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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



28 November 2009

Bali to Kumai - Kalimantan to Nongsa Point Marina - Batam

Hello Again

Well Alec’s bout of food poisoning kept us on the boat for a couple of days not really being able to venture very far. We did do a couple of small trips ashore to the Bali Yacht Club to check the emails and to fill the jerry cans with diesel. One morning as I was sitting on the terrace of the Yacht Club having a semi real coffee, the local ‘gang’ came down for their morning wash – yes in that filthy harbour! A small girl of about five and four boys between three and four. Granddad came along to watch proceedings. After a time of splashing about and trying to drown each other it was time to see what they could find in the small fishing boats which were anchored just off the beach. Plastic bags were the order of the day this morning which had been neatly folded and stowed away under the seats. They were dragged out, taken into the water and partly filled, then the end was screwed up and it acted as a float. Once that sank they just filled another. More rubbish added to this horridly polluted harbour! This kept them occupied till Granddad had had enough and wanted them out of the water which turned into another fiasco. No way were they ready to go home. Granddad was not going in and had no power over them. They were still debating the matter with him when we left quite some time later.
By day three Alec felt well enough for us to go off and explore some of Bali. We hired a guide and two turned up, but in the end we didn’t have to pay any extra! They turned out to be really nice guys and we did a full on tour seeing as much as we could as Alec wanted to leave the next day. So with an early start we set off to see the hand weaving and batik process, a very well done dance and performance show, Gold and silver works, painting galleries, wood carving, then on to the quaint town of Ubud to see the Monkey Forest, then up to the highlands passing the terraced rice fields to see the still active Volcano Mt Batur and the lake with the same name, and then back to a coffee plantation. Here they had a very special and really expensive coffee with an unusually rich flavour, which we were offered but declined. The raw beans (or berries as they are known as) are fed to the civet cats – a cat like animal – which gorges itself on the berries and then passes the inner pip right through its digestive track unharmed. The beans are then roasted and hey presto you now have what is called ‘cat poop’ or ‘monkey poo’ coffee. See why we gave that one a miss!!!

Now this was a cleaner side of Bali. We discovered the Island of Serangan where we are staying also has the rubbish tip on it on the other side. That would account for the terrible smell we would get on the boat, but that is still no excuse for the village to be in the state it is in.

Well ,we are out of there now and as I am writing this we have the land of Kalimantan – once Borneo – in site. It has been a brilliant run from Bali taking at this stage just on three days to do 440nm so far. The winds have been a South Easterly fairly light and we have been flying the MPS till just after dawn this morning when we had to bring it down due to thunderstorms showing up on the radar. Winds got to just over 20kts once for a time but sea conditions were not more than 2mts at any stage and it was a downwind run. We did think about bringing it down as it really is a ‘light airs’ sail only, but both sail and SHAMAL were behaving so well and we kept a sharp eye on things so kept on going. Talk about keeping a sharp eye on things, this leg has been one of the most intense from that point of view. About 100 miles out from any land this guy in a out rigger canoe with a sail no bigger than a wind surfer passed us in reasonably choppy seas, for him, nearly disappearing from sight at times. What’s more it was night time and if it was not for the moon being out I don’t think we would have seen him crossing our bows only 50mts away. Then there are the boats towing barges the size of small Islands! As for their lighting signals to show what they are up to – well anything goes here. In fact the more lights the better, and ones that blink red and blue all over the vessel seem to be the favour of the month at the moment. Some like to come over and look at you which can make things a little difficult when you are under sail and trying to keep out of their way. Then there are the fish traps. They should be called boat traps. They are floating Islands made out of bamboo and strapped onto drums. They just float around and apparently the fish are drawn to them – yes just because they are there? We have passed one during daylight. An American family we met in Lombok are going in the same direction as us and have actually hit one but did no damage thank goodness.

Some of you may remember the story I told you about a woman at one of the Boat Shows who asked me what do we do at night when you are on a long passage. Just drop the anchor in the middle of the ocean? My answer was yes – what else could I say. Well last night I had to eat my words. We arrived off the coast of Kalimantan just on dusk and decided not to negotiate the river entrance at night with all the traffic plus the sand bars. Here there are tugs pulling barges which collect the palm oil which is exported. Sad as the jungle is being cut down for this industry. We were in a huge bay out of the sight of any land, but it is very shallow in this area - we were only in about 4mts of water, so we dropped the anchor for the night! It is quite a strange feeling just anchored out there in the middle of nowhere. Next morning we upped anchor and carried on up the river. So we are now anchored up the Sungei Kumai River just in front of the township of Kumai. We are about 10nm inland from the sea.

