Monday, August 31, 2009


Am heartbroken to report that our darling little Jackie passed away on 28th August. (For those of you who dont know Jack and Rosie are our little dogs). Jack would have been 10 in November. Strangely enough the pain around my heart and the terrible urge to get home has gone to be replaced by terrible sadness. I cant help but think that Jack may have had that pain around his heart too. It seems such a long time since we last saw them. Our little Jack, our little mate. We miss you and never stopped loving you.
Your Mum and Dad

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Friday, August 28, 2009

WEEK 18 23 August - 28 August -Geliting - Riang Bay

Day 123 - Sunday 23 August -Sea World Resort Geliting, Flores Island
Left at 6am with Jean and David (Whistle) by CAR(!) (700,000rp ~ $100 for the day for car and driver) and headed towards Keli Mutu volacano to see the coloured lakes. It took 3 hours to get there along a really windy road with lots of little villages and houses all along the way - heaps of rice paddies too. Walked half an hour up to the craters - there are three which change colour - they have been red, green and black but today they were olive, turquoise and black. The local story is the souls of the dead go into the lakes - old people in the turquoise one, young people in the olive one and bad people to the black one. No one knows how a soul knows which lake to jump in when the colours keep changing!!! The turquoise one had yellow sulphur on it and looked thick enough to walk on. We saw the olive one throw up a few bubbles. Stopped on the way back at a hot spa - two rock pools with hot water and then a waterfall. Saw our first monkey today!! Also saw ponies, pigs, goats and buffalo and cocoa, tobacco and vanilla.One old guy gave us a handful of vanilla beans. Also lots of people riding on the roof of a very full bemo - heaven knows what they were hanging on to! A long but fascinating day - felt we saw the real Indonesia today.

Day 124 - Monday 24 August - Sea World Resort Geliting, Flores Island
Our boat boy delivered a beautiful big watermelon and 4 of the biggest mangoes you have ever seen. Jimmy (boat boy) helped pour 5 jerries of diesel into our tank then took our jerries to fill them and was back within the hour so we are all dieselled up again. Still struggling with our fridge/freezer. The thermostat keeps overheating and triggering the safety switch. Peter has pulled the cover off and put a small fan there to keep it cool. Its saving our food but not the best way to run things! Walked to the road to head to the local market and two motorbikes pulled up so for 3,000rp each (35c) Jean and I hopped on and went to the market then the bikes came back for Peter and Dave. Bought a slice of durien which tasted like chewy pineapple. The tobacco seller wanted Peter to have a smoke with him so Peter rolled the tobacco seller's tobacco in his paper and it was so strong he had tears rolling down his cheeks - very funny! Another man had big round bundles of gooey looking stuff which turned out to be tamarind. Jean bought 30 eggs then we found four motor bikes to take us back. I went first and got delivered right into the resort then Peter and David turned up but no Jean!!!! We were going satu, dua, tigga - umpat??? Where's Jean and where are the eggs? The motor bike boys and a resort bloke were all chattering then the resort bloke got on his bike and took off down the road - about 5 minutes later Jean turned up, eggs intact - Her rider had taken her to the next resort! But all's well that ends well. Had a couple of bintangs after that and then took a few loads of 20 litre bottles of water out to the boats so all watered up as well.

Day 125 - Tuesday 25 August - Geliting - Parbanama Village
08°27.7S 121°56.7 - paradise courtesy of SY Ocelot
Left Geliting at 9am, put the headsail out and had a bit of a sail but had to motor sail the whole way. The landscape was really weird. It looked like great areas of volcanic ash had landed all over the place though it could have been a fire. Anyway it was very barren. Came around the headland and there was a little bay with a small village at the end. Reef all around the edges but clear in the middle. Only big enough for 3 or 4 boats. Emmanuel - a big cat was already there. We anchored ok but Peter put the snorkelling gear on to help Whistle find a good spot. It is the closest we have anchored to anyone and you normally wouldn't but we are both steel and similar weight so we swang the same way. We dived off the back of the boats and snorkelled all around the place. As usual the coral had pretty much been decimated but there were patches of pretty stuff and beautiful fish. The water was so clear. Had sundowners on our respective boats and chatted across the gap. Jean reckons she saw the green flash when the sun went down.

