Tuesday, 6 May 2008

On the move again: Timor-Leste May

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for- John A Shedd
Into SE from Kupang??
Heading into the Timor Sea after clearing from Kupang, it was painfully obvious this was not going to be a ideal run to Darwin. The last leg from Indonesia to Australia is always a nightmare to be endured rather than enjoyed! The only angle of sail had Tientos heading for Ashmore Reef, so a decision was made to run along the Timor North Coast, and head to Darwin from the East side of Timor-Leste. 
A verdant coastline with lots of anchorages
Timor-Leste consists of half of the island of Timor, Atuaro Island, Jaco Island and the enclave of Oe-Cussi set within the Indonesian part of West Timor. 
The coastline along this island is magnificent and is ringed by coral reefs teeming with marine life.  
Whales and dolphins abound
Bill and Andrew enjoy the calm coast
Fuel was an issue so clearing into Dili, the capital, was a necessity, to take on 550 litres. The anchorage, in 20m, was rolly and refueling at the pontoon caused damage to the rubbing strake. The hull and prop were cleaned in optimistic anticipation of a good run. 
A very busy port
Leaving Dili Harbour you sail under the iconic 27m high Cristo Rei de Dili statue. 
A mini Rio at Dili
From Dili to Darwin was 6 days of relentless swell, wind on the nose, storms, engine cutouts (dirty fuel) and sheer exasperation! Finally clearing at Cullen Bay on 6th May, the crew departed and Tientos returned to Tipperary Waters Marina.  
6 countries later back in Australia

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

On the move again: Indonesia April

There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea - Joseph Conrad
Conrad's quotation is apt for this part of the journey as Bangka Island is reputedly the setting for his book Lord Jim, and we wanted to visit this area on our return journey.
Bangka Island
We cleared into Nongsa Point Marina, but didn't stay long as they were renovating and everything, including the bar, was closed. So off to more islands in the Riau group where Andrew could practice his fishing again. 
The fishing guru
Stunning anchorages

The Equator was crossed again, but as we were in deep water this time, Andrew was towed across and we all celebrated and toasted King Neptune with champagne.  
Andrew crosses the Equator

We cruised through the Riau group and headed for the Bangka Strait.  Arriving at Pulau Pelepasan, we anchored just as a storm of more than 40knots hit. This was to set the tone for the remainder of the trip.  Memo to self: don't traverse this area at this time of year!  
This view became the norm
It was however perfect weather for a pork roast. This Strait separates the islands of Bangka and Sumatra formed some 10,000 years ago when global sea levels rose. We were hoping to find (on the fish finder) a Dutch treasure ship, carrying a vast cargo of silver coins and ingots, thought to lie in the Strait. This is a very easy sail with lots of anchorages and calm waters. Unfortunately not calm enough to prevent a refuel from spilling on the gennaker!
Washing the fuel off the gennaker
Exiting the Strait we were hit by a storm known as 'Sumatras' in this area.  Sumatra Squall Lines describe the squall lines that develop over Sumatra at night between April and November heading southwesterly. We had no choice but to run with it heading for Borneo!  3 hours to do 9nm! Ah well, they soon pass and we headed back on the rhumb line to Kurimunjawa.  This section of the Java coast is wall to wall oil rigs; well lit at night and mostly marked on the charts. 
Oil rigs all along the Java coast
Our fisherman guru Andrew hooked up a mahi-mahi!  More good eating!
Mahi-mahi are seriously good eating
We knew we would be approaching the Kurimun Jawa islands as night fell so out with the Admiralty Sailing Directions and charts.  The Pilot and charts showed a clear path through the major islands with deep water in the centre, so sending Andrew to bed, Keith and I navigated the channel using the radar NOT the chartplotter, and slowly motored our way to an anchorage in 23m.  The following morning before heading ashore, Keith made pancakes after a good night's sleep. 
The Kurimun Jawa Islands
The next run direct to Bali saw a lot of motoring and the motor stop twice: the first time the fuel filters were clogged, so cleaned and bled the system; the second time the oil filter gasket blew out, so replaced and topped up. We enjoyed a few days at Lovina, with a side trip to Singaraja, while Andrew took off for a donor cycle (motorbike) tour.  Keith's ex-boss, Bill flew in to join the crew back to Darwin. 
Temples on Bali
Australia has the big Pineapple; Bali has the big Prawn
Singaraja is off the main tourist track
With stunning statuary
The following days alternated between overnighters and restful anchorages at the prime locations (Gilli Air, Gilli Lawang, Rinca, Labuan Bajo and Kroko) before navigating the Boling Strait again heading for Kupang to clear out from Indonesia. 
Bali coastline
Gilli Lawang
Labuan Bajo
The total run from Nongsa Point Marina to Kupang was 34 days. This included all the anchorages ranging from overnight to a few days. The winds were fickle, on the nose and either non-existent or ferocious. This meant a lot of motoring on this trip but we are after all, a motorsailer. 
Always majestic sunsets

