We departed Darwin on our own on August 8th for Timor. Unfortunately it was only after the crossing we realised that the high pressure systems which dominate Australia at this time of the year, feed the SE winds. So we left before the high was established and consequently motored for 4 days to Timor! We saw only one fishing boat in our crossing!
Our first stop was Roti, an island a days sail to Kupang. We had heard that Papela was a small village of boat builders, with very friendly people and a worth while stopping point. We arrived off the entrance at midnight and had a lesson in what happens when you are tired and over confident! A timely lesson for us! It had something to do with reef and electronic charts! We didn't go aground but decided to stand off and wait until morning.
On anchoring, we were inundated with children paddling out to Stolen Kiss in dug out canoes that constantly leaked. We gave chocolates to children and Peter gave some boys a cigarette. They were not old enough to smoke and I came on deck and took a motherly approach to the situation. They laughed and agreed! Cheeky boys! Other villagers came out, with one man sneaking on board wanting something for his tooth ache.
Eventually, two navy men (young!) with AK47 guns came on board via their dugout canoe with a paddler! They very kindly had taken their boots off! They were in army fatigues, one wearing a balaclava. Their eyes were friendly and they greeted us with great smiles. We were too tired to be alarmed, which was fortuitous as all they wanted was to check our passports and asked us to come ashore next time to see them first. They had to be seen to be protecting the village. It was no problem that we had not cleared in. The guns were placed in the cockpit, standing against the wheel. We were so tired that we missed a great photo opportunity! Another timely reminder; best not to place a western interpretation on an eastern behaviour! This is incredibly important. At the end of the bay were some huts that the fishermen from Sulawesi use for a temporary camp during the NE monsoon when they come down to fish in their small boats.
Our warm welcome in this village as illegal visitors was our very first experience of international cruising! It just so happened that in 2006, it was fishermen from this village that got caught illegal fishing in Australian Territorial Waters (they were actually very close to the coast) and had their boats seized by Australian Authorities and burnt! It just encourages illegal logging to find more wood to build replacement boats. People are just trying to survive. There must be another way of sorting out this problem.
The sail to Kupang was a 33 mile passage through Selat Roti, then Selat Semau. We motored most of the way. From our anchorage at Kupang we could see the ruins of a Dutch fortress than ran around the outside of the city, encompassing current day dwellings. To our starboard was the small river that Captain Bligh rowed into! Stepping ashore on the small beach was somewhat problematical as you had to negotiate the long lines of the fishing boats, the rubbish and the ground swell! One of the women from another yacht fell into the water amidst the trash! There was a family who squatted on the beach who looked after the dinghy for a very small fee. Most people chew beetle nut which makes them spit frequently and gives them very red teeth and gums.
Walking up the beach through the tin fence and fish market, the throng of Kupang was an absolute assault on your senses. The noise! Bemos, the local transport, have their own touts hanging from where the door should be. They play very loud bass music which thumps through your body. They are very small vehicles that seat about 12 people at a pinch and Peter often amused the people as he was too tall to sit down and had to sit with his head on its side! On one journey, an aged lady held Peter’s hand and sat stroking it! She liked him! The people were ever so friendly and smiled. A wonderful thing a smile! A young local man called Martin from Teddy’s Travel found us and took us sightseeing. He was an educated man and spoke excellent English. He came walking with us to take us to the bakery that wasn’t and on the way back held Peter’s hand and started singing to him! As with most Asian cultures, loss of face is very important to these people. Honour and national pride are common traits. They are very proud of Kupang and like to hear that we like it.
There were small shops that sold anything and everything. Kupang is a good place to pick up spare parts for the yacht. Autosol was only 20% of the price you pay in Australia! Of course fuel was now 30 cents Aus/L, which made our 50 cents Aus/L duty free in Darwin look expensive! If only we knew better!
Some yachts had gone over to Semau which was only 6 miles from Kupang and offered protection from the SE winds. The water was clear, but coral was non existent. We went to a local soccer match and enjoyed a meal on the beach. Peter made a little ditty from all the yachts anchored there:
If you have a Stolen Kiss on your Honeymoon
when you are Dunworkin and do Acrobat stunts with your Willi Willi,
you may end up needing a Papoose.
