Bawean Is.


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.


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 bike
The 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 house
Even 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.


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).




We all go ashore at 7.30 a.m. Harry, our agent, will arrange for clearance papers from Indonesia to be ready for our departure in a few days.

Then we are off to the local market to buy food with one of his young staff members. It is great to see the market but the outing seems very disorganized. Eddy is very indecisive so it takes a long time, and we then get caught in a huge downpour of rain with very little cover. Halfway through this excursion Geoff comes to find Ross as he and Harry are worried about our yacht. Apparently it has dragged anchor, but all is well by the time we return to the office.

Our expedition is looking a little glum at this stage and feeling very wet. We were all looking forward to it so much.

Our fortunes change! Harry has sorted out his crisis and he can now take us as planned. Eddy completes his shopping very quickly and efficiently and the engine is started ready for us to board the long boat.

As we depart on our Borneo Wilderness Orang-utan Eco-Tour a young man is dropped off onto each of our yachts to stay aboard and watch them for us until we return after dark tomorrow night – what an incredible service! Apparently, their families take their meals out to them on their boats. The Australian dollar goes a long way here!
Sekonga River (Kalimantan)
We head off up the Sekonger River to Tanjung Puting Reserve National Park some 3040 sq. km. It has low-lying swampy terrain through which flow blackwater rivers. There are many mangrove swamps near the coast. There is also rainforest with a canopy of 40 metres. There is peat swamp forest and open areas of abandoned rice fields.
Eddie preparing lunch on the long boat
This area is famous for its orang-utans and has research and conservation programmes in place, including soft and hard release programmes, depending on the situation of the orang-utan. There are seven other species of monkeys and we saw proboscis and long-tail monkeys.

Apparently, there are over 220 species of birds. We certainly heard them often. We saw hornbills and larger species of kingfishers with the most brilliant colours. There are many beautiful species of butterflies, but we particularly admire the electric blue ones, and we spot a baby seawater crocodile sunning itself on a log.

We feel it is such a privilege to experience being amongst such biodiversity in this tropical rainforest, especially at the three different stations to watch the orang-utans.

On each occasion the feeding time is at the same hour each day and the ranger calls out loudly to encourage the orang-utans to come in. It is wonderful walking in through the forest and to hear and see these amazing animals approaching the feeding station. You may only see a tree high up swaying, or hear the rustle of branches and leaves, but gradually the orang-utans appear.
We see all types and watch many different personalities behavioural roles played out, e.g. the dominant male of a group, the adolescents, including a "rape” of a mother who had her baby with her, the mother and baby, the pregnant orang-utan and many others. To see them swinging through the trees is amazing – they are so strong. They make the trees sway so they can reach across to the next one they want to reach. The orang-utans are fed bananas and given milk to drink in a large square bucket. Some of their antics are great to watch. They actually peel the bananas before eating them. Some of them seemed very greedy judging by the huge number they ate. There is a definite hierarchy within each group.
Orang-utans Tanjung National Park
I particularly enjoyed watching some of the mother/baby relationships. The mother suckles her young and you can just see their close relationship.

At the Leakey Research Station, the third station, we are thrilled to be so near the orang-utans and we could have reached out and touched a mother sitting on the ground, suckling her young baby and caring for her other young one at the same time.

Walking along the path one of the older females walks along too but a few times became a little undecided about which way to go, especially when we try to overtake her. When the guides run from her as she tries to approach them we realize you can’t take liberties with these animals, especially as they are so strong. She actually tried to grab my leg, which was quite exciting! (She is very gentle really. Apparently, she was born here in captivity so is very used to the environment.) There is a heavy downpour of rain and it is such fun to see several of them pick some large leaves and put them over their heads like umbrellas.

Chugging along the beautiful river in the long boat through the tropical rainforest is another delight. Throughout the trip Harry offers a wealth of information that is very much appreciated. The scenery is wonderful, the wildlife bountiful, and we pass by many small fishing boats.

