Time seems to just disappear even in "island time" mode. Got the sewing machine out for a few repairs and replaced a couple of fender covers. Neil and Pauline went up town to replenish the liquid amber supplies and tonic stocks for the girls' gins. I was given a lift in a sidecar by our delivery chap to the airport to make enquiries for Chris, no helmets needed here. Chris seems to be having more luck today after a harrowing start buying phones and getting internet access and money to pay for it all. Hopefully all going well he may be able to fly from Singapore direct to the island here tomorrow.
Another day in paradise for us 3 left caretaking Charmar while Chris chases his tail in Singapore not progressing much as it is Sunday and another casualty adds to the list, my phone, which Chris has with him, dies. Rather a warm day here we stroll to the beach for a swim and a snorkel and dine at the usual spot, not much chance of weight loss at this rate!
Have many great photos but need the skipper back to attach will do so upon his return!
Another early start for Chris to catch the ferry to the mainland, Mersing. All four broken parts were quite a weight, thank goodness for the wheelie bag. Chris didn't have much luck at Mersing and decided to catch a bus to Singapore, arriving around 8.00pm. where he caught a train and bus to Raffles Marina so see what he could find out. Upon arrival there his bag had a blow out and lost a wheel making it very difficult to drag along especially with his injured right arm. Chris found a chandlery but no accommodation nearby and traipsed back by bus and train to Mustafa being the 24hour shopping area known as "Little India" where he was able to buy a luggage trolley for the bag and a backpackers to get some sleep for what was left of the night as it was 2.00am!
Back at the Marina Neil and Pauline scrubbed the decks and tidied the back deck. I filled the water tanks, vacuumed, defrosted 12volt freezer and bailed the dinghy as each day we get a good rain storm which freshens the air. We all spent some time at the internet café catching up on emails etc.
Not wanting to go to a new restaurant without Chris we enjoyed another sumptuous meal at our favourite restaurant an now were building up a good rapport with the owner and staff. It is very interesting observing the families and locals that come in to eat. We have our freezer full of frozen meat but that can wait for when we are at places without restaurants and the food is so cheap, tastes fantastic, it is not worth cooking ourselves.
29/05/2009, Tekek Village
Our marina berth at the Village Tekek has a magnificent backdrop of mountainous jungle and we've been told of the Village Juara on the other side which can be reached by sea, 4WD or a trek through the jungle. We decided to rise to the challenge of the trek and attempted an early start at 7.00am, heading off at 7.40 we're in "island Time" mode. Just before the track into the jungle we came across monkeys foraging at the roadside but decided to keep our nuts in case we came across some higher up in the jungle.
The path was mainly stepped, winding upwards through dense, steamy and humid jungle; our "Red Arrow" training the past few months paid off. Despite it being reasonably cool we were all lathered in perspiration and taunted by the sound of fast running water which we didn't get to see until nearly at the top 1 hour into our journey. Access to the water was fenced off, signs indicating no swimming, fishing, etc as it is the water supply for our village below which now having seen how natural and clean it is we would fill our water tanks upon return. The jungle was similar to our rainforest around Cairns but denser with enormous, spectacular trees. Numerous bird noises could be heard and some sounded like the Torres Strait Pigeons but none were visual. We managed to spy a couple of monkeys off in the distance, our nuts and calls weren't enough to entice them closer. A red snake tail was trailing out of the hollow of a fallen log which we thought must be dead until Chris bent down to pick up a stick nearby and it slithered disappearing further into the hollow.
At the top coming out of the jungle to a steep concrete road virtually straight down, quite a contrast to the jungle climb and a bit tough on the knees and toes! Another hour and we arrived at the bottom to a small windy seaside village that we wandered through, Neil and Pauline spotting large monitor lizards while Chris and I were doing battle opening a coconut. A local chap renovating a timber beach cottage proudly invited us in to see his handy work, he spoke good English and had a great sense of humour laughing at me when I offered him a piece of coconut I was eating.
