More Anambas, Please

Summer wasn’t over after all. We had a few more weeks of glorious sunshine (and the odd rainy day, I admit). The Anambas Islands really rate as one of the top places we’ve been to in our four years of cruising. It’s just the perfect combination of remote island life with deserted sandy beaches, numerous protected anchorages to choose from in ‘day-hop-distance’, crystal clear water with beautiful underwater marine life and friendly locals.

After our visit to Pulau Pahit where we saw turtles hatch (magical!) we went south of Tarempa to visit a few more islands where we hadn’t stopped yet. First one was Pulau Tina, just west of Memperuk Island.

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Pulau Tina in the sunshine

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same island, at sunset

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S/V Chantilly getting their toys out, to the delight of our boys

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surf dude

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aqua boy

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great snorkeling around Pulau Tina

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Next, we headed a few miles east to another small island called Telukbakau (try pronouncing that one), where we caught up with S/V Intrigue. It was just another perfect setting with a gorgeous beach; it would have been a crime not to have a beach fire at sunset on it.

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our friends on S/V Chantilly

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just another gorgeous beach to stop at

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it would have been a crime not to have a beach fire on this one

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always love a good sunset

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S/V Intrigue, S/V Chantilly and S/V Rehua

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palmtrees agains the pink evening sky

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pink rocks

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that rock just had to climbed

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next morning, time for some beach combing 

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S/V Rehua, S/V Chantilly and S/V Intrigue 

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sand everywhere

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going for a morning stroll

We continued further south and stopped off at Dikar Reef. It’s some of the most crystal-clear pristine water we’ve seen, reminding us of our time in French Polynesia… and we were all alone, anchored in 3 metres of water with nothing but turquoise water around us. It was like being anchored in the middle of giant swimming pool.

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approaching Dikar Reef, our next stop

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beautiful crystal-clear turquoise water

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anchored in 3 metres over sand

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Rehua’s shadow on the sand

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kids can’t wait to jump in

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‘Bora-Bora blue’

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some of the clearest water we’ve seen

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we especially put our swimsuits on for the picture 😉

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water as flat as pancake

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on our way out of the anchorage

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leaving Dikar reef

We continued further south to Pulau Airabu, passing a few villages along the way and even a cellphone tower that gave us a (very rare) quick boost of 4G.

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Pulau Airabu with cellphone tower

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typical Anambas-style village with stilted huts

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And then, our final stop, just south of Pulau Lintang. Another beach begging to have a beach fire on it, more fantastic snorkelling and lots of small islands dotted around the anchorage, waiting to be explored. We were sad to leave but it was time to head back to Nongsapoint…

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view from the cockpit near Pulau Lintang

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quick dip

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one more gorgeous sunset

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and one more fire on the beach

 

The End of Summer?

Well, of course there is no summer or winter here; we are in the tropics, very close to the equator in fact. There are, however, two very distinctive weather patterns: the NE monsoon and the SW monsoon. The first one runs roughly from November to May and the latter from June to October. Or thereabouts, because there is always a transitional period in between monsoons. And right now we are wondering whether that transitional period has started already? It’s mid-October and we have had a lot of rain in the last week. Which is great for the watertanks (especially as our watermaker broke down AGAIN – this time it’s the membrane that needs replacing). Not so great if it means being cooped inside a small boat all day with a family of four. So, it feels a bit like summer is over right now. It even feels chilly now that the temperature has dropped to about 28 degrees C (oh how we will ever manage to acclimatise to northern European weather again).

But enough complaining, the weather definitely hasn’t stopped us from enjoying these beautiful islands and the Anambas have continued to surprise us.

Our first week here was a lot of fun as we got to catch up with our Danish friends onboard S/V Tsonoqua. We met up near our favourite picture-perfect desert island, just north of the main town Tarempa. The sail from Batam to there had taken us just over 24 hours and was truly idyllic: calm seas, just enough wind to keep the sails up, full moon and to top it all off a pod of dolphins escorted and welcomed us to the islands. And crossing like that don’t happen often: I think I can count the amount of perfect crossings like that during the last four years on one hand.

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an idyllic 24 hour crossing from Batam to Anambas: calm seas, full moon, just enough wind, …

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…and dolphins!