Day 126 - Wednesday 26 August - Parbanama
Happy Birthday Mum
Had a lazy day with another snorkel. In the afternoon three of the men from the village came out to visit so we invited them on board. They were Christopher Kanja, Heronemus and Victoreaus. They told us there were 12 adults and 10 kids in the village so I put together a bag of goodies for them all. Also gave them five empty wine bladders and showed them how they worked. Peter also said you could cut them up to make a fishing lure. They then went to Whistle, as did we to do some passage planning. Jean gave them some scissors and some more wine bladders. Victoreaus wanted to cut one up to make the lure but Christopher didn't want him to so they were having a friendly discussion as they left - quite funny. We all went to Emmanuel for sundowners. Clint is an orthopaedic surgeon and Adair is a vet. Clint asked where we were going so we told him our next secret spot which someone had recommended be No. 102 in the 101 Anchorages book. Didnt get back to our boats till 7.30!!

Day 127 - Thursday 27 August - Parbanama - Ciendeh Village
08°36.55S 121°31.36E
Left at 8.05am with absolutely no wind - had to motor. Got to our secret spot and it turned out to be horrible with no chance of anchoring - no way is it 102!!! Anyway Clint called up and he was anchored in our plan B so we headed there and anchored off a reasonable sized village in 7m of water. They had some big unusual fishing boats. Very friendly. Everyone who went past waved and called. At 1am they sounded as if they were having a street march and banging drums and of course around 4 the mosque starts calling. Ramadam started on 22nd so don't know if that had any bearing on events but it did sound like fun.
Miles: 35 Total: 3,466

Day 128 - Friday 28 August Ciendeh Village - Riang Bay
08°23.492S 121°00.115E
Upanchored at 7.20am without a breath of wind and the water like glass. Followed coordinates (though eyeball would have gotten you in) and arrived at a very pleasant little bay with three other boats at 3.10 and anchored in 8 metres. Four little kids came out to chat in their dug out canoes. They are very inventive with their canoes. Some have a one cylinder diesel engine with a very long prop shaft attached to it with a propeller on the end which they hang over the side of the boat and steer with a bamboo pole. Ingenious really!! Anyway quiet night.
We have just spent the most serene evening ever. We are in a very protected little bay with mountains all the way around, a little village at one end, a gap in the islands at the other. There is not a breath of wind and everything including our boats and the mountains are reflected in the water. The moon is at the bottom of the sea. The sound of silence (and silence does have a sound). Such a peaceful place and then thousands of flying foxes (or as a Norwegian lady says flying dogs!) have flown over so silently. Nothing spoils the silence. It is so amazing!
Miles: 39 Total: 3,505

Hope all is well. Thinking of you all.

Much love and fair winds and calm seas
Dell and Peter

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WEEK 17 15 August - 23 August Wakatobi - Gilginig

Forgot to tell you - on our way to Wakatobi I saw a spout 200m in front of us and while we were looking forward a huge great whale (sperm whale) surfaced right beside us going in the opposite direction - magic!!

Day 116 - Sunday 16 August - Wangiwangi, Wakatobi
Heard one of the yachts on the radio saying that someone was calling for help so Peter headed in and there were two kids hanging on to a tyre and plastic bottle. Peter asked if they were ok - yes and if they were alright - yes. So he headed back to the boat and they started calling again so he went back and asked the right question - do you want me to take you to shore - yes!! Peter picked them up and the little one was saying dingin dingin - cold cold. They were freezing. Peter dropped them to shore and they were so grateful!! Got caught in the current and weren't good swimmers. Went for a walk to find a grotto we were told about where the locals do their washing - looked very nice. Went to the market and had dinner at the restaurant.

Day 117 - Monday 17 August - Wangiwangi, Wakatobi - Indonesian Independence Day
We were asked to get dressed up and were the Regent's guests at the Independence Day celebrations which just seemed to be for the Regent and his guests as there weren't many people around. There was lots of marching - the school kids found it hard to stay still (typical kids! A children's choir was seated next to us and they sang a couple of songs and then the Regent and other important guests signed a plaque and I had to sign on behalf of Sail Indonesia (I had a red and white hat on - Indonesian colours) and that afternoon they took the plaque to the sea not far from our boats and heaps of divers took it to the bottom of the ocean to leave it there. We put on our snorkel gear and went to watch but it was too deep to see but all the bubbles coming up from the divers looked fantastic in the sunlight and was like being in a spa bath!!! There's not much good reef for snorkelling as in the past fishermen have dynamited the reef to kill fish. There was a little bit of seaweed growing on a rock which looked just like a red rose. Got dressed up again in the evening and were guests at the Regent's house. We all had a snack pack and the band playing was the one that we had seen at the music school. There were lots of speeches and the winners of the marches were announced. They gave us a plaque for our efforts in the march and thanked us for coming early. It was 11pm when we got back to the boat.

