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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.


Gillie Davies said...

Heh you guys are really out there aren't you! We do hope you can get your parts, but if you need anything ordering or sent, just let us know and we will do what we can to organise it for you. We thought you might like to know that Stuie on Nomad managed to get a mooring blob at Changi yacht club for SP$21.40/night + SP$5 for temp membership. We contacted (by phone) from here for Stuie to book it and can do the same for you guys if you would like.
Love & Hugs
G & R S Y Tuppenny

Gillie Davies said...

I really hope you will be turning this into a book Barb. It is compelling reading. hugs xx