We finally set off for an overnight sail north towards the islands to the east of Flores. Out of the approaching dawn loomed a large volcano on Lombolen Island – also known as Lembarta. Lamararap volcano is 5394 feet hight and was a sight to behold! Le Truck’s very precise cruising notes indicated an anchorage in a small bay small bay behind Lamararap. We went to explore the white sandy beach and small village hidden behind groves of coconut palms. The people were very shy and we did not wish to intrude.
Looking across towards Selat Lamerkera we could see many lights from villages on Adonara Is. There were barren volcanic cones littering the landscape. This was unexpected as we had envisages vegetated, sub-tropical slopes. However, the scenery was stunning and very peaceful.
The wind funnelling between the islands down the strait afforded us a somewhat boisterous sail across Selat Solor. Our destination was the hot springs in a small bay to the west of Larantuka, however on our arrival the SE wind had blown up and the bay offered no protection. We found a sheltered, deep bay immediately to south of the hot springs where the local fishing boats were tied up. The bottom was very fine black volcanic sand and after several attempts we could not get our anchor to set. Some young fisherman invited us to tie up alongside them – so they had John on one side and us on the other. Their boat was about 80 foot long and once we ascertained that they were going fishing at 0800 the following morning and not at night, we were happy to stay. They were adept in tying up the boat and knew how to use springs properly. Peter taught one guy how to tie a bowline and one of the men showed Peter a local knot they use. Why are we so arrogant that we think these people do not know about boats like we do! They were young Muslim men – very friendly with their English being as good as our Bahasa. Despite this we managed to glean local information about the straits and currents. They did not want anything from us and a lot of sharing took place. Not thinking of rats, we did not put in our mosquito grate in at night. There was evidence of a rat that had come on board, but as Peter assured me that they like to go back to their nest! We were a little bit reticent about opening cupboards for a while after that in case a rat jumped out!
We spent the afternoon walking (Jalan Jalan) to the hot springs with one of the fishermen as our guide. There were many cashew trees and various vegetable crops. The men were keen to see what we did with our time, so they would look through our windows and laugh in approval that we actually do the same things as they do. Such a wonderful experience and good for international relations, which of course Australia needs that as much as possible thanks to out Government!
The following day we had a whole 7 miles to go to Larantuka. No wind in the strait of course! After tooling around to find a shallow anchorage, a fisherman lent us his mooring. He spoke good English and said it was strong enough for us. It did not have 40m to 40 knots on it, but we trusted his judgement. How could you not! As it was a Sunday there were many boats in the anchorage. We spent the morning ashore, buying cashew nuts and visiting the pasar (market), which was very extensive. We made the most of the afternoon just lazing around the boat and watching the world go by.
Monday morning we departed and made our way to the north side of Flores. Thanks to local knowledge and our own observations, we had tide with us through Larantuka Narrows, shooting through at 8 knots. Don’t you just love it when you get it right! Experience showed us that for every strait there was a counter current right along the shore, if you were game to get that close. Locals make very good use of the counter currents. After a great sail around to Tg Gedong, local village people showed us where to anchor as it was 50m deep still just 50 m from shore. Some fishermen helped us by taking our lines ashore and were interested to see what we had on board. The water was ‘gin’ clear with coral and fish being rather scant. Willi Willi had joined the anchorage in Larantuka.
We had an enjoyable sail to our next anchorage to Besar Is, we found on c-map. Peter stood in the ratlines and conned us in through the reef. A very traditional village was hidden around the corner of the island and even though they did not come out to see us and kept their distance, they appeared not to mind us being there. Most of village went fishing all night and it was the first time we saw the women and children with a white painted face to keep the sun off. Snorkelling at 6.30 in morning in warm water revealed a lack of coral but we did see some small pretty little reef fish. Departing at the usual time of 0800 next morning to go to sea world, just east of Maumere, we met up with the Canadian boat, Moonlighter whom we saw previously at Tg Gedong. We ate to dinner at the resort restaurant, which cost $10 for two of us! The anchorage was good and a popular one with yachties we believe.
