Sunday, September 23, 2012

LWH - Week 11 : - Tifore - Seram

Sat 15 Sept - Tifore - Tidore
00 45.017N / 127 24.685E
We didn't lift Bob up to let the air in as we were not going to be there long which was pretty dumb as we were both so hot we didn't sleep so at midnight the skipper lifted Bob but it was a bit too late! We got up at 2am and left at 2.30am and motored through the dark. There was lots of pretty phosphorescence in the water. We could see storms forming on the radar and got through the first lot and it formed behind us. We heard a bang on the side of the boat as we gave something a nudge! Around daybreak we ran into a storm and it got quite rough but the crew didn't notice as she had fallen asleep and didn't wake till the tone of the motor changed. The skipper had been watching a water spout develop and had slowed down to miss it - gave him quite a scare. We cleared the storms but we didn't seem to have the current with us today and had to hoik up to 2200 revs with sail assist and did 6.3 knots. The day turned into a beautiful day and in the afternoon we passed a couple of fishing boats. We had seen these fishing boats with a great big square front on them and we could see at least 20 fishermen on the front with rods just pulling in the fish and swinging back over their heads - much like the tuna fishermen on tv. Very interesting. As we came closer to the islands off Halmahera we could see eight volcanoes. The volcano on Ternate is a live one and still smokes on occasion. We came through the channel between Ternate and Tidore down to 3.9 knots and the sea was very confused with whirlpools and waves as the tide rushed between the two islands - quite scary. Ternate city is huge and just as Aussie towns used to have a pub on every corner Ternate seems to have a mosque on every corner! With a big new green one off the point of the port over the water. We had opted not to go into the town as we had read reports of having to re-check in and it all looked very busy. So many people live under this live volcano! All the volcanoes had robes of clouds till halfway down. We anchored off Tidore Island in a little bay just across the channel from Ternate. The depths went from 60m to 30m to 6m and we could see coral so we had a bit of a search around and ended up anchoring in 5m and went back to 8m. Always a bit hairy coming in where there is coral and it was around 4 in the afternoon, so hard to see. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous with jungle tree clad hills towering up to the volcanoes. It is a small bay but we have a mosque either side of us! After a 13 ½ hr day we fell into bed
Miles: 79 TTT: 1,415

Sun 16 Sept - Tidore
How lovely not to have to go anywhere. The water is so clear so we snorkelled around and could see our anchor on a piece of coral and the chain around two bommies in front of us. Mostly it is just rubble with the odd bommy. We have minimal chain out as we don't want too much to wrap around. We actually tried to move off the bommy by pushing and kicking behind the boat but we probably made it worse. It was wonderful swimming around the boat in such clear water. The skipper fixed the wiring on the VHF which had got loose and we just worked on the boat. Anchoring is a little difficult around volcanic islands as it is either too deep or too close to land - or corally! We drove off the bommy then realised that it was holding us really well and now we were in danger of dragging. Around 2pm the skipper said it almost looks as if the volcano is erupting and a short time later he said it is erupting. A huge cloud of smoke like a big cumulus cloud went way up in the sky and came over our way and blanketed the sun. The city was also blanketed by what we took to be rain until it started falling on us and it was fine black sand. We heard a bit of a rumble. The boat was coated with this volcanic ash and was such a mess. The skipper snorkelled around until he found a clear space to drop the anchor in case we dragged and put a buoy on the spot. The crew said I think we are dragging, skipper - no we're good. Crew - I'm pretty sure we are dragging, skipper - no we're good but I'll have a snorkel to check. Back he comes saying we're dragging - I can see it moving back metre by metre and the boat was over the drop off. So we upanchored and went to the buoy and dropped in 5m again and held well. The ash had stopped falling by this stage though the mountain was still spewing a big black cloud. We got the deck wash pump out and sprayed the entire boat - dust was everywhere! The crew had intended to have another snorkel but by this stage is was 4.30 and the water was rather murky and then we realised of course it would be - its full of ash! The city must have been filthy. We think there is an extra knob on the mountain. Later in the evening we saw ribbons of phosphorescence floating past - really pretty. What a day!

Mon 17 Sept - Tidore - Kajoa
00 04.121S / 127 28.727E
Woke up really early as there had been some grinding through the night but our little buoy let us know we were still in the right place. We have turned our clocks forward an hour so it gets light a lot later. We upanchored and retrieved our buoy at 6.15am and motored out getting a magnificent view of Ternate, the volcano and the city at its feet. We had about 2 knots of current with us as we rounded Tidore - such a beautiful Island. So green and jungly although they are also covered with coconut plantations and the people seem quite well off. There was a big town beneath the volcano of Tidore but this volcano had a green top! There is a magnificent building half way up the mountain which looks like a Chinese temple but is probably a mosque. All the islands have mosques. Makan Island with a few villages along its shore has at least twelve, with six of them being big and ornate. It was a lovely motor down on calm seas past all the beautiful picturesque volcanic islands all with little villages (with mosques) at their feet. All the volcanoes had their cloud top hats on. We anchored quite a way from the island of Kajoa in the SE corner behind a reef in 8 - 9m. We crossed the equator today at 2.37pm - we are now in the Southern Hemisphere! And the crew didn't throw the skipper overboard as she wasn't sure she could get him back! A surprisingly calm night with the phosphorescenc sparkling like little stars in the water. This was a highlight day for us with all the beautiful scenery.
Miles: 53 TTT: 1,468

