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Bye Bye Bau- Bau!
Di
27/08/2010, Bau Bau

The last two days of our stopover in Bau Bau were action packed with a visit to a Balinese village where we watched graceful dancing performances and enjoyed a morning tea of traditional food. This visit seemed to be an effort by the organisers to impress upon us how the Balinese who are Hindu live in harmony within a predominantly Muslim country. Many years ago the Balinese were encouraged to settle in this area of Sulawesi because they are experts in growing rice and because of the availability of land to do so, compared to the island of Bali. The highlights of our stay however, were the Welcome/ Blessing ceremony followed by dinner at the fortress and the formal dinner at the mayor of Bau Bau's official residence. The Welcoming ceremony involved 5 local elders dressed in traditional costume who performed a special blessing ceremony for the rally participants. One by one we filed past to shake hands with the elders and be blessed with the water. It was quite special. Following this we were taken up to the fortress( the largest rampart in the world) where we visited a few different houses demonstrating weaving and jewelry making from brass. Then we walked up to the fort itself where we saw more traditional dancing. Accompanied by many dignitaries, officials and plenty of onlookers we were led into a building where we were invited to sit on the floor opposite these beautifully made-up local women in traditional clothing. In between us was a feast- all this amazing food, so well presented on brass pedestals and covered in bright coloured cloth. After a prayer,the women then lifted off the coverings to reveal the vast expanse of food and began to serve us. It was really delicious and ranged from savory to sweet with wine glasses of water to wash it all down. It was all quite magnificent and we were were overwhelmed by the generosity of the locals in the preparation of this event. The mayor's dinner on the final evening was extra special for Bern & I as we were invited to dress in traditional costume for the evening. It was a real privilege for us and a very enjoyable experience. The costumes are quite spectacular, heavily bejewelled, with exotic headgear and enhanced by lots of 'bling'- bracelets and earrings. The evening involved a traditional dinner, many more dance performances, speeches and finishing off with communal dancing involving everyone. It was a terrific night and we have many memorable photos of the event. After a very exciting week, we finally bade farewell to Bau Bau and enjoyed an overnight sail of light winds, flat seas and a full moon to Bonerate, a small island group that breaks up our journey. Tomorrow we set sail for the western end of Flores Island.

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V.I.P's in Bau Bau
Di
22/08/2010, Bau Bau

After one of the most calm and relaxing overnight sails we have had in a long time, we arrived in Bau Bau early Wednesday morning. Being one of the first yachts to arrive at the rally anchorage we were spotted from onshore by the organisers and quickly directed to where we should anchor. They were very pleased to see us and another yacht arrive, as this is the first time the rally has stopped over in Bau Bau and they are keen to promote their city as a tourist destination. When we queried where the supermarket and bank were, an official offered to drive us there and wait while we picked up what we needed. There are many Warungs (food stalls) that line the shore and they fire up every night and draw many of the locals down to the waters edge. Being Ramadan it is interesting to watch people sitting around waiting for the sun to set and the siren to wail as a sign to break fast. They must be very hungry!! We have already eaten at two of the many stalls- it is very inexpensive and we are enjoying working out which is the most tastiest! We have been overwhelmed at the eagerness of the tourism group here and their welcome. Beginning yesterday we have a full four day program of being bused around to various sites of interest. Yesterday we visited the waterfall not far from town and then later in the day we were taken to a picnic area out of town that overlooks the water, to eat traditional food from stalls that were set up and then to watch the sunset. Each time we ventured out we had full police escort, as apparently we are guests of the mayor. So with sirens blaring and police cars in front and behind the bus we zoomed through town with all oncoming traffic being blasted off the road to free the way! We feel the extra attention to our safety and security is a reaction to the protest by demonstrators at the final function we attended at our last stopover in Wakatobi. The word has got out to the officials here and they are determined to do it bigger and better! This morning we visited some caves just out of town that were full of stalagtites and stalagmites. It was quite a steep descent to the water pool at the bottom but a dubious generator up at ground level kept the lamps burning below, which made the climb easier. The next two days are full of activities including a trip to a traditional Balinese village, a visit to a pearl farm and a gala dinner at the mayors official residence. Being transported to the different sites by bus is a real bonus and makes it possible to see so much more. We are being quite spoilt here!