Taking the easy way back we rode in air conditioned comfort of a 4 wheel drive and had a pleasant 25 minute windy steep drive back to the marina, although our driver was quite young he drove very carefully.
Time to prepare for departure the next day, Pauline & I did the washing, Neil go up town to top up the food supplies and Chris attempted to jockey a new impeller in the broken water pump without success. When I went down the port engine room I noticed oily fluid on the shelf which turned out that the steering hydraulic ram seal had blown. Chris set about removing the ram, the starboard engine water pump which had started a slow drip, and the alternator which wasn't functioning!
We decided to have dinner again at our favourite restaurant, it will take a few more nights of dining for us to work our way through the entire menu!
28/05/2009, Tioman Is continued
Early start this morning to be on the beach by 8.30am to join in fun activities with the locals. A good number of boaties turned up for the fun. It all started with sack races, bowling coconuts, dart blowing, fishing bottles (fishing pole with string and nail attached, one had to get the nail in the bottled filled with sand and pick the bottle up by the nail and run to the rely member at the other end without dropping the bottle off the line on the way) bamboo pole raft race and finishing with musical chairs. Lots of laughs and fun had by all finishing up about midday.
Feeling a bit peckish after all the activity we stopped at the Bakery for a yummy pizza for lunch.
It was perfect conditions for an afternoon of snorkeling where we first went to the fish feeding wharf and snorkeled with hundreds of fish feeding them bread underwater. We were mobbed by hundreds of different fish ranging in size from small, pan size and bigger getting our fingers nibbled as well. Amazing parrot fish so many different vibrant coloured ones especially the deep purple ones.
From there a half hour dinghy trip in the opposite direction to a small island surrounded in coral and an abundance of various fish including small reef sharks, again crystal clear water with superb visability. Pauline finally comfortable with her mask and snorkel after changing to a non leaking snorkel amazed herself by snorkelling right around the island enjoying all the marine life. There were many different fish species with an average amount of coloured corals.
Having taken food out of the freezer a couple of days ago we decided it was time to eat on board. Our superb chef cooked us up a treat!
27/05/2009, Tioman Is updated
A morning back in the office for Chris spent in the airconditioned internet cafe answering many work related queries while crew melted back at the boat! In the afternoon we hired scooters and toured what we could of the short roads on the island, the villages are not connected by road. Our first stop was the beach to cool off in the extremely warm crystal clear waters gravitating to the "cold spots" how different from our normal swims in Oz seeking out the "warm spots"! Next we visited the Marine Park headquarters, a huge prestigous building surrounded by lush tropical gardens, with displays and awareness information posters for the need to protect the marine environment. Looking for a tradtional Malay favourite of our "iced cakang" without success we settled on trying a dish called "rojac" which was a mixture of tofu, veges and donut covered in a very flavoursome sauce.
At 5.00pm there was a civic reception with short welcoming speeches followed by snacks consisting of glass noodles, curry puffs and grren coconut cakes. The group en mass flowed up the street and we all settled in at the chinese restaurant to consume ice cold beers and tell taller tales!
The four of us along with Dave and Joanne from Pied A Mer heading back to the marina decided to stop at a restaurant for a top up in the food department. Six dishes were selected for us to share and hit the spot perfectly each dish very tasty and flavoursome.
Cats, cats and more cats are everywhere, wandering through the restaurant, jumping up on tables to eat left overs and would have liked to rub around our legs for affection but there was not much chance of that! No sign of rats here or dogs.
From Tinggi Island we started a slow and leisurely sail to Tioman Island a renowned and beautiful spot and a marine park. The day started slowly motoring and uneventful and we had about a five to six hour trip planned. Mostly motor sailing we were doing ok and making water etc as we went. Approaching Tioman a very steep and 3500 feet high peak island of jungle we were catching three or four boats that we knew and there were signs of a tropical storm and rain coming through in the last couple of hours of our approach. We had passed a couple of trawlers who proudly showed off their catch.