Tues 18 Sept - Kajoa - Tg Rotan
00 49.693S / 128 13.632E
We left in the dark at 4.30am. Never a nice feeling when it is pitch dark and you cant see anything. We have just passed the equator and it is chilly. It got light around 6am. We motored in calm seas through Selat Patinti. We had land both sides of us and it was pretty except it was an overcast and hazy morning. We came out through the channel doing 10 knots - over 4 knots of current with us. The sea was then a bit confused with whirlpools etc. Made you feel if you fell in you would get dragged down! We saw a huge marlin leap out of the water four times - amazing. We motored along the edge of the large island of Halmahera which was picturesque with green jungle mountains interspersed with plantations of coconut palms. The palms were all along the foot of the mountains as were a few small villages. They didn't look quite as prosperous as yesterday but that could also be because they are more remote. The skipper hooked a barracuda but it got off just as he got it to the boat. A long day. When we anchored, we watched and heard schools of fish sounding all around us then we saw something huge going through the water, we don't believe it was a shark. The skipper threw his lure in which startled it and a huge tail came out as it dived. We are thinking something like a huge yellowfin tuna. A few fishermen went past and indicated that we should go and anchor off their village. We are just pleased to find 8m depth here. The skipper was a bit worried about the current and did anchor watch till 9.30pm but it was all good.
Miles: 66 TTT: 1,534

Wed 19 Sept - Tg Rotan - Tawa
01 33.139S / 128 03.248E
We had coffee in the early morning light listening to the birds chirping. Such a peaceful place. We left at 6am. The excitement this morning was the skipper saw a whale blow and then we saw it again and a little while later we saw a huge body break the surface as it dived and disappeared. It was a beautiful day with lovely calm seas as we crossed the Halmahera Sea. The crew played computer games to pass the time! The charts were still out so the crew stood at the bow to check for reef. We went over a couple of bommies but still had 7m. Found the channel and anchored in 9m at 2.10pm just off a bit of reef. We had been expecting white sand beaches and palm trees but it is more mangrovey with not a lot here! We need some heavy rain now to wash off the ash. The boat is filthy. A local motor boat went past and we asked about crocs and he said many. Had a peaceful night. A few locals went past in canoes and waved. The flies are really bad!
Miles: 46 TTT: 1,580

Thurs 20 Sept - Tawa
A boat / rest day. The skipper did a service and oil change on the motor and scrubbed the decks.

Fri 21 Sept - Tawa -Seram night crossing
We left at 10.05am and followed our track out over the reef. There was a lovely white sand beach on the other side of the island but would probably have been a bit rolly. Passed the village at the end of the channel. It had a Christian Church and a rusty mosque. We hadn't been looking forward to this crossing and hadn't been sure what to expect. We got good wind straight away and were hoiking along under full sail up to 8 knots with the motor off. We didn't want to go that fast as we have to time our arrival in the morning. We had beam on sea and every now and then we would get a big one which would slew us around. We sailed with good wind until it got dark when we took the main sail down. We don't like to leave the cockpit after dark so best to bring it in, in case of squalls. Around 10pm the wind went on the nose and we motored through the night doing 4 - 5 knots which was good. The crew had put the MP3 player in a safe place and it was nowhere to be found so it was a very long night! It wasn't a terribly comfortable sea - it wasn't bad either - but neither of us slept. It was an uneventful trip which was just as well as the skipper admitted later that he had a very bad feeling about it! Glad its out of the way.
Miles: 121 TTT: 1,701

Well that bad feeling almost came to fruition on Saturday but we are happy to say that we are safely anchored in a very pretty, calm place and we and Pacific Express are fine! You will have to wait til next week to find out what happened!!! We will be staying here a couple of days.

Love to everyone.
Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

LWH - Week 10: - Perttimat - Tifore Island

Sat 8 Sept - Perttimat
We woke at 1.30am and could see a huge camp fire on the beach and bits of ash floating up on the hill. Two fishermen visited early in the morning and they said they had been cooking their dinner! The skipper gave them some fishing line and hooks and showed them how to tie the hooks. They left very happy. We reanchored as we had drifted around into 20 metres. Rubicon Star (Ruby) was the first of the fleet to come in and we were soon surrounded by seven boats. Ruby visited and Tim said he would have a go at welding our steel so the skipper went over to Ruby. As it turned out Tim's genny couldn't manage the welding but he cut the steel into the right shape so that was helpful. We went for a snorkel and saw lots of lovely soft corals and small fish. The crew saw a black and yellow square striped fish which we hav e never seen before and also a large pinkish starfish. And lots of nemos - the skipper saw one with a blue band on it. So it was a successful snorkel. We went ashore at 5pm with everyone for sundowners. It rained but we sat under a big tree. A lovely evening.

Sun 9 Sept - Perttimat
One more boat came in today to join the Sail Moratai rally boats. We did some computer work and went exploring in Bob and found the Jungle Resort around the next bay but it was too reefy to get ashore. We all went ashore when Tim and Jim started a huge fire for a barbeque and a really good night.

