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Monday, October 29, 2012

Oct. 25 – 28, 2012 – Nongsa Point Marina, Indonesia and Heading to Singapore

This is a beautiful setting, just across the Singapore Strait from Singapore, although getting here was truly an event! We dodged high-speed ferries, tankers and cargo ships, even passed within 100 yards of a massive drilling platform, not to mention the tremendous amount of floating debris and trash in the water en route to Nongsa Point. 

For a while I stood on the bow watching for logs and other large floating hazards. Fortunately the trip was more fascinating than perilous. Nongsa Point Marina is a sight for sore eyes offering the first really modern facilities we have seen since leaving Darwin, Australia, including free wifi, a really nice laundry room, inviting pool, bar and restaurant. The staff is extremely friendly. For a small fee the resort offers a shuttle service into the shopping mall and free shuttle service to the ferry terminal. Now what more could we ask? Well, I suppose the down side is that the sweltering heat continues to just zap us day and night.

We have run into many of our cruising friends here as they come in and then leave on the way to either Singapore or Malaysia. We have not been able to secure a marina berth in Singapore so we are content to keep Destiny here while we take the Fast Ferry over for a short visit. Meanwhile I am loving being able to catch up on emails, get our computer updates downloaded, get some pictures posted to our website which is several countries and a couple of years behind, but I at least wanted to get the orangutan photos uploaded.  I'm not stressed over anything right now. We are having difficulty getting our boat parts so we'll hit the chandlery in Singapore. Frank took a day longer than me to de-stress. I'm still not caught up with emails and haven't spent a lot of time checking out FB either. I'm lazing by the pool, getting laundry done a little at a time and just taking it easy. We had a game night with Ute and Hans before they set off. Everyone else seems in a rush to get to Malaysia. We don't plan to leave Indonesia until the 2nd or 3rd of November, now that we are not sailing to Singapore. This has bought us a teeny bit more time to take it easy. No more day hops, up at 5 AM and sailing all day for a while.

My passport has run out of pages – well I have one blank one left - but it is good for another 5 years, so I have an appointment with the US Consulate in Singapore on the 29th to get more pages added. Frank was in charge of booking our trip and tried to get us in at the Marina Sands Hotel, which should be one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, but it was full. So we are staying at another 5-star hotel named Marina Mandarin, leaving Nongsa on the 10:00 AM ferry on the 28th, returning to Destiny on the 31st. So this morning we rushed around getting Destiny ready to be left by her little lonesome for 4 days and trotted off with bags half full hoping to fill them to the brim shopping in Singapore. Our good friend Joanne Van Os sent us some pointers on where to go and what to see. Andy Heger our ever-dependable foodie expert has sent us a list of where to eat. We are armed and dangerous now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 20 – 24, 2012 - The Beautiful Islands of Northern Indonesia and Crossing the Equator!

Our journey continued like this: arise at 5:00 AM, start the generator, make coffee, pour the first cup and then I would man the helm sipping mine while Frank weighed anchor. We sailed or motored through the veritable obstacle course in the pouring rain for the first two days. Yes, The Wet has indeed arrived and is making a loud, ugly, angry statement. Everything aboard feels damp and smells it as well.

This is some of the prettiest and most dangerous cruising we have done so far in Indonesia. The water is stunningly beautiful (when not littered with debris), and nearly flat calm, laced with small white sand islands that are intensely green and rich with vegetation. The fishing platforms as we move northward are becoming larger and more sophisticated topped with actual houses rather than the ramshackle hut. Fishing boats, however, are plain brown not painted in beautiful bright colors.  We somehow imagined that the closer we get to Singapore, the more inhabited and modern this area would be but this is not so. We continued to dodge nets, fishing structures and floating buoys that possibly support traps.

 The most intimidating obstructions are the sunken boats and platforms that have collapsed. There are so many! All that remains  (if we are lucky) is a stick poking up here or there a few feet out of the water. We are advancing extra cautiously, watching for underwater booby traps that will surely sink us if we hit one. When the sun is out this is not such an issue, but there are lots of intermittent thunderclouds overhead that feed our apprehensions. I spend a lot of time standing out front atop the bow rails, spotting for obstacles lurking just below the surface.

When not raining and if there is enough light on arrival at each anchorage we walk the beaches. Some of the islands have got such lovely and inviting beaches that on closer inspection are disappointingly covered with trash and plastic products that have washed ashore. This is deeply upsetting to us. Indonesia hasn't quite figured out how to deal with waste and so throughout our travels here we see piles of it literally everywhere. People just throw it down wherever they are: into the street, onto the pavement, into the grass and particularly into the water.  Many  of the yachts have sucked plastic into the intakes while running a generator or the engine and have to dive in to clean it out. Thank goodness our generator and engine each have an automatic shut-off when they begin to overheat before burning up the motors. The other issue is the stench of raw sewage in most towns and villages. We didn't notice it as much in Manggar. Ketawai is the only island we have visited that was clean and where people tossed all of the trash into bins, but of course it isn't inhabited and everyone here is working to build a nice setting for visitors, however every other weekend beach we have been to is full of litter.  I know this is not a problem specific to Indonesia, but if this country wants to beef up tourism, they had better get a handle on the waste problem. Westerners have too many other clean options for holiday travel and will not tolerate it no matter how economic it is to venture here. Sidebar finished.

On Tuesday, October 23rd at 8:32 AM, we crossed the Equator!
Crossing the Equator in Indonesia
This is our second crossing since leaving the USA over 4 years ago, and although we wanted to stop for a party and big celebration we could not afford the time because this was another 9 – 10 hour day journey and we had NO WIND to push us along, so we stopped long enough to snap a photo of the chart showing the GPS coordinates and the time, and then carried on.  Once we arrived at Katang Lingga it was nearly 4:00 PM. I invited Ute and Hans over for King Ranch Chicken and my version of refried beans to celebrate our crossing. We have enjoyed traveling in the company of Ute and Hans so very much. They are not only a lot of fun but are very relaxed and easygoing. She is an excellent cook! We've shared meals on each other's yachts and have learned a new German game, the name of which I cannot remember nor pronounce, that we must get for ourselves. We do hope that as we move on we will be able to stay fairly close to these guys.

This is our last stop before arriving at Nongsa Point, our clearance port from Indonesia. As I previously mentioned, we are hobbling in there in hopes of finding spare parts for the windlass, the watermaker pump, a new macerator pump and a laundry facility. After that we are good to go for the time being. Unfortunately, we have received word that the marinas in Singapore are fully booked so we are not sure what we will do from Nongsa, but for now we will be very happy just to get there. We were up and at 'em at 6:00 AM, ready for another full day on the water, hoping to arrive mid-afternoon.

