Belitung-Malaysia

We are well over half way now “motor sailing” into 2knts of Nth-Sth current at just over 6 knts, position 00 04.129N:104 56.681E, we recrossed the Equator at around 0700hrs this morning no fancy ceremonies, everyone is still asleep. We will cut up through the west coast of Batam and join the TSS East and below Singapore early tomorrow morning, no pictures today as this is via SSB.
Boys are suffering sleep deprivation, not through wild seas or “Mal de Mer” but in raw anticipation of a belated Xmas day out at Legoland, wish I was still 12 as well!
To our lost friends down south, its been an easy run, even the fishing nets are sailor friendly, the current has never been over two knots, looking forward to catching up. So Malaysia early doors tomorrow for some down time off the boat. Rehua standing by on 16……
S.

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“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.

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Don’t linger downwind of these puppies!

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No Parahandy culture aboard here, they are all SunnyJims.

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

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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 🙂

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

 

 

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.

S.

Kawe to Sorong

We are slowly working our way through Rajah Ampat back to Sorong where we will replenish dwindling boat supplies and renew our visa for the next month. Wayag was the highlight so far but we are breaking new ground and finding some beautiful anchorages on the way south; today we are stern to on our own private island some small fishers go past, in-boards chugging away, they don’t bother us, we wave and feel they are ambivalent to our presence. Methinks the language barrier coupled with the religious differences (mostly Muslim) create the gap.
We jagged some great diving and snorkeling last month, but today we are close to where a young Russian was taken by a croc whilst snorkeling so we have tightened the swimming rules, women and children first! It’s a boat thing…….
We managed to forage coconuts and very nearly some bananas today but some greedy guts got there before us 🙂 the trees are everywhere, remnants of abandoned villages and resorts scattered throughout the islands, some are still furnished beds, chairs, tables, it’s like the Mary Celeste, they just upped and left, will have to investigate further. Photos to follow if and when we hit civilisation.

Equatorial celebrations!

Kawe is the place to have your line party, we crossed Nth to Sth at 1700hrs last night dropped the hook and cracked a Bintang with a neighbouring boat, well there has to be some recompense for the sweltering heat of the day.
Not as beautiful as its northern cousins in Wayag, but, there is an old mine to be explored today, the boys are feeling lucky, gold panning!
No swimming……..there be Salties apparently, sometimes an inflatable dingy doesn’t feel like such a haven. Never smile at a crocodile. 😉

Wayag

We are still here, some buddies have come and gone, but for us there is just too much exploring to do, its been a while since we had total seclusion, no canoes, no rangers, the odd day boat. The anchorage is flat the water is pristine and the views from the hilltops spectacular. Long may it last.
Rehua.

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!

Gone Dutch.

Rehua:
01,18S 136,23E, anchored off Konori Island.
It feels like we were at sea for a week but in reality 5 days if we include the day stopover in Vanimo. The weather broke us on the last two days and we had to motor/sail on and off into light variable Westerlies, where they came from is anybody’s guess, theoretically the wind should be Easterly at this time of year. We lowered the hook yesterday afternoon in ten meters of pristine water and watched the lagoon come alive with double out-rigged canoes, some wielding outboards some paddles, these guys appear affluent in comparison to the poorer PNG cousins, we had ten of so off the back of the boat by sundown……our Indonesian is limited to twenty words from the back of the cruising guide, their English is non existent, so back to semaphore with the five fingered flags. We will cruise the lagoon over the weekend then head for check-in Biak style on Monday morning.
We were loosely in contact with two other boats in Vanimo, they are at the moment MIA, so guys if you are able let us know all is well we are slightly worried?
What’s to worry about in this “Equatorial Aquarium” you may ask, logs is the answer, logs and indeed whole trees at sea, sporting leaves, roots and wildlife, some up to 30 meters long and a meter in diameter, solid hardwood floating just under the surface, most have been washed down one of the many rivers on the mountainous coastline, some have been dropped by the rapacious logging companies as they load their ships for Malaysia and China after stripping this part of the world bare of its wonderful rain-forest. Don’t get me started on the fishing quotas………….!
Anyway the title “Gone Dutch”, we are officially in the “Dutch East Indies”, as they used to be called, land of spice and gold, perhaps the locals still have some Pigeon Dutch we can try tomorrow, we will give it a go, meanwhile we are all back to language classes as six months here without communicating is a no no! Selamat jalan.

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Ninigo.

We are starting to wonder if we have our timing right? Seasonally that is, the wet season should have given way by now and we would expect some drier weather. Last night was unabated wall to wall rain cells, the boat’s washed and the tanks are full can we please have some sunshine!! Its been so wet we have had only one visitor to the boat and he said let it dry out before you come into the village. So while everyone reading this says, finally some “payback” for all those turquoise sun-filled photos we post, it’s okay we still dance outside in the rain 🙂
We will upload some grey pictures when we get internet, right now its down to the SSB and pactor modem limiting us to text only. Rehua out, from one of our most remote spots ever!

Ninigo Island

We made it after an eventful overnight sail to beautiful Ninigo, the people here are “numba wan” they waft over the lagoon in patchwork bent, square rigged, outrigger canoes; it seems just for the fun of it, today two of them screamed by waving and hallooing to all who would watch, methinks they like to race? Watch this space it looks like fun!
The weather has been great for the water collection but its a roughty-toughty, roly-poly anchorage tonight, squalls all day from NE to SE most touching 30knts. Looking forward to getting a bit further south from the line. Can someone please tell us who is winning the Americas Cup?
Rehua X