One of the highlights of the trip is Eddie’s cuisine. It is sensational with his use of herbs and spices and wonderful recipes learned from his mother. He also manages this in very cramped conditions.

The six of us have one of the funniest nights we have had for a long time sleeping on the long boat. We decided the easiest thing is just to go to bed dressed as we are. We sleep on mattresses laid out beside each other on the deck and under mosquito nets. We all figure we won’t be having much sleep so we just rest as well as we can. There is discussion about the hilarious film “Kenny” because of the toilet on board which is open to the sky and provides cover just to chest level.

It is exciting waking up in the jungle the following morning listening to the orchestra of birds singing.

The final delight is sitting on the deck of the long boat in the dark and looking out at masses of groups of fireflies and looking up to the lovely clear sky scattered with thousands of bright, shimming stars.

We also visit a village that was relocated 33 years ago from the National Park to the other side of the river. They are still struggling to be self-sufficient because the land is so very poor – most of it is wet and soggy, so anything they grow has to be raised in pots. The government has helped but it is very difficult for these people. You can see from some of the houses and gardens most of them have worked very hard and have great pride. We meet a lovely old lady who is 84 and has had twelve children. We hope, with Harry’s help, we may be able to contribute something, e.g. a cow for the village, or a duck for each family.
Elderly woman from a relocated village from the National Park

What a wonderful and inspiring experience!


Feeling refreshed after a hot shower and a deep sleep we take up the anchor before 6.00 a.m. at first light to make our way west across the southern coast of Kalimantan and then north-west overnight to Seratu Island in the Java Sea.

We have an unexpectedly good sail until about 9.30 p.m. with 17-20 knots of wind on the port quarter, averaging about 7 knots S.O.G. We prepare the spinnaker pole for goose-winging on the new leg but the wind drops out so we have a pleasant drama free night motoring. There are very few other boats about on this leg.

We venture ashore at Seratu Island early evening. This is a very small and attractive island with the tiny, very under-developed village right on the beach nestled in below the backdrop of mountains.

A very lively young man helped us ashore (Phil has very kindly lent us his dinghy as we need to repair ours in Singapore).

The population here is very small so we have a quiet time with the welcoming people and their children. Some are already cooking fish on beach fires for their dinner.

We enjoy a walk along the white-sanded beach to the small mosque at the other end. Apparently, the Saudi Arabians built this and sent Imans here to teach their strict religious views, but we are very surprised when we see two young women dressed in short denim skirts.

We up anchor at about 4.30 a.m. and it is an easy anchorage to leave in the dark. We have 285 nautical miles to travel, which means another overnight sail. Apart from a minor issue with our depth sounder (used for checking shoals and reefs) all went well. Ross later fixes this, which is a relief for arriving at our next destination.

What a wonderful way to cross the South China Sea. We average 7.5 knots, the wind is behind us so the sails are set for goose-winging and it is a glorious day. I spent most of the day stretched out in the cockpit reading “Old Filth” by Jane Gardham.

We run the engine now and again to boost the batteries, run the refrigerators and keep up our speed average. When we are sailing it’s a great opportunity to listen to music.

These same conditions last through the night until 1.00 a.m. when the winds drop out and we motor just with the mainsail up.

I experience a slightly unnerving experience during my night watch. A vessel shows up ahead on the radar and, even when it is only 3 nautical miles away, I cannot see any lights. I keep changing course, but it changes course also, and continues heading towards us. (I’m not able to go to starboard because of the sail.) It must be a small vessel, as a light finally appears just under 2 nautical miles away. I am very relieved to pass by it.

The following morning we both feel tired and, although we enjoy the night watches, are pleased this is the last one for a while.

We cross the Equator at 9.50 a.m. - Neptune didn’t appear – and it was too early for a celebratory champagne. It is still a very exciting milestone as we now head into the northern hemisphere.