The profits goes to locals as the Catholic Church run the resort. They organised a day tour to Keli Mutu; volcanoes 1600m high, north of Ende, a 4 hour ride from the anchorage by minibus. (Old) John and I had a race up the last section to the summit! A distinct lack of oxygen and being slightly anaemic allowed the old bugger beat me to the top! Absolutely sensational scenery with a view to die for! The three volcanic lakes change colour, depending on the amount of sunshine and the angle of the sun’s rays. Our Indonesian guide got a bit stroppy when we purchased Ikat from the women in the car park as he did not get a cut. On our way home we stopped at a small village where a woman spoke great English who showed us through a traditional hut and introduced us to the women weaving Ikat. We purchased beautiful Ikat pieces and as we spent so much money, she gave us grapefruit, bananas and pineapple. Her father was the chief of this village in the mountains, possibly located near Wolowaru. There are 400 people of the one clan in this village, surrounded by other clans with 3000-4000 people in area. As we left the boat at 4 am it was quite a tiring journey, but well worth it. It was so scenic with the road wending its way around huge valleys, plateaus, and rice terraces – sawah in the upper slopes. The villages had their cows, horses and buffalo wandering around the rice paddi fields. The narrow bituminised road at times dropped away to large valleys immediately at the road’s edge!
Everywhere we go there is something new! Some great places to come back to! Telok Riung, Linggeh, and Terang. The fishing village of Riung Bay has many beautiful islands and coral reefs. The locals in the town were very welcoming and friendly – we sat with a family who were building onto their house. We entertained the locals when we tried our Bahasa Indonesian. In Linggeh, we found this beautiful anchorage behind an extensive reef (Le Truck said it was there!) and many children as well as some young boys came out to see us. We gave many gifts as did the 3 other yachts – boys then asked us to go Jalan Jalan to get coconuts. We think this was in thanks for the presents we gave the children. On the beach, Peter was trying to cut my hair but a lady decided she could do a better job. Soon, we had the whole village watching! She cut Peter’s hair with the clippers – probably a first for her! The women paint their faces with white or gold paint to look pretty and to keep their skin protected from the sun. They were Christians and Muslims. Jim (Moonlighter) took his video camera in and took a video of the people, then played it back to them. I have never seen so much spontaneous laughing and sheer joy on the faces of people! We forgot the camera! The next morning there were many dugout canoes rowing out to farewell us.
Around Telok Terang there are many good anchorages. We stayed for one night on our way to Labuhan Bajo and saw our first Indonesian sea snake on the way. What a place! It is a small town, but our first tourist town as it is the landing point to Komodo. We went out for dinner almost every night and enjoyed cold beers ashore. The fresh market was excellent for re-stocking the boat and the best psar so far! On Le Truck’s advice we anchored opposite the jetty, away from the fishing boats. This appeared to be the right thing to do as many yachts coming behind us had things stolen off their yachts. The Keli Mutu, a local cruise ship, arrived at sunset and manoeuvred between all of us! What a wonderful place to spend 3 nights.
After much thought we decided we could negotiate the very narrow Molo Narrows and the Molo Strait to get to Nusa Kode at the southern side of Rinja. We arrived at the narrows at the start of the current heading south – just lucky or what? A whirlpool was starting near the small island at the entrance which was not a problem to us. We went through at 10 knots! WOW! A real buzz! On sharing this excitement on the HF sched the next morning, we believe many of the yachts coming behind us decided to experience the same adventure!
The anchorage at Nusa Kode was quite spectacular. There were two other yachts there – one from Fremantle! Komodo Dragons were walking on the beach, as well as deer, pigs and monkeys. We had a pot luck dinner on the beach and Lindy made clam chowder from the clams she collected in the sand. A fascinating stay! Even though the dragons were not large, it was good to see them in their natural state.
