We are very excited to be ready to set sail. We are sailing in tandem with Phil and Robbie Mellett who are on Free Spirit II. We had our moments leaving Cullen Bay Marina, Darwin. Someone (for safety reasons) had turned off the fuel line so we had trouble starting, no power for stopping in the lock and then trouble getting to the dock for fuel. This all involved some anxious moments and we were very grateful to some nearby boats. [First, an old fishing boat moored next to us in the lock used by two men from Customs dressed as fishermen to question unsuspecting boats that may be trying to enter Australia illegally and, secondly, a small dive boat outside the lock that towed us to the fuel dock.]
Leaving Cullen Bay

We have a relaxed motor sail out of Darwin, across Beagle Gulf and into the Timor Sea. It is a glorious day. Some friendly young dolphins bade us goodbye. The sunset is spectacular. Then a bright young moon came up with Venus just above. The wind came into the south (it had been north of east), so there is the prospect of some good sailing tomorrow.

We had good strength of wind but a difficult day’s sailing with it right astern fluctuating with variance of up to 25º. This makes it difficult to avoid jibbing, and so a day of gear crashing around. And also a very tired skipper!

We had two uneventful nights of sailing. Last night we enjoyed navigating through the oil rigs in the Timor Sea.

Today we have motor sailed with the headsail poled out – a much more relaxing day. We both have a lot of sleep to catch up on after 3 days and 2 nights at sea, but it has been a wonderful way to get ourselves into sailing mode again.

Coming into Kupang at 9pm in the dark proved very difficult. The winds were up to 30 knots and bringing in the foresail in these conditions was a problem – with their huge force on the headsail winding it in it required more length than the furling line had, so 1½ metres of sail was left unfurled. It is very upsetting to see a sail being flogged around like this and Ross couldn’t do anything about it in these winds, try as he might. We hoped to be in calmer conditions when we turned up the strait into Selat Semar, the strait between West Timor and Samau Island, but we weren’t.

The plan is to anchor in this strait because of the heavy boat traffic here at night and go quietly up to Kupang the next morning. There is not enough protection here and also the heavy boat population (mainly fishermen) is a problem. This is a navigational feat in itself, also hindered by the fishermen having long unlit dinghy’s hanging off the stern of their boats. Phil put his flashing strobe light on ahead of us which is a great help once we catch up with them.

It certainly is a wonderful feeling to be safely anchored with the sail tied securely, to have a celebratory drink once arriving at Timor and to tuck into bed for a very long and deep sleep.

Solving technical isues

The Mellett team, including their guest, David Hutchens, arrived on board next morning. What an amazing team. Robbie brought her sewing machine over, and with Hutch as her assistant does a very professional job to mend the sail. Ross has already done the heavy, hard sewing. Phil sorts out our electrical issues. Fortunately, we have the same boats, Buizen 48’s, and after difficulty he recognizes our invertor has blown. This was new, and he has experienced the same problem, so we organize to have a new one sent to Bali. Phil and Robbie’s next guests are bringing it as excess luggage! How lucky are we!
Repairing sail

We hear from another nearby yacht (French) that there is a problem with Customs when we plan to clear Customs for Indonesia. We think that because the officer here was overlooked in some decisions for the Darwin to Indonesian rally starting on Saturday he has his nose out of joint. It is claimed he was first requesting to be paid 50% of the value of each boat, then 40% and then down to 5%, which is still exorbitant. None of us have any intention of paying this amount. We are advised to sail on to Bali.

We decide to go ashore for lunch. We take our papers to clear Customs in case there are any queries.

We are met on shore by a group of lively young Indonesian men who take the dinghy up the beach, take our rubbish and offer to look after our dinghies for the day. We enjoy their lovely beaming smiles and their dark, bright eyes. (There is a cost, of course!).

Having been told there is nothing at Kupang, Ross and I enjoyed walking down the main street by the seaside through the bustling, narrow street lined with stalls of all descriptions like a market. There were local people everywhere, many squatting and talking outside the shops. Many bimos, small, colourful van-like buses with a young man hanging out the side travelled up and down the street tooting and looking for business. One was yellow and called ”Fuckin Bitch”.

The scaffolding for new buildings is many thin, tree trunks as uprights.
Scaffolding in Kupang

We were amazed at the sight of a guy on a motor scooter passing by holding a long rod across the handlebars with many chooks tied upside down by their feet on each side squawking loudly in objection.

We enjoyed a relaxed lunch with the local beer (Bintang) overlooking the sea.