Mon 10 Sept - Perttimat - Bitung
01 26.952N / 125 12.674E
The fleet started leaving at 5.30am. We thought they may have been in for a windy trip. We upanchored at 7am and headed around the headland towards the Lembah Channel to Bitung. We had a good sail with headsail out but then it went on the nose and was horribly windy. Luckily we had a bit of current with us but it seemed a hard slog. We came into a very busy port and anchored near a lot of very colourful fishing boats and a couple of big ships. Anchored at 10.35 in 9m. All the fishing boats going past wave and give us the thumbs up. We spent the rest of the day sitting on board as it was just too windy to launch Bob. We can see a lot of welding going on in the ship building yards so that is encouraging. Also can see a couple of volcanoes.
Miles: 19 TTT: 1,264

Tues 11 Sept - Bitung
Happy Birthday Jackson
We went ashore early and got a motor bike ride to Immigration but it was the wrong one so we walked to the Port and Immigration was closed so we started with Quarantine. They weren't real sure what to do with us but when they saw our CAIT they wrote us out two lovely certificates which are nice enough to hang on the wall at home! We went to Customs and the other yacht, Escapades, which had anchored next to us was there so they bundled us all into the back of a covered ute and took us to our boats. One Customs officer was a lovely lady with long trousers and lovely shoes and we wondered how to get her into Bob without wading in the filthy water. So the skipper brought Bob around to the stern of a fishing boat and we clambered across two boats and lowered her into Bob. The skipper took them to our boat where they had a lovely time taking photos, looking at our family photos and enjoying themselves. After they had looked at both boats they drove us back and we went to Immigration. They didn't understand the visa thing so one of them took the skipper on the back of a motor bike to the first Immigration and they worked out we have 60 days from today so they came back and they stamped us in. The crew got chatting to an Indonesian man meanwhile who wanted to change our money to rupiah so we changed the rest of our Malaysian Ringetts to rupiah. Then we went to the Harbour Master who wanted two copies of the Immigration stamped crew list and told us to come back at 1pm. Immigration wouldn't give us another one so we got a photocopy. Then looked around town for a bit and had a lovely lunch. We went back to the Harbour Master but unfortunately Escapades was there also. We don't know if it had anything to do with it but it took them two hours to produce our port clearance. We checked in / checked out so are supposed to leave within 24 hrs. We are hoping they wont notice we are still here!! We caught a minibus back and went over to where they were welding a big ship and organised to get our welding done at 8am tomorrow. A quiet night on board.

Wed 12 Sept - Bitung
The skipper pulled the 'mesin knalpot' (exhaust water lock box) out and took it across to the big ship boys to get it welded. They had almost finished when the Korean foreman told him to get lost so he came back to the boat to await a signal from the boys to say it was ready. The boys took it to the little beach next door and called the skipper in. We had supplied the steel, stainless weld etc and the boys had supplied the labour and expertise. The skipper gave them 100,000 rupiah ($10) and they were really pleased. So was the skipper as the job was so expertly done he reckons we will get another twenty years out of it! The skipper then did the diesel run - two trips 200 litres - and everyone was very keen to help. In the afternoon we went for a walk. We were weaving in between the fishing boats under really disgustingly filthy lines and leaving Bob next to a wall near all the boats. The fishermen kept an eye on Bob and if he needed moving they would move him. We felt completely safe. We walked down the street and off to the left we noticed a bit of a market so walked through and bought our veggies. We asked where we could get fruit and the lady pulled her phone out and dialled up her daughter who spoke English and next thing we were sat down to await the arrival of the daughter, Yathi. Then Yathi was there saying what do you want, where do you want to go, I will take you on my bike. Write down what you want and my father will go and get it. She was in the Navy. They are so kind. We explained we needed to buy fruit for one days time, three days time etc. They are all amazed at what we are doing. We declined their very kind offer and a man who could speak English attached himself to us. He was loud and possibly had been drinking and we didn't care too much for him. We walked up to the rumah makan (basic restaurant) we had seen earlier and chose our meal. Unfortunately he came in too and didn't shut up the whole time. We would very much have liked to talk to the three lovely ladies there (two of them young) but he dominated. One of the young girls did have English and the older lady got annoyed with him too. As she said we learn from each other and this bloke spoiled the opportunity. One of his mates stopped him further up the road and thank goodness we lost him! Back to the boat watching this fascinating busy port. Fishing boats raft up to each other and when the inside one needs to get out they just all manoeuvre all over the place. Great skill and really amazing. And all so colourful. They all wave and yell in greeting when they go past.

Thurs 13 Sept - Bitung
We went to shore early and were about to get in a taxi when the guard on the gate told us it was walking distance so we walked to the big market. We found heaps of fruit and veg. The crew let the skipper do the meat section on his own and when she went looking for him later people were pointing the direction he went. So I was never going to lose him!! So funny - we were the only farangs in the place. We caught a taxi back and then the skipper did a water run to buy drinking water. The guard stopped a ute and got him to cart our jerries down to Bob. We then went to town for some last minute shopping and found a few cartons of Bintang cans of beer. But here they are $30 a carton! Caught a taxi (its a minibus but when we get in they don't pick up any other customers!) and stopped at our makan place and got some takeaway (the best chilli tofu ever!) and the skipper spoke English to the young girl and she was very happy. We walked back to Bob and manoeuvred our way past the disgusting lines and big fishing boats with a bit of a cheer from the guys on the shore and went back to the boat to prepare to leave tomorrow. The gribs are saying a good day to go. We have to say that the people of Sulawesi have been fantastic. They couldn't do enough for us and were so kind and helpful and we will cherish the friendship they have shown us.

