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