Thursday, July 23, 2009

WEEK 13 : 18 July -23 July -Darwin to Saumlaki - the good the bad and the ugly!!!!

Day 86: Saturday 18 July - Darwin to Saumlaki
Up early and in to the Sailing Club to wash all the sand off the tender and fill the water jerries then to the Sailing Club for champagne and orange juice and pastries for breakfast!! Back to the yacht and at last everything seems to be in place and a place for everything!!! We put Kev our big blow up kangaroo up the front in place of honour and upanchored a little later than the keen starters and crossed the start line about 11.10 without a skerrick of wind and motored away from Darwin with very strange feelings!! Sailing away from Australia. We tried putting the jennicker up but it just fell in the water - no wind. Thus we were lulled in to a false sense of security and no seasickness tablets were taken!

Day 87 - Sunday 19 July - Timor Sea - Happy Birthday Phil
Had a good night but had to keep a good eye out for other yachts as the waters were pretty full of yachts and cats all going in the same direction. The morning found us with a good bit of wind and we commented it was the best sail we had had in a long time!! THEN it all turned pretty ugly and the wind came up - 20 - 25 knots on the nose (we were beating into it and getting slugged badly from the side). I went below to get something for us to eat and that was the last time i could go below! Came up rather pasty faced but ok. Suffice to say that Peter had seven and a half hours sleep in 60 hours and I was rather ill for the rest of the day and night - think I may have lost a little weight!!!! Peter knew we had a problem with our impellor as we were not getting the water through the engine as much as we should but he could not go below to work on it either so he was watching the temperature. Later transpired that about 5 cogs had sheared off and we had a heap of seaweed in the works!

Day 88 - Monday 20 July - Timor Sea to Saumlaki
I spent the day on our little bunk at the back of the boat which is the lowest most comfortable place you can be wondering if we would ever get there and where was all the calm water we expected. We had NE winds , beating into it and it was not nice. Lots of big waves onboard and very wet We did not eat!! Had the main sail with one reef and the head sail half furled and the engine going so as to get to Saumlaki before dark or else we would have to spend another night at sea! Eventually made it in at 4.45pm and anchored at the back of a heck of a lot of yachts. Passed lots of fish traps etc on the way in.
Miles : 307nm Total: 2,652nm

Day 89 - Tuesday 21 July - Saumlaki
07"57.796'S 131"17.484'E
A day of total frustration. We had to wait till quarantine boarded our boats before we could go ashore (Australia is a declared swine flu area). There was no rhyme or reason in the way they chose which boat to board and some boats had been waiting 2 days (but they had jumped the start!!!!). Anyway suffice to say that it was very frustrating to see boats that came in after us get their clearances before us. They would come to the boat near us and we would think we are next and then they would go away over the other side. We finally got cleared around 5pm and so did Cilentro. There was supposed to be a boat come to pick us all up to take us to the evening's gala dinner but we are not slow learners so Cilentro collected us in their dinghy and we made our way in - absolutely no idea where we were going but saw a jetty in the dark so went towards it and found ourselves in a myriad of fish nets held up by plastic drinking bottles. Managed to extricate ourselves and found the jetty and there were a couple of men helping people in. We had to clamber over a couple of other boats to reach the shore and clamber up some steps that sloped backwards to the wharf. A bus then took us to the dinner where there was food down both sides of the building and most amazing food and speeches and traditional dances and it was a really good night. A bus took us back to the wharf and we had noted where to go so made it all the way back ok.

Day 90 - Wednesday 22 July- Saumlaki - The most MAGIC day!!!!
We went in to the wharf about 9 to do customs and immigration and discovered that there was a bus tour on. It took an hour or three to clear customs and immigration then jumped on the red bus - there were about 4 big buses and 4 little buses and police cars at the front and back and police motor bikes and we took off through the town with sirens blazing at the front and back of the convoy and police motor bikes blocking roads off so we could go through!!!!!! The people all came out to wave and shout and the children were laughing and waving and we had to wave at absolutely everyone and it was amazing! The first village we came to the women welcomed us with a dance and we went through the village and inspected the stills of liquor made from coconut palms and had to have a taste - (sharing and caring from the same glass but being 45 percent proof no bugs could live in there anyway!!). We looked at their pigs and dogs (all look like dingos) and houses and had our hands shaken and smiling, smiling happy people. Back on the buses to the next village where a man with a sword and the headman greeted us and had a little ceremony and then the women did a dance which indicated a boat and fishing because they were fisherpeople. One young lady starting flirting with Peter and told him in Indonesian that she loved him very much and all the young girls were laughing then Peter answered in Indonesian that she was very beautiful and he loved her very much and there was much laughter and carrying on (you can all imagine how much peter enjoyed the encounter!!!) then they grabbed us and we danced our way through the village with them to a hunggi where they dug the food out of the ground and fed us. On the way out I shook hands with all the little children standing in a row to much laughter and hilarity. They are the most amazing people and we felt a bit like royalty I think!!!! Then it was back to the buses - more police escort and sirens to another village and then more police escort and sirens to the beach and another hunggi and finally back to the dock where we went to the hotel and had dinner and a much needed bintang!!! I cannot tell you what an absolutely amazing day this was and how much trouble all these people went to to make us feel welcome. The Indonesian people are truly beautiful. The only troubling thing to us was that at the start of the day we did not know we were going on this tour and so had no gifts to give to the people. From now on we will keep stuff in our backpacks just in case!!!!