Fri 14 Sept - Bigung - Tifore Island
00 58.077N / 126 09.489E
Happy Birthday Greg
We left as soon as we could see which turned out to be around 5.30am and motored past the port and all the big ships in the Lembah Strait and headed out into the Molucca Sea. We had good breeze - around 15 knots and the seas were 1 - 1 ½ metres. We had a great sail day (no motor!!!) doing around 7.3 knots. A pod of large dolphins (bottle nose I think) came and swam with the boat and the crew perched at the front and watched them play with the boat for around half an hour - magic! We arrived at Tifore Island at 4.45pm and were a bit worried as it seemed to be coral but the skipper checked and it was rubbly so we took a risk and dropped the anchor. A couple of villagers came out to see us just on dark but we told them it was too late to visit - felt a bit bad as they had got all dressed up but it really was too late. This island is in the middle of nowhere.
We forgot to mention that as we passed Bunekin Island last week we saw some fishermen flying small kites behind them. We have no idea whether this was to help catch the fish or how it could possibly work but it was interesting. Also for those of you who shared our puzzle of the loss of all navigation in the Celebes Sea Triangle, Debbie offered this explanation: "magnetic anomalies found in this basin (the Celebes Sea Basin - with a flat sea floor and depths of 4 - 5km) have been interpreted as episodes of sea-floor spreading. Seafloor spreading is a process that occurs at mid-ocean ridges, where new oceanic crust is formed through volcanic activity and then gradually moves away from the ridge. Seafloor spreading helps explain continental drift in the theory of plate tectonics." So we sailed over a place where new bits of the world were being formed and moving the continents around! Thanks Deb.
We continue our long journey home and send you all our love. See so many Rosies in the big cumulus clouds around us.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

LWH - Week 9 : Lokadada Bay - Pertiimat

Sat 1 Sept Lokadada Bay - Tringgaula
01 01.770N / 122 12.245E
We had a very comfortable night. Fishermen waved but no-one came near us. We were on our way again by 6am. Our village appeared to be Christian with the village across the bay being Muslim. When we left it was really lumpy with quite a swell and then it dropped off and the water started dancing (I don't know how else to describe it). We made our exit better than our entrance staying closer to port on the way out. It is disconcerting going over land on the chart - the charts seem to be out by about half a mile. The coastline of Sulawesi is absolutely beautiful. Mountains to the sea and green with clouds sitting on top of the mountains. It would be fascinating to drive around this large strange shaped island. We had dead calm sea and then it was bucking up and we realised we were going down the 200m depth change line so we went further out and the seas were better. We came into the bay and the depth sounder stopped working. We were heading for Wavesweeper's anchor from last year and anchored just short of there at 2.15pm in 15m off a sand beach with two villages. It was an extremely pretty spot and was very comfortable. We watched late in the afternoon as a line of villagers held the rope of a net and a boat took it 500 metres or so to another line of villagers on the beach and they took the other end. Then they pulled like a tug of war, with the lines getting closer as they pulled the net in until they made a circle and got their catch. They must have got enough because they didn't do it the next day. These villages are real communities. They do things together, and look out for each other.
Miles: 41 TTT: 1021

Sunday 2 Sept - Tringulla
01 01.684N / 122 12.267E
We left at 6am but as we got out the wind came up blowing 25 - 30 knots so we decided to return to the anchorage and reanchored at 6.45am. Around 9am three boys paddled out in their canoe and came aboard for a chat and to invite us to their village. Andika was 16 his brother Mesi 13 and friend Deeka 13. We told them we would come in at 11 or 12 for a walk. They took our phone number and phoned a few times to make sure we were coming in. We saw a boat taking in a torpedo buoy and were shocked at the size of the thing. They are like min subs. Saw some old ones on the beach. They would be around a metre across and four metres long - huge and steel! We went in at 11.30 and a heap of children met us and pulled Bob up the beach. We walked down the street and saw Andika's house and the school and mosque. The school is a mixed school with Muslim and Christian. That seemed a good idea to us! Everyone greeted us and waved and wanted photos and the boys were proud to be walking us around. We went to a lady's house and sat and chatted surrounded by all the children. When we realised that the barefooted kids were burning their feet on the bitumen we headed for the beach. We saw wells outside some of the houses. We stopped at Andika and Mesi's house and met their mother. They had a patch of lovely grass before the beach and had sat out two chairs like royalty! We sat down and because they had seemed so disappointed when we declined a drink we said ok to a glass of water and two glasses and a plastic jug on a tray appeared to pour the water. Grandfather turned up and traded one of his rolly cigs for the skipper's so we sat him next to the skipper on the chair. He had his traditional wrap around skirt on with bare chest and was a skinny little man. I wanted to take his photo but he wouldn't have his photo taken bare chested so he disappeared and about ten minutes later came back in shorts and a t-shirt - wasn't quit the effect I wanted! Then we walked to the end of the beach surrounded by at least 30 kids. They called us Papa and Mama. Papa ended up carrying Andika's (rather grubby by this stage) three year old brother Okkie as we must have walked a couple of km up the beach and back. Papa kept stopping and drawing pictures in the sand to illustrate things to the kids. The girls stayed with me and one must have had a cold as she kept spitting - most disconcerting! They don't blow their noses - they spit. When we got back to Bob all the kids launched him and Mesi jumped in and we went back to the boat around 2.15. Andika and Deeka rowed out. We had said we could have the three boys on board and thats all. They had biccies and juice and learnt how the boat worked. They wanted DJ music but I think we were a bit of a disappointment in that department! Anyway they had a lovely afternoon and we sent them off around 4pm. Around 5pm just as we were relaxing a man and lady with four kids (not theirs) came out and had a look over the boat. The lady videoed the whole of the inside. One of the little girls jumped in the water and the other little one wasn't quite game and was saying kechil, then she perched up in the canoe and looked quite relieved - I then realised - rumah kechil - little room - toilet! Anyway we politely said goodbye so they all left happily and just on dark the three boys came out with one of the girls and little Ockie. They had been and picked us some limes because ours didn't look too good. We were going to give them some powdered mild for Ockie as we were quite shocked to find he had sugared water in his bottle but weren't sure if it would be halal and they don't seem to drink milk. Explains some of the terrible teeth we saw at Laulalang. After ¾ of an hour we told them it was time to go and off they went.
Miles: 3 TTT: 1024

