Monday, 30 September 2013

Across the Java Sea to Pulau Bawean Lat. 5 degrees 43.8' S Long. 112 degrees 40.2' E

Hi to all,
Well, we arrived at Bawean at 1100 this morning Central Indonesia Time (5 hours behind NZ). We left Pulau Ra-as yesterday morning and crept out of the tricky entrance following the electronic track we had left from the approach the day before. So, not as difficult as the arrival. Still, with all these things it's just a matter of a patient, slow approach coupled with the trusty Mark I eyeball! At least the water is reasonably clear so it is possible to see the shallow water and reefs.
While anchored at Ra-as we were hassled by local fishermen wanting to sell us some fish which were well dead and not even gutted. In these temperatures that was most unappealing! They wouldn't leave us alone until we gave them something so we found some children's and adult's clothing which seemed to satisfy them. They had wanted 100,000 Rph (NZD10.63) for each of these scungy fish. Jean did an act and said that fish made her sick, whereas in fact she loves fish. However, these could well have made us both sick - not to mention the possibility of Ciguatera poisoning. We are still trying to catch our own fish by trolling a lure but so far to no avail. There is a shortage of fish here now due to overfishing. There is also no doubt that Indonesians are not good at conservation. Apparently until recently they used dynamite to catch fish. The other thing that is also a real hazard are these fish aggregation devices we have mentioned before. They are devishly hard to see particularly in failing light. They must work though because the seas around here are littered with them.
We started off sailing in reasonable wind (309 true) but true to recent weather patterns which we do not pretend to understand the wind died to about 5 knots which is far too light for this old girl. So, motoring again. As we passed the NE tip of Pulau Madura it was startling to see the water depth suddenly down to 15-20 metres after all the eastern parts of Indonesia with 1000's of metres. At least anchoring won't be so difficult from here on. Most of the Java Sea is shallow with about 50-70 metres. Then, we saw what appeared to be islands on the northern horizon, but there was nothing on the chart! Then, as we got closer we realised that they were 3 massive barge loads of coal being pulled by powerful tugs. Each barge had 4 heaped up piles of coal and they were doing just over 4 knots. Only one was transmitting on AIS! Most of Indonesia's electric power is coal generated and all the coal comes from Kalimantan (Borneo). We surmised that this coal was headed to Surabaya which is a major port on the eastern end of Pulau Java. It was touch and go whether we could get past the westernmost tug so we increased the revs and scraped past. Otherwise we would have had to go around the back of the barge which would have been quite a detour as the tows were very long (at least 500 metres).
As we headed into evening darkness the wind freshened somewhat so we were able to sail but later it died again so for about 3 hours we just plodded on under sail and both got some sleep without the engine noise. However, the night was fraught with squid boats everywhere but fortunately well lit to attract the squid. We had the first of 2 close calls though when just after dark we were discussing unlit boats when there was a burst of light from just ahead. A quick disengagement of the autopilot and a 90 degree turn to port revealed a small otherwise unlit fishing boat with about 4 people on board all looking apprehensive as we bore down on them. Then, unbelievably once we were past and back on course feeling a bit shaken they turned their lights out again! We then turned on the radar but found it of dubious value in picking up small wooden boats - and it uses a lot of power when transmitting.
The rest of the night was spent dodging heaps of squid boats. Just as we thought we must have got through them more would start appearing above the horizon. We turned on our flashing strobe light for the rest of the night thinking that if there were any more unlit boats at least they would see us and maybe advertise their presence again! Then we had our second close call which was really scary. We saw a squid boat off to our starboard side and beyond that more lights which gradually resolved themselves into a ship. We could see its red navigation light which meant it was heading across our course. It did not appear on the AIS so we had no details of its position course and speed, other than what we could deduce from seeing it. We decided to take prudent action and turned to starboard so as to run down their port side port to port which is the correct thing to do. However, at the same time they must have seen us and turned to port not realising that we had already turned. Obviously they had intended to pass by our stern but had not communicated this to us in spite of us calling them on the VHF. Most of these coastal crews speak no English so they hardly ever reply. There we were seeing their red and green lights which meant that they were heading straight for us not at all far away. So, another snap decision was made and we turned back to port onto our original course and increased revs to clear them. It was all we could do and in the absence of any firm information all our responses were made on the basis of educated supposition. Fortunately we made the right decision and they passed us close astern without reducing speed. It felt as though we could reach out and touch them. Sailing Indonesian waters at night is definitely not for the faint hearted but, faint heart or otherwise, when you're there you have to make the best of it.
The rest of the night was relatively stress free and then soon after dawn we could start to see the faint outline of Bawean in the haze. We kept well out to the east of the island as there are many reefs (Kars) there and so as to have peace of mind, we probably travelled an extra 10 miles or so but well worth it. The approach into the anchorage was straightforward and we anchored alongside "Libertad", "Adagio", "Zoa", "Delphian", "Nahanni" and a couple of others. Bawean is a mountainous island and very attractive from what we have seen so far. We will go ashore tomorrow and hope that the natives are friendly!! Otherwise it's loading the poop cannons with grape and an armed party ashore!! Capt. Cook would be proud.
More later - keep watching this space.
Lotsaluv from us
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Pulau Bawean

