Exit Indonesia

After six months the time has come to clear out of Indonesia… It wasn’t nearly long enough to discover this vast archipelago of diverse islands. Maybe we will return one day…

We’re in Belitung, an island roughly halfway between Jakarta and Singapore, and we were able to complete exit clearance here. Indonesians love paperwork and we were chuffed to complete the entire process in just one day. Yes, apparently it can take several days, if you’re unlucky.

We started the process at 8am with Immigration. Taxi to the other side of town, friendly welcome, photocopies had to be taken, forms filled in and stamps were promptly received, an hour later. Next stop: Customs, located near the port authorities on the other side of town. They also needed photocopies, of all sort of documents, but when we said we didn’t bring copies, they were happy to accept scanned pictures via email. Then they announced they had to come and inspect the boat. We were surprised.

“Really? We are clearing out, not in.”

“Yes, yes,” they said, “we still need to check the boat.”

So while the kids and I waited in the office, Seathan went back to the boat accompanied by the customs officers. Apparently they were keen to check whether we had AIS and whether the engines were working. Whilst that was being established, the kids and I played a monopoly card game (or three) and were offered delicious chocolate cake by the staff.

Late morning, and, step two of the process completed, we headed to the Harbour Master, who, apparently, would be issuing our ‘zarpe’ or exit document which we need to enter the next country. However, they informed us they couldn’t do anything until we had gone to Quarantine.

So off to the next office: Quarantine, based around the corner. This was the point where Seathan and I had to take a deep breath and remember to keep smiling. It’s the first time ever we had to go to Quarantine when leaving the country, but, apparently, yes, in Indonesia that is a requirement. More forms. More stamps. We asked the three women in the office to explain to us the purpose of Quarantine?

“To communicate with the other departments,” was the answer.

Ok, that makes it clear, then?!?!? Never mind, we got the stamps and headed back to the Harbour Master before they went on their long lunch break.

We got there just in time. But, there was a problem. We didn’t have an inward clearance document from the Harbour Master in Biak, where we checked in. When we arrived in the country the authorities told us there was no need to see the Harbour Master, so we didn’t.

“Not to worry,” said the big chief. “We will coordinate with Customs and prepare your clearing out document for this afternoon. Just remember for next time. Go and have some lunch and come back at 3pm.”

So that’s it, all done, in one day! Result. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to the barber shop and a final diesel run. Next stop: Malaysia!

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Tanjung Pendam is a large beachfront park, close to where we are anchored

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great place to practise scooter tricks

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quick trip to the barber shop, checking out the menu…

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latest hairstyle trends in Indonesia…

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let’s just keep it simple

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result

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and then, a final diesel run

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team effort

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waiting in the Customs Office, monopoly and chocolate cake

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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

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

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time to leave, heading towards the pass

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our buddy boat Impetuous Too, zooming along nicely

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Christmas Eve sunset at sea 

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

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day-hopping along the SW coast of Belitung

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local fishing boat

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this one could do with a lick of paint

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pulling our friends along

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Tyrii gives them a quick nudge to help with anchoring position

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view from our cockpit in Tanjung Pandan

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Tanjung Pandan sunrise

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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?

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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.

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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……..

 

 

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!

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unmarked huge 10 metres bamboo float, caught underneath our hulls

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huge squall is chasing us as we leave Bawean

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The wisps you see were quickly forming williwaws.

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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.

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

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

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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!

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

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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…….

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hundreds of them!

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all shouting and happy to see us

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

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Indonesian style FAD, or perhaps a small resort startup.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

 

 

 

Bali

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.

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

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brief stop in Lovina

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this is hindu country, temples everywhere

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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.

S.

Anchored underneath Mount Agung, Bali

We spent last night anchored underneath Mount Agung, Bali, as it was erupting. Are we crazy??? Not really. We were outside the 12 km exclusion zone and not at risk should it erupt. The only thing we had to watch out for was the ash cloud which can cause trouble breathing. Luckily, the wind was blowing the ash away from us. We were ready to lift anchor and leave as soon as the situation changed but there was no need. No fireworks last night, no eruption. This morning the volcano started producing more smoke and ash and it feels like a massive eruption is very imminent. We decided to lift anchor at the crack of dawn and are now sailing away from Mount Agung, heading west ⛵️.