Then whammy the breeze swung around and we had lightning and thunder to the north and the breeze backing around the clock and before we knew it we were right under a thunder storm in company with four other boats one of which was having gear box trouble and was under tow.
The tow was cast off as we milled around the storm intensified, flash- lightning, boom, thunder it was right overhead and a fork of lightning flashed down and hit the water very close to "Milliways" one of the boats near us. A voice boomed over the radio "we've been hit by lightning, all ok but have lost our navigation"! The thunder was deafening as the lightning flashed simultaneous with the boom, boom of thunder. Milliways was the boat that had been struck, they had lost all their instruments and radio, fortunately they had a hand held as a backup. We floundered around in the circling winds and driving bullets of enormous raindrops waiting for a little clearing.
Eventually it cleared and to cut the story short (due to the fact that it is 11.45pm just now) one of the boats that we knew accompanied Milliways into the marina and we towed Panthalassa, the boat with gearbox problems, to the marina entrance where waiting dinghies tied along side and guided it into the marina, fortunately we also were given a berth in the new marina which is now full, for the first time, with boats from the rally@!
Fellow boaties were heading up the street for a Seafood BBQ at 7.30pm which we participated and caught up with others from last years rally that had by passed Sebana Cove.
Some of the group opted for the chinses restaurant next door and about 12 of us had the fresh seafood bbq selecting our own fresh fish and squid from the selection available. Beers purchased at the duty free next door, sitting outside under the stars on a very comfortable balmy evening. Food and company excellent and enjoyed by all.
25/05/2009, Tinggi Island
Interesting day as we launched the dinghy to go to Sibu, the winch handle slipped through my sweaty hands, YES I KNOW, I did this last year and got wacked on the nose, well this year not one wack but a series of wacks from the palm of my right hand right up to the elbow followed by massive swellling and bruising. Yes you are right a very slow learner, don't talk while launching the dinghy, keep the brake on and don't do it with sweaty palms! Anyway a pulverised right forearm and very cranky for being so stupid but these things to happen - even on the best of regulated ships.
So after icing it, pressure bandage and sling we set off across the island to another resort on foot which was most enjoyable and engaged in conversation with the English/Norweigan female owner of many years and a swiss traveller who would love to learn to sail. Back over to the bay and only 2 of 16 yachts left so we head off to Tinggi Island under genoa and one engine, it is just 12 nautical miles away. We go to the top of the Island where a number of other yachts are anchored in a crap anchorage so we go back to the western side of the island where the locals anchor and it is beautiful, flat and calm and we swim to the pretty beach, have a walk and snorkel and return for a delightful dinner and some pain removers in a glass to take down the swelling in the arm which work a treat.
Tomorrow off to Tioman Island - we seem to need a new alternator for the Starboard engine and water pump for the genset, hopefully we can get them there!
24/05/2009, Pelau Sibu
Not an early start, but yes last night's anchorage was great with the sea calming off we had an onshore wind and rising tide and a very flat night. Today we started off at 0730 heading north once again destination unknown. A light following breeze encouraged us to put up the MPS or Spinnaker type sail which is always great in light breezes and we slid along quietly to the north on a flat sea and light breeze with a bit of fossil fuel support until we had enough wind to sail. As we travelled we had another couple of yachts on the horizon in front and ultimately four behind and a couple reasonably close.
The breeze piped in during the afternoon but we ran the starboard motor to produce a couple of hours of water and the breeze picked up to about 7- 8 knots and then to 10kn. We were coasting along nicely and eventually decided on Sibu Island for the night where we anchored in the top northern end with about 15 other yachts. Anchoring at about 1800 just enough time for a few sewing machine repairs to the MPS sock before heading to the beach to join our fellow ralliers at 1830 drinks and bickies and to swap a few tales.
There is a small resort here about 2.5 hours drive from Singapore and then of course a ferry trip across.
All in all a very pleasant day, a lovely place and warm balmy weather with storms over the land, bombing runs 20 mile offshore (defence force exercises) and a nice breeze tonight to keep it a bit cool.
