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Charmar - 2008 Cairns - Darwin - Indonesia - Singapore -Malaysia, South China Sea, Borneo, Brunei, KK, Kudat, Miri, Singapore, Puteri, Langkawi.......
For more photos go to the Photo Gallery and East Malaysian Rally Album
Chris White
08/08/2008, Kalabahi - ALOR

Today still in the Fjord at Alor Island anchored at Kalabahi. This is a smaller town although there are 175,000 people on this small group of islands with various regions. Interestingly some live by the sea and others in the Highlands. The boys we were talking to last night who are training to be English School Teachers walk 35 kms to get to the University from the highlands where their families are farmers. They had never been on a boat before and wanted to come and see Charmar. To our surprise they were a little afraid in the dinghy. We had assumed with the beautiful waterways and the tiny and big kids and adults that are constantly plying the waters in the tiniest of dugouts through to traditional fishing boats and Sampans that they would all be water- babies - but not so - the farmers do farming and the fishermen do fishing! The littlest of kids paddle out to our boat in the littlest of dugout canoes to sit on the back steps and wait for a talk or a chocolate. They have a great method of flick rolling their dugouts to bail the water out if they capsize or are capsized by their mates or crew!

Last night the Gala dinner had some wonderful performances with traditional music by the school children, traditional dancing in costume (pity I can't get photos on at the moment!) and singing and dancing.

Today we did the tour and went to the Museum and then to the highlands to a traditional highland village without power or any "modern amenities" where they and we danced and enjoyed their traditional lifestyle before we walked back down not exactly trusting the bus that didn't quite make it to the top. Then on to Mali Beach for a "Bento Box" lunch and more music from the local elementary school which was just wonderful using their traditional instruments with enthusiasm and gusto.

After that out to an area which I am not sure where it was exactly (didn't have the GPS with me!) where we planted trees that will have our names on a plate on them, Sandlewood. So it tramping through Indonesia in years to come look for the tree called Chris White and the one called Dianne White of Charmar in the Memorial Forest! There were giant Sandlewoods in this forest some 500 years old and 50 metres high with a circumference equal to a curtain fig. I guess we did this for our Carbon Sequestration or maybe just to replace the enormous amount of paperwork required to enter and travel in this country. Some people are still stinging from having our boats impounded but it really was not a problem. Personally I think it was just a sure way of keeping us in Kupang for four days minimum!!

We have a couple of more days here and then will press onto to Lembata on Pelau Kawatu about 80 miles east after passing a couple of other island and probably doing battle with the fierce tides and currents that prevail in this area. Despite all sorts of software and planning there has been more talk on the radio about the currents but few have been able to benefit from it and I think more luck and chance than science, but it certainly slows you to a snail pace when against and turbo charges when it is with you. Coming in here we had 9 knots plus with one engine just ticking over! (We also had 1.8 knots earlier with one engine running normally - which is NOT a fast way of getting anywhere. Still can't beat sailing with the fresh breeze where we get 9+ knots and better.

Still signing hundreds of kids exercise books with our names and residence - thanks teachers what a good idea!! Some have a little English but it is easy to lose them by asking their age etc. Nevertheless the Country clearly has a policy to teach all Children English and except for the remote villages many people speak a little or quite good English and there are many English speaking local teachers and many more studying for the task with a five year course.

We are still overwhelmed by the hospitality and friendliness and the effort made to make our stay rewarding for us.

08/08/2008 | Lucky
Still Very Interesting reading, almost like a step back in time. The greeting of sailors in Captain Cooks' era would not have been very different from what you are experienceing I imagine.
20/01/2011 | hardi
can you write in indonesia please.because maybe other people dont understand about your story...
thank you from hardi alor
More in Kupang
04/08/2008, Kupang

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.