We decided to take passage across bottom on Komodo and up Selat Sape as the current would be less than in the Komodo Straits. We had 2 knots against us going to Kelapa (Coconut) Island, but managed to get a favourable current with us up to Banta Island! It was an interesting anchorage inside a collapsed volcanic crater – just 80 metres off the beach. Lots of fish, no village and quite isolated. Peter and I walked half way up the crater. A stunning view! We missed the best anchorage here, though, as other yachties have told of amazing coral!
Sumbawa was our next island and Bima our next port of call. We caught up with Moonlighter again and shared their 1.2 m Wahoo! Bima is a predominately Muslim town and we heard of the first preaching involving anti-American sentiment. However a local guy told Peter that we are perfectly safe there and we were very welcomed, as were Moonlighter after they checked that they were in fact Canadian and not American. It is not every town that you get to walk down the street with a goat next to you! Horse and cart were still a major mode of transport! Bima were sensibly using their rubbish for landfill. Peter spent and afternoon riding on the back of a motor bike going to get the gas bottles filled. However, the only place that could do it was run by a Muslim and his driver happened to be a Christian. The two exchanged a few words with rude gestures and hence no gas for us!
Tg Pioen (after Bima) was a Japanese pearl farm! The Japanese influence in the Kampung was evident and a lad who came to meet us (red hair and fair skin!) had a Dutch grandfather and Japanese mother. He took us to his Kampung which was a 10 minute walk down behind the beach. The village was actually very large and the locals came out to see us. There were smiles all around. Another 40 miles or so and we caught up with Moonlighter again at Kananga. There was a cool freshwater stream the locals were using to do their washing. We asked if we could do the same and of course they were happy to share. Our antics, having the men doing the laundry as well, attracted quite a crowd, with many boys finding comfort sitting on our dinghy. A man from Sulawesi was pretty chuffed when I understood and knew where he was from. I drew a map of Indonesia and China, and then jumped to where Moonlighter was from in Canada. He was stunned they had come so far!
We decided, for what ever reason, to go to Medang Island and miss Moyo Island. Big mistake! The anchorage in Medang was sensational for a while as we had a nice sand patch and it was calm. The reef was a huge disappointment as it had been bombed. The swell came in and we rolled all night, and were greeted with a 25 knot SW wind the next day as we sailed in a SW direction to the Lombok shore. At least we did not need wet weather gear due to the heat! 6 miles from shore the wind died as it was funnelling down Selat Alas, between Sumbawa and Lombok. It appears that the wind is affected by the tides in the straits. We managed to find an unlikely, quiet anchorage and moved on to the Gili Islands the following morning. We stumbled on a fantastic bay – Tombobor, where we stayed for 6 days. SOOOO peaceful! There are some small villages and some resorts. One of the latter is run by a German and they bring the menu down to the boat so you can plan dinner! Now there is an effective marketing strategy! We took the dinghy to Gili Aer – not much to see as far as the reef goes and nothing special about the islands. For the grand price of $10, we had a day trip into Senggigi (beats sailing there down the strait), Mataram and Ampanan. The market in Ampanan was fantastic!
Although many yachts head for Lavina, north Bali, we opted to go down to Bali Marina and take on the challenge of Lombok Strait! In hind sight, Lavina was probably the only placed we missed seeing on our journey north. We departed for Lembongan Island on Tuesday morning – Sept 23. What a great sail as we had everything from 6 knots to 20 knots from SSE and 2 –5 knots of current with us. We sailed into the tourist area between large breaking reefs with the swell notably higher over western the side. Some local boats directed us towards a mooring which ended up being in 3.5m of water with a large swell running. It wasn’t the swell that was a worry, or the breaking reef very close to us, but the enormous15m water slide that was looming over us, moving up and down with the swell opposite to us! Not sure how I slept, if at all! Jungubatu Village was Hindu, and although interesting and worth a visit, we did not stay another day. Perhaps it was because a local man we met advised us to get out as the swell was on the rise due to spring tides! In Benoa Harbour we met a cat from Melbourne, Raptor, who lost their previous yacht there as a mooring broke and they were washed on to the reef.
