Little Green Boat

Spruce left the UK in 2011, arrived in SE Asia during 2015. Finished land/air touring in Asia. Afloat again and getting ready to head east to Raja Ampat and on to Japan and Alaka in 2018.

18 November 2017 | Sorong - West Papua - Indonesia
18 November 2017
18 November 2017
14 November 2017 | Batanta - Raja Ampat - Indonesia
02 November 2017 | Wayag - Raja Ampat - Indonesia
29 October 2017 | Kabui Passage - Waigeo - Raja Ampat
20 October 2017 | Deer Island - West Papua - Indonesia
17 October 2017 | Kofiau - West Papua - Indonesia
11 October 2017 | Anachonda - Indonesia
29 September 2017 | Bitung - Sulawesi - Indonesia
29 September 2017
27 September 2017 | Serey - Sulawesi - Indonesia
27 September 2017
27 September 2017
27 September 2017
25 September 2017 | Badjo Kima - Northern Sulawesi - Indonesia
25 September 2017
25 September 2017
25 September 2017 | Northern Sulawesi - Indonesia
25 September 2017

Paperwork, Squalls and Re-provisioning

18 November 2017 | Sorong - West Papua - Indonesia
Andy & Sue
Equatorial sailing avoids exposure to trade winds and the risk of tropical cyclones. Light winds and reliance upon diesel fuel is the order of the day. However, predominately light-winds do not mean light winds always. If anything, when the wind comes, there tends to be too much, in short-lived blasts therefore of limited benefit for sailing. This morning, for example, we sweltered with less than three knots of wind,humidity more than 90%, after lunch a welcome breeze emerged, which rapidly grew into 20+ knots accompanied by short choppy seas sweeping through our anchorage. Rain insisted we closed the boat’s hatches, momentary relief from the heat and humidity soon forgotten as the cabin temperature peaks at a moist 33C. One hour later, the wind will be dying, the sloppy seas remaining into the evening.
The knack is to take the mile dinghy ride across to the town in the early morning and be back aboard before the afternoon thunderheads build, grey heads lifting towards the stratosphere, frowning down upon us puny mortals beneath. Yesterday, the allotted hour to regain our passports, new visa extensions duly stamped within, was 2 pm. Oh dear! We went ashore early and remained dry for our appointment. The return trip was post the daily blow. Simon aboard Nicha told us the winds peaked at 26knots. Some of the waves were still arching into near breaking crests; a thorough dousing was our penance for the impertinence to venture out in the afternoon.

18 November 2017
While anchored at Sorong we saw this craft undergoing a refit alongside the dock. When in Malaysia a short film was seen that showed the same vessel engaged in an educational programme within Raja Ampat and Cendrawashi Bay. The purpose was to explain to locals the importance of maintaining healthy reef ecology and not overfishing, to preserve their primary source of protein, fish. Whether successful or not the aim is laudable. Generally, as we cruised within Raja Ampat, the preponderance of rubbish in the sea was less than usual. However, anchored here at Sorong , a sizeable town, the incidence has increased radically. There is a rubbish collection system in operation but more than a few bulging plastic sacks are seen floating past. Clearly far more education is still necessary. We did see an analysis some time ago that estimated the mass of plastic waste entering the oceans from Rivers at between 1.5-2.4 Billion Tonnes per annum, of this the estimate was 81% comes from Asian rivers. We have no problem believing this proportion, based upon what we have observed in cruising over the past eight years.
The populations of seabirds here are more abundant than in Malaysia, the size of fish seen when diving or seen jumping from the water are larger. Fishing boats are less numerous and do not spend as much time fishing. We conclude the level of overfishing is probably less than in Malaysian waters. The demand for fish in Asian markets appears huge; the situation in these waters could rapidly deteriorate if the commercial fishing industry grows. The difficulty is to discover how a developing economy can expand, while protecting natural resources.
Now we are refuelled, re-provisioned, re-documented and ready to sally forth to Misool, ninety miles to the southwest.