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27/08/2010 | Aris
thanks for everything Dianne...
thanks for the cookies & beverage....

for bernie, you owe me one thousand for parking...
hahahaha. . . .just kidding.... ^_^

bravo First Light III
Setting sail for Bau Bau
Di
18/08/2010, Wakatobi Islands

We have spent quite a relaxing ten days in Wangi Wangi enjoying our calm anchorage in the lagoon. We have shopped at the local market for vegetables and bought a freshly caught tuna which we enjoyed for dinner that evening. Fish is a daily staple for the locals and the market sells a variety in all sizes- they obviously don't have a policy on catching and selling undersized fish ! On Sunday we dinghied our bikes ashore and went for 4 hr ride around the island, which was quite interesting and good exercise. It seems we were quite a novelty to the locals, as we rode through the various villages along the way, with many laughing , cheering and waving to us as we went by. The roads were in reasonable condition, but we were glad for our wide tyres at times. Sunday evening was the official dinner for the rally yachts. It was held 15 kms out of town at the islands first 4 star resort! The building was very smart with bungalows still under construction. However, we enjoyed a dinner of traditional food and were entertained by some beautiful, young local girls performing some traditional dances. There weren't too many speeches, but the Regent (local governor) certainly let us know that our visit to Wakatobi was appreciated and encouraged us to r eturn home and tell our friends about the area. It is Ramadan at the moment so the �*all to Prayer' begins quite early 3am (!) to alert everyone to get out of bed, pray and eat before sunrise. As the music and praying is broadcast around the island, we have been woken early as well, so I guess this will continue until the end of Ramadan, at the end of the month! This evening we set sail for Bau Bau (southern Sulawesi) about 85nm west from here, which is the next rally stopover. Hopefully we will arrive early tomorrow morning in good light to find a suitable anchorage. Some boats left yesterday and others are heading south to Flores Island to meet up with the other rally boats who are sailing through the southern group of Indonesian islands. We plan to be in Bau Bau till ealry next week, then will sail south towards the western end of Flores Island.

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Wangi Wangi Island
Di
10/08/2010, Wakatobi Islands

We arrived at Wangi Wangi Island 4am Monday morning after a reasonably good passage from Banda in company with three other rally yachts. As we neared the bay we were confronted with a wall of lights which seemed to string out across the bay. What we thought were street lights turned out to be a very long line of local fishing boats advertising their presence in the water with a variety of coloured flashing lights. We then had to gingerly motor our way through the fleet and still keep our eyes peeled for unlit canoes, one was unmanned just floating in the water. However, closer into the bay, it was a huge relief to have the local Harbour Master, Gino contact us by radio and offer his help in guiding us in through the reef to a deep lagoon.. He has offered this voluntary service to all the rally boats and seems to really enjoy using the radio to practise his limited English with the yachts as they arrive which leads to much confusion! Wangi Wangi is a small island with the traditional markets and many other smaller shops which all seem to carry the same stock. There are a number of students currently studying English, who have offered their services as guides so they can practise their English with us. Yesterday we had three guides walk us through the town and show us what is on offer here. They were very appreciative of the opportunity to chat with us and we had a lot of fun trying to communicate and help with the pronunciation of some our letter sounds- 'sh' really confounded them. Fishing seems to be an important food source for the people here and we are looking forward to dining on some squid or lobster at one of the local restaurants. Wakatobi which is made up of three islands is highly regarded for it's pristine coral reefs and white beaches and is a popular place to snorkell and dive. As I write this it is time for the çall to prayer' with prayerful music being blasted over speakers throughout the town. It is a very different genre of music to what we are used to hearing. Ramadan begins tomorrow so it will be interesting t see the impact this event has on the day to day life of the people here- apparenlty the children do not attend school during Ramadan. We plan to stay here for a few more days and join in the celebrations of their Independence Day.

