Monday today and we are in Kupang. I have found a wifi internet connection and thought I would upload some photos. Well after an hour over lunch and a Bintang beer or so I have one photo on, I thought I had three so sorry about the lack of photos but the internet is just tooooo sloooow to do this. Yesterday we attended to some cleaning up and other things and finalised our immigration paperwork and boat release forms - 4 copies of everything we could find and several rubber stamps later and it was agreed we could be released and "maybe tomorrow my friend will come and take the impounding sticker off your boat".
So today we went to the local markets after travelling round the town in Bemo Bus (this is a small van with a guy who hangs off the side and solicits business. It has 1000 watts of music booming inside and out (it doesn't need a motor other than to power the sound system which bounces it along the road with the base, it has many aerials and at night flashing neon lights all over it, and stickers all over, (Lachie eat your heart out) the driver peers out between sticker with hand on the musical horn which talks to the other drivers as you weave your way around the traffic and myriad motor bikes. Well we finally got to the local markets, great, and then we went to the local mall which was great as well. Even had KFC which was empty, but with Bird Flu not our choice either!!!
This afternoon, yes, "my friend did come to the boat, and he, the customs man, was green seasick, but he did allow us to remove the sticker impounding us and we have gave them some treatment with seasick bands, they got their colour back and we took them onto the next boat.
Thought I would do a quick Blogsite and email check but, hey, the speed is so slow forget that. Only one picture on the Blogsite and time to go. Couldn't even attach to the email.
Tomorrow we may move onto Alor, but we are in cruising mode now so difficult to rush anything, we'll just see what the day is like.
Alor looks like a good anchorage but we'll probably do a day sail up the coast from here, anchor somewhere for the night, and then across to Alor the next.
Would like to be there for the celebrations, tour and an agricultural festival they have.
In th meantime it has been great mixing with these wonderful people here and exploring the local area.
The experience of Kupang has been somewhat mindblowing. From arrival of course we had all the paperwork including customs, quarantine, Health, migration and harbour master. We still haven't completed our migration but will catch up with that tomorrow or next day. EVERYONE has been so extra-ordinarily courteous and helpful with this complex and bureaucratic process - well it has almost been a pleasure as much as dealing with bureaucracy can be! But certainly the help and courteous approach from all the officers has taken any pain out of the process. (Even though we are temporarily impounded it has no adverse consequences on us!) Tomorrow we will take on some "Sola" diesel at about 55cents per litre.
So first night here we caught up with some people we had not met but had been in contact with well before the Rally and had a few, maybe even quite a few, beers at $2.50 for a largish bottle at Teddy's Bar on the beach which led to a slow start to yesterday morning.
Last night the provincial Governor hosted us for a dinner and entertainment which was spectacular with gifts for all participants, dancing and welcome ceremonies that the local people seemed to enjoy as much as us. There was much laughter and merriment. Music on traditional instruments was fantastic, including a rendition of Waltzing Matilda on one simple instruments that sounds like an orchestra.
Today the Ministry of Tourism put on a tour for us. Well we started at 0700 and have just returned at 2230. We must have been right aross West Timor and visited traditional villages, the Highlands - and they are high - and what I think was the end of the road, four wheeling at its best, and a wonderful Timorese Village. It is a very humbling and levelling experience that these people with so little gave each of us a beautiful welcoming gift, and treated us to the traditional welcome ceremony, the annual children's hair cut ceremony (each person only has their hair cut once in their life at about 2 years of age) complete with the sacrificing of a pig for the occasion. We then experienced a wonderful traditional feast of their local foods. Years ago these people were headhunters - fortunately for us they have retired in that regard. But we were given freedom to roam the village, see them at their traditional weaving which we each had a gift of, visit their traditional housing and "women's work place" or pantry/kitchen a dome shaped thatched building quite large with only a very small low door to crawl through and enjoy foods including cassava and paw paw leaves and flowers, cassava, banana, mandarin, meats, corn dishes, rice dishes etc.
Interestingly the housing although simple and traditional all the way along the route often consisted of the sleeping living area, the pantry/kitchen (women's business area), the shade and meeting areas and were beautifully maintained all round, clean and tidy with swept earth and an obviously industrial persons who take pride in their dwelling. We saw many villages and these typical housing establishments "hanging"off the edge of the mountains and hills in the highlands, talk about a house with a view, but the lasting impression is of these wonderful sharing and happy people who truly welcomed us along the way and at every stop in a very personal and caring manner.
It is ironic that those with the least share the most, and those in the world that are the "haves" as opposed to the 'have nots" are least willing to share not only the material goods that they have but also the spiritual warmness and common kindness and acceptance of mankind. Their parting words were often, "thank you for coming to see us and to share our lives, you are welcome back at any time and are now part of our family, we apologise if we have not done as much as possible for you or if you are disappointed with anything you have had or seen today, but we are only people and not perfect". I would add "but more perfect than many in the western world!"