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we arranged to meet our Danish friends at this desert island near Pulau Tenggiling 

We arrived early afternoon and once the anchor was dug into the sand, the kids couldn’t wait to hop into the dinghy, pick up their Danish friends and head to the beach for a catch up.

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happy to be reunited with their friends

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see ya later!

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private catch up on the beach

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and the parents onboard Rehua

We island hopped together and enjoyed some beautiful weather, fires on the beach and dinners together onboard.

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‘Pencil-dot Island’, there’s a story behind the name, I’m sure?

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kids are off to the beach

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having fun on the SUPs

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snorkeling action

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the anchorage in the sunshine

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and in the rain …

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sunset behind the palmtrees, seen from the cockpit

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next stop: Penjalin Island and ‘BBQ-beach’

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with the perfect plunge pool

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sundowners on the beach

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sausage-roll on a stick for dinner

There was one disappointing development in Moonrock Bay, one of our favourite anchorages. Since our last visit here, a few months ago, the construction of a resort has started there. Apparently, the entire island is now private and they plan to ban yachts and local fishermen from entering the lagoon. It’s a shame and I really object to these type of so-called eco resorts that are just an excuse to make yet another beautiful island accessible only to the rich in the name of marine environment protection. The entire Anambas are in fact a marine conservation area and some of these resorts pretend they are creating yet another level of protection, but, I wonder if it is just an excuse to keep everyone out and make their island and lagoon accessible only to the very few.

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stunning Moonrock Bay

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the kids on top of the rock

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obligatory family shot

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start of the construction works in Moonrock bay

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the company that apparently wants to ban yachts and locals from entering this lagoon (photo credit SV Chantilly)

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‘Hilton pool’ on the other side of Moonrock bay, perfect swimming pool water and there’s nobody around 😉

After our Danish friends had to leave for Malaysia, we spent a couple of nights anchored all alone in a lovely bay near ‘Sandspit Island’ before heading into Tarempa for some veggies and water. And, unbelievable but true, another kid boat was in town! A Swedish family this time. We also bumped into some Aussie friends on Chantilly and together spent a week hopping further around the islands.

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Chantilly, Galeforce and Rehua, anchored in front of Pahat Island

Our most remarkable experience in the last couple of weeks (probably one of the most amazing experiences in the last 4 years) was this one afternoon on Pahat Island. We had gone ashore to meet the local fishermen that were based there and it appeared there was some type of turtle sanctuary set up. All very basic and no visitor centre or information or anything like that, and with our limited Indonesian it was difficult to understand what was going on. Plenty of hand-gestures, a lot of smiling and nodding and eventually we understood that this one local guy was in charge to look after the island, and, that he was also looking after the turtle eggs that were dropped all over the island. He even marked the estimated hatching dates and showed us a bucket full of 4-day old baby turtles that he planned to release when they were 15 days old (not sure what the reasoning was behind this). A bit later on, he showed us the area where the turtle eggs were kept (behind a fence to protect them from other predators) and to our utter delight, one batch had just hatched that very afternoon. They were all crawling out of their hole, tiny newly born baby turtles all covered in sand. They were the cutest things I’ve ever seen. The local guy helped them to come up out of the sand and put them in a bucket to then release them a bit closer to the waterline. As soon as they were let out, they made a run for it and seeing all those hundreds of tiny turtles run into the water and swim away was just the most amazing spectactle I have ever witnessed. What a privilege to see this happen and how amazing nature is.

 

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the turtles are off (photo credit SV Chantilly)

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cute little guy (photo credit SV Chantilly)

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a helping hand to get them into the water

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the cutest thing I’ve ever seen

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hundreds of tiny turtles running into the sea

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the beach at Pahat Island

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this little guy is 4 days old and will be released when he’s 15 days old

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messing around with the camera

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hovering on the beach

It also made me very sad to think how many of these cute little creatures won’t survive for very long. Some will get eaten, but worse, some will get trapped in plastic rubbish that is floating around everywhere. It’s a huge problem and we’ve seen many beautiful beaches just drowned in plastic. Check out this new BBC documentary called “Drowning in Plastic”. It’s so sad to see how much damage plastic is doing to our oceans and the animals in it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bmbn47

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the Anambas have amazing snorkeling, this was taken at Sandspit Island