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!