We’ve posted a short video on YouTube:

Pictures from yesterday evening and this morning:

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Front row seats 🌋🌋🌋

We spent the last few days in the Gili Islands, Lombok. It meant we’ve had front row seats to watch Mount Agung erupt from a safe distance. But … we need to head west and get past that smoking giant. So, today we bit the bullet and sailed towards it. Don’t worry, we’re safe (we think) and still outside the 12 km exclusion zone, in Amed, north Bali.

The short hop from Lombok to the north of Bali was busy to say the least: tankers left and right, a huge approaching squall and an erupting volcano right ahead of us. Now the weather has calmed down and we’re safely at anchor. Hopefully get some good shots of Mount Agung tonight. It’s very exciting and also a little bit scary.

The Gili Islands were super cool. They call it the “Ibiza of Indonesia” and I can see why. There are plenty of stylish restaurants and cool bars, the atmosphere is very relaxed and it’s heaving with young trendy people. You can circumnavigate the island by bike or by foot easily and there are no motorized vehicles, only bikes and horses with carts.

Yesterday, we took a day-trip by car into Mataram, Lombok to renew our visas. The usual monthly bureaucratic hit. Forms, stamps,  more stamps, queues, etc. We were told we could pick up our passports in 3 days and nearly choked. After much begging and pleading, explaining our dependency on the weather and our need to continue west asap, we were allowed a brief meeting with the immigration chief who authorised a same day delivery. Everything is possible in this country as long as you keep smiling, have patience and follow the rules.

Now what about that volcano? We will see what tonight brings, if it erupts, we will just lift anchor and keep sailing west and if it doesn’t we’ll have a good night’s sleep and hopefully some great photos to share! Right now we feel very privileged to be here.

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Mount Agung this evening

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Gili Air

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the colourful jetty at Gili Air

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bikes and horses on Gili Air

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off on a 3-hour tour (RIP Gilligan)

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trendy restaurants everywhere

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Mount Agung, seen from our cockpit in Gili Air

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at the immigration office in Mataram, Lombok

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the huge mosque in Mataram

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The mosque can hold 5,000 men and 3,000 women

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view from the observatory on the 9th floor

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view over Lombok this morning

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Lombok

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Mount Agung this morning

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tanker and approaching squall

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tanker on one side, nasty approaching squall on the other and a volcano right ahead

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anchored in Amed, Bali under Mount Agung

A rough ride and an erupting volcano.

We sailed 300 NM or so in the last few days to Gili Air, Lombok. We can see Mount Agung smoking and puffing from our cockpit and just found out this afternoon that it erupted yesterday and the highest level 4 alert is now in place; expectations are that a massive eruption could happen any minute. Whoops. Perhaps we shouldn’t have stopped here.

We’re still 60 km away from Mount Agung on Bali, but, the wind is blowing this direction and we would get covered in volcanic ash if it violently erupted. So, we could leave and head for the north-west of Bali, but, did I mention the wind is blowing in this direction? Yep. We would rather wait a few days for more favourable sailing conditions before we continue our trek west.

The ride here was up and down. Day one was very calm and pleasant with just enough wind to keep the sails full. We stopped just before nightfall, had a good night’s sleep at anchor and then continued early the next day. The wind kept increasing and the waves got bigger. By midday we had a steady 30 to 40 knots and, I can tell you, it wasn’t very pleasant. We’re not used to such rough sailing conditions anymore! In fact, most of our sailing in Indonesia has been “champagne sailing” with flat seas and a decent breeze.

So, day 2 was very rough with nowhere to stop for the night and we had no choice but to keep going. Fortunately, the wind died down during the night and we sailed into a calm anchorage the next afternoon. After that, we did two more day hops which were very pleasant. And now we are in Gili Air, a small island just off the coast of Lombok. But … there is this huge volcano threatening to erupt !! Life is never boring on a sailing boat.

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Sailing past an active volcano near Sumbawa Island

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Volcano Sangeang, 1930 metres high

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Approaching a calm anchorage, just before nightfall

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Local fishermen in the sunset

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Local fishing boat under sail

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Dolphins!

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Mount Agung on Bali, which erupted yesterday. View from our cockpit!