On each occasion they wanted to know what they could do FOR US, not what they could take from us.
Right down to the trip home tonight where at about 2030 the highway was closed off in one village as they performed a "departing ceremony"of dancing, singing and traditional music before we returned to Kupang.
I can only describe it as a very humbling experience to meet these friendly and happy people, who work hard at survival in the toughest of conditions but don't complain or moan and are so willing to share what they have with us, who they have only just met.
A wonderful, wonderful day.
Yesterday Wednesday was a fantastic sail all day running just with the MPS in very comfortable and cruisy conditions. This would be the most comfortable ocean passage (but one of the slowest) I have done, but great to get a good sail in at last. We sailed into the Roti Straits at the 'bottom' of Timor Island last night and trangressed our way carefully through a number of lit and unlit fishing boats to get around into the channel between West Timor and Pulau Semau Island at about 2.00am this morning. We dropped an anchor then and spent the night to awaken this morning and motor up the channel to Kupang. A number of the boats that we had been sailing with the past few days came into the channel this morning also and followed the way up to Kupang.
It seems some of the boats that came up the channel through the night had ïssues with local lit and ulnlit fishing boats so we were glad that we had anchored up.
We have cleared Quarantine at Kupang with two charming gentlemen and are just awaiting customs now, but their boat has been dragging anchor so they have had a few issues.
It was a very easy and smooth crossing, with the only bit of swell in the last afternoon but then a long rolling comfortable swell.
So here we are, Kupang looks interesting and the people are so friendly. Looking forward to getting ashore and having a look around.
29/07/2008, Nearing Timor
Again yesterday we sailed all day just under the MPS or Spinnaker doing maybe an average of just four knots with a breeze of variable 6 knots plus or minus, VERY light, getting up to a couple of puffs of 8 knots momentarily during the day. Nevertheless a great and relaxing day on the water with very flat seas. Same as the days before at 1900 or around 7.00pm the little wind that there was dies out to nothing. Dinner at the table as if we were in a marina, quite unusual when out at sea. So last night we ran one motor at low revs from 7.00pm until 6.45 this morning. (lucky diesel or "sola"as it is called is only about half Aussie prices at about 80/90 cents per litre). I was hoping not to buy any however we have used a bit already and will use more before we stop at Kupang.
So it looks like another lovely day with a nice sunrise, calm seas and light, very light breezes. We are ambling along with the MPS now and should reach Kupang probably sometime tomorrow all going well.
We have in company about five other boats in the same vicinity so we have been keeping each other company and watching out for each other. During late yesterday and last night we passed several fishing boats in close proximity and a gas well platform. It is a small world one of the boats with us just recognised another boat that they had sailed with three years ago but didn't know they were here, and a kiwi boat motored past us night before last and they had sailed at Paremata where Dianne sailed and knew "Scotty" from the Mata Club, Dianne's brother. There are a few Kiwi boats here and quite a few from US as well as a smattering from elsewhere. Norbert who we helped out of Bayview Lock is from Austria and sailing by himself, now on the homeward bound legs of his circumnavigation.
The ocean bottom here also has an interesting profile with some shoals (shallow water) and areas where it drops from 50 metres to 250 metres and back up again. But there is no impact on the surface.
It has been rather too light and slow for trolling although we have had the line limply out a couple of times I think the lure would not be attractive to any smart fish!
28/07/2008, En route to Kupang
After a steady and slow day sailing yesterday just under the MPS with 2 to 6 knots of breeze and 2 to 3 knots of boat speed at dusk the breeze, or what there was of it just faded out and the night has been flat calm. We started a motor about 1800 yesterday and have alternated running the motors through the night.
It is a glorious sunrise with a flat oily sea and not a flicker of breeze this morning. One yacht in front, one behind just going over the horizon and a gas well to starboard about 14 miles away which was a bright fire glow early this morning.
We don't want to motor all the way but not sure what we will do today, just hoping some sort of breeze will pipe in. We think many boats are motoring in these conditions but haven't heard the morning sched yet.
Many people ask what you do at night, well normally you just keep on sailing like you do in the day and there would be no thought even of just stopping and sleeping, but in these conditions you could do just that and a couple of boats we have passed have been doing it! Very unusual indeed.
Not even going fast enough to trawl for a fish although there have been some in the water. Of course pods of dolphins just ambling around yesterday also.
27/07/2008, En route to Kupang
Monday morning at dawn, the sun has just come up across a flat and calm sea! After a VERY slow day yesterday we drifted into a lovely sunset under MPS and Main but not much breeze. At close to midnight it was TOTALLY CALM with the wind direction indicator as gravity took over from wind and we slightly rolled on the flat water. (Damn that wind generator - how long was the warranty!).
