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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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.

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