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

America's Cup and Tiare Taporo III cruising Indonesia

Like the rest of NZ no doubt we have been listening to the ever worsening scoreline in the America's Cup with a degree of disbelief, culminating in this morning's news that Oracle had successfully defended the Cup. We had had the feeling that all the premature speculation concerning "when the cup is back in NZ" and "champagne on ice" was tempting fate, but of course just how much that had to do with the final result will always be a matter of personal belief. Suffice it to say that Oracle did an absolutely fantastic job to come back from where they were.
We are still at Lovina Beach on Bali and will be leaving tomorrow morning. We went ashore again this morning and discovered a delightful boutique hotel owned and run by an expat Dutchman. The interior walls are completely lined with pebbles and shells and the whole place was quirky in an Indonesian way with trees in the bedrooms, etc!!!
The whole place has an air of dejection right now as some boats have already left and many of the waterfront shops are shuttered with the end of festivities for Sail Indonesia.
Getting the boat ready for sea this afternoon - probably will visit 2 anchorages on the way up to Karimunjawa approx. 400 miles distant.
We had become aware that perhaps some emails had not been getting through due to an inadvertant change to a Sailmail setting but if you haven't heard from us in a while you can always be re-regaled by visiting the website -!!
That's it for now. We'll be in touch again probably from Karimunjawa.
Lots of love from us........
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Lovina Beach