So on we motored to Benoa Harbour - 12 miles with a 4 m beam swell, which kindly decreased off the harbour entrance. Sadly the marina was short of a cesspit, that we paid 7 USD per day on a Mediterranean mooring. The main jetty had Australian boats close in as there was 240V power, which somehow went down to 110V towards the end of the jetty where the American boats were!
We liked Bali and all that it offered. Away from the tourist strip, we encountered wonderful people and good cheap food at Denpasar Markets. We explored many places and did a pool crawl along the beach strip in Kuta with all the 5 star resorts!
Alistair from C’est La Vie, Fremantle was there as was Dick Eastow delivering Bernie Siddle’s new boat called Jaquie Mac.
Time Out arrived on Monday Oct 5. We had a wee celebration – a little too much rum! Bill had invited the Indonesian Officials on board and there were many people below deck. Unfortunately it appeared the small crocodile that lived attached to the mast by the saloon table had walked off the boat with the officials!
Our visas expired on 8th October, so we shifted to Serangan, on other side of Benoa Harbour. If we could live our life in hindsight, how perfect it would be! Serangan was an absolute jewel in what was otherwise a challenging harbour or otherwise a shit hole! We found a perfectly sheltered, clean anchorage which had a boatyard run by an English guy. A young boy offered to keep his eye on the boat at night for a small fee. Not that it was unsafe – but a good excuse for him to make some money. The village was Hindu and we were able to hire a bike and find a taxi into town. It was also a bit of a bonus being closer to Macro! We were invited to a cockfight; only local males attend them and there were some proud owners displaying their cocks! Needless to say I went along. The amount of money which changed hands astounded us. The Balinese are certainly big gamblers, something which we also observed on Lembongon. It seemed rather in juxtaposition that following the cock fight, there was a large Hindu festival that we were also invited to. We all had to wear sarongs which was a little of a challenge for the guys as it was the first time they had worn a skirt!! (In public anyway!)
A gamelan orchestra provided an accompaniment to the ceremony. A small child was asleep across his father’s knee amidst the orchestra – somehow managing to sleep despite the music. A two year old boy came to stand behind us in his small sarong. He had the most beautiful large brown eyes and could not take his eyes off us. We took many photos of him and wanted to take him home!
On Saturday, October 11 we departed Bali en route to Kumai, Kalimantan. I am not so sure if Time Out had an idea that we were racing him! We each took a different route. It looked tentative for a while but we turned to hug the coast to find favourable current. The winds were light and we were thinking the Lombok Strait was not living up to its reputation! But…..just when we thought it was safe….
At the north of Lombok Strait a SE wind kicked in, being funnelled between Mt Agung, Bali and the mountains on the north of Lombok. Once again, with the benefit of hindsight, life would have been different. What we should have done is gone further west to get in the lee of Bali, however we ran north towards Kangean, our anchorage the next day. With the 35 knots a short, sharp 3m to 4m cross sea developed just before dusk. Bill was somewhere behind us. Although we were moving along safely doing 8.5 to 9 knots, we thought that perhaps it was prudent to slow the boat down. We dropped a second reef in without any problems, although having to round the boat up into the swell and pull away at the right time was a bit of the ‘pucker factor’ kind of moment. In hindsight, it may not have been the best move as we were pooped twice, with one wave going down below and ending on top of the laptop! An expensive lesson on packing away the laptop. Thank goodness for paper charts! We were doing well hand steering in hourly shifts. Around 2300 hours we could see this red light behind us. To our complete amazement, it was moving up on us very fast! Although we knew it had to be one of the yachts, a VHF call revealed it to be Time Out flying past us doing 11.5 knots! We spoke to Matt who was a little concerned and asked us if they should be going that fast! We suggested he wake Bill up and they too put a reef in and slowed down. It was a little unnerving as we would not have seen any boats in front of us, even with a good look out. Our radar was not working (and our back up had just zoomed past us!) and it was very black outside! Bill called a little later to say that he had just seen a large unlit fishing boat. We were not near their line, but a very chilling thought. As morning approached, the sea flattened out and we gybed west towards our destination. We still beat Time Out into the anchorage by a few hours as they decided to take the scenic route! Maybe they just like being out there!