There is some disquiet when a fishing boat up ahead seems to remain on our track even when we change course. Then when we finally pass it turns and follows us. We put on plenty of power and, luckily, the wind picks up and gives us extra speed so we are able to outrun it. We later discover that the same thing happens to Phil and Robbie. It is not clear whether the fishermen were just curious or whether they had a more sinister purpose. It is the only time we have felt any discomfort at all in Indonesia. There is also a tradition here that if you are not having any luck catching any fish, if you go close to another vessel you can dispel any bad spirits from your boat to the other one.

We anchor just before dusk at Mesanak Island which is a beautiful tropical island. We bump a “bombie” on the way in which isn’t very clever but all is well. We are looking forward to getting the depth sounder fixed. There are many man-made wooden fishing traps in this area which stick up above the water level.

This is one place it would be lovely to have a few hours of daylight to enjoy a swim and a walk ashore, but we set off at 5.30 a.m. in the dark so we can arrive in Singapore in time to clear customs and be tied up at the marina before dark. We are all keen to be there for Sunday lunch at Raffles to celebrate Geoff’s birthday.

It is a lovely calm passage today up through the straits between many islands to Singapore. We are taking with us many happy memories from our cruising time in Indonesia – some wonderful sailing, beautiful places, many lovely, warm and welcoming people, and something of their culture.

Ross and I are looking forward to having a few days here to revisit some of the places Heather and Paul took us to when we stayed with them here some years ago. Also, we have the usual list of items to attend to on the yacht.




Free Spirit and Impulsive
Set out on the Timor Sea
North-west from Darwin’s Cullen Bay
We both felt young and free.

Our first landfall was at Kupang
On Timor’s south-west coast
But the customs there wanted recompense
(50% of the worth of the boats).

So we only stayed for a Bintang
Nasi goreng and chicken satay
We wandered and dodged the bimos
And slipped away early next day.

We anchored at Sumba’s port, Waingapu
(a small fishing port) for a rest
Ate fish on the wharf and toured in cars
To the thatched village out to the west.

The buses were crammed, the paddy fields shone
The school children went in bare feet
The Sumbanese smiled and welcomed us
It was hardly a terrorist beat.

Rinca still has monitor dragons
We saw them, and their tracks, on the sand
You couldn’t rely on the chart here
(The radar had us on land).

The steep rocky south coast of Lombok
Opened up to a calm, sheltered bay
It was like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn
As we drew out the children to play.

If you thought we’ve all been fasting
You’d be wrong: we’re very well fed
Both our yachts boast multiple chefs’ hats
And extensive supplies of red.

Still, we managed to dine out at Bali
(We also managed repairs)
The girls broke the world shopping record
For clothing and jewellery spares.

As we dodgemed our rafts down the Ayung
Jill’s grim equanimity showed
When the peleton joined us at Ubud
Our hand-slapping friends lined the road.

At the Gilis we jogged and swam and ate fish
And snorkelled and drank Bintang
The stress levels fell so dangerously low
The alarm on the stress machine rang.

Once we dodged the Bawean bombies
We anchored inside the reef,
Shared a blue heaven drink in a tiled family home
(Normal tummies were quite a relief).

At Kumai orangutans put on a show
One gave kidnapping Susie a try
We slept on the longboat A deck
Spotted monkeys and then the firefly.

Then off round the south coast of Kalimantan
For a rest stop at Serutu
It’s a calm sunny day, not a pirate in sight
Perhaps you would enjoy this too.

At Serutu Island we went ashore
Again we were met on the beach
Old huts, a new mosque, but still no sign
Of what radical imans teach.

We goose-winged our way through the South China Sea
(This address may be fashionable later)
At least old King Neptune thinks it should
We toasted him at the equator.

We’re heading tonight to Mesanak Isle
Tomorrow it’s Singapore
We think we’ll enjoy the Raffles brunch
But of course one can never be sure.

We won’t miss the crack of dawn prayer calls
(Wouldn’t pass at the Aussie races)
We will miss the “hellos” of greeting
And the welcoming smiling faces.