Monday 3 Sept - Tringulla - Bulontio
00 59.616N / 122 25.040E
We left at 5am in the dark as our next destination has reef so we wanted to get there early.
We motored, dodged a few logs and went over some of the depth lines where the water was dancing and then choppy so we went further out. It is such a strange phenomenon. A fisherman went past and held up the tail of a tuna he had caught - it would have been two feet across. The skipper checked the bilge and it had salt water in it. Started the bilge pump and headed for land. We came into a bay and anchored off the beach in 14m. Three men immediately came out and sat on the boat - one had quite good English. The skipper chatted for an hour and then sent them off while he pulled out the exhaust water lock box and repaired it again. In the afternoon four men came out and sat on the boat - they always smoke and of course the skipper does not discourage them. He really enjoys explaining to them and drawing pictures of how the boat works. I just kept reading my book. The skipper asked about getting steel and getting it welded and they said yes could get. They left and we had a quiet night.
Miles: 19 TTT: 1043

Tues 4 Sept - Bulontio - Tg Besar
00 56.198N / 123 01.430E
The skipper went into the village which turned out to be quite a big town and one of the men met him and borrowed a motor bike and took him to five places before he found some steel. The skipper didn't like the look of the welding so bought the steel back in the boat. Meanwhile at 8am I was visited by the man who could speak English, two women and three kids - at 8am! By the time the skipper got back a few men had jumped on board so we decided to leave. Shooed them all off, pulled up anchor and left at 9am. We came out 8 miles in front of the Moratai rally mob comprising of five boats. We were motoring along beautifully when we got hit by wind and the seas came up. The phenomenon seems to be on the lines of changes of depth and throw in some wind against tide and it can get really rough. We were getting water over the bow, the cushions nearly got washed off and we were sailing at 8.2knots and really heeling over (the crew really hates that!!). We went further out and the seas calmed a bit and we made very good time. As soon as we got behind the headland it was really calm and smooth water. We motored into the beach and dropped anchor in 7m at 3.40pm. The others came in 1 - 2 hours later. Rubicon Star stopped by in their dinghy to say hullo. It was a very calm night.
Miles: 41 TTT: 1084

Wed 5 Sept - Tg Besar - Pulau Tiga
00 50.651N / 123 50.208E
We left with the fleet at 6am - we were villaged out and it wasn't as pretty as the other bays and motor sailed. Saw a huge school of very small dolphins - hundreds of them but they are very shy. A long day of motor sailing anchoring off a beach down from an interesting looking village with a large mosque. One of the boats had a canoe visit them but none of us did. We all then went to Rubicon Star for drinks and a chat.
Miles: 53 TTT: 1137

Thurs 6 Sept - Pulau Tiga - TG Kalasei
00 50.672N / 123 50.187E
We left at 5.40am with the fleet. We had a great sail for a few hours which was really good. It was a long hot boring day. The two big cats decided to keep going another 7 miles to Menado as we could see it in the distance. Jemima was in there and said about six boats could fit in - it is very deep in there. We came into where we were going to anchor with three other boats and we dropped the anchor. The other three thought we were over reef and decided to keep going. We had a lovely anchorage off a small village and watched the loveliest sunset over the flat ocean. We have heard about the green flash when the sun goes down - we didn't see a flash but the sun definitely turned green just as it disappeared into the ocean. Not sure if thats what people talk about or not. We had a lovely calm night.
Miles: 67 TTT" 1204