One of the young men who met our dinghy on the beach turned out to be our self-appointed facilitator. He kept turning up next to us on his motorbike. He wanted to show us the bank and then a restaurant. We had already chosen a restaurant attached to a hotel about 500 metres up the road, but he went ahead as though he had introduced us there, presumably for a fee. Then he helped translate the menu and offered to change our $AUS for rupiah, again, for a generous fee. He headed off to try to facilitate Customs and Quarantine clearance but when we got back to the beach he had only the quarantine man in tow. We did not want to deal with him unless we could deal with Customs at the same time.

An English couple were at the bar by the beach. They were apparently prepared to wait until Monday for an interview with Customs. We decided we were better off leaving in the morning and taking our chances clearing Customs at Bali.

We had an afternoon snooze, gave up the idea of going back onshore for dinner, had a drink on Impulsive and an early night after a light meal. (The Admiral has lost none of her culinary talents).

SUNDAY, 21 JULY 2007

We woke early to the call to morning prayers. It was difficult to tell how strongly Muslim Kupang is but there were signs of Christianity (in the form of paintings and a street-side funeral). Not many of the women wore Muslim clothing.

The team from Free Spirit came and helped us erect the headsail and we set off at about 8.30am for another overnight sail. We sail out of Kupang with the wind from south of east at about 20 knots. With the wind directly astern we goose-winged the sails on our course to Sumba. Unfortunately, the overnight sail is disrupted by a few problems with the increase of the winds. The Melletts furling mechanism for their mainsail fails and they have quite a time dropping the sail and tying it down onto the deck.

We have the headsail furling problems again, but we finally solve it. We managed to bring the sail in which is quite a strenuous exercise. It involves Ross balancing on the pulpit and at the same time reaching up to grab the end of the sail which is flapping in the wind. We think this is what caused a sudden onset of severe back pain which was quite debilitating for a while. He seemed fully recovered the next morning after icing, some medication and a good sleep. Ross manages to set up a new furling system – a great feat by bringing some makeshift blocks forward on the deck so the furling line is now long enough.

We are all pleased to finally anchor at Sumba by mid-afternoon. This island still preserves its traditional customs and is virtually unspoiled.

We anchor off the wharf at the capital, Waingapu. There is constant traffic, chugging sounds from the long fishing boats, and happy smiles and waves from the Indonesian men on these.
Sumba main street
We walk through the town. It proves a good time to do this as the young children are out playing, and adults are out and about, washing up and chatting. We come across streets lined each side with deep concrete gutters to cope with the heavy rains in the wet season, beautiful bougainvillea, goats, dogs and chooks. We see the local schools and are invited into the remand centre. We actually decline the offer but it was interesting to chat outside it. The small local buses are everywhere.

Phil and Hutch have been ashore too finding the only internet place available to send information about the broken furling piece. They have also done some investigating for our plans here.

Tonight, after a relaxing drink on Phil and Robbie’s boat we go ashore to a fish "restaurant" on the wharf overlooking the small port and ocean. These small cafes are set up each night and they encourage you to choose your own fresh fish, which they barbeque and serve with rice and salad. The atmosphere is wonderful. The guys enjoy the Bintang beer here. We have seen no other tourists.
Night fish market
MONDAY, 23 JULY 2007

Today we set off early to go ashore to meet a guide and 2 cars and their drivers. The plan is to take a 3½ hr driving trip to West Sumba to see a traditional village and something of their traditions, houses, ceremonies and tombs. Also, West Sumba is greener and more fertile than the east which is very dry.

The day is off to an excellent beginning as the Melletts can dislodge the broken part and the guide takes us all to a welder who thinks he can fix it. (This is a better way to meet some of the locals).

We first visit a place where they make their own dyes, and then make a woven textile which used to be made for special ceremonies, e.g. to dress a corpse for a funeral. These take months to produce.
Woven and dyed textiles
The car trip was well worth it. The guide gave us a mountain of information all the way and there was much of interest to see: the changes in vegetation to the more fertile land, the rice paddies and the bullocks, houses, ploughs and workers; the famous sandalwood trees – these were the only cure for venereal diseases before the discovery of penicillin; the buses and trucks carrying too many people with some hanging off the side; women walking by the roadside with small children and carrying baskets on their heads; and many traditional thatched roofed houses with high peaks to accommodate the spirits. A highlight is stopping to see a funeral procession with the bullock to be sacrificed in the truck and the musicians following behind.

Local Sumba bus

Lunch in a small restaurant at Waikabukak is very delicious and with lovely people there. Many people walked in with goods to sell from the local farms – a man carrying live chooks and several women with baskets on their heads looking very elegant with their lovely posture.

