RAAS, SAPUI, MADURA, BAWEAN ISL. & KALIMANTAN
WEDNESDAY, 8 AUGUST 2007
The passage up to Raas is very “rolly”. Eating dinner is a challenge to get the food on the fork, and then accurately to get it to the mouth! The night passage up between Raas and Sapui Islands is very lively. There is no way you can fall asleep during night watch with the constant appearance of other boats, from small fishing boats to large vessels. Several times we have to change course to avoid any problems – sometimes quickly. When I am on watch I enjoy seeing the Melletts lights not far away – quite comforting. We don’t speak to each other over the radio after dark for fear of waking someone up. Sleep is very precious on these long nights.
We have up to 2 knots of current in our favour for most of this passage, which is a great advantage to ensure we arrive at our next anchorage in good light.
North of Madura Island we have a smoother motor sail and average over 8 knots for the whole trip, which is excellent.
We are relieved to be inside the shoals and reefs and safely anchor at Bawean Island early afternoon. The chart here isn’t accurate so we have to rely on good sightings. The town is attractively positioned by the shore and has rice fields and vegetation leading up to a mountainous backdrop.
Bawean Is.We choose a great time to go ashore. The children are just coming out of school, mothers are picking them up on their motor bikes, some enthusiastic women are sitting outside shops, and the town square is lively with several volley/football games happening. (This is a very fast game like volley ball using the sides of their feet to kick the ball up.) We appreciate Robbie’s use of Indonesian, and some of the Indonesians speaking a little English to help our communications. Bawean does not appear to have tourists so there is nowhere suitable to eat ashore here. We have a delicious dinner on Free Spirit II. We are wondering how we should celebrate crossing the equator on our way to Singapore. The only disappointment here is seeing plastic debris and rubbish strewn all over the place.
THURSDAY, 9 AUGUST 2007
Another rest day. Both yachts have computer issues we are trying to sort out. Geoff and Phil have great expertise in these areas.
Ross and I will leave here with happy memories of this afternoon. We went ashore to walk through a more affluent part of the village and are hoping we may be invited into someone’s home, which appears to be customary in these parts.
This part of the island is immaculately clean and the houses are well built, e.g. using roof and floor tiles. The children are returning to school after lunch on their bicycles, or on the back of their mother’s motorcycle, and are all well dressed and groomed in their uniforms.
A lovely woman invited us to sit down with her outside her shop. She called her husband, who spoke enough English to explain that people here can go to work in Singapore or Malaysia for two years and are then able to save enough money to build these more substantial homes or buy a car.
Later, to our surprise, a young girl we had spoken to earlier came up beside us and invites us to her home. She has her brother with her and they give us a lift on their bikes. That was great fun.
Lift on Aein´s brother´s bikeThe house appears to be part of a family compound very solidly built with a large concrete slab and ivory coloured tiles on the floor.
We are treated to sitting in their lounge room and served a delicious type of prawn cracker and a lurid blue iced drink (a bit of a worry but there are no after effects). We meet many of Aein’s family and friends, including her welcoming and demonstrative grandmother. It is difficult to judge an Indonesian’s age but, after holding their youth longer than Westerners, they seem to age quickly. Aein is 17 and still at school studying. She plans to go to Malaysia for 3 senior years of study where she also has an older married sister.
Aein´s family houseEven though we say we would prefer to walk, Aein and her other brother insist on taking us on their bikes. They take us right out to the long bumpy groyne to the dinghy. We are glad we have some gifts from Australia for this delightful young woman, her brother and grandmother.
The tide has dropped and it is even more difficult for Ross to manage the dinghy than the previous evening. He gets it out to deeper waters more easily without me in it, but then he has the challenge of coming back in further up the groyne to pick me up.
Bawean Is.In the meantime, it is fun trying to communicate with a group of very active young boys who are watching all this with great interest.
Later in the afternoon we can hear lots of young voices shouting, and looking out of the yacht we see that this same group of boys have come out to the edge of the reef to attract our attention. It is lovely to see them having such fun in the water with their healthy, naked little bodies and their dark skins glistening in the sun.
FRIDAY, 10 AUGUST 2007
There is always a great sense of excitement when the engine starts up in the morning, we bring up the anchor and we set off to our next destination. This time it is to Kumai in Kalimantan – another overnight sail.
The skipper resting sailing to Kumai (Kalimantan)The skipper is very pleased as we sail over the Java Sea with up to 20 knots of wind on the starboard quarter. He is splicing some ropes this morning, amongst other odd jobs. These conditions hold for the whole trip. It is a lovely night to sail but, again, there are many fishing boats about. We all have an adrenalin-rushing tale to tell the next day as it is so difficult to manoeuvre the yacht quickly when under sail.
We have a tricky delta-type entrance into Kumai with many areas of low-lying, muddy shoals over a large expanse of water that lead into the river and which continue to the port. Fortunately, a large local vessel passes us and we are able to follow it in which is a great advantage. There are also many small local fishing boats which are very difficult to see.
There is nowhere suitable to eat ashore. We are all very wary of upset tummies and mosquitos and are in preventative mode for both these issues – dengue fever and malaria are problems throughout Indonesia, but especially here. We are careful to soak lettuce and unpeeled greens in fresh water with a small proportion of bleach mixture and, otherwise, peel fruit and cook vegetables.
We have an exciting time getting to Free Spirit for dinner. One of the dinghy davit straps broke during the last trip and dragged awkwardly in such a way that it damaged the engine. Ross decides to row the short distance across but the current is too strong. Fortunately, he is very strong and we just made it back to our boat.
Harry, our Indonesian guide for the weekend trip, comes on board Free Spirit with his 5 year old son to make final plans. Robbie and Phil had this same young man when they were here 5 years ago. He has a passion for his work, for restoring the huge National Park here, and for his country and his people. He has nearly completed his law degree but plans to continue with this work. His English is excellent also and he is very knowledgeable.
The Melletts finalized dates with him some time ago and are disappointed he may not be able to come with us. (His staff are all lovely but have very little English or education).