Day 91 - Thursday 23 July - Saumlaki
We learnt that although we have done quarantine, customs and immigration we now have to do the Harbour Master for clearance out of the port! So we went in around 8.45 and joined another long queue. Peter had to line up to go and register and get 110,000 rupees from one office to take to the office next door to give to that office to get the health clearance and then we had to line up for the Harbour Master and then we realised Peter had forgotten one document so Sandra and i stayed in line while Peter and James went back to the yacht for the paper. We only had to let one person pass us before they returned with the recalcitrant paper and then we finally got our final clearance after about another 2 hours. Hurry up and wait but for goodness sake keep smiling!!! Some boats lost the plot and did not cope but in all honesty we were seriously warned that this was how it would be. It only took us 3 days to go through the bureaucracy of formally entering the country. We then walked through the town greeting and being greeted, went to the markets and then to a local cafe for a very nice meal and good interaction with a local family then back to our yacht to try to decide what we are going to do next!!! We are finally free to go! Some people are leaving the rally now and going west and I don't think many are going to beat into the wind to go to the next point of call which is probably going to be very disappointing to the villagers there. We have decided to go (with Cilantro) around the western side of this island and find an anchorage - either 30 miles or 45 miles whichever we make. If we like it we will stay but the ultimate aim is to go to Banda (which is supposed to be fantastic) and then to Ambon. We have decided that we cannot call it cruising anymore (as sometimes it may not be so relaxing!) but rather it is adventuring!!!

Have taken heaps of photos but of course can't post them at this stage.
Take care all and fair winds
Dell and Peter

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Friday, July 17, 2009

WEEKS 11 & 12 : 4 July –17 July –Darwin

Day 72 – Day 85: Saturday 4 July – Friday 17 July – Darwin
Happy Birthday to Jessie on the 13th (2) and to Stuart on the 17th

Apologies to all for my tardiness in updating this website! Suffice it to say that we have been fully occupied with preparing for our trip and socialising with other yachties – its been all go! We have dined at the Darwin Trailer Boat Club, the Darwin Sailing Club, Dinah Bay Sailing Club and the all you can eat seafood (and every other food you could think of) buffet at the casino , the Mindil markets, the Parap markets and a barbeque in the park. The markets are very multicultural with heaps of different foods. We have attended the sunset opera at the casino but it proved to be a little too much culture for us and we left at half time to utilise the free $5 pokies chip and free cup of coffee.

We had the pleasure of the company of our dear friends Andy and Robyn (Jack and Rosie’s foster parents) as Robyn was attending a conference in Darwin. We had a great time with them and we were really sorry to see them go. Andy had a hire car so we managed to get quite a few jobs done and we think Andy enjoyed coming out to the boat in the mornings (he did learn to bring a spare pair of trousers after getting a wet butt the first couple of times!). We have done the tour of Darwin city. Darwin is a great place – a big country town really and lots of bike paths. We have ridden our bikes a few times – the last time for me to take the laundry to Parap as there is only one washing machine at the Darwin Sailing Club to service all the yachts in the bay.

The foreshore is always crowded in the evenings as people bring their tables, chairs, alcohol, meals etc and sit to watch the sun go down. I must admit it is a very impressive sight as the sun is a big red ball.

We had our first official function on Saturday which was a barbeque at the Sailing Club with all food and alcohol provided – a very nice night and the first time the fleet has come together. Tuesday the 14th was our briefing day and it seems that we are going to be escorted all the way to Bunekin and back down again. Feel a bit like being herded but it should be fun. The escort ships arrived in Darwin on Wednesday 15th. It is finally starting to hit home that we are actually doing this! We have American dollars and Indonesian rupees, have all the charts we need and have 40 casks of wine on board (the water line went way down! - you cant get wine up there) and collected our duty free on Thursday (St Remy 1.25 litre bottles of French brandy for $12 a bottle). We did our customs clearance this morning. Customs came out to the Sailing Club to do our outward bound clearance. Saturday morning is supposed to be a champagne breakfast but am not sure that is such a good idea!!

Our first port of call is Saumlaki (Yandema Island) where we do inbound customs, immigration, quarantine and port clearance. There will also be a welcoming ceremony. Saumlaki is only 290 nautical miles from Darwin. I had no idea Indonesia was so close to us! The fleet is madly rushing around trying to get everything done in time. We leave at 11am on tomorrow, Saturday 18th – crossing the start line with about 120 yachts.