October 11 - 19, 2012 – Another Equipment Breakdown, More Obstacles & Hops, and Ketawai Island, a Little Paradise

I neglected to mention that during our stay at Nangka, last Friday while the storm was kicking up, Frank went out to deploy additional anchor rode but the windlass wouldn't operate. Frank seemed to think it had tripped off. He checked the power box only to find that the breaker had not tripped so something must have shorted out in the mechanism. He fiddled around with it for a long, long time before declaring that we can raise the anchor with the windlass (thank God!), but will have to let chain out manually, something in the motor has broken and we cannot repair it without a new part, which we do not happen to have on hand. So though I normally handle the anchoring, he will be dropping the hook from now on until we get our windlass back to 100%. It's too much to go into why.

Leaving Belitung at 6:30 AM, we sailed over to a small yet lovely island called Gelasa arriving at 2:30, where rested for the night before moving on again at first light. After departure from there we enjoyed a decent day of motor sailing for about 20 miles when suddenly we began to notice large bamboo stilt structures scattered along the water in front of and all around us. Depths shallowed to between 20 & 50 feet. As we neared the first group of the structures we saw that there were actually hundreds and hundreds of them clustered all about as far as the eye could see. My gosh we wouldn't want to cruise through here at night! It is a veritable obstacle course requiring us to be on full alert. The structures were about 30x30 square, made from bamboo and resembling a scaffold supporting a small building in the middle of a platform with what appeared to be a large net underneath. Some were occupied and some not. We of course snapped photos of a couple of the nearer ones. This obstacle course continued for the rest of our trip to Ketawai, and in fact they surrounded the little island. We later confirmed that they are fishing platforms.

The rally booklet makes a very slight mention that this island is uninhabited but a temporary clearance office and other facilities will be set up for checking out of Indonesia here. Actually, as has been par for the course the WRONG location name and dates are written in our route book. We arrived at mid afternoon into one of the prettiest bays we've visited since leaving North Queensland, Australia. It is a lovely sand  & tree covered island interspersed with tents and a few pavilion type structures amid the coconut palms. We noticed a brand new wharf. The island was literally pristine. I told Frank it looked like a set right out of "Robinson Crusoe".

We jumped into the dinghy for a visit to shore and were met on the beach by an adorable young man who seemed overjoyed to see us. He led us through a pretty coconut grove to a makeshift table where he quickly offered us young coconuts to drink. Then he led us over to where his boss, Ryan was working with several other men to clear a rounded sandy area for what appeared to be a cricket pitch. The men all stopped working and excitedly approached us, shaking our hands and taking photos. Ryan explained to us that they were busily preparing for the rally boats and seemed distressed that he had nothing to offer us other than the coconuts. We explained to him that it was us who should apologize for arriving too early. He and his happy band of workers took us for a tour pointing out the various structures they were building just for the rally participants. They had big plans for us all and as we walked with them we felt a terrible feeling of disappointment that they were going to all this hard work and effort for the rally, not knowing how screwed up the organizers had left things. We absolutely hope and pray that there will be some yachts left to enjoy all that they have planned here – including free diesel, fresh water, shows, games, markets and exhibitions and yacht clearances out of Indonesia. The list goes on and on because this is to be the official last stop.


We were invited into the home of the security chief and his wife who are the only residents of the island for a drink and some biscuits (cookies). Hans and Ute came along as we were leaving the little house. Of course we did not have our cameras to get any pictures, doggone it. We waited outside for Ute and Hans and then we continued our little tour. We decided to walk the beach around the island to stretch our legs and did so with a small entourage of young men. When they noticed Ute and I taking an interest in shells, they went to work looking for the best shells. They were so cute! At the end of our walk, they presented us an armload of spider conchs, sand dollars, and little cowries. Before returning to the dinghies they gave us bags full of coconuts, apologizing that they could not offer more to us. We were overwhelmed by their kindness and hospitality and felt badly that we had nothing to offer them in return – there were so many of them.

We really needed to leave the next day but looked at our schedule and decided to stay to dive a nearby wreck in the adjacent bay and to meet the big boss whom Ryan said would be arriving. Unfortunately, we got stuck on the boat all day searching for a leak that was causing oil to seep into the bilge. We emptied lockers and searched and searched for something that may have busted, such as cooking oil. We found nothing. I then asked Frank if it was possible we had some kind of motor or pump that could be leaking because the strange oily substance was clear but emulsifying to white as it cooled. By now, the heat was sweltering and we were sweating miserably crawling around down here. Finally Frank announced that he'd located the culprit. Our water maker pump was the source. He went into trouble shooting mode only to announce that our 4-yearl old water maker is truly and finally shot. This threw me into a real funk. We are hot and miserable and it seems things are breaking down on this boat like a house of cards falling in around us. Our macerator pump is also on it's last legs and it would be a serious problem if THAT goes out. We have no other means to expel waste from the holding tank without it and this boat does not have a direct overboard dump option. Please, Lord, let Destiny stay intact long enough to get us through this season before too much more breaks down.

Late in the afternoon the guys on shore were waving to us to come back in. We were exhausted and just couldn't bring ourselves to get up and go. I didn't even go for a swim today. Finally we saw a group of them pile into a speedboat that was tied to the wharf. They zipped over toward us. I ducked into our cabin to throw on some decent clothes and before I knew it there were men on board looking down into the boat through the port lights and overhead hatches. Freaked me out just a tad. When I popped upstairs, Frank was visiting with a gentleman named Dali who is the "big boss" while the others were still walking around deck taking photos. They were thrilled to be on board. Dali had been schooled in Cleveland, Ohio for several years, married an Ohio woman and then returned here with a marketing degree His objective is to promote tourism and to build resorts. This is one of 4 islands he and his group of companies own that they are working to convert to resort destinations. He has a brilliant mind and holds high hopes of making some positive changes here in Indonesia. Before he left we made a promise to him that if we cruise back to Indonesia again we would definitely be in touch with him.