18 November 2017
While anchored at Sorong we saw this craft undergoing a refit alongside the dock. When in Malaysia a short film was seen that showed the same vessel engaged in an educational programme within Raja Ampat and Cendrawashi Bay. The purpose was to explain to locals the importance of maintaining healthy reef ecology and not overfishing, to preserve their primary source of protein, fish. Whether successful or not the aim is laudable. Generally, as we cruised within Raja Ampat, the preponderance of rubbish in the sea was less than usual. However, anchored here at Sorong , a sizeable town, the incidence has increased radically. There is a rubbish collection system in operation but more than a few bulging plastic sacks are seen floating past. Clearly far more education is still necessary. We did see an analysis some time ago that estimated the mass of plastic waste entering the oceans from Rivers at between 1.5-2.4 Billion Tonnes per annum, of this the estimate was 81% comes from Asian rivers. We have no problem believing this proportion, based upon what we have observed in cruising over the past eight years.
The populations of seabirds here are more abundant than in Malaysia, the size of fish seen when diving or seen jumping from the water are larger. Fishing boats are less numerous and do not spend as much time fishing. We conclude the level of overfishing is probably less than in Malaysian waters. The demand for fish in Asian markets appears huge; the situation in these waters could rapidly deteriorate if the commercial fishing industry grows. The difficulty is to discover how a developing economy can expand, while protecting natural resources.
Now we are refuelled, re-provisioned, re-documented and ready to sally forth to Misool, ninety miles to the southwest.

Birds at Batanta

14 November 2017 | Batanta - Raja Ampat - Indonesia
Andy & Sue
Our slow cruise around Raja Ampat continues: a mixture of diving, snorkelling, watching birds, and undertaking essential boat-maintenance in sweaty exotic locations. Traveling south from Wayag we anchored at the island of Uanie; the visit was only for a lunch stop although overnight had been planned. A large swell rolling from the North Pacific Ocean hooked in around the end of the island, our position was fine, but the reef nearby surged with breaking waves. Possibly a typhoon was battering Taiwan or the Philippines to the north. If the direction of swell were to shift by ten degrees overnight, the anchorage would be untenable. After lunch, we upped anchor and returned to Kawe and its nearby Equatorial Islands. Spruce passed the Equatorial monument; laying a mere 40-metres south of our track. Later we came in the dinghy, a mile back from the anchorage. Swell was reaching the apparently protected beach; Andy held the dinghy clear from sharp stones while Sue photographed the nameplates attached the edifice.
From here a 30-mile passage south, interim anchorages hoped for also were suffering a continuing northerly swell. A coral surrounded lagoon beside Pulau Gof Besar (Island Gof Large) provided a protected open anchorage for three nights. Far from the mangroves, a breeze wafted past for most of the day and night. No insects, little current and cooler than usual: delightful. This was clearly not crocodile country so time to give the underwater hull a good clean from a few tenacious goose barnacles, our copper-coat bottom applied at Pangkor marina has received little attention for eight-months. Light abrasion with a scourer should now expose new embedded copper dust and deter these creatures from setting up home. A host of other outstanding jobs were successfully tackled: new engine room blower fitted, battery water checks, dismantling and cleaning roller blind-nets, servicing toilet pumps included. We have many miles to go, before we reach Canada next year, keeping on top of jobs here, while less mobile, is important if we are not to become overwhelmed while covering reactively large tracts of ocean in the coming months.
A return visit to Yanggelo for its invigorating mixture of underwater sights: coral and fish, plus the plethora of parrots, hornbills, herons and other varied avian stock were much enjoyed. During this visit, we saw a black-tip shark, many predator fish, and shoals of rabbit fish, grunts and other usual reef fishes. Ordinarily we would not dive this location, mangroves often mean crocodiles, but so many local dive boats drop divers in the passage it seems to be perfectly safe. There is one unexplained crashing noise in the mangroves we still puzzle over. Rather like a tree falling, but surely not so many, and that bovine throat clearing is certainly no tree.
Next, we headed south towards Batanta. Spring tides and the ebb current are fierce. A wait for the tide to turn at Augusta Island saw us veering about in almost a 3-knot current close to a shallow reef. We left on what we thought was the last of the ebb only to punch a 2-knot current for a long while. Another yacht in the distance, only our third seen, proved to be New Zealand friend Simon, aboard s/y Nicha, last seen in Ternate five-weeks ago. We both anchored for a couple of nights in one of the inlets north of the large island of Batanta: flocks of Hornbills, Palm Cockatoos and other exotic birds perform regular flypasts.

Next we must head to Sorong for Visa renewal activities.