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12/08/2010 | john
Hi Guts/ It souds like you are having a fantastic time. I hope the boat is behaving for you. I am very envious of what you are doing. One day me and Helen will also be doing this. In the mean time we putting up with the cold and working. talk soon. I wish you nice breezes and smooths seas.
Farewell Bandanaira Island
Di
05/08/2010, Banda Islands

We are coming to the end of our stay in Bandanaira which has been a great learning and cultural experience for us. Our 10 day stay here has been busy but restful as well, with time for some reading and pottering about on the boat ,as well as, sightseeing.. We particularly enjoyed our trip to Banda Besar a 15 minute boat ride form here, to tour a nutmeg plantation and visit some fortified ruins built during the Dutch occupation of the islands. We saw the oldest nutmeg tree, 300 years old which is still producing some fruit and the clove tree which produces a flower, which when dried, is what we buy as whole cloves in the supermarkets. We passed many houses that had big sheets lying on the ground outside in the sun, covered in cloves, in various states of the drying process. They start off as yellow/ red in colour then when fully dried are black as we would recognise them. The people of Bandanaira are predominantly Muslim so there are many times throughout the day when music(call to prayer) is played through loudspeakers all over the island which lends an exotic flavour to the experience of being here. It is also the reason why a slab of beer is twice the price of that at home! Yesterday Bern climbed the volcano a challenging climb up a narrow track to an elevation of 600 metres! For some reason the soles of his walking boots disintegrated on the way up, so he had to return to the dinghy, retrieve his boat shoes and start the climb again. Needless to say, his knees are a bit tender today! We have dined out at one of the better restaurants and enjoyed tasting a few of the local dishes, the grilled eggplant and peanut sauce was very delicious as was the green papaya salad. This morning we checked out with the Harbour Master as tomorrow morning we sail 10nm to Run (roon) Island where there are supposed to be some historical British sites and some good snorkelling. We will be sailing with three other boats so will have company. After the overnight stopover we will sail 370nm further west to Wakatobi which is the next stopover for the Sail Indonesia Rally. We will then catch up with the other boats who chose to go onto Ambon instead of staying here longer as we did.

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Amazing Banda Islands
Bern
28/07/2010, Banda Islands

The last blog had us 60 nm from the Banda Islands. From that point on we continued sailing and out of the haze the outline of the Banda Islands complete with volcano, started to appear. As we sailed around the western side of the volcano we were enveloped in the natural spicy fragrance of the islands. We motored into the natural deep water harbour between one of the islands and the volcano. Anchoring here is very difficult as the water is very deep ie. 30 m just off the shore. After a few tries to find a suitable spot to anchor among some of the early arrival yachts, we finally dropped anchor in 35 m of water and hoped it would hold. We were visited by about 8 officials all in uniforms, big black boots etc to process our entry into Indonesia. It all went quite smoothly and after going ashore to complete formalities with the Harbour Master I was presented with a bag containing Sail Banda poloshirts and other goodies and information about all the festivities happening . It seems that the sailing fleet we are a part of, is the centrepiece of a huge and very expensive tourist development initiative of the Indonesian government. Wednesday morning the official program of Sail Banda commenced. The crews of all the yachts that had arrived were guests of honour, seated in satin covered chairs with an airline type box of food to sustain us through the many speeches, dancing and music. It was a very special morning and was topped off by a delicious buffet lunch prepared by all the locals to welcome us as guests of honour. Many of the locals have up to the minute mobile phones so we had many photo shoots via the locals mobile ph.- 'stars for a day'!. The finale for the day was the dragon boat race. The dragon boats here are the traditional ones that are twice as long as those raced in Australia and hold 50 men. They are very sleek with elaborate bows and sterns and when racing they are very fast and impressive. This morning we took a walking tour of the town and learnt about the local history, some of it quite gruesome at the hands of the colonists, eager to get their hands on the nutmeg and clove spices so unique to this island. It was a very informative tour and finished at the local markets which have a variety of interesting vegetables,and many takes on nutemg-dried, sweetened with added chilli(!),nutmag juice,nutmeg powder etc, etc. We plan to spend a few more days here being such a unique island all out on its own in the Banda Sea.

Hopefully we can find internet so we can attach photos of this amazing place.

Love Bern and Di

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02/08/2010 | Jane and Graham
What an amazing experience!! Hope your anchor held!

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