Having less than half a tank of water aboard I told Frank we will be doing minimal bathing, cooking and food prep in order not to dirty a lot of dishes that will need to be washed. Ute and Hans of course have offered to supply us water to get us through the next 5 days, but we need to conserve nonetheless, so I offered to make "bull's-eyes" for dinner instead of a nice big meal.  I had tested all of our eggs and had no floaters so I assumed they were all good. As the bread was toasting in the skillet, I cracked open the first egg and nearly gagged as green slime oozed out of the shell. Bleh! What a horrible smell! Thank goodness, I had first cracked it into a separate bowl. I handed that to Frank to toss overboard. Three more went this way while I'm nearly burning the bread. The fifth had an embryo in it. I nearly lost it then. I finally got four decent eggs out of the dozen but not before tossing two more rotten ones. When we finally sat down to eat I didn't have much of an appetite.  We played a game of Baja Rummy – Frank finally won two in a row! – before heading to bed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 14 - 16 - Tanjung Kelayang - The Tip of Belitung

Sunday was a long, long day. Sailing these waters is a study in evasive maneuvering and survival techniques. Fishing boats, floating rigs and nets provide a means for the weary sailor to stay alert and at the ready. And they say it only gets worse the closer you get to Singapore. This is good practice then because we are now determined to ONLY make day passages if at all possible until we get to Malaysia because day travel is stressful enough. It does also keep it interesting as we watch the flurry of activity in the water around us and dodge floating nets. Then there are the cargo ships and tankers to contend with. These local fishermen are nuts! We have wondered more than a few times how many of them meet fatal ends out here plying their trade.

Traveling the coastline of Belitung is a lovely way to pass the time, however. It is a beautiful island, and as we neared our destination of Tanjung Kelayang at the northwest corner, the coastline resembled overbuilt cities yet closer inspection revealed incredible rock structures so beautifully formed that they hardly seem natural. The shoreline is stacked with them and at a few places it resembled a much smaller version of Australia's Cape Melville. Stunning, really. On approach into Kelayang we dodged several boulders that were perched smack out in the bay amid crystal clear sparkling blue waters. It was like a movie set. We felt the tinge of another "if only we had known…we could have spent more time here" moment. Why on Earth is Indonesia so darn stingy with their cruising permits and visitor visas? There is so much beauty to enjoy here and yet we find ourselves just skimming the surface on our way through. What a pity. We set the hook at 4 PM in time to get a call from Imagine telling us tonight the locals are hosting a dinner and live music on shore for the rally yachts. Of course we could not miss that.

Monday we joined Hans and Ute for a walk along the beach out to the boulders on the point. This place reminded us so much of The Baths of Virgin Gorda, BVI. We were enjoying the lovely day when black storm clouds suddenly rolled in issuing forth a downpour. We happily settled into a small beachside café for respite where we passed the time eating calamari and cap cay - delicious and very inexpensive. The storm really pounded down overhead for a while forcing us to sit, relax and enjoy the cool fresh air for a couple of hours while the boys enjoyed a few more beers. After the rains passed we tried to walk the beach a bit further but then along came another nasty one barreling down on us so we fled to the dinghy and set off for home. We got word there was another dinner that night with more entertainment so at 5:30 we took ourselves back into shore while miraculously the rain abated for several hours. Dinner that night was even better than the previous. The food is just so good and fresh here. We stayed a little later than usual because the Scallys and Avant Garde had arrived and when they are around a good time is guaranteed.

Tuesday, the four of us set off on mopeds to explore the island. On my own I am a pathetic excuse for a moped rider, having survived two previous crashes as a passenger I have tremendous anxiety about these things. Anyway, I reluctantly mounted mine and took off following Hans and Ute telling myself I really need to get over this. Frank stayed behind me in case he had to scrape any of my body parts off the pavement. I was fine until we had to turn then it was beyond pitiful. They easily glided and I staggered along, eventually loosening up enough to smile from time to time. Geez I hate being a wuss! We rode along the scenic coastline, noting the majestic boulders scattered along the beach and out in the water, eventually we hit a major road where traffic picked up considerably. After over an hour of riding we came to a bustling city and yet strangely we could find no place to stop for refreshment and a rest. My hands and rear end had gone completely numb from the bike's vibrations by now, and as I looked over toward Frank I noticed his same discomfort. Frank shouted to Hans to find a café where we could catch a break. He turned off the main highway and sped off down a side road where we came to a large modern hotel. It felt good to get some circulation back into our bodies. The placed appeared empty but the restaurant was open, so we enjoyed a short break over coffee and fried bananas, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese. It was strangely delicious!

Back out in the parking lot, we all mounted our mopeds, me feeling much more secure and confident I cranked mine on, accidentally turning the handle giving a burst of gas to the engine and immediately shot up over a curb falling into a flowerbed! What a doofus! The others had taken off already. I feebly called to Frank who had to come back and lift the bike off me looking really worried. I laughed and said, "Rather here in a flower bed than out on the road".

Not long after leaving there raindrops began to fall, pelting our bare skin like BB's. Hans sought shelter at a tiny roadside café that was not much more than a crude hut where the owner sat eating at the counter. Within minutes the heavens opened up releasing a torrent of rain, the sky turned completely black and we thanked God we were safe and fairly dry. We must have stayed there for an hour and a half eating several bags of homemade fried cassava chips and freshly roasted peanuts. They were so delicious we each purchased several of the small bags to take home. Finally the downpour eased to intermittent rain and Hans announced we had to make a run for it or we would be stuck here all day. Ugh. Off we rode, rain streaking down our visors killing visibility and suffering once again the little bullets of rain against our skin. I was actually enjoying this more and more because it was forcing me to get real and get over my moped-a-phobia to focus on other things (like survival?).

Arriving at a popular swimming and dining spot on the beach amidst the boulders we stopped for lunch. By now we were soaked all the way through, clothes clinging to our dripping wet bodies we attracted more than a little attention from the locals who were dining here. Ute and I were ushered into the back by a woman where I thought we were going to be given towels to dry off or something, but she stopped at a large bin full of ice and a variety of whole fish, bags of shrimp and a variety of other seafood, pointing and looking at us as if asking us what we wanted. We pointed to a large fish and the shrimp, and then asked for Cumi Goreng (fried calamari). On the way out, we pointed to the fresh water spinach as well and then toward a pile of teapots. She nodded her understanding and then led us back to our table where the boys were already enjoying their large Anker beers. The meal was outstanding! Finally the rain abated and we wearily rode the few remaining miles back to the anchorage where we received reports that we missed a massive rainstorm and 35 + knot winds that literally rocked the anchorage. Some yachts had nearly rolled in the chop that was stirred up and some had experienced waves breaking over their gunnels, but were assured "Destiny" and "Taimada" had survived unscathed. Well thank goodness we missed all that!

Returning to "Destiny", we noticed that several items we had left on the sugar scoop were gone, apparently washed away when the storm hit. That was a bummer. There is no telling what else may have gone into the drink, and I'm sure we won't know until we go looking for them.