Sailing race in the Singapore Straits
Singapore Staits


Coming up the Singapore Straits the engine begins to make a terrible racket so we are very relieved to be coming into a marina.

We have to wait off a small island – Sister’s Island – to clear customs. This all takes some time by the time the customs boat comes out, we pass over our papers and passports (in a plastic bag), they process them on their boat, we complete four crew list forms and hand them back to be processed.

The Oneº 15 Marina is most impressive. It is not officially opened as yet so everything is very new and lavish with marble surrounds, restaurants, gym and coffee/drinks bar. The large infinity pool is a great asset.

The marina is well set up for tending to our yachting problems. The engine problem is quite significant – the main pulley (that drives the alternator belt and the 12V and freezer fridge) sheared off the front of the engine.

We are relieved this can be solved while we are here. The depth sounder is also fixed – the setting had to be reset to 0 (it was 384 metres!).

Ross, with Phil’s aid, fixed the invertor (had to reset the power-sharing dip switch) and the dinghy.

A new extension mouse fixes the computer and a new battery solves the DVD issue. It’s great to have some easy solutions to problems! It can be very wearing to have things going wrong but we feel happy to know all should be well as we leave Singapore.

Most mornings we have a long run/walk and swim to keep up our fitness.

The marina is on the south coast of Sentosa Island so we quickly become acquainted with the efficient public transport system and taxis when necessary.


Sunday brunch at Raffles is a highlight.
We say good-bye to the Bartrams over dinner in Chinatown after several weeks of sharing many experiences. This is great fun as it is set up as a food hawkers’ area and you can choose different dishes from the many stalls.

We have a trip to a chandlery in Little India and enjoy a local lunch there – a fascinating area. After dinner at the old Hawker Food Stand at Newton Circus we venture to the night Safari Zoo.


Wednesday is a day of domestics. Also, Robbie spends time with me to make sure the computer, photos, discs and emails etc. are up-to-date now we can use the computer again. It is wonderful to have everything organized before we head off tonight to Copenhagen. On the way to the airport we meet Phil and Robbie for dinner at the lively Boat Quay at Brewerz (a large beer hall with tables outside and capable of feeding many hundred people).

We have enjoyed our time in Singapore – it’s a buzzing city and the people seem happy and are very friendly. The restrictions on freedoms that are notorious in Singapore were not evident to us. It seems a shame they feel it necessary to build two large casinos to encourage tourism, and agree to prostitution to encourage conventions.

It is so exciting to be flying to Copenhagen, to see Scott, Gry and the girls. Augusta is 4 and Lily 2.


Scott and Augusta meet us at the airport, Augusta waving the Danish and Australian flags (as she does when we visit). The two little girls are just delightful and over the next six days we have a wonderful time with them. Scott has taken this time off work, so as we are staying with them we spend all this time together.

Ross and Scott have a run each morning which they always enjoy doing together.

We always enjoy being in Copenhagen. It is a beautiful city. Highlights are:

• early morning cuddles in bed with the girls;
• visiting Augusta and Lily’s kindergarten;
• walking around their local playground and harbour at Hellerup;
• outings to the local swimming pool complex (which is most impressive);
• lunch at a yacht club up the coast;
• going to the woods for a picnic and a horse ride for Augusta and Lily;
• sailing from Tuborg Harbour to Newhaven Harbour (in the centre of Copenhagen) on a 130 foot schooner called “Emma Wood”. Prince Frederick came by on his yacht and, when asked by our skipper, indicated they came 6th in the race and were very pleased. All their crew looked immaculate in their smart white uniforms. Once tied up we are given clam chowder soup and smoked salmon sandwiches for an early dinner. We hope to catch up with the skipper and his wife in the Caribbean;
• some quiet times at home;
• eating ice creams (Danish ice creams are delicious!); and
• Tivoli (all great fun, except when the girls 2 large balloons blew away).