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Monday, 23 September 2013

Lovina Beach, North Bali Lat. 8 degrees 09.1' S Long. 115 degrees 01.0' E

We had another change of mind after a phone call from Jan on "Avanta" and decided to come to Lovina after all. We arrived here at 0800 on Saturday after another variable sail from Medana on Lombok. But again, we are getting ahead of ourselves.....
"Settlement" and "Pedoja" arrived before we left Medana and one day we all hired a car and driver (IDR 400,000 for the day) and went first to Senggigi where we had a pleasant lunch and then after finding some engine oil for "Pedoja" we returned to Medana via the Monkey Forest. We had done it before but it was fun to do it again in good company.
We all had dinner on "Settlement" (roast pork!!) and once again were treated to Sue's great cullinary skills. The next day (Friday 20th.) we slipped our mooring at 0800 and sadly waved goodbye to Medana after a great and peaceful time there. Jean in particular was very popular with the staff and had a tearful farewell. We had come to know Peter and his wife Ace (pronounced Acher), Wulan who has an electrical engineering degree and virtually runs the place, Sas who runs all the "outside" functions, and Sam the cafe chef together with all the other staff very well. As we've often said, this is the biggest downside of boat cruising. Every so often you meet wonderful and friendly people and it is always a wrench saying goodbye.
We must be very indecisive because we had changed our minds yet again and decided to skip Lovina as we would see it when returning to Malaysia from NZ early next year. However, soon after we left Medana we had a phone call from Jan on the Dutch boat "Avanta" to say that the anchorage was very good and a reasonable depth so we altered course for Lovina - only a 20 degree course change!! The passage began somewhat fraught because with the chartplotter being considerably "out", we miscalculated the position of a couple of reefs just outside Medana and were jolted somewhat to observe the depth sounder go from over 100' to under 20' in about 15 seconds. Hard astern was the order of the day and when we looked over the side we could clearly see the bottom very close. We gingerly backed away and eventually by trial and error managed to extricate ourselves without actually contacting anything hard and unyielding. Stressful though and not really what we wanted at the start of a passage. As we headed out on a slightly north of west course across the northern end of Selat Lombok the wind picked up to over 20 knots on the port beam so we had a very good sail across - about 30 miles. Somewhat rough though and we saw many ships. The Selat is a major shipping route from Western Australia to Asia and is used by anything from nuclear submarines to supertankers. We picked up 6 ships on our AIS and saw 3 of them. We spoke to one and they re-assured us that they had seen us as they passed ahead at less than 2 miles distance.
As we came abeam of the eastern end of Bali we came more into the lee which caused the wind and sea to abate somewhat. The high mountains of Bali were clearly visible with the tops wreathed in cloud and the whole appearing to float above the sea. Very mystical and beautiful. The wind continued to abate until we were forced to start the engine to maintain progress. Then another hazard presented itself. We came past a number of what appeared to be rafts with artificial trees on top. Couldn't understand the purpose of the "trees", except that maybe they were to aid visibility to other vessels. We couldn't see that they were anchored because the water depth was over 1000 metres but something was keeping them more or less in one place. It turned out from discussions later that they are fish aggregation devices. The idea is that fish are attracted to them much as they are around a reef and then some form of netting (presumably) is used to catch the fish. However, they are unlit and were to pose quite a risk after dark. We altered course and headed well away from the coast before dark in the hope that we would avoid them but had one close call as the light was fading passing within 10 metres from one of these floating hazards. After that though we appeared to be free of them and continued on around the Bali north coast, albeit at a safe distance. As we came closer to Lovina the wind picked up again at around 2200, but this time on the nose! Not what we wanted but that's sailing. We came to about 7 miles from the anchorage at midnight so hove to, our old standby, and as usual it worked a treat. Changed tack 3 times during the hove to period to avoid being taken too far away again and in the process we both got some much needed sleep while the other stayed on watch. Got going again at 0700 on Saturday and hooned along in wind which had risen again. A local boat with outriggers ("Yani") came across to meet us and guide us in to the anchorage. These boats are amazing. They are generally about 20' long with outriggers each side. Their motive power which gives them quite a turn of speed comes from a beefy petrol air cooled single cylinder engine mounted above deck level amidships. The drive is then taken from the engine down from deck level over the side of the boat in the form of a long exposed drive shaft into the water with the prop at the end of it. Ingenious and very effective. And no through hull bearings or water pumps to worry about.
Anyway, we anchored at 0800 near "Avanta" in 6.5 metres on sand pleased to be here. Lovina is a big wide bay with calm water (for now!!) and fringed with shops, restaurants and nightclubs. A real tourist spot but very pretty and welcoming. And with our visa extensions all done on lombok, no pressure to take part in the usual Sail Indonesia razmattaz. These few days are the official Sail Indonesia dates for Lovina with about 40 yachts anchored here. When going ashore, one is always pressured to buy this and that and it does get somewhat wearisome, especially when one is tired and only looking for somewhere to relax with a Bintang and a meal.
Yesterday, "our" boatboy Coco on "Yani" organised his uncle to drive us up to a lake in a volanic crater about 1 hour from Lovina. Coco also has connections for laundry and Solar (Diesel) too as well as going to the local market for fresh produce. All at reasonable prices, although no doubt there is a profit involved but of course one doesn't mind that when the service is so good.
The drive up was very scenic but very windy and because it is part of the main road from here to Denpasar, lots of traffic. Some hair raising overtaking manouevers were experienced! We arrived there for lunch and it was quite cold as we were 2,000 metres above sea level. There was a very picturesque Hindu temple on the shore of the lake and attractive gardens with many plants you would find in NZ. Because it is cold, they even grow crops in plastic houses - took Jim back to his days as a glasshouse grower in NZ!!
We returned by way of the city of Singaraja just north of Lovina and visited the local Carrefours Supermarket. Stocked up on a few essential items and then back to the boat. Since then we've just been going ashore and eating and shopping for Christmas presents for children and grandchildren. Very difficult when buying clothes as we have to guess sizes but hopefully we have got it right. Unfortunately the quality of most things here is very mediocre and, while cheap after the haggling, they are only worth about a third of what they ask. They always look so comically affronted when we tell them what we are going to pay - and not a penny more! The retailers shoot themselves in the foot all the time with their incessant pressuring to the point where we are starting to say that if there is any more pressure we will leave - no arguments.
This morning we went ashore simply looking forward to breakfast and were constantly harassed from the moment we stepped out of the dinghy.
We are hoping to get a free rig inspection courtesy of sail Malaysia who have a presence here to make sure that the damage we had at Kupang had not also damaged the standing rigging. It will be worth it just for peace of mind.
Then we are hoping to leave here for points north on Wed or Thurs so continue to watch this space!!
With love from us............
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Lovina Beach
Pulau Bali.