Day 118 - Tuesday 18 August - Wangiwangi, Wakatobi
It was very windy and a couple of buoys floated off with boats attached! Jean (Whistle) and I went to find the washing waterhole we had found which was 5 minutes away. Didnt find that one but found another one almost out of town. We did our washing with the locals - had kids swimming, people bathing and ladies washing - lots of rubbish around but water looked clean. It was an experience but hard work and then we had to carry all the wet washing all the way back!! One lady had a huge heavy blanket she was washing by jumping on it so we joined her and helped jump on it!! An experience but I don't think we will repeat it - hard work!!! Went to Whistle Down the Wind for sundowners. We wrote every boat's name on the plaque of the people who participated in the march and tried to give it back to hang in the restaurant so everyone could see it but were told it would be an insult to give it back so it is still on board!. They did decide to make another plaque so all the boats could sign it and we gave them an Aussie flag to hang up.

Day 119 - Wednesday 19 August - Wangiwangi - at sea - Night one of passage
Upanchored at 9am which unfortunately was an hour before they had the plaque ready for signing. A nice breeze and good seas. Started off with 2 reefs in the main but took them out and were doing 5 - 6 knots. Saw 3 huts on stilts on a reef and then a fisherman in his canoe with a fishtrap out in the middle of nowhere - bit of a worry! Had the best sail through the day and night that we have had for ages.

Day 120 - Thursday 20 August - at sea - night two of passage
The fridge/freezer stopped working and we realised we would have to slow down or we would reach land in the middle of the night - not an option. We took the mainsail down and just had the headsail. After lunch we totally lost the wind and had to motor sail - we stayed between 2 & 3 knots all day and night. Seas were so calm I was able to read a book through the day and also on my night shifts. My early morning shift - 2-5am was occupied by trying to stay between two islands on the chart plotter in the dark - was so glad when it got light so we could see what we were doing!

Day 121 - Friday 21 August - Wakatobi - Palau Besar, Flores
08°26.33S 122°24.22E
We arrived at Paulu Besar at 8am and went through a gap in the reef. Actually, we went over the reef and went down to 3.9m of water. Anchored in 10m just off a little village with 8 - 10 huts and a mosque which surprised us as we thought it was a Christian area. We had a swim and a man and his child came out asking for pens and books so we told him we would swap for some bananas.
Miles 240 Total 3,395

Day 122 - Saturday 22 August - Paulu Besar - Sea World Resort Geliting, Flores Island
08°38.128S 122°18.404E
The man didn't bring our bananas and I felt really bad that we didn't leave anything for the village! We upanchored at 11am and we managed to find the right channel out through the reef instead of over it this time. It was a beautiful day with no wind so we motored all the way to Sea World Resort which is a restaurant with about 10 hotel style huts (no aquariums or anything). Anchored around 3pm in about 17 metres right opposite the resort - Peter was not happy with the depth. As soon as we anchored a lot of boat boys in their canoes came out to sell fruit etc. Bought some really nice pineapples, cucumbers and pawpaw. We went over to collect Jean and David and they told us they were in 12 metres so we raced back to the boat to move a bit closer in. He who shall remain nameless just jumped on the boat and started hauling in the anchor. I looked back and there was our dinghy just sitting in the water floating as if we had told it to stay put. He who shall remain nameless had forgotten to secure it to the boat!! A boat boy retrieved it for us. Had dinner at the restaurant and they had a band - real Melanesian feel to it here. Ordered some mangoes and watermelon from the boat boy.
Miles: 18 Total: 3,413

It is finally starting to feel like we are cruising and should not have any more overnight sails for a while. We have heard that the guys that went north are encountering bad weather in their efforts to get back and we don't know where Cilentro is at the moment.