23/05/2009, Teluk Penewar
At the time it was a great idea to go to the Pirates Bar at Sebana the night before we planned to leave! After all we were the only customers there when we arrived at 2030, and the band was ready to entertain us. We just had to try one of their unique Towers - two jugs in a tower with an ice tube in the middle and you pour your own. I had seen them before they are just "natty" but had never had enough company to buy one. You will have to wait a few more days for the photo but it will be put on this site at the next internet stopover. Well it was a great night! TWO towers later and the band singing our every request we danced and enjoyed the entertainment and managed to share it without about another four or five guests that came along.
BUT it did lead to a small postponement to our planned 0600, "at the latest" departure and at 0930 we slipped out lines at Sebana after another enjoyable stay there and motored off down the Mangrove Creek toward Johor Straits and Singapura. As the morning progressed we motored into the light breeze which stayed "right on the nose" all the way around the bottom of Malaysia as we made our way East and then came around inside a small island to start heading north, all the way dodging and avoiding the omnipresent fish nets and fishing buoys and boats. As we headed north we took advantage of the easterly breeze in the Genoa to squeeze an extra knot and started our way further north, further north than Charmar has been before.
We tracked along under one engine and sail for the greater part of the very pleasant day and decided at about 1500 to pull into a small bay to see if it would comfortable enough to anchor in for a sleep at least and the night at best. Well it was good, the wind swung from onshore to offshore not long after we anchored off, but the South China Sea does not carry swell in any event. A bit of a sleep and by then a rain squall over the land had sucked away the wind and it calmed off so now we are getting ready for dinner, cooked again by Neil, and hopefully a good night sleep for an EARLY start tomorrow to knock off about 40 miles to get to an Island anchorage further north.
Certainly we are blessed with gastronomic delights with Neil on board and his wonderful way with food.
It is good to be on the move again, although mostly motoring and unfortunately I think this is going to be typical of South China Sea but we will have to wait and see.
Back to touring we headed off this morning by coach to a Tropical Fruit Farm which despite some scepticism was very interesting and with a great morning tea of fresh tropical and exotic fruit. Onto a Homestay Village for some culture and coffee and visitation and then a "little lunch" before we went on to "Bob's Homestay" further up on the water way towards Johor Baru and a delightful spot and would be an excellent play for a nice relaxing break. Witnessed a traditional wedding and then a magnificient lunch cooked by Bob's wife and helpers. A great spot that we will remember and it would be possible to anchor out the front. Ok onto a fisherman's museum which being a nautical crowd we all enjoyed before going onto the Desaru Golden Beach Hotel for afternoon and a glimpse of the South China Sea that we will sail on next week, maybe even anchor up here for a night before going back to Sebana for High Tea. Well FED indeed! and a very enjoyable day. Tomorrow is supply day and probably more monkey feeding - Dianne has her supply of groundnuts and the odd banana which sends them crazy! They are well behaved monkeys though, and the squirrels and an ant eater yesterday are all good to see.
16/05/2009, Sebana Cove
Well here we are back in Sebana Cove, it is quite warm and there is LOTS of cleaning to do. Since our last visit in February mould and green has taken over the sunny external sides of Charmar. A small fleet of birds have carried what must amount to several bales of nesting material on board and have found inside the main sail cover a great place to set up myriad nests!
Went a bought a small "Gerni" which is just great for the clean up and is restoring the outside to its former glory. Boats are starting to arrive now at Sebana and we are catching up with some old friends. Went into Siggi Ringit yesteday for some shopping (including Gerni).
Had a diver do the bottom which was good. Generally all seems to be well here
18/04/2009, Sebana - Johor
Malaysia is situated between 1 and 7 degrees north and has traditionally been the centre of regional trade due to its strategic location. With the growing number of marinas around the country is fast becoming accessible to cruisers and no longer a place to just pass by.