Friday 7 Sept - TG Kalawsai - Pertiipat
01 46.909N / 125 09.384E
We upanchored at 6.45am and decided to give Menado a miss and headed for Gangga Island. We passed some interesting fishing structures with huge lights to attract squid (we presume) - we haven't seem then before but could see all the lights last night. We motor sailed past a volcano on the port side and Monado also has a volcano behind it but it was very hazy and smoggy. Would be quite a dramatic sight otherwise. We had almost three knots of current with us so we made very good time. We passed Bunekin Island which had the biggest Cathedral on it - it is mostly Christian around this area. Cannot imagine that they would have a congregation big enough to fill it but it looked very impressive. We have noticed quite a few churches in the towns we have passed. We had flat seas, great current and good wind so it was all good. We went around Gangga Island and it was all very pretty on the islands with reef and white sand beaches but also very deep. A yacht called Delight called us up as they had come from the Moluccas and we were the first yacht they had seen. We swapped some information and we came round the island and couldn't find anywhere good to anchor. The place we wanted to anchor and had good depths was all coral so we went round and anchored off Gangga Island where Delight was and it was very pretty but we felt very exposed there and the clouds were building so decided to go another seven miles across to the NEw tip of Sulawesi. We had good currents with us and anchored in the most beautiful bay. The water was clear but dark then the most beautiful shade of green. We went ashore to the resort and had a look through but it was deserted and not in use. We walked down to a European couple on the beach who turned out to be Swiss and had walked over from the jungle resort around the next bay. Other than them we were the only ones there. Had a swim and took Bob for a bit of a look around and went back to the boat in the rain. A lovely day.
Miles: 41 TTT: 1245

We are currently surrounded by eight boats who head to Moratai tomorrow for the rally and we head 26 miles around the corner to Bitung to check into the country and hopefully get some welding done.

Have a happy holiday Ruth. Stay safe all
Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

LWH - Week 8 : Tawau - Lokadada Bay

Sat 25 August Tawau - Pulau Bunyu
03 30.985N / 117 51.522E
We could smell the town this morning - its like a burnt molasses kind of smell. All the big cats and monos left at sparrows probably to try to make it through to Tarakan in one day. We left at 6.30am and motored out. It was a long day of motoring. We had current with us for a time then it turned against us. When we turned the point to come into the anchorage we had some good wind and got in at 5.30pm. We just anchored off the beach with around nine other boats but at 12.30am we went side on to the swell and had a very rolly night.
37 years today since Dad died -s till miss him.
Miles: 51 TTT: 697

Sun 26 August - Palau Bunya - day/night 1 Celebes Sea crossing
Happy Birthday Mum - would have been 88 today
We left at 6.30am just after most of the others. It was overcast and rainy and we were unsure whether to go or not but it was not tenable to stay at the anchorage so the skipper checked the grib (weather) files again (which we do over the HF radio) and it looked ok so we decided to go. We had a bit of water in the bilge (oh no!) but it was fresh water so we figured a bit sloshed out of the tank with all the rolling. We are very sad that we are doing this crossing on our own but at last it feels like we are heading home. We have tried to go a bit further south than the people last year to miss all the large torpedo buoys which we know are there (used for fishing boats to tie up on and in extremely deep water). Of course we don't know if there are any further south. They do show up on radar. Already we are dodging a few nets between flags and fishing boats. The rain stopped around 9.30 but we are motoring with no wind and the seas are fairly flat. Saw a school of dolphins but they are very shy of the boat. The sky cleared and it turned into the most beautiful day. About six miles to our starboard we can see marked on the chart a square which says 'explosives dumping area' in over 2km of water. We presume it is from the Second World War. We zigzagged through a current line which had nipah palms and logs and other natural rubbish. Sat at the pointy end of the boat late in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day with flat seas and nothing for miles. The depth of the water is 2 - 3 km. We went into the night with the moon up which gave some visibility. We passed the known torpedo buoys 25km to the south and didn't see any (that is of course no guarantee that they are not there but we are pretty sure not). We checked the radar every ten minutes scanning - saw a couple of tugs but nothing else. We both got some shut eye down below (took it in turns) but the crew accidentally knocked the accelerator and nothing brings a skipper up faster than the change in the engine tone!! We used the new mp3 player for the first time and it was amazing how much more quickly that made the time pass. We lost the moon at 2am and it was pretty dark after that but we didn't hit anything (that we know of) and had a good night.