As per usual nothing is always straight forward in what we do. The local tout with regard to river guides was out showing us where to anchor and arranging for us to do a trip with him even before we had time to think about it. We told him to come back in the morning which he did trying to arrange our lives for us. Alec not being one to be hurried into a decision told him he would think about it and come over and see the boat he intended taking us in later in the morning. Meanwhile an American girl who is on a year’s sabbatical as a foreign reporter in Jakarta, came over and told us about her boat saying that it would be fitted out more comfortably and will cost less and we would be most welcome to use hers. Alec got costs from them both and we decided to take the American girls boat. We had seen both boats and hers was definitely much nicer. Alec informed the other guy that we were taking a different boat. So with that all settled – or should I say , so we thought, we headed off across the river in the tender to explore the town as we were going up river early the next morning. Another rather grubby Indonesian town where all the rubbish is dumped into the river. The locals were all very friendly and all wanted their photo taken, so I ended up taking photos, showing them, then deleting the picture!! We were in town for a rather grand military parade to commemorate a local who had killed a Dutch guy way back in the days when the Dutch were trying to establish themselves in the archipelago as the rubber, spices, copra, tin and coffee trading were flourishing. All three forces were represented, along with anyone else who had a uniform. I was just hoping they did not want to re-enact the scene with us the token whites in town!!!!

The town was full of dowdy grey multi story buildings with no windows apart from small slits around the roof area. We also noticed thousands of little birds flying around all day long above the town. We later were told the birds are a type of swallow and the buildings are where they nest. The Chinese have moved in and have a very lucrative business going on where they export the bird nests back to China for bird nest soup – yes a delicacy for the Chinese. They get between $US40-45 per kilo for them!!!

Next morning we were up at dawn all excited with regards to our trip into the jungle on the river boat. The American ladies boat arrived to pick us up only to be intercepted by the other guy whom we did not give our business to in a speed boat. Oh dear we had upset the local mafia!! The long and short of it was her boat was not an ‘official’ cruise boat, and the tout did not want us to go with her. Had she paid a bribe to some local official, the offical would have turned a blind eye to things and let us go. But she did not want to go down that path and set a trend of handing out back-hander’s, which really is the way business is done here. But no, everyone disappeared for about an hour and then a completely different boat showed up with a completely different crew and off we set.

This really ended up being the most wonderful trip. Our Klotok – boat- was our transport, accommodation, and restaurant. We had a guide, cook and the captain on board for just the two of us who did the most wonderful job in looking after us. We slept on mattresses on the upper deck under a mosquito net. We dined like kings, and stopped at lots of places along the river to see the wild life from the boat plus our wonderful walks into the jungle. We ventured 40ks into the jungle taking different branches of different rivers as we went. The main river and the next one we entered were flanked by thick Nypa Palms which grow right into the river but the further up we went they were replaced by walls of pandanus. The water started off being very muddy and sadly polluted with mercury from a gold mine further up river, but the further up the tributaries we ventured that changed to being tannin-tinted, a clean colour of rich black tea. The river also becomes very narrow with the boat scraping the branches of the jungle in places. There are three feeding stations along the river where you can go in and see the orang-utans. It is wonderful the work that is being done to reintroduce them back into their natural habitat. This was the highlight and we were able to spend some time just watching them. We also visited a local village and a reforest station programme that is going on. From the comfort of our boat we saw proboscis monkeys, long tailed macaques monkeys and silvered langur. The birds were also quite amazing as were the butterflies of every size and colour which fluttered around us from dawn till dusk. Then the fire flies come out which is another amazing sight. These tiny little bugs, millions of them, in the Nypa palms along the river edge light them up like Christmas trees.

It was quite sad to come back down the river to what is so called civilization. You could smell the township of Kumai long before we reached it! The next morning we decided we would spend another night there before we headed out again. While I was getting breakfast ready I saw out the corner of my eye a humungous barge coming down the river between us and the bank. I ran up top to look and yelled to Alec and we discovered the ‘B’ thing had broken away from its mooring up river and was coming down on us. Alec started the engines and I was about to up anchor but thank goodness the current took it closer to the bank. It missed SHAMAL by no more than three meters!!!! It would have wiped us out. We sent out a ‘securite’ on the radio and about half an hour later a tug went down stream and took it in tow. The funny thing was there was a family on it who were there for security and did nothing. Had no phone and made no radio calls. Just went drifting on down the river.

The sailing up from Kalimantan ( Borneo ) to the Island of Batam ( just across from Singapore) has been a hard slog. This is where we clear out of Indonesia . A cruising guide we have mentions the Nongsa Point Marina and it sums up our passage rather well. “The Nongsa Point Marina is an oasis for those boats heading north. Especially after what can sometimes be a taxing ( fickle winds ) passage from the southern islands where the iron sail often dominates ( diesel ) Use the Marina as a chance to degrime and unwind.” Yeah right on !!! can’t wait. It has taken us just on a week and we are not quite there yet. We have stopped off at an Island for a good night’s sleep tonight. We also spent a couple of nights anchored off an Island called Serutu, only about 40mn off Kalimantan but 266nm out from Kumai. The night before we had been in the most horrendous thunderstorm I hope we ever encounter. There was no way around it and we had four hours full on of fork and sheet lightning,(JG and Charlie I did not have my jandals on!!!) thunder and rain just coming down in sheets. Thank goodness for this thing we have called an AIS which shows us all the time on our chart plotter where the big ships are and the direction they are going and the distance they will pass you at. It is a real life saver in these waters I tell you. The ‘local’ fishing boats were out as well but they have lights which are quite amazing as I think they are fishing for squid and they seem to light the sea for miles around. More than once on my watch I would have to get Alec up just to double check that we were not going to be run over by one of these super tankers. They are huge and at night one mile looks horribly close!!!