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October 12 & 13, 2012 - Nangka, anchorage #84

Nangka Island was promoted in our cruising guide as a 7 out of 10, great anchorage. We were excited about this place where the book stated you could easily spend a week. Our trip over there was nothing to write home about and as the day wore on, storm clouds were threatening us making us realize we were not only going to get real wet but that visibility was about to be completely blotted out. On approach we could vaguely make out a mast ahead in the anchorage, which was quickly confirmed as Mark from "Relapse" hailed us on the radio giving us waypoints for our approach, warning that the bay is surrounded by a large reef system forming a wall around a very deep anchorage. Thanks to his assistance we safely made it in, setting the hook in 90 feet. As I was on the foredeck I saw several turtles bobbing past and then also noticed a large number of jellyfish floating around, killing any desire to get into the water. "Taimada" arrived not long afterward in the middle of a black and stormy deluge but managed to anchor with no troubles. We chatted with Mark and Catherine (Relapse) about their disastrous entanglement with the fishing net just a few days prior to learn that the yacht is OK, the dinghy is ruined and Mark only lost the very tip of his finger, but generally their spirits remain high as always.

Saturday was a rest day for Frank and I, so we took it easy while we watched Ute and Hans set off for some snorkeling and possible diving. They reported to us that the water was much too murky for decent visibility so we felt OK that we stayed aboard. "Relapse" had left at first light, but someone had also snuck in to our surprise, "Avant Garde" had arrived so we knew "Scallywag" must be close behind. They came bearing awful news that they had attempted a rescue of a German yacht, "Y Not" that had gone aground back at the Kumai river, and while attempting to free them, Scallywag's dinghy received a 3x3 foot rip in the pontoon and Avant Garde sustained some rub damage to her hull. At least they were able to free "Y Not" from peril. This has been a brutal year for us yachts! Nearly every one of us has had a frightful experience. Anyway, very happy to see them all again, we let them get some rest from their overnighter and then after dinner we converged on "Taimada" for a night of live music and song! Glor and Ute played guitars, Colin, Marion and Paul played their ukuleles, while Hans manned a calypso style drum and Frank and I just sang along trying to stay in tune. We had a ball! The party went on for hours until by 1:00 AM Frank and I begged for mercy. We had a 5 AM departure planned for Monday morning. Time is screeching for us to move along.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 9 - 12, 2012 - Manggar, E. Belitung - An Amazing Visit With Our Favorite People in All of Indonesia

We arrived at Manggar bay around 11:00 AM and as we contemplated the rolly anchorage a Police Boat approached with a young man on board waving to Frank and pointing us toward the river mouth. They asked us our draft and then insisted that we would have no problem, leading us in through the river mouth that we didn't even know was navigable. It is a good thing too because we nearly touched bottom at one point and would have surely gone aground had they not offered an escort. Once inside the river we found a blissfully calm anchorage. The Police Boat continued to circle us taking photo after photo of "Taimada" and us. They seemed so happy to see us!

We gathered our papers and headed into shore where we were met by Hans van Babel who spread his arms outward and proclaimed, "We welcome you to Manggar, East Belitung! You are the very first Sail Indonesia Yachts to arrive!" He then kindly explained that although they are extremely happy to host us we arrived much earlier than the specified date thus they were not prepared for us. We quickly apologized ourselves and insisted that we have no expectations because we realize we are quite early, then further explained the rally foul-up of the dates and schedules resulting in a lot of confusion for everyone. We mentioned our need to purchase some diesel for our yachts, gasoline for our dinghies, beer and a few other necessities; also that we would like to find an ATM machine and a pharmacy. We let him know we would probably stay for just a day or so and then move on. Within minutes, Hans was on his phone making arrangements.
Typical Hans - always with a camera in one hand and the phone to his ear
 Meanwhile, he asked if there was anywhere he could take us. Frank and Hans responded saying we would like a good place for lunch & a beer. Another apology was issued forth, however, unfortunately liquor and beer is generally not sold here, rather this town is known for its coffee and coffee houses around which most of the social interactions take place. He drove us around the town by the fresh market and several supermarkets and along the way we noted the dozens upon dozens of coffee shops. We stopped for lunch at a beautiful lakeside restaurant and while enjoying our relaxing meal, Hans shared some future plans with us pointing out that the powers that be intend to build a marina here, allowing access from the sea. We agreed that a calm, sheltered marina would be a big attraction for the yachts, as long as the passage into the lake was dredged very deep to accommodate those who are not able to enter the river. While we were eating and discussing Manggar's future plans Tiwi Arvita arrived, whom Hans introduced to us as his colleague, distributing decorative bags to each of us filled with Belitung maps and brochures. Ute and I immediately bonded with Tiwi who joined us as we continued our drive around. Returning us to the police pier Hans announced that tonight he would try to procure some beers for Frank and Hans and that tomorrow he and his colleagues would be hosting us all day long with a tour, lunch, and a special dinner. He indicated that he also might have some surprises for us. We told him that we had left some friends out at the Siadong anchorage, "Christine Anne" (C.A.) and "Fayaway" (FA), whom he readily agreed that we should urge to come in and join us.

Frank and I dined aboard "Taimada" that night, and although we truly enjoyed the fabulous steak dinner they served us we agreed that we enjoy their company much more than we would have imagined. They have quickly become good friends. We are ever so grateful to Bernd and Tanja for putting the four of us together.

We met Hans, Tiwi and Indra at 9 AM the next morning.
 First they took us to the fresh market where they helped us to negotiate prices on fresh fruits, veggies and seafood. While Tiwi and I were browsing the clothing shops outside Frank managed to find a doughnut vendor, returning to us with a bag full of hot delicious half-moon shaped doughnuts. That's my boy! We then hit the supermarket and returned to the wharf to meet "C.A" and "FA" who were coming in with the rising tide around midday. After they got settled in, Hans and Tiwi returned to the waterfront in a large bus. They first took us to lunch at the same lovely lakeside restaurant where platters of food kept coming until we literally stuffed ourselves on a variety of wonderful dishes and then they drove us on a little sightseeing journey that ended at the top of the hill in front of the home of the Regent. Joining them were Sari and Andre.