04/08/2008 | Lucky
Very Interesting reading, although you folk are certainly bringing forth the green - eyed sin of envy for us land locked, tax slaves here on the big Island.
05/08/2008 | Desley
Did the customs man have a Williams monika by any chance!~! Lovin reading your stories. Happy travelling. Cheers...another tax slave.
05/08/2008 | caroline cheng
Fantastic reading! Next time don't leave home without me!
24/09/2008 | Joanne Cooney
Hi there! My name is Joanne and I am the Editor of SEA Yachting, which is a yachtie magazine published in Thailand but availablethroughout the south east Asia region. we have recently heard about the fiasco in Kupang and see that you were there. Could you give us some comments about your experience with the authorities there and let us know what the problem was. We would like to write an article in our next issue about the experiencein Kupang. Thanks and best regards,
Joanne Cooney
Wednesday 0700
Chris White
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!

Fannie Bay full of Yachts
24/07/2008, Darwin

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.

22/07/2008, Bayview

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.

22/07/2008 | Lucky
Sounds like your prep is going accrding to plan. Developing low off coast somewhere Sth of Cns. Winds increasing to gale force today. Rain moderate to heavy fcast.
22/07/2008 | Lucky
Sounds like your prep is going accrding to plan. Developing low off coast somewhere Sth of Cns. Winds increasing to gale force today. Rain moderate to heavy fcast.
21/07/2008, Bayview

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!

21/07/2008 | Chris White
Wind generator worked this morning, rats - the only morning there hasn't been any breeze at all and we want dead calm next couple of days for lock exit! How do you turn it off?
21/07/2008 | Lucky
Low cloud & drizzly rain all day in Cairns. Reports of Lawns growing quickly in Whitfield area.
Back on Board
18/07/2008, Darwin

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.

19/07/2008 | Lucky
Hmmmmm....The Wind Generator is installed. It didn't generate much wind it is pretty calm here.
So thats where the wind is generated from!?
10/07/2008, Darwin

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.

Bayview Marina - final preps
02/07/2008, Darwin

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.

26/06/2008, Darwin

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.

29/06/2008 | Paul and Tracy Bushell
Love the website. Yikes about the marina locks-thaks for the info and have a good trip to Indonesia-you'll have fun.
Midnight on Tuesday
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

Into Bayview Marina - THE most dangerous part of the trip so far!
16/06/2008, Bayview Marina - Darwin

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!

Charmar is in Darwin
Chris White
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.

14/06/2008, Cairns to Darwin

Andrew joined Charmar undertaking the Yachtmaster Inshore program and gaining sea miles and night experience. Experienced all conditions from flat calm to strong winds and clocked up some useful miles. A good part of the Charmar crew!

Arrival at Cape Don
Chris White
14/06/2008, Cape Don

After a great night sail with smooth and gentle seas and 20 +/- knots of breeze we had a good sail, good night and for those sleeping a good night sleep! We covered some good distances. Again we are only sailing under Genoa, last night we gybed twice the first sail change for several days!! There is certainly something to be said for sailing downwind. This morning is a beautiful sunrise as we head for and then round Cape Don, the crossing of the Gulf and Arnhem Land now complete. As we round Cape Don we start heading down towards Darwin - about 80 - 90 miles to go in protected waters and bays. We go down behind Melville Island and below Bathurst Island to pass through Clarence Straight and then down to Darwin. Conditions are excellent and we should be close to Darwin tonight all going well! Haven't seen another boat for days - indeed haven't seen anything much for days but we are in sight of Cape Don now. Coastwatch called up again last night but we couldn't see or hear the aircraft anywhere. Apart from that just passaging on! This is about our fifth day without a stopover so we have made fairly good time, but it would be good to visit the many bays and anchorages across the top of Arnhem Land so we have that for another day! Many of the boats are still waiting to cross the Gulf and a number are going to Gove and working their way around via Elcho Island and the various day stops.

14/06/2008 | caroline Cheng
Thanks for such interesting snippets of your journey, glad it has been a fantastic sail so far. Sue just doesn't know what she has missed on.
Crossing the top of Arnhem Land
Chris White
13/06/2008, Arafura Sea