So we dropped all the limp sails back to their places of storage and motored for a few hours with one engine just on idle to chill the fridges and at least keep us pointing in the right direction.
About 0400 there was a slight breeze tight on so we put up the main and genoa to cover just a few more miles. Now with the sun coming up we have about 2.5 knots of breeze.
At this average speed it might take us about 230 hours to get to Kupang!
A good chance to read a few books, read one through last night, and at least cooking, eating and washing etc is easy as we slowly drift towards Indonesia. Fortunately the current is running that way!
Some boats must be motoring as they are moving ahead more quickly, but we don't want to burn all our diesel yet so are just running enough to keep the fridges and freezer cold - batteries are holding up well even with all instruments and autopilot going all night (and all day!) not that there is much to steer but it is keeping us pointing in the right direction.
Too slow to even put a fishing line out!
But as the old saying goes the worst day on the water is still better than the best day in an office - no egos and alter egos to deal with out here! just a happy dolphin or two, the sharks stay mainly out of sight!
Saturday morning dawned a beautiful day in Darwin. We were up early to help a Singlehander Norbert on Sunny Side a Lagoon Catamaran out of Bayview Marina Lock. Knowing the difficulty of getting out in a wide cat and that he was a single hander we offered to go and assist. So it was up at 0600 across to the Beach into a cab and over to Bayview. We then came back to Fannie Bay on his boat and he dropped us at the beach at about 0930. This just gave us time to go and tidy things up at "home", raise the mainsail and weigh the anchor to leave with the fleet at 1100.
Vessels started ambling off at about 1030 and soon the bay was a wave of movement as 130 odd yachts set off for Kupang and some for Ambon. We had a light S=C9aster to start with and soon set the MPS (spinnaker) as did most of the other boats so it was a colourful and comfortable exit from Darwin.
As the day wore on the fleet broke up into two main groups with the cats and fast monos leading the way and the balance loping along in the light conditions.
We flew the MPS until about 1930 when the wind moved around a little to the front before dyeing off. It was a very quiet night at sea with little breeze and flat conditions but just enough to cause the mainsail to "slat" back and forth so we ended up dropping it. We motored for two hours with one motor just to bring the fridges down but didn't go very all night.
It was quite unusual to see so many lights on the water at night, at one stage with a string of lights off into the horizon looking like a highway to Indonesia!
Sunday morning we set the main in 4 - 6 knots of breeze, which in Charmar is hardly enough to fill it and reset the MPS at about 0900 after morning radio scheds etc. We have all of about 4 knots of breeze at present and after nearly 24 hours have only covered about 80 nautical miles so it looks like being a very slow crossing as similiar weather is forecast for the next few days.
Whilst we like the flat seas we could do with a few more knots of breeze to at least set the sails at present. But other than that all going well.
Fannie Bay with the Fleet on Friday
24/07/2008, Fannie Bay
We finally escaped from the Marina on Wednesday night. Friends from Tiaka Peter, Jenny and Patrick came over for Pizza and to help us out at 9:00pm.
With less than three inches either side and some flat fenders we had acquired we managed to reverse through without damage and make our getaway. It took then a couple of hours to motor around to Fannie Bay.
Yesterday we fuelled up and completed more preparations and today we clear customs.
The wind generator has really worked, there has been a lot of wind here the last few days although it drops off at night (why we left the lock at 9.00pm). Not as bad as the east coast though which seems to be getting a flogging.
Tomorrow we have offered to go and help a single hander from Austria on a large Lagoon cat escape from Bayview Lock, as we did. It would be impossible to do it yourself without damage.
We are pretty much ready to go, although there is still 100 things we could/should do, but that is always the way.
Due to leave the lock this morning but cancelled out due to the wind, which would only exacerbate the 10cm freeboard we would have to get out! Pretty much loaded up with the groceries etc, still have to get the diesel tomorrow (if we get out of the lock). Most other plans on track.
Yes - comment came from a guest on board many years ago - What is that?"; "it's a wind generator" -- with a look of mild amazement, "Does it really work?'
Busy days here, amazing how much you have to do when you go away to do nothing for a while!
Water pumps to fx; fenders to get (thin ones for the lock exit on Wednesday, dash here, dash there, fix that, put the sail on, liferaft, oops nearly dropped it into the water, paddle canoe, roll up the old sail, between all that attend to some log books and sailing instruction for past participants. Doing nothing is not really nothing!
Back on Board in Darwin. Preparations continue. The Wind Generator is installed. It didn't generate much wind it is pretty calm here. A power winch still to fix, a genoa to put on, water to fill etc etc. A beautiful moon here tonight after a dramatic sunset. Great weather and conditions for the "crossing" if it stays in.