The west coast of Peninsula Malaysia has always been the main route for cruisers sailing from Australia to Europe. The eastern side of the country (east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah) offer a much quieter scene. This rally is meant to unearth some of the less traveled but spectacular destinations of the east. We hope to discover long sandy beaches and idyllic islands, unspoiled and unhurried. Some of the best diving sites in the world are located here and some still waiting to be discovered.
For the year 2009 we intend to take you from Penang to Kota Kinabalu. There is so much to look forward to. The journey is as much about self discovery as it is about visiting our friendly hosts.
Visiting Malaysia, as many of you already know, is hassle-free and convenient for long-term stopovers. The destinations that you will visit are also easily accessible by air. Travelling to any part of the world or receiving friends and family at the rally stops should not be a problem to anyone.
We would like to thank Tourism Malaysia for their advice, direction and support.
This event is a continuation of our efforts to promote marine tourism in Malaysia and we invite all sailors to join the Sail Malaysia Passage to the East and Discover Malaysia by Sea!
I had thought I had finished this blog for the time being but departure from Charmar or return to "home" raised some new reflections. Departure was of course through Singapore where we spent (spent is the right word! Singapore is the place in the world where money is extracted from you plastically almost without you realising it by expert traders!) a couple of days shopping, or more precisely, sprinting along behind Kirsty from shop to shop, centre to centre.
Singapore is a place of course where if there is something to be bought it can be bought! It is place of conspicuous consumption, fine foods, and perpetual motion and activity.
Shoe shops have a powerful impact on a 19 year old girl!
But for some reflection:-
* One dinner in Sinapore would pay for a whole semester of university fees for a student in Alor, Indonesia, with change
* Three drinks at Raffles Long Bar would also pay for a students fees for one semester!
* Two nights accommodation could subsidise a student for a year at University in Alor or other islands,
* Singapore grows and develops almost whilst you watch it, it is tiny but heavily populated
* Singapore - a model community where the U does exist in commUnity and commUnity benefit is one of the leading goals of the government
* Strict rules, yes, but a safe and working community is the result with very low crime rates and pride in their community
Different Field, Different Grasshoper
We have been fortunate, and privileged over the last couple of months to be taking part in Sail Indonesia, a fleet of sailing vessels, many of them sailing around the World, who have joined together with the Sail Indonesia Rally from Darwin to Singapore through Indonesia.
It is interesting to talk with these folk, global travellers, about their experiences in Australia, in Cairns and how they compare with their experiences around the World.
Moreso it is enlightening to see this group of people who could be considered to be "haves", after all they do own boats and have the means to sails long distances and support themselves although many do it on, by 'our standard' on a shoe string budget, compared to those who are really "have nots", for example the West Timorese and Indonesian peoples of places like Kupang where the Yachts enter Indonesia and commence their tour of the country.
The 'haves' of the Western World certainly have the material possessions and the desire to accumulate material possession often for the sake of them. The West Timorese people often leading a traditional life, certainly do not have material possessions but do have happiness with their lot, a true society of mutual support and many of the better characteristics of societies of people that we have lost in the West.
Interestingly we had no concerns moving about in Kupang or Kalabati any time of the day or night, but I couldn't say that about our home town of Cairns after midnight on just about any night of the week or even during daylight when we see senseless bashings and muggings that seem now to be almost a daily occurrence.
And it seems 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. Maybe we could start thinking about that in the promotion of our tourism businesses that need to be regenerated.
On our first night in Kupang the Provincial Governor hosted a dinner, entertainment and welcome ceremony for the entire crews of the yachts and each person was presented a gift to commemorate the occasion. The Ministry of Tourism provided a wonderful 15 hour tour the next day right into the most remote highlands of West Timor where we had the opportunity to share life with these villagers. They were open, sharing and provided each of us with a gift again. A truly humbling and levelling experience. Only days later we experienced the same in Kalabati.
In the West we judge people by what they have, in these areas they are judged for who they are. These people are happy and contented with their life, largely without material possessions and it does make one wonder - who is really in the best situation with leading a real and satisfying life - the haves or the have nots?