Mon 27 August - Celebes crossing day/night 2
I awoke to the skipper dodging big cargo ships as we crossed an enormous shipping channel. We turned the motor off at 10am and sailed off course. We have had to be going really slow as we don't want to arrive at our destination in the dark. We sailed till 1.30pm when we found ourselves off course and just sitting in the doldrums! We started the motor and slowly headed back on course. The sea is very calm and we took turns catching up on some sleep. Saw something in the water and couldn't make it out and thought it was something in the current line so went twenty degrees to port then we thought it was a heap of dolphins playing. Turned out to be a tree trunk a s long as our boat! Then we saw something leap out of the water and it was a manta ray and then we could see small dolphins and rays jumping and playing then five dolphins came and swam at the front of the boat The water was so crystal clear we could see them perfectly. A magic moment. We have seen quite a few big pieces of wood floating around and the water has been so calm so we have been able to see them which isn't the case at night. And wood does not show up on the radar - 4,100m deep! Well there we were in the evening both sitting on the deck about to watch the sun go down motoring along in the calmest conditions when a terrifying thing happened. The autohelm took a sharp turn to the left - we corrected it and it took another sharp turn and the chart plotter turned and told us we were going back the way we ha d come. We knew this wasn't the case because we had had the sun at our backs and it was just going below the horizon. The chart plotter came back the right way for a minute and we put the autohelm back on then it took such a sharp turn left that the arm went all the way in. The compass reversed by 180 degrees and was telling the auto pilot to do the same. Our heading was 140 degrees but the compass suddenly changed to 320 degrees, so did the GPS heading on the chart plotter. The crew took the helm while the skipper got the handheld GPS. It also went nuts and told us we were at ten degrees north (thats the Philippines!!!). The compass for the autopilot is independent from the chart plotter but the Chart plotter also shows us going 180 degrees in the wrong direction. We put the computer on with C-map - backup number 2- but the GPS wouldn't work. By this time the crew is steering by the moon. The skipper reset our chart plotter but still it showed us going in the wrong direction. We are in the middle of the ocean and thank goodness we could still see a bit of red where the sun went down. This went on for about half an hour when suddenly the chart plotter corrected, C-map started working and it all looked good. We put the autohelm back on and it worked. We had been just coming up on the 4,000m depth contour line from 4800 m and just about to go from two degrees into the one degrees latitude (before 01?59.098N / 120?07.206E) when it happened. We didn't know if the satellites had been turned off, there had been another earthquake in Sulawesi or we had found the Bermuda Triangle of the Celebes Sea. We suspect the latter but if any of you out there have any logical explanation we would love to hear from you!!! At about this time we picked up a little (we suspect rather large) friend under the boat. The depth sounder doesn't show depths like 4km but it regularly showed depths ranging from 9m - 1.2m which meant there was something under there. It wasn't a dolphin - we suspect a shark. It stayed with us all night until we came to 20m and then he left us. We motored through the night at 3.5 knots (we had 1.5 of current with us) for two reasons - 1 - we did not wish to hit anything at speed and 2 - we did not want to get in too early as we knew we had to negotiate reef. The moon went behind clouds at about 3am and it was very dark and we could see lightning in the distance and storms began showing up on the radar. It rained about 4am but we had no lightning and the seas remained calm. A perfect crossing really except for our Bermuda Triangle moment!!!
Miles: 236 TTT: 933

Tues 28 August - Tanjung Laulalang
01 19.649N / 120 55.341E
Three years today since we lost our little Maties dog Jack
It was a little bit overcast but we sighted land at daybreak - thank goodness - a lingering doubt about the chart plotter - and we zigzagged through the reef around 10.45am using Mark 1 eyeball as the charts were out by about half to three quarters of a mile (C-map and Navionics) and came into anchor where the guys from last year had in the most gorgeous scenic little bay behind a sandspit between a Muslim village and Christian village. We anchored at 11.15am and were so happy to be here. A Muslim man was trying to get us to anchor a bit further in but we were close enough. We dropped in 22m but later when we swang towards the beach we were in 15.5m. We are just off the Muslim village and the Christian village is across the small bay. A Muslim man swam out to visit us and a Christian man turned up in his boat. Think he wanted us to go and anchor off his village! Maman (the Muslim) who only had jocks on sat in ULewis' (the Christian man) boat pointing at Ulewis and making actions like opening a can and drinking it and being drunk - he was really funny. ULewis told us Maman was mute. ULewis was very curious and wanted to see over the boat. We told them we would visit both their villages tomorrow and they left and we fell into bed for a couple of hours. Got up around 5 and four Muslim men came to visit and have a chat. The skipper is getting better at communicating and had English-Indo and Indo-English dictionaries handy. They wanted our lure as they cant get them here so the skipper showed them how to make one using silver paper or an empty wine bladder which we rinsed out for them - told them it had had water in it - they knew it hadn't! Gave them some fishing lines and hooks and they were very curious as to the technology on the boat and amazed that it is just the two of us. One of the daughters came out and wanted bread but we said we didn't have any. They left on dark and we had a restful evening and then the best sleep.

Wed 29 August - Tg Laulalong
We went ashore at 10am and were met by a few people including Umbra who was really excited to know that we know Bernie off Single Malt who came through here last year. She invited us into her home which had no furniture in the lounge room. We took some photos of her baby daughter Apeecka and they presented us with some mangoes. Its mango season! Maman then escorted us around the village. The village has 500 people as does the Christian village across the way. It has an Elementary School and a High School and hospital. Some of the houses look poor but we don't really think its a poor village. Everyone greeted us as we went round and offered us mangoes! They all wanted their photos taken with us and one man in uniform chased us down - just to have his photo taken with us! The nurses came and the schoolmaster came as we walked around to have photos taken. Maman found us a store where we got a sim card for the phone. We got back to Umbra's around lunchtime, collected our mangoes and went back to the boat. Maman (being mute is the best mime!) and his friend Udin came out and spent the afternoon. They are both divorced. I made some muffins while the skipper spent his time talking to Udin and Maman. I pretty much burnt the first batch of muffins so made another lot. During the afternoon the Christian kids came aboard quite out of control - the boys running up the boat and he girls standing at the back making a huge racket - it was all a bit much so the skipper got rid of them. I was working on the computer printing off the photos and looked up and there was one still onboard!!! We put five muffins on four plates and took them in for Seir (the young lady who wanted bread), Umbra, Maman and Udin. Seir and Umbra took theirs home while Maman and Udin shared theirs with all the people who had been waiting to greet us. One woman asked if they were halal. I hadn't even thought about cakes and muffins being halal!!! Thought that was just meat! Anyway they really appreciated it. We also gave Umbra a large photo of her baby. We had thought we were going to watch them play soccer with Maman but no one was moving and it was threatening rain so we went back to the boat. We had dinner and were relaxing when about 7.30 a canoe turned up in the dark. It was Seir (25 & married and wears a scarf) and Adrea and Idha (two sisters aged 21 and 26). So they came on board and we sat below chatting for quite some time and they were really fun. Ahdria and Eda had a little bit of English. When it was time for them to leave Seir realised her oar had been knocked overboard (probably by Bob) and was lost. So funny! So we lent them an oar to get home. Quite a day!!