It became apparent on Monday that our chart plotter was beyond repair so Raymarine sent up a replacement which thankfully arrived this morning!! Peter has installed it and it is working so that is a huge relief. Our tender has been repaired and is staying up so that also helps. Peter is currently putting in new speakers in the cockpit. I wrecked the old ones when I overbalanced when we were crossing the gulf and landed rather heavily against one! That can sure do it. We are currently preparing the boat – trying to find a place for everything and Peter hasn’t even started on the shed and our bikes are still ashore.

We have really enjoyed our time in Fannie Bay. Although it was quite a way to the beach in the tender and when the tide was out it was quite a way to drag the tender up the beach but it is a lovely sandy beach (not mud as we had been led to believe) and it has been great.
Anyway tomorrow sees us on our way and the adventure begins! We will probably be out of internet range for quite some time but I will endeavour to continue to update this via the HF radio and sailmail which means there wont be any photos till I find an internet cafe or something.
We hope you are all well and miss you. Take care. Cant believe we are doing this!

Fair winds
Dell and Peter

Saturday, July 4, 2009

WEEK 10 : 28 June – 3 July – Cape Hotham to Darwin

Day 66 : Sunday 28 June – Cape Hotham to Darwin –Happy Anniversary to us
Today we opted for a 4.30am start instead of the 2am we should have started at. We figured the seas are flat and it is neap tides (not much different between high and low). The Clarence Strait had lights marking the islands so we headed straight out towards those in the pitch dark and caught a good bit of favourable current going along at a good rate of knots, however, the tide changed before we got through the Strait and we were punching into a slight westerly headwind and current doing only 2 knots – we thought we wouldn’t arrive in Darwin til 7pm! Once we got out of the Strait and we started making our run to Darwin (motoring – still no wind!) and Peter worked out a bit of a shortcut with his navigation, we finally made it into Darwin at 3pm!!!!! Yay. We were welcomed as we came in by Vulcan, Kristie 1 and Wave Sweeper. We anchored about a mile from the shore – as close as we can get in because of the big tides here and headed for the Darwin Sailing Club on shore for a reunion and also to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. We swapped lots of stories and had dinner and headed back to the boat late-ish. We had to tow Cilento’s tender as their motor wouldn’t work and it was hilarious because there were so many yachts in the bay we couldn’t find ours!! Took a while but we got there.
Miles: 68 Alcaro Bay to Cape Hotham
Miles: 45 Cape Hotham to Darwin Total 2,345

Day 67: Monday 29 June – Darwin
Caught a taxi with James and Sandra (Cilentro) to drop their outboard motor off and our chart plotter off for repair then headed to town for a look around and a haircut for Peter. Collected the outboard on the way back (they couldn’t find anything wrong with it) then we adjourned to the Sailing Club to collect our Sail Indonesia instruction packs. Escape came in and anchored close by.

Day 68: Tuesday 30 June – Darwin – Happy Birthday Yvette
A busy day of running around. Caught the bus into town and headed to get our charts but they weren’t ready. Went to customs, booked our boat in to get duty free fuel, applied for Social visas at the Indonesian Embassy (it was so hot in there we thought they were trying to acclimatise us!), to the doc for Hep A/B booster shot then back for the charts – had to wait but finally got them.

Day 69: Wednesday 1 July – Darwin – Happy Birthday Jeremy
Left at 9.30 and motored to Cullen Bay Marina fuel dock for duty free fuel. Pulled up in front of two other yachts – got our diesel (83 cents/litre) and our petrol (85 cents/litre) and filled up with water. Saw some boats going through the locks into the marina and were really pleased we didn’t have to go through that. We then anchored back in our old spot. The bay is really lovely and the beach is sand not mud and it is very pleasant. Much better than a marina I think. Today was cracker day in Darwin and they started letting them off before it even got dark. People are allowed to buy their own crackers and let them off privately. We were in the perfect spot as the main display was from the beach just to the side of us. It was fantastic and went for quite some time and almost seemed to be in 3D. People kept letting them off for ages and we saw a big fire over to the left!! I believe there were quite a few – the firies must hate cracker night!!! A Good night.

Day 70: Thursday 2 July – Darwin
Tried to get flights to Adelaide to visit Jack and Rose but couldn’t get anything – could get down but couldn’t get back. Devastated – really wanted to see them before we headed OS. Bit of a work day – washing etc then we went in to a barbeque and had a few drinks with quite a few yachties. We didn’t have anything to barbeque so Escape, Cilentro and we all walked do the Mindi markets and bought dinner (heaps of interesting food) and went back and had a nice evening.

Day 71: Friday 3 July – Darwin
Just caught the bus to Casuarina Shopping Centre and back. Blog could get a little boring from now on as we are not scheduled to leave till 18th July. By the way it is very hot up here.

Our gorgeous little grandson turns 2 on the 13th of July – would have liked to have been there for that too.

Meanwhile take care and fair winds
Dell and Peter