Miss you all. Fair winds and calm seas
Dell and Peter

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

WEEK 16 8 August - 15 August - Ambon - Wakatobi

Day 107 - Saturday 8 August - Amahusu (Ambon)

Three miles from Ambon
Got up at 6 to leave at 7am. Blue Marlin had already left. Called up Whistle Down the Wind but they didn't want to leave till 4pm so we agreed to wait (have to get the arrival timing right). We all went to town in a bemo and I thoroughly enjoyed it this time. Got back to the Tirta Kencana Hotel and had a couple of bintangs and decided to stay another day!! Because we can!!! Single Malt had been in this area 15 years ago and met a family so they were showered with hospitality the evening before by the same family. We joined them on their cat at 4pm with a heap of people from that family - lotsa kids. This family is very musical and has been around the world playing their music and are very well educated. Nicko was explaining about the troubles a few years ago and he said it was never about religion - religion was just a tool. They managed to visit the Muslim village across the way (under threat of being killed) and negotiated a peace with them. Very brave. The father of one of the young men there was killed in the troubles. We ferried some of the family back to shore and had ten people in the dinghy!! A heap of us went to the hotel for dinner.

Day 108 - Sunday 9 August - Amahusu (Ambon) - Night one of the passage
We walked all through the little town being greeted joyfully everywhere we went. Bought some eggs and dessicated coconut at a little store. They have a machine run by a generator and feed in the pieces of coconut and it grates it all up. Had brunch at the hotel - fruit, omelette & fried banana with chilli. Back to the boat to prepare for leaving. Five young lads came out in their canoe. Kevin had impeccable English and had been to Darwin where his father lives. We invited them onboard and showed them through the boat and they were all fascinated. At 3.30 Whistle Down The Wind called up and said lets go so we upanchored at 3.45pm and left to horns and whistles being blown by Wave Sweeper and all the kids waving! We had dinner when it got dark and set the sails and sailed through the night.

Day 109 - Monday 10 August - at sea - Night two of the passage
Morning found us going along nicely with the seas pretty good. Had to motor for six hours as lost the wind and the main was flapping and we broke a shackle so took it down and just went under headsail. Sat on the deck for sundowners and dinner. Put the stereo on for my night shift which really helped pass the time and the moon is so bright.

Day 110 - Tuesday 11 August - at sea - Night three of the passage
Happy Birthday Dad and vaile Robin Shaw - deepest sympathies to Robin's family
Peter had Mr Fleming on all night but hit something which turned the boat 90 degrees - Peter couldn't steer it either but it cleared after ten minutes - possibly the remnants of a floating net. We just plodded along for the rest of the day and evening slowing down to arrive at a good hour tomorrow.

Day 111 - Wednesday 12 August - Wangiwangi - Wakatobi
05°20.01S 123°31.88E
Came into Wangiwangi anchorage at 9.30 am past some fish traps and Wakatobi Information Centre consisting of Gino, Aday and one other bloke came out to assist us to tie up to a buoy. There are 12 buoys here. There are lots of big old boats which look as if they have been washed up on the shore but I think they have just been parked there. We had a snooze then went to town - we pull up to the restaurant and leave the dinghy there. There were 6 yachts in and we were all invited to the Regent's house for dinner. We were thinking it would be like the King's dinner and we would have to wait ages to eat so we had something at the restaurant - big mistake!! We were collected by car at 7.20 and taken to the Regent's house where we were welcomed by the dignatories of Wakatobi and were sat at the front of the house on lovely seats where the Regent welcomed us. We then went to a room where the Regent showed us a powerpoint presentation of the area. The name Wakatobi only came about in 2003 and it is made up of the first two letters of the four main Islands - WAngiwangi, KAlidupa, TOmia, BIongko!!! Wakatobi. Then we went to a lovely room with round tables beautifully set and a huge buffet dinner - so much food. I was given a sea urchin thing to eat - even ate it - not too bad but I wouldn't race out to find another one!! After dinner we returned to the front of the house and were entertained by young ladies who performed two cultural dances. All the men (9 in total - we were a small elite group of guests) were presented with a woven sash - the women got nothing - I suppose it's an islam thing) And then we were returned by car to the restaurant, went to our boats and fell into bed!!!
Miles : 300 Total 3,355

Day 113 - Thursday 13 August - Wangiwangi , Wakatobi
Left at 10am and walked all around the town. Heard some loud music so we went in and it was a music school. The teacher sat at the front of the stage playing a bass guitar, and boy could he play it! There was a keyboard, drums, two electric guitars and a young lady singing. The third song she sang a little bit of English for us. It would be so cool to be able to play a musical instrument and join in!! We then went back to the markets which were more extensive than we had realised - bought some bananas and some salak which is an Indonesian fruit which has a peel like snake skin. The lady at the market peeled one for us and let us try it first. Whistle came for sundowners and we missed our sked with Cilantro because we forgot about the hour's time difference! We then went to the restaurant and had 2 beers and 4 dishes and it was only about $3.50 each - good food too!