Kerry, Lynette, Hans, Sari, Ute, Tiwi, Barb, Frank, Chris, Russ, Andre, Hans
Andre was introduced to us as the only cowboy in Belitung! Sure enough he wore a large brown cowboy hat that had been given to him on a visit to Colorado a few years back. He wore it proudly. Announcing that he was "Antonio Banderas!", he ushered us into the residence. The Regent was away but Andre being the second in command had joined forces with Hans to arrange a special Happy Hour for us here in this beautiful residence with a million dollar view of the ocean.
They brought out dozens of bottles of Anker beer and Guinness Ale.
Russ on left Andre, center 
When I explained I don't drink beer, bottles of water and a fancy wine glass with the Regency's crest appeared before me. We sat for a couple of hours visiting and sharing stories while our gang did their dead level best to consume as much as they could of the mass quantities of beer that had been laid before them. Hans and Andre explained to us that historically this is a tin mining area that is now making a strong attempt to move into the tourism and resort business. We gave him our thoughts and suggestions and then explained to him that first and foremost the river entrance must be dredged because five yachts with drafts of 2 meters and more had already turned away in the time we had been there. Two had tried, gotten stuck and moved on. Word was spreading quickly (as it does in the cruising community), that only a catamaran or a shallow/shoal draft boat would be able to enter the river anchorage, and the bay outside is too rolly. We suggested to him that because the lake is so well protected it would make a good long-term berthing spot for those of us who would wish to spend more time in Indonesia, leaving our yachts somewhere safe while we do a bit of land travel. There is no decent marina in Indonesia for this purpose; hence yachts are forced to push on to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand for long-term berthage. He took it all to heart making copious notes, thanking us for our input. There is something special about Hans. He is quite young, but very intelligent and ambitious. He loves his home and seems to have a knack for making things happen. We believe he will bring success and progress to E. Belitung, and we told him that we look forward to returning in time to witness his progress.

Eventually, Hans announced that he was taking us back to the yachts to change for dinner and a big evening of entertainment.

Leaving the Regent's house with cases of beer
On the way out to the bus, Andre handed each boat captain a case of beer to take home, announcing that tomorrow beginning at 7 AM all four of our boats would receive free diesel, petrol and fresh water. Assuming he meant the 100 free litres that was mentioned in our rally booklet, Frank told Andre we needed to purchase an additional 200. He just waved his hand saying; "Whatever you need, it's free!"

At 7 PM, our busses arrived to transport us to dinner where a large group of local dignitaries joined us. We supped on delicious calamari, whole fish, enormous shrimp, chicken satay, various veggies, rice, and fresh fruits. It was incredible. Afterward we were led over to a stage where we were treated to dancing and singing by beautifully costumed youth, who eventually grabbed each of us to join them on stage for a few dances.
 Afterward one of the 'ministers made a speech and handed each couple tote bags made from local bamboo filled with t-shirts, followed by a presentation from Hans and a special gift of a small meteorite extracted during the excavation of the Belitung tin mines. Of course, dozens of bottles of beer were laid in front of us. The treatment we received was simply unbelievable. On the way back to our bus, Andre backed a truck up to the door and began unloading more cases of beer, saying - "…here take it it's free for you! Also tomorrow we will bring breakfast to all of you on your yachts: 9:00! Nasi Goreng!" Hans just stood by beaming his beautiful smile; so happy to do whatever they could for us.

Ute, Tiwi, Barb, Sari
Early the next morning we sat waiting for the fuel. "C.A." was first on the wharf at 7:00 AM. We reminded ourselves that we are on Indonesian time. 10:30 rolled around and although fuel had not yet arrived, breakfast had and we were all asked to come to shore to picnic under the trees while we continued the wait. A truck arrived conveying large containers of diesel in back. Russell (from C.A.) was asked to bring his jerry cans for the fill-up. He loaded up and then next came "FA". Meanwhile, Hans from "Taimada" decided rather than try to pull up to the dock, he would just bring his jerry cans in the dinghy. Unfortunately we don't carry them so Destiny waited until the rest were finished getting their fuel when around mid-day we finally pulled up to the wharf to discover there was no more diesel. Destiny sat at the wharf while Andre set out to obtain more.
Hans getting Taimada's diesel

Destiny at the fuel wharf
As we waited, Tiwi approached and asked me if Ute and I wanted to go shopping - well of course we did! So we took off for some girl time while Hans and Hans sat with Frank awaiting our delivery of fuel.

Tiwi drove us around town showing us her favorite places to shop, then we drove out to the lovely white sand beach. The view was magnificent! Ute and I started to get out of the car when Tiwi said; "OK, but be careful". What? I asked what we should be careful of, and she replied; "Just watch where you step", as she pointed to a signpost with a picture of a person squatting with a slash through it. Ute and I burst out laughing! I asked very crudely; "Does that sign mean "no shitting on the beach!?" Tiwi nodded in the affirmative and explained there is a certain culture of people here that likes to go onto the beach to do their toilet business.

Usually the tide will carry the waste out to sea cleaning the beach naturally. I immediately jumped out to snap a photo of the sign, followed by Ute who waved for me to wait - she wanted to be in the picture. She squatted beneath the sign with a mischievous smile on her face as I snapped the photo. Not to be outdone I of course had to follow suit! Poor Tiwi just laughed at us and shook her head.
She then asked us if we minded her stopping by her house to pick up her two little girls who wanted to meet us and to see our yachts. Of course we did not mind! Ute and I both had wanted to show our new friends our boats anyway. Eventually we returned to the wharf where a huge crowd had assembled to watch the American yacht get fueled. Frank and a couple of locals were busily siphoning diesel from a barrel into our tank, via our Baja filter. Frank had to clean the filter several times during the process. I'm not sure how much fuel we ended up with but I think it was in the neighborhood of 200 litres, and with that we were quite happy. Frank waived off the fresh water, although we were not in agreement on that point and lived to regret it later. When finished at the wharf Hans, Tiwi and her girls, Andre and a couple of his colleagues piled onto Destiny, all bearing their cameras and large smiles. I gave them a tour of our boat as we puttered over to re-anchor. Unfortunately while we were fueling up three more yachts had arrived. One of them had taken our spot and more making it difficult for us to find room to drop the hook. Why do people do that!? I was a bit irritated but got over it because we happen to like these other people. We transferred our passengers over to Hans and Ute who wanted to serve them tea aboard "Taimada" before we all loaded up into the busses once again. With the arrival of the others, our little group had grown to 15 cruisers now.

That night we were treated to yet another feast., this time at the home of the Regent where the story of the fishes and the loaves came into play. The chef was only expecting 8 guests plus Hans, Andre, Tiwi and Sari. Now they had 7 more mouths to feed. Amazingly they managed, treating us all like visiting ambassadors we dined in fine style. Hans wore himself out playing host to us all but we could tell he loved it. For dessert, he passed around pieces of a lovely cake that his sister had baked for us (and it was HER birthday). How absolutely thoughtful!

Friday morning, Andre arrived at the wharf promptly at 7:00 AM announcing to us all that breakfast is served. "Nasi Goreng!" He knew that those of us leaving today would await the rising tide around midday, so he chose one last opportunity to feed us. "FA & C.A" departed soon afterward.