Next day we moved off to Bewean Island which was another overnight passage. Although we could not see the bottom when we anchored, the landscape did not appear to have a coral bottom, (how on earth would we ever surmise that???) however we managed to hang our anchor up on a rock, just 8m of chain from the boat! A little bit of driving this way and that freed us up. With the mangroves, it looked like crocodile country (should have sent for crocodile Bill!) so getting in the water was not an option. We mostly sailed to Bewean Island, had two nights at there, which gave us time to rest, do repairs, go to the market, swim and just laze around. Oh – and drink rum! A great island that was worthy of further exploration if time permitted.
With squalls and fishing boats, we had some near misses, the closest being on my watch! I misjudged how close a fishing boat was to us and gave him a scare to see us so close. He threw all deck lights on and put spotlight on us. There was no danger of a collision, but I did get too close at night!
Having reached the southern coast of Kalimantan, dropped anchor outside the river mouth. Wow! We were almost there. With our usual rum consumption on Time Out, dinner and a bit of a laugh we had a plan for the next day. We had the most detailed chart of the river entrance and as we were in shallow mode, we were to take the lead. Shock, horror, all navigation now had to be done on paper! The bioluminescence at night was the best we had ever seen and absolutely amazing!! Peter was making great patterns in the water on the way back to the boat.
The trip up to Kumai was very exciting and a real adventure as it was our first river trip and our first experience of a river town which was also a bit of an outpost. Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that we were to sit with wild orang-utans in the jungle! Miss Conduct was already there and to no surprise ‘Little John’ was already well known in the village! Peter and I had checked out of Bali and were a little concerned that we were illegal! No worries! After all we still had a valid Cruising Permit! In no time we had our trip sorted with Yono on Satria. For the bargain price of $A80 each for 2 days, we received all food, water and a boat sitter to watch over Stolen Kiss. In our negotiations we had a little confusion over ‘swim’ as we thought we could take our bathers to go swimming in the river, but as it panned out, our guide was referring to ‘swim’ as being shrimp! We asked if there were crocodiles in the river – and yes, of course there were! That ruled out swimming!
The whole journey would have to go down as one of the most special cruising experiences we have encountered. We sat with Orang-utans in their natural habitat in the jungle. One was a female who was feeding her small baby, who clung to her mother like a new born baby, with her small hand touching her mother’s face. The mother would also chew pineapple, then with mouth full, suck on her breast! MMMM, pineapple milkshake!
We had an abundance of food and had a wonderful time on the boat with excellent company. The river was quite narrow in places and often we would just motor over a vegetation bank in the middle! Camp Leaky was full of international volunteers who go there for 6 months to work, building walkways for tourists and looking after the orang-utans. Of course there were times the primates mistook themselves for humans, walking along the walkways and hiding under the tarps!! One female baled Bill and Peter up (Peter hiding behind Bill) on the walk way as she wanted the water bottle Peter was carrying. You should have seen these two move! What is it with Bill and wild animals?
In signing the visitor’s book at Camp Leaky, we had to list our occupation. Until now, we had not thought about whether or not we were retired or semi retired. Bill kept making the point that we should be listing our occupation as ‘retired’. Although we thought it was a little odd that he was so insistent about this, we later found out that recognising himself as being ‘retired’ was an issue for him. So from now on, we are officially semi-retired.
We were all lined up on the top deck to sleep under mosquito nets; fingers and toes had to be tucked in so as not to be munched by mosquitoes! We had to sit on the toilet with our head above the door for all to see! Now there was a room with a view when motoring up the river! It also doubled up as our shower! We were moored at night away from the bushes to hold the wild life at bay (cobras were top of the list!) After explaining this, our guide said we could do a night walk in the jungle if we wished! Needless to say no-one had this on their wish list!
On our return to Kumai, some enterprising young gentlemen asked us to visit their local school to practice conversation English. We were very tired but could not refuse! I was asked to speak more slowly (surprise, surprise) as the students found it difficult to keep up with me! We called it an early night as there is only so many times one can go over name, family details and what you eat at meal time! We hope the young boys realise their dreams and aspirations.