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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Getting ready for the final 1200 miles to Malaysia

The social life at Medana has accelerated. On Friday night we had a "Blues Night" with one of the leading bands of Lombok and it was great music. Lot's of dancing was had by all in the sand outside the restaurant and with the boats moored just a few metres away it made a spectacular sight.
More boats have arrived and the anchorage is getting full. Most moorings are taken and anyone coming in now will have to anchor in fairly deep water - the bane of cruising in this part of the world.
On Saturday there was horse racing organised in a rough paddock just adjacent to the marina. It attracted a large local crowd, as well as all the visiting yachties. There were food stalls and the usual knicknacks for sale. Pearls and mother of pearl are a significant item around here but the pearls are of inferior quality to those produced in the Pacific - particularly the famed Tahitian black pearls. They have black pearls here too, but most tend to be imperfect - i.e. not completely round. But, unlike the Pacific pearls they are relatively inexpensive so from that point of view they are quite acceptable. Jim was tempted to buy a polished mother of pearl shell which would have been appropriate on "Tiare Taporo III". The original Tiare would have carried thousands of tons of MOP shell in her day trading around the Society, Tuamotu and Marquesas Islands for Etablissements Donald Tahiti.
The horses were interesting, being not much more than ponies. The riders were of necessity light weight and appeared in the main to be young teenagers. We were told that the horses were descended from horses brought to Indonesia by the Dutch from South Africa several hundred years ago. The horse racing was billed as "The Lombok Cup" and a good time was had by all.
Then later on Saturday we and the crews of 4 other boats went back to the Medana Resort for a swim in their pool and dinner afterwards. Played volleyball in the pool and then some engaged in a noisy game of Dominoes while we played Petanque - Marie, who was an expert from a French boat coached us but of course she was the top scorer!
It's really been a social time because yesterday afternoon there was a welcoming ceremony at the marina. Local dignitaries were there and there was lots of Lombok dancing and some charades (plays) performed. Bailey, the 20 year old daughter of "Galatea" was asked to respond with a speech on behalf of all the boats and she did a superb job. She spoke in Bahasa Indonesia also which went down a treat with the locals. We then had dinner but unfortunately Jim must have eaten something suspect and spent the night back on board vomiting and feeling fairly miserable.
Fortunately, it was shortlived and, as this is being written in the Sailfish Cafe, the symptoms are abating. Just feeling like having been run over by a bus!!
We are having a quiet day today and in another change of plan will leave here on Wednesday for Lovina Beach on Bali. Only 70 miles and that's all we feel we can cope with for now. We were very sad to say goodbye to Bailey, Julie and Neil from "Galatea". Bailey and Julie are flying back to the US from Bali and Neil then comes back here where he will have a new crew for the journey onwards. Hopefully we will come across them in the future.
The marina population has exploded in the last few days with many boats of all nationalities having arrived. Jim has been practising his French again which is fun.
Hope all is good with everyone at home - some emails would be nice from time to time!!
Lots of love from us............
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Medana Bay

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Sunday, 8 September 2013

Medana Bay Marina, Pulau Lombok

We have been having a great and relaxing time here ever since we arrived over 2 weeks ago. We have needed the time to relax after the events at Kupang and the constant sailing since then.
As this is written Jim is sitting in the Sail Fish Cafe having just eaten a cheese and tomato omelette and Jean has gone with Wulan to a local kindergarten where we have donated some coloured pencils and diving goggles for the kids. It is 0930 and a light onshore wind has developed which is blowing through the cafe - just like air conditioning!! A beautiful and tranquil scene - so unlike Kupang.
We have our new dinghy which is proving very successful and is actually more robust than the old one which we have donated to the marina. They may be able to fix it to a useable extent over time.
We have been into Sengiggi a few times. There is a mini supermarket there which is reasonably well stocked - the main difficulty is working out just what it is that one is contemplating buying with most labels in Bahasa Indonesia. However, most things are fairly obvious.
We have been planning our route north west from here to Nongsa Point on Pulau Batam just south of Singapore. This is where we will exit Indonesia. In terms of Darwin - Singapore/Malaysia we are roughly half way here on Lombok with over 1200 miles to go. So, we are getting itchy feet again as we have to leave Indonesia before our visas expire at the end of October. Seems like a long time but in actual fact it isn't. The passage will be a mixture of longer overnight stretches and hopefully quite a few day sails between anchorages.
Once again Sail Indonesia is almost totally devoid of information re anchorages, etc. and we are relying on anchorage notes kindly supplied by "Kullaroo" and Keith, the Lockmaster at Tipperary Marina, before we left Darwin. Hopefully (and that's about all it can be) we have made some good choices.
This afternoon we are going to Pulau Gili Air (pronounced "eyre") for a couple of days before returning here for final provisioning and fuelling before leaving for points NW. Gili Air is only 7 miles from here. Watch this space for more fascinating stories in due course.
With lotsaluv
Jim and Jean
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Medana bay

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