Ute and I had so wanted to visit one of the famed coffee shops while here but our schedule had been very busy. Hans and Tiwi surprised us by arriving at the dock, waving us over to their cars. Hans took Frank and Hans with him, while Tiwi drove Ute and I to the "#1 coffee house in Manggar". On arrival, Hans proudly presented us the Pos Belitung newspaper that displayed a huge picture of Destiny at the fuel wharf squarely in the middle of the front page. It seems we have made the front page news again. We enjoyed the delicious richly roasted coffee while sampling local pastries and cakes that Hans and Tiwi had brought to the table. Eventually they reluctantly returned us to the waterfront loaded with newspapers and freshly baked breads where I nearly cried as we said goodbye. We exchanged email addresses and phone #'s with Hans and Tiwi promising to stay in touch. I do hope we will. We certainly plan to follow their progress as they reach toward the future. The people are what make Manggar so special. This has truly been the most heart-warming stop for us in all of our travels through Indonesia.

You will have to go to the "Our Pictures" link on the sidebar of this blog to see more photos. I've found that once I upload them to our web albums, they are no longer available to share on Facebook.

By noon we were away, setting a course for Nangka, Anchorage #84 in the "101 Indonesian anchorages book", some 30 miles to the northeast of Belitung.

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October 8, 2012 - Time to Express Disappointment About "Sail Indonesia 2012"

I must digress here to make a few pertinent points for the benefit of anyone who reads this blog and is planning to participate in a future Sail Indonesia rally. Although the rally events continue through 30 October, the officials INCORRECTLY date-stamped our cruising permits (CAIT) to expire on 15 Oct. This has caused an uproar among the rally participants that we have been asking to be corrected for weeks. As far as I know no one has received the promised corrected CAIT. Furthermore, the visa extensions that were arranged for us expire on 27 Oct. Great planning, Sail Indonesia. Additionally, most of us have joined the Sail Malaysia Rally that begins at Danga Bay, Malaysia on 2 Nov. Many of us want to visit Singapore along the way, which sits between Indonesia and Malaysia. In order to have any time at all in Singapore, we have to rev up the planner and hot foot it through the rest of Indonesia. Interestingly, Sail Indonesia and Sail Malaysia planned these events in tandem, and obviously not very well.

At Kumai, the rally events were scheduled for Oct 4 - 7, the emphasis being on 6 & 7 for the formal welcome and the "events", hence we scheduled our tour for Oct 4 & 5. On arrival, however, Sam the Sail Indonesia Rep., moved the ceremonial event dates up by two days so that we missed the official activities that occurred during our tour up the river. They did not, however, change the dates for future official stops. The next official stop is Manggar, E. Belitung, but not "officially" until 20 Oct. This is silly because there is no other place to go between 7 Oct and 20 Oct, hence the last three rally stops have gotten the short end of the stick because by now, many yachts have carried on, blowing off the schedule in order to get on up to Malaysia in time. Sail Indonesia put the screws to Belitung and Bangka who have spent a lot of resources, time and money in anticipation of the big rally events at their locations. We do hope there will be some yachts still around to do them justice.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oct 6 - 8, 2012 Leaving Kumai For Belitung and Another Unnerving Overnight Passage

Saturday morning Frank and I grabbed a cab into town for provisions and on the way back we caught Paul, Glor, Colin and Marion wandering about town to kill time because their river trip had been delayed. We joined them for lunch at a locals' spot where we all dined on delicious Mie Goreng. Colin insisted on picking up the tab which, including our waters and sodas for the 6 of us, came to a grand total of $9 (USD). We shopped around for t-shirts with the orangutans on them to commemorate our trip up the river but couldn't find any large enough. Indonesians haven't quite figured out that many tourists are westerners and are generally larger than the people here who are small-boned and petite in stature. We figure the clothing here is manufactured with Indonesians in mind. Even the men's size XL barely fits me. Oh well, a t-shirt was not to be. We returned to Destiny where we stowed our goods and then could not move fast enough to get the heck out of here. Destiny was covered in large strips of ash, and the air here is so thick with smoke it is a wonder that the residents don't succumb to asphyxiation or emphysema.

By early afternoon we were working our way back out the main river, dodging small fishing boats and large cargo ships and barges. We spent the night anchored again at the mouth of the river. At daybreak we set off on an overnighter to East Belitung. We were shocked to find the sea here is surprisingly shallow. Our instruments registered depths of less than 20 feet under the keel for miles and miles offshore. Eventually we began to see 30+ feet and then suddenly the depth gauge would show 12. This felt very strange, but the gauges were correct, correlating with our electronic charts. After a few hours out we got word that "Relapse" (who had departed the previous day with 4 other yachts including "Taimada") was limping back to Kumai with a broken rudder, a busted dinghy and that Mark had lost the end of his finger. They had sailed right into a two-mile fishing net that was set in the middle of their path. It had tangled them up so badly that they sat for 7 hours over night until the fishermen who had laid the nets returned the next morning. We spoke to Mark on the radio as he passed by warning us that they had already passed three other large nets before they had gotten tangled. Those poor guys! We continued on extra cautiously after that. As day faded into night time the horizon came aglow with what at first we thought were cargo ships traveling in the shipping lanes and yet nothing - zip - zilch showed up on the radar or the AIS. Here we go again! Our night was fraught with small fishing boat traffic. My mind kept drifting back to the horror of the 2-mile long nets that may be laying in wait out there somewhere. It was an exhausting night of watches for us both but we made it through just fine and the bonus, which I forgot to mention, is that from the time we had left that morning until around 10:00 PM, we had incredibly great wind allowing us to sail at speeds of between 7.5 - 9.8 knots. Of course when the wind died it happed quickly as though a switch had been flipped off.