I guess the answer lies in the symptoms of what is becoming an increasingly dysfunctional community of substance abuse with alcohol, extreme substance abuse with drugs, depression, suicide, senseless bashing and muggings and one can only be left to wonder where it is leading to?
Just maybe the grasshopper in the barren field is more appreciative of the finer things in life than the one who has everything in lush fields. It is worth remembering also that every field has lean seasons, droughts and floods and they move from field to field. We often feel entitled to the lifestyle we have, we could however have been born into much different circumstances and should remember that when judging our neighbours who are not as materially well off.
Our reflections and focal key memories of 2,000 miles of Indonesia can be summarised as:-
People - welcoming, cultural, industrious, friendly, proud, helpful
Boats - thousands and thousands of traditional boats fishing every day, everywhere
Fantastic Anchorages - myriads of anchorages that are beautiful throughout the archipelago
Islands and protected waterways - the Whitsundays only 1000 times bigger and better and with every one of thousands of islands having distinct communities
Sailing - just fantastic along rugged coastlines in deep water, protected waterways, islands and straits, bays and harbours, so interesting and so different
Dragons, Bima Schooners, Praus, Fish traps and things that go bang in the night!
People that care for their housing, albeit quite humble in many cases, it is clean, tidy and cared for
People who work hard to make the best of limited opportunities
Beaches, beautiful islands, coral reefs, snorkelling, diving beautiful clear water, magnificent waterways.
Bureaucracy - heh - but no worse certainly than what we have allowed to happen in Australia in the last decade!
Rubbish - there seems no recognition of rubbish and pollution in public area, a house can be maintained immaculately with rubbish everywhere across the road, creeks, drains, waterways, the ocean - rubbish is just thrown down. This is a a global problem now and will exacerbate in years to come destroying our oceans. Western and wealthy nations MUST start helping Indonesia NOW to address this problem. A clean up Indonesia campaign is a MUST. Beautiful tourist areas are marred by unimaginable piles of rubbish - hundreds of miles of beautiful clear ocean waters are full of plastics, bottles, bags, foil and wrappers - mostly supplied by Western Countries and now destroying OUR oceans - it will come back to haunt us. Something needs to be done NOW! Remote and beautiful island beaches are covered with Rubbish, Plastics, Bottles and Bags - Reefs and beautiful waterways the same, it washes out the drains and waterways into the Oceans - by the tons - every day.
The Rally - do it, it is a wonderful opportunity to see and do things and have access to areas not otherwise possible. Be challenged by it and take advantage of these opportunities - you will be one of a priveleged few who have this opportunity while it lasts.
Keep an open mind, enjoy the parts that you wish to and enjoy sailing to other underexplored areas as the whim takes you. Take patience, tolerance and understanding in abundant supplies and you will gain from it!
Above all YOU will the visitor in their country.
An easy morning in Nongsa Point Marina and we cleared our papers with considerable ease, coffeed, talked and considered the gallop across the Shipping Channels to Singapore and then to Malaysia.
We finally set off at about 1220 for the 15 mile run, having seen the extent of traffic in this area which is quite amazing with a Traffic Separation Scheme and a ship every twelve minutes, supertankers that look about 4 times as long as a "normal" ship and vessels of 1000 feet and 20 metres draft plying the water at from 2 to 15 knots in both directions and then local high speed ferries etc also joining in.
Anyway we cross the shipping channel with a couple of deviations and head for the Changi end of Singapore past the wonderful looking Malaysian Naval Training Centre on our starboard and then for the four mile trek up what seems to be a mangrove lined river to nowhere until we finally arrive at the Sabana Cove Marina and Resort. This is a great facility seemingly in the middle of nowhere but a well protected marina and we clear customs etc with a very efficient process (Australia could learn something here!) and dock.
Time for a wash down, covers up, it is VERY tropical here at present. There are ferries 45 minutes to Singapore. Monkeys in the trees and full on resort with all facilities.