Monday 23rd November.

We have arrived at the Nongsa Point Marina – Batam, and as I said this is where we will clear out of Indonesia. It is lovely as it is a resort with all the wonderful facilities. We can see Singapore across the water only 7 miles away. The only trouble is we can also see ALL the shipping which we will have to negotiate around as well. They say that these vessels are less than 12 minutes apart as they pass through this narrow body of water.

OK this time I really have gone on and Alec is adding his bit, so will sign off.

Again a big thank you to all who have sent us emails. Hope this finds you all well and not getting too stressed with Christmas coming up. Remember everything does not have to be done just because of a certain day!

Take care

Lots of Love from

The Admiral and The Captain

Rant, rave and ramble. BY ALEC

Religion all night long. On the Island of Lombok ( the Island of a thousand mosque’s ) the usual call to pray which tends to last a few minutes (which we are use to having lived in the Arabian Gulf ) was not the case at the local Mosque. The Mullah preaches the whole bloody sermon over the loud speakers. This is no joke at 4 AM and then again at dawn, mid day and in the evening. One sermon the Mullah was very angry maybe going on about the decadence west and infidels etc. I did note the attendance at the local Mosque was not exactly over flowing so I guess the local Mullah decided to use the air waves to get his message across. Islam is the predominant religion, with followers making up 88 % of the population but practise a less orthodox form of Islam than in Arabia.

On the Island of Bali 95% of the population are of Balinese Hindi descent. Balinese Hinduism is half a world away from that of India. They have the traditional caste divisions but there are no “ untouchables “ nor is there separation of labour based on caste except for the Brahmana priesthood.

The cats and dogs are in a relatively good condition in Bali ... I have a saying just look at the condition of the local cats and dogs and one soon can tell if you are in a third world country or not. The local cats and dogs clean up the prayer offerings ( food and flowers on a little woven basket ) which are left in front of shops, homes, temples, shrines and our tour guide even had one in his car. The Balinese will give a prayer offering to both the good and bad Gods. ( we call this back in N.Z. “ having a bob each way “ (Arjang a credit card each way )

Although comprising less than 3 % of the population the Chinese are the wealthiest ethic group in the country. This causes resentment. Whenever there’s unrest in Indonesia the Chinese are often singled out. In 1965 they were killed for being communists and more recently , during the 1998 riots, it was because they were capitalists. Bali became the scene of some of the bloodiest anticommunist killings in Indonesia. The brutality of the killings was in shocking contrast to the stereotype of the “ gentle “ Balinese.

The annual Indonesian Yacht Rally is very popular leaving Darwin in July. We missed this year’s one as we arrived too late in Darwin.

Two years ago after a big farewell by the Darwin Indonesian Consulate at the Darwin Yacht Club about 200 yachts arrived in Indonesia. A bond was requested for each yacht and would be refunded again at the port of arrival ( how convenient if one was sailing on to Singapore etc. ) The Rally came to a grinding halt for a couple of days until this problem was sorted out. No bonds were paid.

This year the Rally received permission to enter Indonesia at a non official port of entry. The officials did not arrive to process the yachts and they were told to sail to another port 150 miles away. Everyone refused and only one official finally turned up to process 130 yachts which took two days.

This year there is a new twist to the “ Bond “ one now must have a Yachting Agent for a fee who will be your guarantor to Customs ( no bond payable ) but that your yacht will leave the country on time. Of course the Yachting Agent will never be liable and all he is doing is collecting the kick backs for Customs, Quarantine, Immigration, Harbourmaster and even the Navy in our case in Kupang.

Next year the rumour is the Indonesian Authorities want all yachts to rent a transponder at US $ 9 per day. This of course is for security. Got to make some money out of these rich yachties somehow.

Now for the good news. It only is going to cost 25 Singaporean dollars to depart Indonesia . Once we entered Indonesian and paid the Yachting Agent we have had no hassles or additional kick backs to pay. Nobody has ask for our paper work. We were suppose to visit the Harbourmaster at each port and obtain a clearance out bound but did not bother. This has cause no problems on departure.

Shamal has been performing great. The only problem at the moment , we have a leaking water pump on the starboard engine. I think the lip seal needs replacing so we can get that done in Singapore.

The water maker is going great, I would never leave home without one!!! The AIS ( Automatic Identification System ) for those pilots out there a TCAS, will come in handy crossing the Singapore Strait and later sailing up the Malacca Strait.

Cheers

1 comment:

  1. mann i love bird's nest soup too even IF its made from spit!!! <333

    i eat it like once every monthish and used to bought from website hongkong-bird-nest.50webs.com/index_e.htm sometimes, my mom went back to hong kong and bought a full suitcase of it cause its cheaper there XD

    ReplyDelete