We left Kumai feeling on top of the world. In front of us was a 5 day sail to Singapore, up the Riau Straits. I spoke to Didy on 8 megs as she was racing on Steele De Breeze off the Beagles!! (Just north of Perth) Can you believe that? We took over the local ‘net’ who had to listen to us! Were we worried??? Not one bit!
Our last 500 miles or so to Singapore was without incident and involved some sailing and some motoring. For some of the time we were in kite country! Shades of racing, albeit somewhat slower. There were many boats around who displayed the xmas tree approach to navigation lights. We had a scare with a tug towing an unlit barge by a cable about 1 mile long. We only knew it had a tow when Peter saw cable off the stern of the tug through the binoculars. It went between us and Time Out, with TO being close on a collision course. We called Matt who was on watch. He did not see it at all and after some discussion we suggested he wake Bill up.
Our first equatorial crossing was at 3.20am on Sat Oct 25. We were officially the ‘Shell backs’. Bill gave us little ceremony (titled ‘BOOM’) and King Neptune (AKA Bill) blessed us. So far we have travelled well with his blessing. We offered virgins (?????) which we thought was a good thing but gave much mirth to Bill. Oh it is so good to be amusing sometimes!
Somehow we managed to find this blue patch of sky off the south west corner of Kalimantan and it stayed with us for nearly the whole way up the strait. We had one 45 knot squall and although we had no idea where Bill was, we knew he could see us. We had a lightening strike 40m from the boat with no damage to the electronics! Neptune was looking after us!
Unfortunately we motored the last 200 miles to Singapore, stopping at Metang Is at bottom of Riau Straight for a rest, before making the final run up the shipping lane to Nongsa Point Marina. As we were coming in to the anchorage a burning smell invaded our nostrils and Peter was quick to isolate the battery switch which had a contact burnt out and was cooking the battery! Although we were very tired, we made our usual visit to Time Out for drinks and dinner. Bill bought some Durian fruit off a fisherman and we made him open it on the bow. He was the only sampler as we had all done this in Bali!! He found out why we did not want to share this experience! He smelt something terrible and we all kept our distance from him in the cockpit!
The day of motoring to Nongsa Point was uneventful, but scenic. This was our last port in Indonesia, even though we had cleared on Oct 8 and our visas had expired! We explained our predicament to the Marina Manager on our arrival who said he would allow us a few days. On closer inspection of our passports, he was alarmed by the amount of time we had over stayed in Indonesia and gave us one nigh tin the marina and asked us to leave early the following morning! This is all we wanted anyway! Off to the pool it was, drinking cocktails, eating French fries and ice cream!! A gastronomic experience! We all had an enjoyable dinner in the restaurant and retired to Stolen Kiss for a nightcap. The marina was very rolly as it did not have a protective breakwater due to the then developer doing a runner with the money set aside for it!
With only one ‘mountain left to climb’, being the crossing of Singapore Straits, we departed Nongsa Point on the 27/10. The floating pontoons were moving so much that you could hardly walk on them due to the swell coming in. As we had no radar, we were very much wishing for clear skies and no squalls for our crossing. As always, what appears to be a challenge is actually not as difficult as it sounds. With a very black sky behind us and ships that were reasonably well behaved (some change speed dramatically, so when you think you are crossing in front, it all changes!), we made our way towards the river mouth that led up to Sebana Cove Marina. Easy, peasy Japanesee. We did not have a chart to get us up the river, but we knew others had done it and had the waypoint for the marina. What else did one need? We found our way across the shallows and just kept turning towards the waypoint. We had our track on c-map in case we took a wrong turn! The track meandering nicely over the land! A very tranquil marina, with a good restaurant, ferry access to Singapore to purchase our goodies and a great town to get stores and bits machined!
So there ends 10 weeks of cruising in Indonesia. WOW!! Many thanks to Bill Burbidges’ excellent cruising notes which led us to many fantastic anchorages.