Thursday 30 August - Tj Laulalang
We watched the Christian kids paddle their canoes across to the sandspit at 7am to go to school. Umbra had asked to see the boat so the skipper went to pick her and a friend up at ten and I had made some orange juice to give them. But at 9.30 Seir and Idha turned up to return the oar and bought an obnoxious young man with them - a 21 year old medical student who spoke very good English. The girls amused themselves taking photos of themselves in my hat and sunglasses at the front of the boat while the lad says i'm hungry, do you have a snack. Where's the chocolate where's the cake - make some more, Can I see your photos and before I know it he's in my computer. Then he wanted to urinate! The skipper went to collect Umbra and came back with three women, two babies and Maman. Well, way too many people now for my small bottle of juice so they got nothing. The ladies all looked over the boat and the lad was a king size pain in the butt taking photos everywhere, taking over the conversation and generally ruining the day - it was all about him!!! The skipper took two trips to take them all ashore. We had a brief respite then went ashore and Udin and another bloke took us on the back of their motor bikes to a rumah makin (restaurant). It was very basic. A cat was on the table, the flies were in the rice and another cat was getting a fish bone from the dishes waiting to be washed. Udin chose some fish for us and we went outside to the lounging chair (wooden construction) and the skipper had a conversation with another chap. They are all mightily impressed with what we are doing. They called us when lunch was ready and the fish was delicious served up with soup and rice. Udin then took us to see the lobster farm but it was locked so we sat and talked to some students for a while. These people have seven fish farms - some fish, some lobster which they export to Korea. The surrounding hills are filled with cloves trees and there are cloves laid out drying all through the village - smells wonderful. When we went back we were invited to Ihda and Adrea's house and the lad was there to interpret. We were given a green coconut each to drink - no one else had one as they had just eaten - bit embarrassing. Anyway the whole family and friends were there and lots of photos and being interviewed by the lad. After that one of the fathers wanted to come to the boat so Maman came too. The ladies came down to say goodbye and off we went. After the skipper took the father ashore with a new pair of reading glasses he had asked for, three Christian boys turned up and dropped one off on the back of the boat and went ashore. The skipper promptly put him in Bob and took him ashore too. They returned shortly after and we told them to go away so they went to the front of the boat and climbed up the anchor chain and boarded. The skipper explained to them that this was our home. They sank their boat and mucked about -they told the next boatload of kids to go away and we gave them a packet of chips each (empty packets chucked in the water) then off they went. The skipper went and picked Udin up and we were having a farewell drink when another mate turned up, accompanied by the lad!!!! Who says he has just brought some friends to visit!. They stayed a while and looked the boat over. They left and just on dark the skipper took Maman and Udin ashore and we put Bob aboard. We really enjoyed the company of Maman and Udin - they are both fishermen. The torpedo buoys we had heard so much about and luckily didn't see are used by them to go out to fish for the big yellowfin tuna which they export to Korea. So at 7.30 just as we are relaxing out comes one of the earlier visitor with two women and six kids who were all really cold. They stayed for about half an hour and it really was time to leave!!!!! And we didn't make it to the Christian village!!!

Friday 31 August - Tj Laulalang - Lokodaka Bay
01 02.919N / 121 39.313E
We left at 6am and the skipper blew the horn to let Maman and Udin know that we were leaving and followed our track out. When we came out our friend was waiting and appeared under the boat again. We thought maybe he was a remora thinking we were a whale!! But he did not stay long. We saw dolphins as we were leaving. We had a beautiful morning and Sulawesi is so pretty. We came around the point and looked back and we couldn't see it as it was covered in rain! We had a storm pass in front and a storm pass behind and it was very overcast and windy and cold - so close to the equator! We were coming into an anchorage given by MV Solita trying to beat the rain. The chart was out - we were coming over land by the chart and then it went from 50m to 8m so we went further to starboard. Kind of scary as we couldnt see the bay and it t looked like we were heading into land. Came into the bay in very strong winds and there was a village and a jetty and we hit 5.6m and shallowing - crew panicking! And the depth sounder stops working!! But we eventually managed to anchor in 16m going back to 14m just off some cottages built over the water. There were three little girls on their verandah singing and doing a welcome dance -s o sweet!! Two boys went past rowing a canoe then came back towing some huge sticks of bamboo. The fishermen waved but no one has visited. Still cloudy and slight swell but a beautiful spot.

I am sorry this missive is so long but it really has been quite a week.

Love to you all. Take care
Calm Seas and Fair Winds
Dell and Peter

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