The native horses fascinate us. They are small, fine, very quick and all seem to have quiet natures. We have seen many little children on them. We were fascinated to hear a taller version we saw is bred from the native horse, the Arab horse and an Australian horse.
A traditional village
The traditional village is fascinating and we are fortunate to see a pre-wedding ceremony here. I find the offering of a pig to the spirits all a bit much, but there are many other points of interest, e.g. coffee and rice laid out in the sun to dry, the men playing cards and many little children.

We were shown inside one of the houses. It had four big upright trunks (representing the position inside of the man, his wife, their sons and their daughters) and bamboo poles for flooring. There were seats and beds covered with mats and a central cooking area. A number of pigs lived below. An old woman with a red stained mouth from betel nut tried to sell us some trinkets and offered us some betel nut.

It is very close living in this traditional village, but the people all seem gentle natured and content so they must learn to get on well together.

Children in the traditional village
The market at the nearby town is a hub of colour and activity, hundreds of stalls selling dried fish, vegetables, eggs, fruit, grated coconut to name a few things; old women with betel nut stained mouths, savvy young women interspersing sales and text messaging on mobile telephones; hundreds of motorcycles often with a mother and several small children clinging on; a man who wanted to sell us a fighting cock; four hens tied together so they could only walk in a circle; a man leading a (rather disgruntled) pig by a rope around its front leg. The Melbourne Occupational Health and Safety people would suffer apoplexy, but it is a refreshingly simple, natural, good humoured and contented section of humanity.

We arrive back at Waingapu in time to collect Phil’s welded furling piece and patronise a different fish restaurant at the waters edge.

The attached notes (from the internet) provide more detail of the history and religious traditions of the Sumbranese. We feel privileged being here.




We set off early. It is a beautiful morning with low cloud lying over the surrounding mountains. We have winds up to 27 knots and reach nearly 11 knots speed over the ground with both sails up. The winds drop back and change direction so we goose-wing for the next 4½ hours. With the sails set like this and the wind continually slightly changing direction, the skipper is constantly on the alert.

It is a beautiful night to sail – calm with a clear sky filled with stars and lit by a ¾ moon but not much wind. Ross is trying to sail as much as possible to reduce our fuel consumption. We have just enough to get to Bali, our next major port. Ross and I usually do night watches of 3 hours on and 3 hours off. I don’t know how soundly he sleeps, as the slightest shift of wind or engine speed brings him up on deck.

FRIDAY, 27 JULY 2007

This morning we have breakfast in the cockpit looking over the sparkling Lombok Basin and with the spinnaker flying – our favourite way of sailing. Late afternoon we drop anchor at Lombok. This is a truly magnificent anchorage!

The south coast of Lombok is spectacular with steep high cliffs and isolated pillars of rock reminiscent of the Apostles. There appears to be no sign of habitation or activity.

The anchorage is called Teluk Sepi, an arm of Teluk Blongas. There are boats ranged along the beach and several groups of young boys paddle out to the yachts to talk to us. One has some English and is keen to know if we can give him a book. We give him Patrick O’Brien’s “Master & Commander” and he is thrilled. He works in the post office. Robbie and Phil give them some T-shirts they have on board for this purpose.

We go ashore for a walk and are immediately surrounded by a group of 30 children and a couple of young mothers. They stare at us, presumably not seeing many white skinned people. Some of the boys are wearing traditional hats. We are like the Pied Piper walking down the beach with the crowd following. A bit of gymnastics causes shrieks of mirth.

We enjoy a shower after nearly 35 hours at sea and eat well again at the Free Spirit restaurant. This was a welcome invitation because our gas is not working and it will be another little project to attend to in Bali.

The meals on Impulsive have been fantastic and the fridges have kept the fruit and vegetables in good condition 12 days out of port.



The call to prayers wakes us a bit earlier than usual at about 4 a.m.

We have a wonderful time in Bali with plenty of R&R and 2 nights ashore at Ubud which gives us a real break from the sailing way of life and a total time of relaxation. Also, we have 3 weeks ahead of us with no more opportunities like this.

This is enhanced by the Bartrams arriving with our new invertor and Phil being able to have a new part made for his mast.

Also, we are fortunate to have an excellent driver, Made, who knows where everything is and is very safe on the roads.

Our first meal ashore is at a very classy restaurant, Warisan, overlooking a rice paddy.

SUNDAY, 29 JULY 2007

The “boys” have a boat-organizing day and we have a wonderful girls day. Jill knows Bali well and so can guide us, in Made’s care, to all the highlight shopping. What fun! We meet up with our men at the Padma Hotel in Legian for a light lunch in the beautiful gardens there. It is a treat to walk on well kept grass and enjoy beautiful trees and plants after sailing.

We farewell Hutch at a little café opposite the Padma Hotel.