A good and friendly sail all day yesterday with reasonable time, but we are sailing for comfort not speed. Last night was ok, about 2030 the autopilot packed it in and we thought that was the end of it. It was extremely difficult steering conditions running square in a rolling sea that became quite choppy, some think the worst night out so far. However in an effort to detect the problem it seems it was only a weak connection of the power cables and oh how fortunately it came back to life by about 2300 so the night became much better although a slapping sea did not provide for much relief. Today we are cruising on across the top of Arnhem Land but well out to sea. We haven't seen a boat for days and only the buzz and radio call from Coastal Surveillance last night to know that there are people out there. We are well out of the sight of land at least 60 miles offshore crossing a straight line from Cape Wessel to Cape Don around New Year Island. Today is pleasant although our boat speed not all that good as we sail under genoa alone in around 20 knots of wind. For the crew onboard this leg is the equivalent of sailing half way to New Zealand! This morning called customs in Darwin to report a vessel having some problems out near Ashmore Reef, about three hundred miles from us so we cannot offer assistance, but via a series of radio relays through Sheila Net on 8161 we satphoned their plight to Customs Darwin who relayed it to Canberra where it is being followed up.

All well and we should be nearing Darwin waters late tomorrow night after doing a full all nighter again tonight - Friday 13th.

Approaching Cape Wessel
Chris White
12/06/2008, Cape Wessel

After the first day sitting in the "washing machine" of confused seas just past Cape York it is great that as yesterday wore on the seas became calmer and with a regular pattern. Last night was a great night sail with fairly smooth seas and a regular breeze of 20 - 25 knots a bit less at times and a bit more at times. The wind and seas are from behind so we are still cruising on just under the headsail or Genoa. Still we are making good time with averages of 6 and 7 knots and very comfortable and stress free, although not breaking any speed records. The sun is out and sky is blue! We haven't seen a boat, plane or anything not even Coastwatch for well over the last one and a half days! This morning we are nearing Cape Wessel which is the first point of contact after crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria. We have taken a wide northern passage that will take us around the top of Cape Wessel and the Wessel Group of Islands so we will not be stopping to enjoy the group of Islands and Anchorages here but proceeding through more open water tracking directly to Port Essington, near Cape Don which is rounded before going into Darwin in a couple of more days. If everyone is up to it we may continue on this down this track and do another overnighter as we still have over 250 miles from the next waypoint at the Cape to Cape Don. A great night, everything going well and no dramas! This is pleasant sailing ------Andrew at the Helm at present.

Half Way Across the Gulf of Carpentaria
Chris White
11/06/2008, Gulf of Carpentaria

We left Seisa at 0700 to approach the Gulf of Carpentaria. Conditions were good with about 10 knots SE and flat water. A few monos had left earlier some as early as 0530 and the small flotilla in Seisa was disippating. But it did give us some boats to chase, which we did. We went out through Red Banks to clear the shoals before the Gulf. Good conditions for the morning and we were sailing with Main and Genoa before changing just to MPS in the afternoon. Caught a big mackeral mid morning to refill the freezer. At dusk it was still light winds 8 - 10 knots so we needed the MPS but as inevitably happens not all that long after dark the wind and a cross swell built up and we had to drop the MPS and go back to just a genoa for the evening. Wind speeds picked up overnight to 25 - 30 knots and a lumpy side swell and the confused seas the Gulf is famous for! Early this morning, after overnighting, sent the generator going to recharge batteries and chill the freezers and fridges and went down for a kip. Only to find two hours later a cooling water hose had blown off the generator where it enters the exhaust and had been happily pumping 18 litres per minute into the boat! A big bailing job was one way, but not the best, to start the morning! Today, the second day in the Gulf we are continuing to run under Genoa alone and the seas have settled a little. The wind has eased back to 10 - 15 knots which is hurting our speed under genoa alone. We are just about at the half way mark at noon between Seisa and the Wessel Islands our next destination. Good radio reception this morning on Sheila net, but have lost contact with the other boats we were "sailing with" yesterday. Mostly they are going to Gove so are going further south than us. Hoping the wind will stay in so we don't need to change sails, and getting ready for another long night! All well except for the few "boating" happenings that occur from time to time.

11/06/2008 | Kate
A great read so far, thanks for the updates! It enables me to keep Dad and Mum up to date too which they really appreciate.
06/11/2008 | Ryan
Very good read, I have always dreamed of sailing through the tropical Carpentaria.

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Charmar - 2008 Cairns Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, South China Sea, Borneo, Singapore, Puteri, L
Who: Chris and Dianne White
Port: Cairns Australia
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