Day 114 - Friday 14 August - Wangiwangi, Wakatobi
Having a quiet day on the boat. There are no tours or anything here despite the fact that they are trying to promote tourism. Will have to see if we can organise something. There are supposed to be 100 buoys here but they have managed to do only 12 and boats are coming in. They just tried to move 3 boats inside the reef but I am not sure they realise our boats have keels - anyway the first one touched bottom so they are all now back on the buoys. That same poor boat had its buoy take off down the harbour when they first got here!!. We are not going to Hago Island as they are rafting up on the buoys over there. Indonesian Day is on 17th so will stay for the celebrations - I think they will be pretty big. Finally, after asking lots of different people one of the blokes here said he does tours and showed us the brochure so six of us have booked a car for tomorrow morning. We were told about the march tomorrow which is a community march with kids, old women and old men so over a couple of bintangs Jean and David (Whistle Down the Wind) and we decided we should march too!! They are continuing to put buoys in here and are working really hard to accommodate us.

Day 115 - Saturday 15 August - Wangiwangi, Wakatobi
Our tour started at 8.30 and while we were waiting we asked if it would be ok if we marched in the community march. He got all excited and said I will tell the Government and we thought oh no! So we alerted the rally boats that are here (about a dozen or more now) that Team Sail Indonesia would be marching and to all wear their Sail Indonesia teeshirts. We then left on the tour and saw how they harvest sea weed which is a big industry here and then went to a 1500's fort and Mosque and then down to a village which is built on reclaimed land with canals all through it - amazing stuff. When we drove in there was a corner where everyone beeps their horn and there was a parrot in the house which beeped back!! So funny. Some kids had a tiny little pool table and cues and were using marbles for the balls. They are so inventive here and they use absolutely everything - nothing is wasted. A part of the coconut shell becomes a spoon for scooping out the coconut - amazing. We then went to a beach where we thought we may be able to snorkle but it was shallow reef and then a huge drop off. We walked out to the drop off and it was very picturesque. They are in the process of building a resort here and it will certainly be lovely when it is finished. We were supposed to go to the lookout but we got a phone call saying we had to be back by 12 as we were registered to march in the parade - what had we done!!!!!! Raced back to the boats and got changed and met back at the restaurant. We quickly made up a Sail Indonesia banner - Jean's old curtain, some texta and a couple of sticks and Jean had her big Indonesian flag. The fleet all turned out for the march which was fantastic as we had visions of just six of us marching!!! We were officially team number 10A but didn't quite get there in time so we went after team 12 which was between two lots of lovely ladies who marched impeccably. We found ourselves with a police motor bike escorting us and an army soldier joined us half way round. We were supplied with bottled water all the way round. It was a huge day and was about 7 km in the hot sun and after every km we had to dance for about 50 metres. We thought what the heck do we do so everybody did the swing around the arm thing in pairs and the crowd went wild!!! Every time we halted the crowd cracked up - we were getting better by the end but obviously still not up to standard!!! People waved and gave us the thumbs up and towards the end were yelling out we love you. We had to march past the Regent and all the officials and salute. All the officials stood up and loved it. (Everybody else only had one official take the salute!!). At one stage we got mobbed by the crowd. Aday was our whistle blower (which kept us in step - mostly!). When we finished after about two hours (whew) one of the lovely good lady marchers came up to me and said thankyou and kissed me on both cheeks which was really touching and took me by surprise. We were then taken to the Regents house where they sat us behind the officials and gave us all a little snack pack (really needed) and the Regent came over and thanked us which was really lovely. A fantastic day which everyone really enjoyed and we sat and talked about it over dinner at the restaurant and then an early night. We commented later that we thought we were the only old men and women in the march!!!