It is always sad to leave our family in Copenhagen. It never seems long enough but we are taking with us wonderful memories.


Arrive Singapore late afternoon. The following morning after final boat preparations, provisioning, a visit to Port Authority clearance and a ride back to Sentosa on the cable car, we cleared customs out of Sister’s Island and then set off for an overnight sail north to Port Dickson. We are pleased to leave in time to be past the Singaporean Harbour traffic before dark. This is up through the Straits of Malacca, which is notorious for pirate attacks, so I never wanted to venture through these waters. However, it seems this usually involves commercial vessels and fishing vessels. It is now heavily policed so there is a much lower incidence of this. It is a magnificent night with calm waters and a glorious full moon; and no problems except for a fishing boat we don’t see until it passes us close by going in the opposite direction with only a stern light on. We are advised to travel just outside the shipping channel, as the commercial traffic is very heavy all night. It is comforting to have these other large, well-lit ships about through the night.

We were also fortunate to have two strong currents with us during the trip which boosted our motoring with the foresail up to almost 10 knots.


Port Dickson
Arrived Port Dickson about midday. We are both really tired and I admit I need a rest (a bit touchy!) after a busy time in Denmark, jet lag and an overnight sail. So an afternoon by the pool, dozing and reading is a wonderful solution. We catch up with Robbie and Phil, who arrived ahead of us, and have a lovely, relaxed dinner on Free Spirit. It is Freedom Day in Malaysia.


Leaving Port Dickson at first light
We leave for Port Klang. Fortunately, we were able to clear the port and customs yesterday, even though it was a holiday. (We had to pay $15 extra to do it!) Again, we motor-sail with the head sail up and have some help with the current (up to 10.3 knots).

Port Klang is the main cargo terminal for Malaysia so the area has many large ships anchored offshore and huge wharves and cranes line the river’s edge. We go into the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, which is relatively modern having been rebuilt after being destroyed by fire. This is a very elegant building.

We are on a floating dock and the area doesn’t look very promising – filthy water and definitely an off scent about the air. Many of the small buildings are wooden shanties on stilts in the water.

However, we have a wonderful dinner at the yacht club on the deck, accompanied by a DJ with a superb voice, and enjoyed dancing to many of our old favourites. By night, with the night lights about, the whole place takes on a more favourable demeanour.


We leave before dawn to continue up the west coast of Malaysia and plan to stop at the small island of Rumbi for a snorkel. It is a beautiful, calm morning. Unfortunately, a “Sumatra storm” prevents this plan. These are unforecastable storms that predictably last about four hours. We can see it coming on the radar and a very dark, heavy sky lies ahead. It throws up very choppy seas and we are bashing into the wind, so our speed and visibility is reduced. There are no problems; it is just uncomfortable. It is daunting to be abeam a large wreck which has run aground on a huge sand bank.

This is a heavier storm than usual apparently, and after we think it has subsided (having put off lunch for several hours) it starts up again. It starts to subside again at the last place we can go to for shelter (just a break in the coast line) but we all decide to go on to Pangkor Laut Island for the night, our original destination. This is our first rough weather since we left Australia so we have been very lucky.

Pangkor Laut
We drop anchor at 22 hours in the pitch dark but can see many lights ashore. We wake up to a really delightful anchorage in this group of islands. After our tiring day yesterday we decide a day of rest is the best call for the day. A pleasant morning is spent taking our time sorting out the boat, emails etc, a scrumptious Malay lunch, a car trip around the island and swimming. The lunch is so good we have take-away from the same little local café for dinner!

Like many places we are seeing in Asia, tourism is being developed here – but slowly.


We up anchor before sunrise for a predicted 10 hour motor-sail following the coastline up to Penang. The sunrise this morning is beautiful watching it creep up over the islands. Wrecks are charted all the way up the west Malaysian coast because of the large number of sandbanks. Thank goodness for good charts and electronic equipment. We arrive in time to check into the marina, clean down the boats and have a delicious dinner at the marina.