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

On the move again: Singapore March

One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things - Henry Miller
En route to Singapore Andrew, who had optimistically bought fishing gear at Pangkor, actually caught a fish! This was the first on Tientos since we left Australia in 2006.
Andrew the fishing guru
Andrew also eased into yacht life and although he did get seasick, he just did what he had to do.  The perfect crew! 
Learning the 'ropes'
Entering the Singapore Straits, the traffic was still there and another flag change; these were becoming quite frequent!
Big but anchor ball up
The Singapore flag up
Big and long

Back into One 15 Marina on Sentosa Island and we were ready to organise our CAIT and visas for Indonesia and catch up on boat maintenance while we were waiting. The hydraulic steering seals were replaced, 3 gas bottles refilled and we finally bought our new HF Icom 718. And of course, one cannot visit Singapore without doing something touristy. This time, The Singapore Flyer, which had just opened. Hey another first and another height 'experience'.
The view is incredible
Singapore is in a constant state of construction

Love Singapore and the Merlion
What a view from the Singapore Flyer

Shopped and touristed out, it was time to head across the Straits and clear into Indonesia again at Nongsa Point Marina.  

May all your bars be wooden and well - stocked!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

On the move again: Malaysia February

There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea. - Old Capstan Charley attributed to Anacharsis, 6th Century BC
On the 1st February, we cleared back into Malaysia at Langkawi in time for bad news and good news from Australia. Daughter was having difficulties again (bad news) and I was offered a great teaching contract at Charles Darwin University when I got there (good news). Okay, time to wend (sail) our way home slowly. Life can never be a rush.
Have you ever noticed, that like in your home town, you always see more when taking someone else around? We did that with Catherine; off to see sights we hadn't considered the times before. The Langkawi SkyCab is an amazing experience (especially if, like me, heights can be an issue). With a total length of 2.2km, it takes 15 minutes to get to the top. The gradient between the Base and Middle Stations is said to be the steepest in the world at 42 degrees. Trust me, this is seriously steep!
Fabulous evening markets
Everything within these walls
View from SkyCab
Middle Station and decision time: up or down
With the shopping necessities, like alcohol, stowed (Langkawi is a duty free port after all) we were heading south again. We were returning to Tanjung City Marina in Penang to drop off Catherine, put out a call for another crew adventurer and enjoy Chinese New Year. The city of Penang has modern skyscrapers interspersed with ancient traditions and unique architecture. The stunning juxtaposition of historical and religious saw it made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Another first in this city; we also celebrated the 50th Merdeka!
Time out for the Dragoneers
The Dragon heads are a work of art
Blazing colour everywhere
It is all about Dragons
Johnny Mahoney (remember the band guy in Indonesia) with his wife Shelley were also in the Marina and Keith lent him our hooker dive system. Tragically, Shelley died in 2014 after being hit by the boom.
Johnny, Shelley and Keith
We also helped out a Turkish catamaran who gave us a Turkish Eye to say thank you. It remains in the cockpit as a good luck charm. Little did we know this would be the last time we would enter this majestic marina. After continual battering from the adjacent ferries, it was finally demolished in 2011.
Our last view of Tanjung City Marina with the Turkish Cat
With the festivities over, Andrew, our new crew, arrived. He had travelled from London to Malaysia overland and wished to return to Australia to complete his London-Sydney trip without flying. With Andrew aboard it was a leisurely meander down the Malacca Straits again. We did call in to the hospital at Pangkor Island; a throat infection for Andrew which was easily remedied with antibiotics. Finally, we cleared from Malaysia at Admiral Marina. 
Last port in Malaysia: Admiral Marina
Next stop -Singapore.

May all your bars be wooden and well - stocked!


Thursday, 31 January 2008

On the move again: Thailand January

I cannot not sail - E.B.White
2008 was to see another 6 countries in 5 months on a return to Australia. 

Back in Kuah, our Air-X wind generator had been returned from Australia. Nothing wrong at all! We were putting in enough power with our solar panels, so the generator decided to keep sleeping.

We had another crew adventure coming up and Catherine joined us in Langkawi on 15 January for a month. First stop Thailand, clearing in at Phuket and a relaxing cruise around Phang Nga Bay. 

Australia Day saw us anchored at Koh Dam (the Chicken Islands) proudly flying all flags, eating lamingtons and meat pies, with Men At Work (Down Under) at full volume! We were getting lots of attention from holidaying Australians. 
Catherine helps Keith with raising the Thai flag

Tientos in the background at Koh Rok Nok
Missed the sign last time at Moraket Cave

Koh Dam (Chicken Islands)
Why they are called Chicken Islands...
Catherine enjoys the waters of Krabi
Another beachside bar
Hard work being crew on Tientos
Catherine and I being healthy
Australia Day

  May all your bars be wooden and well - stocked!