Final preps are still underway with a full day work in Darwin last Sunday and now lots of paperwork getting submitted for visas, permits, clearances etc etc etc. However we are getting set to go and this time next week we will be attending to final documents and "getting the covers off" as we fuel up and start to attend the briefings and so on. In the meantime Kirsty our daugther will be getting four teeth out and "Mum" will go and spend 4 days with her to help out over this period.
Not much to update, Charmar's wind generator tower should be ready this week for a bit more amps top up; a new battery coming, some minor changes to wiring and final preps taking place. Not much to say but there still a few little jobs to do as we finalise arrangements.
Charmar is currently having a layover in Darwin. On 19th July there are briefings and functions over the following week in relation to the Rally and then a departure on the 26th July for Kupang.
Time for some maintenance and servicing over the next couple of weeks as we prepare for a possible departure.
17/06/2008, Bayview Marina
Today we have been going all day cleaning and sorting and washing and cleaning and servicing - its midnight and time to knock off
THERE ARE MORE PHOTOS UNDER PHOTO GALLERY to the right - for those interested click on it and then the Cairns to Darwin Folder and there some photos of events and places on the trip
Today we managed a booking into Bayview Marina for the layover. So off we went, farewelling Brad from Townsville on our way past as he is leaving for Indonesia tomorrow. Bayview is a marina in a lock around inside the inner harbour of Darwin. The people who we booked with didn't know how to get there from Fannie Bay so we set off and it is the furthest Marina up a long run of Mangrove Creek. Anyway an interesting passage as we slalomed through the yachts anchored and moored in the very narrow channel. Sometimes a port and starboard buoy close together with boats moored between them and then passing through rows of front and end moored boats until the end of the creek is near! Then we see the lock an interesting manouvre away.
Now they know our beam, 7.24 metres, and they said they take boats to 7.25 metres and welcome Rally Boats. Anyway to cut a long story short the marinas here are all basically run off the back of real estate agents who look after the adjoining properties and units. It would be fair to say I think that the Marina part of the business is just a nuisance to them, they don't understand it, nor understand boats - and probably don't care.
With the narrow entrance they had not allowed for the barnacles and oysters that were growing profusely on the entrance to the lock and narrowed the gap by more than the tolerance allowed as well as presenting an abrasive surface. It was just impossible to get in without a few scratches on the oysters.
The old timers told us, AFTER we were in that, that you only go in on the top of the tide so your boat is above the oysters. Well we could have done that as it was only a couple of hours till high tide - but the "Marina" office instead of telling us that urged us to go through asap. They could have even had a couple of plastic curtains to hang down over the oyster clad entrance, OR if they really cared they would keep the oysters OFF, but any way we are in and tied up. Not looking forward to the exit.
So today has been cleaning, flushing bilges, cleaning engines and carpets, hose down etc.
Of course before we could get into any Marina we had to get treated for Green Mussel by a shot of steriliser up all sea inlets and then left to stand for 14 hours.
So if going into a Marina in Darwin make sure you understand the implications and DON'T rely on the staff to help or provide any advice OR indeed to be able to even tell you where the Marina is. A brief description of the complexity of getting through the moored boats in the narrow channel would also have been good!
Anyway, here we are all tied up and half cleaned up and plenty to do tomorrow!
15/06/2008, Fannie Bay
After rounding Cape Don we still had some ninety miles to go to get to Darwin. What a massive waterway this is behind Melville and Bathurst Islands and has some great channels leading down into Darwin waterways.
With careful planning one can "run" the tides down into Darwin and pick up possibly several knots of boat-speed. As we were out there and had not anchored up we decided to continue on regardless, although we did calculate and plot the tides, we did find that "without careful planing" there is still a chance of picking up the tides!!
We sailed on under good breezes and just about where I had predicted we would be crossing shoals the water might get a bit rougher - of course the sea calmed out, the wind dropped, try the main - not enough breeze, try the MPS, the wind dropped further!! We started in calms and it seemed we were destined to finish in calms so late afternoon the iron topsail was set, with just a knot to fill the MPS until that died out and we motored the last 40 miles to Darwin arriving and anchoring at Fannie Bay at midnight. Still if you have to motor, it is not bad at ten knots with a couple of knots of tide giving a 'free-ride' on a mirror surface.
This leg was a 600 nautical mile straight sail through from Seisa at the tip of Cape York, and completed the 1,000 mile trip from Cairns. From Seisa across was 4.5 days. It was a nice moonlight night, fortunately, and the approaches are easy, and made easier by locking in behind a small ship on the AIS to take a few shortcuts.
The Darwin Sailing Club could be heard kicking on last night. It is just about time this morning to go and investigate.