Wonderful Wayag

02 November 2017 | Wayag - Raja Ampat - Indonesia
At the northern perimeter of Raja Ampat lies an island group named Wayag. This is a collection of dreamy lagoons enclosed by conical limestone karsts. The few sandy beaches are white coral sand, fine grains almost down to powdered dust makes for unclear water visibility but sunlight reflected casts a gorgeous turquoise hue. Off this beach, we found a delightful anchorage with superb views in all directions, a cooling breeze wafted from various points of the compass. A pair of Manta Rays paid a visit on one day, turning somersaults beneath the boat, gills and maw gaping as they sifted plankton from the water. We dived in with mask and snorkels, the Mantas stayed to play: it was an amazing sight to swim below and look upwards as they passed close above. Swell and waves on the outer dive sites was too large for us to contemplate. We did find sheltered areas where diving and snorkelling was thoroughly enjoyable. Many new (to us) species were spotted and the fish identification books have been worked overtime. Amazingly, we have seen no other cruising yachts, is it the wrong season? An occasional live-aboard dive vessel has passed through, one whose captain, Jules, generously invited us to join their four guests for a beach barbecue. A Swiss vessel, a 33m gaff rigged wooden ketch, owned by a foundation and following Magellan's original circumnavigation, invited us aboard to see their craft. Three of them joined us (photos later) for sundowners that evening. Four brief nights spent in this magical place will remain as fond memories for many years to come.

More Parrots than Pigeons

29 October 2017 | Kabui Passage - Waigeo - Raja Ampat
Since our last blog and meeting the friendly villagers at Deer Island, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in West Papua. Diving at Penemu was but one highlight, a fast current passage decked out with large fan corals and a plethora of predators tucking into baitfish at the end got the heart beating faster. This was supplemented by a reef dive, culminating with a peep into the higher current zone, hooked on and watching the big fish action: very exciting. Then to an anchorage in mangroves at Yanggelo, we had two more excellent dives: one with an appearance by a huge Bump Head Parrot Fish and a shy white tip shark made a few passes to appraise the dangerous strangers. Kabui Passage was intended for a transit between Gam and Waigeo Islands, but a survey with the dinghy on depth, rocks and obstructions led us to revaluate that plan. An extra twenty miles seemed a better option than running aground in a sometimes fast current gorge with a few tortuous twists at the east end. We spent a night anchored here amongst the limestone karsts with a stern line run ashore to the rock (see photograph). At dusk, the humid heat reduced to bearable levels as we sat on deck watching, binoculars at the ready, waiting for the birds behind the cacophony to make an evening appearance. Parrots galore: many had glowing emerald backs, red beaks, yellow undersides and blue wingtips. A cousin sported fashionable blue headwear. A strange sound like heavy wheezing grew in strength. A pair of Wrinkled Hornbills flew between trees on adjacent karsts, then another and another. Maybe the same pair is employed by the local tourist board to do fly-pasts. We thought that sighting Wreathed Hornbills at Yanggelo had been unusual; evidently, Hornbills with their huge weighty beaks are seen more widely than Borneo, although this Wrinkled (new to us) species was not one of the six types we saw there. Hornbills are special but two huge black birds emitting a raucous screech flew in to take roost on a nearby branch. Two Palm Cockatoos, with their bright rouge cheek pads, shiny black plumage, prominent punk-hairstyle crest and large curved bills gave a wonderful finale. This is the largest of the cockatoos and one we failed to see while in Australia two years ago. As darkness fell, the bird sounds chirped and croaked to stillness, stars emerged from their daylight slumber, the sounds of frogs and insects stirred the night air. Particular trees around our anchorage began to vamp with pulses of synchronised pinpricks of light; fireflies commenced their night time rituals of courtship. Our thoughts of Raja Ampat prior to arriving were mainly focused on diving. Our initial plunges into the blue certainly reinforce that impression. However, the region offers much more besides, the scenery is remarkable, the birdlife visually and audibly attention grabbing. We are thrilled at the prospect of another three months in West Papua between here and Biak three-hundred miles to the east.
Vessel Name: Spruce
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg Rassy 42 - Enderlein Design
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, UK
Crew: Sue & Andy
About: Sue is an artist, plays the flute and guitar. Andy enjoys technical challenges and hoped to learn to speak more Spanish. Unsuccessfully:-( Maybe this year?
Extra: During 2013 and 2014 we sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and then Australia. 2015-16 brought us north into Asia. The past few years cruising has enabled us to visit many countries, meet lots of interesting people and to understand the world a little better.
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/littlegreenboat
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Spruce's Photos - Sabah Diving
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Mantis Shrimp in nest of rubble.
 
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