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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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