of them, imagine setting and hauling that lot by hand, all day and night, no wonder they are smiling today 🙂


Mean whilst, at school today we learned a new word……… J.A.C.K.E.T……..



Caught in a trap.

I guess we’ve been lucky so far. We saw many huge logs (and entire trees) floating around in Indonesian waters. In daylight, you can see them and avoid them, at night, it’s a different story. And so it happened. Sailing across the Java Sea at 4am, just before dawn, while I was on watch. I heard a small thump, nothing louder than a wave smacking the hull, so I didn’t think anything of it until a second later, when the boatspeed dropped from 5 to 2 knots. I immediately put the engines in neutral and called Seathan, who was sleeping in the saloon. He was up in a flash, grabbed the torch and noticed a huge 10 metres long bamboo log that was wedged underneath the boat. It’s never appealing to go into the water whilst sailing, especially not in the dark, but it seemed there was no choice. But before getting in, Seathan tried prodding the log with the boathook and it became obvious it wasn’t just a log. It was a mooring, attached to the bottom (the Java Sea is very shallow, even in the middle of the ocean it’s only 50 to 60 metres deep). A huge mooring, with a massive floating bamboo log. Unmarked, of course. He managed to push it off (without getting in the water) and luckily none of the ropes were wrapped around the prop. No damage done. Thank goodness for the Antares and the fact that we have a shaft-drive with heavily skegged rudders. It would have been a different story if it had been a sail-drive. Phew. Getting back to sleep wasn’t really an option anymore after all that excitement. The kids, however, never woke up. Blissfully unaware of everything that was happening above deck and under the water…

So here we are in Karimunjawa, after a rough 24h crossing from Bawean. We had massive thunder, lightning right above and around us, whirlwinds, choppy seas,… very unseasonal. The NW monsoon arrived early and with an unusual intensity. Climate change? El Niña? Who knows! All I know is that we’re caught in a trap, weather-wise. It’s going to be a hard slog getting out of Indonesia. We’re trying to pick the best moments, doing short coastal hops if necessary. Seathan is route-planning as we speak. We’re here with two other boats, our buddy boat Impetuous Too and another catamaran. All trying to get to Malaysia … Fingers crossed we find a weather gap!


unmarked huge 10 metres bamboo float, caught underneath our hulls


huge squall is chasing us as we leave Bawean


The wisps you see were quickly forming williwaws.


The small point in the cloud (centre) was a full blown mini tornado a few moments earlier, you can still see the water being lifted below.


sunrise, looking better with the squalls gone (for now)


This one flagged us down just for the hell of it, we are always wary they are trying to indicate they have nets out.


This boat was frantically waving us down, I can only assume to assist with a tow into the town 10 nm away, sorry boys not enough horsepower aboard!

A hard slog

Heading West during the start of the NW Monsoon is a hard slog.  We’re picking our moments few and far between! From Bali we sailed across the Java Sea and encountered a few heavy squalls (think roaring forties). Nothing the boat and the crew couldn’t manage, but not very pleasant nonetheless…

We’re taking a few days rest in Bawean, a small island in the middle of the Java Sea, to wait for some more favourable weather before we continue to Belitung. Last night, we had some crazy squalls with the most thunder and lightning we’ve ever experienced. Never seen so much energy being released from the sky. It started blowing violently up to 40 knots and the boat was bouncing around on the anchor. The kids? They didn’t even wake up!


Motor-sailing across the Java Sea with our buddy boat, calm before the squalls


fishermen racing out, warlike from stem to stern, waking to this sight must have been what the Brits experienced when our Norse mates arrived for the extended party…….


hundreds of them!


all shouting and happy to see us


Sydney……are you missing something this morning if so I think we found it! The tug is around 100′ just for purposes of scale.


Indonesian style FAD, or perhaps a small resort startup.


The wharf at Bawean, these boys could teach Macbraynes a thing or two about efficient loading, all by hand!


in town, we feel like celebrities, not many tourists come here…


off to get diesel, never complain again about the effort on the forecourt, we become more like our primate cousins every trip.


Bawean litres are small, they got 95l into 80l of our jerry cans, just to the 20 l line mind you ,Dr Who would have been proud! Oh! and to top it off they were pumping from the petrol drum into the diesel bucket so it all had to be redone, fag in hand of course, the modified petrol was then returned to its respective home at a ratio of about 3:1,  I’ll pick up some petrol in Belitung.


Eat your heart out Bieber………….. the kids are in town.


Guardians of the dingy universe……waving goodbye to Alien forces!


At the third anchorage at Bawean, 8 meters and fine sand and clay, sleep easy!

vlcsnap-2017-12-10-08h08m28s975 (2)

2 hours later, sheet, forked, wiggly, straight down, ball, all types of lightning with 40 knots to blow away the first vestiges of sleep, the most sustained energy release we have ever encountered, 4 hours worth at least. No sleep easy.





Quite different from the rest of Indonesia. After the barren landscape of Flores and Komodo we are back in lush and green surroundings. We sailed past erupting Mount Agung and then continued West quickly to hide for an approaching tropical cyclone. We found the perfect hurricane hole in West Bali’s national park. The cyclone headed south and fizzled out anyway, but we stayed and enjoyed a few relaxing days in this beautiful remote area of Bali. I say remote, but there are in fact several luxury resorts out here, all with infinity pool, beachside restaurants and even some hot springs.


Rehua sailing along the north coast of Bali (photo courtesy of Impetuous Too)


brief stop in Lovina


this is hindu country, temples everywhere


quick dip in the infinity pool at one of the resorts in West Bali National Park

Gentlemen don’t go to windward……

Volcanoes, thankyou Agung for the show,  mother nature showing us just who is in charge , Agung was left behind looking menacing and way too big to sit under, our new friend Tropical Cyclone Cempaka is bearing down this afternoon, it shouldn’t hit us too hard and we are tucked away on the North-West tip of Bali in a lagoon with almost 360 protection and great holding, our two year-old high strength G4 chain will be stripped of the last of its galvanised coating, the sand (and I use the term sand lightly, more like a granulated stripping agent) here has coroded any vestige of protection it ever had!

Dont bring new Chain to Indonesia.

“Only 5 months it took, brand new it was, can I have me money back?”

Heads up to anyone contemplating Westing at this time of year in Indonesia, the NW Monsoon has arrived earlier than we planned; doesnt it arrive for Christmas! Either way it’s a bloody hard slog. From Western most Komodo we sailed 190nm over the water and made only 60nm as the crow flies, the current is flowing East at approximately 2-3knts, sometimes more, a tack the other night took us through 200 degrees COG, we were sailing 37 apparent in 30-40knts.  Option 2 is motoring, probably the most hated passtime aboard Rehua, with both engines running at 2000rpm in the short swell same wind range we make at best 4 knots, (in flat water this is 7 knots) so we are day hopping, dodging FADS and unmarked, kilometer long gill nets, we are still roughly 1000nm out from Malaysia, the numbers are not in our favour and busy days are ahead. In our favour, the scenery is stunning the crew are all happy, happy, oh! and beer is cheap! No such thing as a bad mile:-)

Time for another oil change…………really Im not heading for the fridge.

Standing by on 68 if your in the area.