We motor sailed on through the next day and realized that having lost our wind and having picked up a 1.5 knot countercurrent we would not make Manggar in time, so we aimed for a little island 5 miles to the northeast called Siadong. As we were making our way into the anchorage dodging dozens of local fishing boats we came upon Taimada at anchor there. We visited with them on the radio to find that they had attempted to anchor at Manggar but found it much too rolly over there. They were planning to make another attempt in the morning so we agreed to follow them over after breakfast.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 4 & 5, 2012 – Kumai River - The Orangutan Tour…A Once in a Lifetime Adventure

Hans, Ute, Barb, Frank
Relaxing down the river
Thursday morning, equipped with sheets, towels, toiletries, insect repellant, sun protection, hats, cameras and of course plenty of Bintang, we boarded the double-decker river boat named "Princess" that was our home for the next two days. Noval brought along a boat boy who would sleep in our cockpit and look after Destiny while we were away, introduced us to our adorable young guide, Ivend and then he sped away wishing us a wonderful journey. Ivend immediately stowed our gear, introduced us to our captain, Popeye (yes, truly this is his name!), and crew and then we were underway. As we traveled up-river Ivend pointed out Long Tailed Macaques and Proboscis Monkeys swinging from tree to tree, several empty treetop nests of wild orangutans and many species of predator birds and bats. We passed beautifully multi colored Kingfishers that flitted away much too quickly for us to snap a photo. This is a veritable haven for jungle dwellers. We sat in comfy chairs atop our boat and watched gape-jawed as nature rolled past. Our cook served us mid morning tea and tasty cakes and pastries as Ivend passionately spoke of the river habitat and it's delicate environment – clearly he feels great love and respect for this place, his home. Eventually we came to a site where the palm oil growers dispense their waste into the river while Ivend sadly explained how that industry is slowly killing this extraordinary natural environment. We passed several ranger stations and police dwellings built on stilts over the river, where they try to patrol and protect indigenous creatures from poachers. Unfortunately, some of the police dwellings have been abandoned because not long ago one of the officers was eaten by a freshwater crocodile. OOPS! Oh yeah, they also have crocs here, as well as many varieties of snakes and spiders. Just before arriving at Camp Leaky, our cook served us lunch. What a spread: fresh fish, vegetables rice and fresh fruit, coffee, tea and bottled water. I won't go into each meal, but over the two-day trip we were served incredibly delicious food that included chicken, shrimp, asparagus soup, banana pancakes, omelets, everything fresh and delicious, plus morning and afternoon tea both days. This was apparently the 5-star tour and we were very contented with the service.
The Princess 
Frank, Barb, Ute, Hans


 At Camp Leaky we were advised not to carry any food and to keep everything including hats, sunglasses, cameras, bags, etc. very close to us because the orangutans are quite cheeky and will snatch and grab anything they can before we know what hit us. Walking into the camp, we came upon a pretty little monkey sitting in a tree staring at us.

Soon we came upon the camp where the dominant female orangutan named Siswi was sitting by a cabin munching on some bananas. As we approached another female carrying a baby attached to her side joined Siswi and they sat sharing bananas.

It was so sweet! We watched them for a while until a male came along, darting about the periphery before disappearing into the trees and disturbing the females. Ivend took us into the museum where we learned about the history of the camp that was established for the study and protection of a certain core family of orangutans. The small museum contained quite a lot of information and artifacts relating to the orangutans and other creatures within this and the other camps then he showed us a family tree posted to the wall. Princess was the original matriarch of this group. There are now one dominant/alpha female and one dominant/alpha male. Tom is the alpha male. Obviously the dominant male earns his stature by fighting, and as a male wins each fight with other males, he begins to grow large "cheeks" on either side of his head. Younger, less dominant males have no discernable cheeks, some have just a small ridge outlining the sides of their faces, but Tom looked as though his face had wings. He and his cheeks were massive. We hoped to get a glimpse of Tom while here but Ivend held no promises. We left the building and started down the path leading to the staging area for the 3:00 feeding. On the way, we encountered Siswi again who plopped down directly in our path, flirting with Frank and Hans. 
Siswi showing off to  Hans and Frank

She would lounge back and bare her private parts to them – what a little hussy! She must have thought they were our dominant males. Shortly, along came a young male whom she immediately tried to charm. Wanting nothing to do with the old girl he ran for the trees and quickly swung away giving us a good show. 

Eventually we arrived at the feeding platform where coconut milk had been placed in buckets and piles of mangoes littered the platform. As several orangutans approached so did wild boars and their piglets (boarlets?), that rooted around underneath to pick up the scraps. The orangutans put on quite a show for us, swinging in along the treetops, alighting onto the platform and then sitting down for their meal. A couple of females had babies clinging to them who would eat with one hand while never taking the other off momma. They were so civilized in their table manners, scooping the milk out with a coconut shell cup, having a drink and then peeling mangoes one at a time before eating them. They sometimes took turns and then every now and then a rowdy one would swoop in grabbing 6 or 7 mangoes, cramming them into its mouth while holding one in each foot and then swing away. Some stayed around feasting and acting silly for the cameras. It is best seen in person because my trying to relate our experience cannot possibly do it justice. We sat for a good while snapping photos and taking video footage. On our way back through the camp we heard a commotion ahead as someone excitedly pointed out big Tom sitting outside a ranger's cabin munching on his own serving of mangoes. 
Tom the alpha male

This guy could probably bench press a truck! His head, hands and feet were enormous. We were advised to stay 5 meters away from him and not to draw his attention. He feasted for a good while before Siswi came along, jealous of the attention given to Tom; she began to prance about demanding an audience. Once again she plopped down in front of Hans and began flirting! What a little stinker she is. We snapped dozens of photos and then were advised it was time to leave.

Back on the boat we cruised back out onto the main part of the river where we enjoyed a bit more nature watching as our cook prepared the evening meal. Popeye parked the boat up against the riverbank so that we could get our showers, change clothes and freshen up for dinner. Afterward we enjoyed sitting on the foredeck to watch and listen to the jungle around us. It certainly comes alive at night. We enjoyed visiting for a while as the crew set up our mattresses, pillows and mosquito nets and then retired to bed. We took their cue and followed suit. Early the next morning we awoke to the sound of the engine and the smell of fresh coffee and breakfast.

At 9 AM we arrived at Ranger Station #2 where we got to experience wild orangutans in their natural habitat. Again there was a trip deep into the forest where a much more rugged feeding platform was set up and piled high with bananas and buckets of milk. At first, only a young but well developed male appeared. Ivend told us he is the #3 dominant male here, but is working his way up to #1. He had the platform to himself for a while before a mother and her very young baby appeared. He showed amazing respect toward her moving over to make room, but not before stuffing about 6 bananas into his mouth.  Eventually another juvenile appeared followed by several others, traversing the treetops then dropping down onto the platform. Some actually walked in along the path, staring us down. We couldn't believe we were this close to them. 

The babies were so cute Ute and I wanted to hug one, but were assured this would never happen. Afterward, Ivend walked us along the jungle trails pointing out a variety of creatures and their habitats. He enjoyed playing with a large walking stick and let a very large ant walk across his arms. He clearly loves nature and all of her denizens. He would point out edible berries and seeds, allowing us a taste of them as well.