Miss you all heaps. Special love to Jessie, Jack and Rosie.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas (that worked last time I said that!!)
Dell and Peter

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Friday, August 7, 2009

WEEK 15 3 August - 7 August - Banda Islands - Ambon

Day 102 - Monday 3 August - Bandas - Ambon
03°43'55S 128°08'50E

Left Bandas around 10.30am for an overnight sail to Ambon. As we were going past Ai Island we heard the dreaded words: "yachts passing Ai Island we are stuck on the reef can you help"!!!!! NO!!!!! So over we go. Cilantro tried to pull their mast down and we tried to tow their stern line (25 tons of yacht). Felt we moved them a bit and held them at bay as the tide was falling then Wave Sweeper who had doubled back 5 miles to assist managed to get their mast down enough so they could get off. Didnt get on our way till around 2pm and had a good night sail (actually!!!!).

Day 103 - Tuesday 4 August - Ambon
Arrived Ambon around 1pm and had missed the lunch and welcome. We found we had to tie up to the wharf stern in!!! This was a first for most of us. They had moved out all the fishing fleet so the 70 yachts of the fleet could have the wall. We reversed in (drop the anchor two boat lengths out) but I couldn't drop the anchor so Peter made a mad dash forward and gave it a good bash. Ann and Lou off Serannity helped fend us off and Jack off Barbara Ann supervised so we were soon tied up and helping others to come in. Quite an experience. There are 70 boats tied up at the wharf all stern in.
Miles: 120 Total 3,052

Day 104 - Wednesday 5 August - Ambon
Left around 10am and went to town in a bemo (a small van with horizontal seats either side) cost is around 30 cents. The markets were the dirtiest, narrow, muddy, hot noisy. Not nice The supermarket in town was good and had everything you could need. The town and harbour very grubby. Went for lunch at one eatery and were told it was soup and there was a confusing array of stuff on the table so we cowardly retreated to another local eatery where we got a bowl with steamed things - dim sims, meat balls etc which they then promptly poured soup all over!!! Oh well. Found a bemo and retreated to the restaurant in the port precinct to recuperate. Ate at the restaurant again. We didn't do the tour but other people enjoyed it.

Day 105 - Thursday 6 August - Ambon
Another wasted day waiting round for fuel and water. There was a free festival in the afternoon but we only found out about it half an hour before and decided to have a quieter afternoon visiting the Australian War Cemetery down the road. In the evening buses collected us to go to the gala dinner. Once again we had the full police escort - vans, cars, bikes all with flashing lights and sirens stopping all traffic so we could go through. We were greeted by the King of Muluku. There were huge marquees and the seats all covered in a white fabric with gold bows. We listened to the Indonesian drums and music then went inside the building - more covered chairs and gold bows and were entertained by singers (one a close replica to Louis Armstrong), graceful lady dancers with the longest fingers which seem to bend slightly back and vibrate (amazing) and then the fishermen's dance with their nets - so good, then of course the children's band. Then a dinner of more than anyone could eat. The Minister of Fisheries was accorded a special honour by the king and dressed up in a symbolic costume. Afterwards we all joined the dignitaries and children and danced the night away. Had a police escort back. We have been so well looked after - constant police on the wharf - security is amazing. The Indonesian people are just beautiful and so welcoming.

Day 106 - Friday 7 August - Ambon ( Amahusu)
Today the fleet left to go to Bunikin. Cilantro went too which was very sad as after much soul searching we decided the distances are too great and too tiring (400 miles to Bunekin & 500 miles beating back into the wind and tide). So we decided to leave the rally for a while and make our way to Wakatobe (290 miles - huge trip but gets us back down to do the western route of day sails). We are currently anchored three miles up from the wharf with 12 other like minded boats anchored in 18 metres of water. A major problem with indonesia is finding water with depths shallow enough to anchor in. Today we chill out and tomorrow we will start the big trek to Wakatobe. Very sad to leave but now we don't "have to gotta go" and the relief is immense! And we will join up again when they all catch up!