MONDAY, 30 JULY 2007

Monday is a similar day to the previous one – we girls had more shopping to check out and enjoyed a light lunch at Tommy’s in Padma Street, Legian. We spend some time checking out available food for provisioning so we can plan for the next long sailing venture with virtually no provisioning available until Singapore and probably only 2 or 3 nights ashore for simple dinners e.g. at the Gillie Islands.
Hiking down to the Ayung river to raft

At Ku De Ta after a pleasant breakfast by the beach the drive up to Ubud is wonderful. The highlights are an afternoon of rafting down the Ayung River, staying in an “old” hotel looking down over the river, a cycling trip the following day and staying in the centre of Ubud that evening at Puri Saraswati adjoining the Lotus Lilly Pond Restaurant, which is all part of the Royal Palace property and the Saraswati Temple. We really enjoy being surrounded by the Balinese culture here.
Lotus lily pond restuarant
The cycling trip happens to be on a ceremonial day leading up to one of their mass cremations. It is a day of taking their offerings (carrying baskets of beautifully arranged fruit on their heads) to the temple so they can be spiritually cleansed. Also, all the villages are decorated with their Christmas decorations in the form of tall bamboo poles with attractive and ceremonial ends hanging over the street.

It is all a lovely experience. We all enjoy the welcoming Balinese with their open warmth and their magnificent smiles. What a terrible shame the terrorists have affected this place in such a negative way.

For the cycling trip (with Sedek) we drive up out of Ubud stopping at a Balinese herb garden on the way. The result is it is downhill virtually all the way on the bikes. We take the back roads, over potholes, along dirt farm tracks, past paddy fields with their luminous lime-green tree plants, past dogs that lie in the middle of the road, past chooks scratching around and cocks in basket cages. They will fight and provide the blood to offer to the gods at the festival in a day or two. Everywhere children at home call out “hello” and school children in neat uniforms hold out hands to be clapped as we cycle past. The atmosphere is delightfully welcoming and good-natured.

Most of the school children walk but some ride motorbikes. Our guide, Bruce, says it is the price parents pay for the children agreeing to go to school.

We stop and look over a 17th century temple, an area in a village where beasts have been made (of paper) for the purpose of the mass cremation about to occur, and a traditional family house with its temples, living accommodation and section for the pigs.

It would be a great way to spend a few days in Bali to meander around on a bicycle. Opportunities to stop or chat or just smile hellos occur constantly.


After returning from Ubud, we have our work cut out preparing the boat: provisioning with food, obtaining fuel and attending to some repairs. Some runners for inside the track of the mast have to be replaced, so at about 5.30 p.m. we hunt around for an engineering shop and wait while the Taiwanese owner gets his somewhat surly Javanese worker to fabricate them. Meanwhile, rats dart in and out of the workshop and the mosquitoes descend.

Engaging in real (as opposed to tourist) transactions of this kind is one of the pleasures of seeing a new place.

We are fascinated by a large “cat” about 70 feet long, called Sodebo. Its French skipper is leaving to sail around the world solo, aiming to break the record. He is hoping to accomplish this in 60 days. It travels at 30 knots in big winds!


We are up early to fit the new mast track runners (with yet more assistance from Phil) and get underway by about 8.30 a.m. It is calm and we motor until 1.00 p.m. following close to the coastline to try to avoid the south-setting current. This means we see the beaches and surf, resorts, large houses and beached fishing fleets clearly. The wind comes up from the south and we have a rollicking sail for the next 30 miles to our intended anchorage at Gili Air Island.
Gili Air
Gili Air
Gili Air is a tropical paradise. It is a few miles off the north-west coast of Lombok. It is about 8km around, has a fringing reef, a clear water lagoon, wide beaches, colourful fishing boats, friendly people, horses and carts (no cars) and little family “restaurants” on the edge of the beach that specialize in barbecued fish.
Local woman - Gili Air
We stay here for 3 days. We start the day with a run and a swim and then go with Harry, one of the local boat owners, to the neighbouring Gili Marina to snorkel and see turtles. Later, we do some snorkelling of our own off the Gili Air reef and eat the local fish. Coming back to the boat at night we have to dodge market carts and bicycles.
Sunset at Gili Air
We have a couple of long sails ahead of us so this is a good time for a rest. A buoy is available for mooring so we don’t have to worry about the anchor. We do a few more jobs on the boat. We drink some more of the local Bintang beer.
Lunch at a feet in the sand restaurant on a small island nearby.
On the third day we motor across to Gili Trawangan, a larger, more developed island. It is full of bars and restaurants. We are helped by Di, an Australian who has set-up a restaurant and accommodation business there with her partner and whose mooring we happened to pick-up. We end up having barbecued lobster and salad there as a final treat before an intended early departure next morning for Bawean Island, en route to Kumai.