Back to the river boat our next stop was to be a small village where we were to have been given a tour, see some craft making, visit a small market and have lunch, but there had been a death in the village of an elder and so it was off limits to us while the community was in mourning. Popeye parked the boat alongside the village dock while we enjoyed lunch and watched the first rains of the season blow in. Fortunately for us the rains ended at the exact time that we were due to arrive at Camp 3 where once again, following about a 3 km trek we arrived at the observation post to watch another group of wild orangutans.  These rangers fed the orangutans fresh yams and bananas. This was a lively bunch of primates who came from all directions, swinging on vines and from treetops, walking along the jungle floor and generally plundering while a mother and her baby took center stage. A couple of juveniles would hang out in the tree tops, wait for one of the adults to be distracted, then would creep down and quickly snatch some bits and pieces on the run, scurrying back up to the tree tops. We got a real kick out of this bunch.

Proboscis Monkeys along the river
Proboscis monkey
After the last camp, our cook prepared our final meal as we relaxed on the deck and Ivend told us he had one final surprise for us. He wanted to show us Nature's Christmas lights. The mangroves lining the banks of the river play host to, according to Ivend, a billion fireflies. As we slowly motored back down the river and as darkness unfurled her black velvet curtain, truly the mangroves came alight with millions of twinkling bright white fireflies. Talk about dinner by firelight! It was a magical end to a wonderful adventure. We returned to our yachts at around 7:30 PM quite happy and appreciative from this amazing experience.
I feel I've written a book and still not done justice to this little journey. This is a trip everyone should get to do in their lifetime.

October 3, 2012 – Kumai, Kalimantan, Borneo

Wednesday morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading up river into Kumai where our friends and cruise mates, Ute and Hans from the catamaran "Taimada" were already waiting for us. We met them via Bernd and Tanja of "s/y Upps" who were originally booked to do this tour with us but were not able to participate in the rally this year. All along the river we passed tugs boats pulling barges loaded with large trees on their way out to the paper mills.

As we neared the town of Kumai the air became thicker with smoke and ash. We later discovered this is the result of the palm oil producers burning fields and undergrowth. There is an entire environmental war being waged here between those trying to preserve and protect the natural beauty and delicate ecosystem of Borneo from the palm oil manufacturers who are absolutely raping these lands. That is a whole other story that I won't go into but one that is a very painful story to hear. We are fortunate to be able to make this trip before it is all laid to waste.

Once anchored we contacted Noval who is providing the services for our two-day trip up the river. He stopped by with an entourage of about 5 minions who giggled and walked around our boat taking pictures of themselves (cute, really). After he gave us the information  & instructions we needed for the tour tomorrow, he quickly departed promising to see us bright and early at 7:00 AM. We spent the rest of the day getting Destiny ready to be left for two days, then while I packed for the trip Frank took a quick dinghy ride around the anchorage. This is an extremely busy port. Along the shore were rows and rows of what appeared to be tall concrete warehouses. He learned these have been built to attract the small Swiftlets (aka, Barn Swallows) that painstakingly build their nests from their own saliva, over a period of three months, only to be harvested by humans for the delicacy that is known in many Asian restaurants as Bird's Nest Soup. Poor little birds! For tourists and visitors, however, the big attraction here is a trip up the river to see the Orangutans. According to our reference material Borneo and Sumatra are the only places on Earth that claim home to these amazing primates. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 1 – 2, 2012 Passage across the Java Sea From Bali to Borneo – “Dodgy First Night!”

We enjoyed beautiful sailing winds on this passage and enjoyed the familiar swish of water passing under the hull without the loud grinding of the engine. The closer we get to Singapore the heavier the traffic becomes out here on the open water and for some reason known only to perhaps God, it is always heavier and more challenging at night. Within 15 minutes after my taking over the watch large ships materialized on the horizon. For the most part they cut us a fairly wide path of a couple of miles, however, one cargo ship came directly at our port beam at 15 knots. I had been watching him on the AIS and as he/it came to within the 5 mile zone I began to hail the ship by name. I received absolutely no response to my persistent calling. Before long the large ship was within 1 mile sending our alarm into a frenzy as I attempted to maneuver out of its path. I continued to hail the ship to no avail and couldn't seem to shake him with my evasive maneuvers, for by now I had turned on the engine and had reefed the sails in order to move about more quickly. Eventually, when the other ship was just under ¾ of a mile away and as I had the engine revved to over 3200 PRM racing to get beyond its path (forget evasive moves now), it turned to starboard passing our port side within a half-mile.  Crisis averted. Now in hindsight, I should have recorded the vessel's information and made a report of his asinine behavior to the shipping company that owns the vessel. For anyone who doesn't sail/cruise ½ or ¾ of a mile doesn't seem like much and yet out here it is a hare's breath between a large fast moving cargo vessel and us.

Afterward traffic on the sea increased and before long I encountered another tug that did not appear on either radar or AIS, and an unidentified uncharted island off to starboard. Hmm, which way to go?  Eventually I broke down and went to awaken Frank. Two heads are needed now. He watched and then after a while said to me, "Barbara, that is not an island, that is a barge being towed about 3 miles behind that tug". Shocking that they are not required to carry some sort of transponder. The barge was completely unlit.  Had it not been for the light of the moon we would never have seen it's pale profile in the distance. For over half an hour we watched and tried to hail the tug. There was no way to get a trajectory of his path so we attempted to get beyond it, but absolutely could not judge his intent. We turned on all of the deck lights and continued to try to raise the ship on VHF. Eventually the boat shined a very powerful spot light at us. We realized there was nothing to be done but to turn about and try to get the heck away from this one. He had no intention of responding to us. We put the iron jib on high gear and completely circled three miles away to get behind the massive barge that looked like an island.

After that Frank was fully awake, and as we were discussing what had just happened we noticed on the AIS a fast moving passenger ship heading across our path. Here we go again. We didn't pussyfoot around this time. We pushed the RPM's until the poor engine sounded like it was crying for mercy and sped past the point of interception. By now I was completely worn out and went down for my sleep. Three hours later Frank awakened me with the news that after I went to bed he did not pass another ship. He had a quiet, easy watch.

The wind abated sometime during the second day as we noticed more and more local fishing traffic. In fact, by nightfall we were literally surrounded by 50 or more fishing boats with nets. They carefully avoided US and were very well lit so for a good while we traveled unmolested by commercial traffic. Eventually as we neared Borneo the cargo and towing barge traffic picked up again. We arrived at the mouth of the Kumai River at Kalimantan by 4 PM. We dropped the hook just inside the river mouth for the night rather than try to enter at this time because the river is chock full of traffic and a bit dodgy to navigate without full light. The air here is very thick with smoke; burns the eyes and makes breathing very uncomfortable. Wonder what they are burning all the time?