Many thanks to all who have emailed. Really appreciate it and will get back to you as soon as we can.
Meanwhile take care - very homesick
Fair Winds
Dell and Peter

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

WEEK 14 24 July - 2 August -Saumlaki - Banda Islands

Day 92 - Friday 24 July - Saumlaki - Batuputhi Village nr Seira Island
07°39'6S 131°08'1E

We left Saumlaki at 8.30am with Cilentro and headed up the side of Yamdena island. Yachts were stopping at pretty villages along the way but we decided to keep going. It was supposed to be an easy day - about 25 - 30 miles, but someone who shall remain nameless worked the mileages on 5 mile measurements instead of 10 miles so it turned into a very long day indeed. We arrived in a channel just as the sun went down and anchored in 5.4m of water. The night was so still you would not have known you were on a boat - best night's sleep in ages!

Day 93 - Saturday 25 July - Batuputhi Village - Ngurbelck Village -
07°33'.056S 131°11'.591E
Caught the attention of a couple of blokes fishing and gave them the fillets of a fish Peter had caught plus some rice and a couple of apples. A while later five blokes came out in very long boats with outriggers each side (held by string). Jackey was a school teacher who had gotten the headmaster's permission to visit us. They all came aboard for a chat and we agreed to visit the school. We took both the dingheys in and it was a soaking wet trip a mile or two in to the village. We started walking in but you had to be very careful as the mud just sucked your feet down - nearly fell a couple of times (couldn't imagine being flat out in that sort of mud!!) Located Jackey and walked past the bigger school to the smaller Kristen school. (People in this area - Tanimbars are Christian). There were two classrooms and we visited both, took photos and videos of all the kids and gave them some exercise books and a couple of kiddies English books which was just as well as the only English book we saw was hot chicks (and we don't mean chickens!). We had a lot of fun and then Jackey escorted us around the village which is very clean. They sweep the dirt away so there is no dust. We saw how they made sago from the trunk of a palm tree. Had an 'exhilirating' ride back in the dinghy surfing down the waves and our yacht was doing circles in the wind and the tide - time to go!!! Headed off just a little way further up the island and dropped anchor at 3.10pm and had a bit of a two man party playing all our music!!
Miles 8 Total 2,713

Day 94 - Sunday 26 July Ngurbelck Village - Wotap Island -
07°33'.056S 131°11'.591E
Upanchored at 8.30am and had a great sail up the south side of Wotap Island. There were six yachts in the little bay and as we came in we could see the reef either side and in front and also the fish lines (all held up by plastic water bottles in a row - quite hard to see) also either side and in the front. Anchored in 18m of water. Four kids came to visit so we gave them tee shirts and books and pens (big mistake!!). Sundowners on Cilantro.
Miles 25 Total: 2,738

Day 95 - Monday 27 July - Wotap Island
07°19'.306S 131°14.195E
We were awoken by people in boats 'hey mister' and so the procession went through the morning. Some people were a delight and some not quite so. We gave away a stack of stuff - rice, made popcorn, sox (then they asked for gloves!!), books, pencils, reading books and one old man was very happy as we gave him a pair of reading glasses. Gave the soaps, shampoos, sewing kits we had collected from all the hotels Peter had stayed in over the years. They all wanted tee shirts - we were cleared out yesterday. It was exhausting so we went snorkelling on the reef. Very enjoyable but the people too much to bear. Have decided in future we will trade - even if it is a seashell off the beach. We seemed to have made a rod for our own backs so will be more careful in the future. Peter had given some tobacco to a bunch of blokes in a fishing boat earlier in the day and negotiated a price for some lobster. Late in the afternoon they brought us two - a big one and a little one so got them for about $3.50 & $2. Wotap was a beautiful place but the people too exhausting so decided to leave the next morning.

Day 96 - Tuesday 28 July - Wotap Island to Banda Islands - Happy Birthday Linda
Left at daylight in the company of Cilantro, Harmonica, Cookie Cutter (both Canadians) and Two Up (a cat). Started off with a nice sail but then the seas came up to 3 - 4 metres and it got downright scarey!!! We got shoved sideways a couple of times - terrifying. Depths were up to 6km deep so we had to turn our depth sounder off as it was very confused! Linda, was thinking how much I would have preferred to help you celebrate your birthday and not be out there in those seas!!

Day 97 - Wednesday 29 July
Early morning, nearly got taken out by one of the other yachts who came from our port quarter. We both veered away about the same time but rattled my chain a bit! Daylight came and the seas improved a bit and as we came towards the Bandas saw at least five whales blowing and saw one huge one travelling along. We sailed slowly around Gunung Api Island which is a volcano 666m high. We went between Gunung Api & Naira Islands to the anchorage but it was 70 - 90m deep in there and a dozen or so yachts had reversed in to the stone wall and tied up by the stern so we motored out again and around Naira Island and anchored at the bottom there in 8 - 10m with about 40 other yachts at 2.30pm - exhausted!! But Cilantro called up and said they would pick us up at 4.30 so we showered and went ashore. What a little jewel of a place this is - absolutely amazing!!! Walked through the town - all dutch colonial. Had dinner at a little cafe called Nasantara for around $5.30 per head. The beer however is around $4.50 for a bigger bottle but we are lucky to get it I guess because this is a totally muslim area. Great meal- we asked for 4 different dishes and ended up with beans in a chilli sauce, chicken, fish and eggplant with the local almond sauce - and rice of course - brilliant
Miles: 194 Total: 2,932

Day 98 - Thursday 30 July - Banda Islands
04°32'.149S 129°53'.625E
Went to town about 10am and walked up to the fort which was built in 1611 by the Dutch. There are 7 main islands in the Bandas. We are anchored in the middle of Palau Gunung Api (volcano) Paulau Niera (main town here) and Palau Banda Besar. The volcano last erupted in 1988. The town is full of old dutch colonial houses, the majority of which are in a state of disrepair. In 1621 the Dutch killed 14,000 of the 15,000 Bandanese inhabitants. Had a full Indonesian dinner (included a whole barbequed squid!!!).

Day 99 - Friday 31 July - Banda Islands
At 10am we headed up to the north of Gunung Api where the lava flow reached the sea to snorkel. There was a very deep drop off just 10 feet from the shore and bits coming up and down covered in coral, some with some very unusual shapes and it was just like a big garden. It wasn't all that coloured but just beautiful and heaps of fish, albeit fairly small. We were amazed that so much coral could grow back after just 20 years but then we were told that it actually grew back in 2 years. We then drift snorkelled one of the older corals . That evening we went to Aba's (a bit of an entrepreneur) guest house for dinner. He has an absolutely beautiful house with a waterfall and fish pond and lovely tiled floors and beautiful furniture. There were only 8 of us and the food was fantastic. Started with a potato, corn & nutmeg soup, a huge fish, ripe & green papaya salads, eggplant etc and then dessert - all for 60,000 rupiah each (about $10!!!). Aba also has a pearl farm apparently and sells pearls! For those people who would like to visit this magic place, you can stay at the guesthouse for around $20 a night including breakfast!!!! It is really worth the trip to get here as the whole place is enchanting.The water is absolutely chrystal clear even around the town

Day 100 - Saturday 1 August - Banda Islands
Went on Aba's nutmeg plantation tour to Banda Besar. We all piled on one of the local boats - we all sat on the roof! By the way the Indonesians are the best boat builders. Quite amazing really. We visited the ruins of another Dutch fort - went up and down steps all over the place. The Christian church was just a vacant block as it had been burnt down and no Christians live there anymore - it is totally muslim and every village has a mosque. The plantation had huge gnarled almond trees over 300 years old and about 40m high (different to our almonds but taste nearly the same) They protect the nutmeg trees. We had a demonstration of how they get the almonds and (tediously) shell them. The nutmeg is in a large round shell and when it is opened the nut is covered in red mace. The darker the nutmeg the better the quality. All very interesting. And then on the way back Peter finally saw his clove tree (out of season for cloves). Had a nasi goring special at Nasantara for lunch then wandered down the other end of town and found the ruins of the really old fort(!) and heaps of wonderful old colonial houses - big with colonnades etc. Some are quite well preserved but most in various states of decay. Bought some nutmeg (whole), mace and cloves in the local market. We found ourselves very tired at this stage so after pancakes at another cafe headed for an early night.

Day 101 - Sunday 2 August - Banda Islands
A clean up day today - Peter finally made the water catcher so we can catch fresh water and not rely on the water from shore. Did some washing and this afternoon will go ashore to the market for some fresh produce and dinner and then head off tomorrow for Ambon - it will be another overnight sail (I hate them). We will miss some of the festivities but this place has been worth it.

Hope you are all well. Badly missing our puppies. Have tried to phone but have to sort it out a bit more.
Fair winds (and calm seas!!!!!)
Dell and Peter

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