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.

14 September 2017 | Pulau Maratua - Indonesia
14 September 2017 | Pulau Maratua - Indonesia
14 September 2017
14 September 2017
14 September 2017
14 September 2017
14 September 2017
11 September 2017 | Tarakan - East Kalimantan - Indonesia
11 September 2017 | Tawau - Sabah - Borneo
11 September 2017
11 September 2017
26 August 2017 | Sabah - Borneo
19 August 2017 | Sipidan & Mabul - Sabah - Malaysian Borneo
19 August 2017
19 August 2017
19 August 2017
19 August 2017
19 August 2017
19 August 2017
12 August 2017 | Rivers - Borneo

Eye-Eye

14 September 2017 | Pulau Maratua - Indonesia
Andy & Sue
We have mentioned the sailing vessel 20-20-Vision a couple of times in recent blogs. The skipper is Jimmy Mackey, a septuagenarian who we first met at Whangarei during 2014 in New Zealand. We knew of Jimmy as we travelled across the Pacific Ocean back in 2013. An optician, who hails from Ulster, was mentioned by other sailing friends from the same corner of the globe. Our first encounter with some of his pro-bono activities was while in Vulaga in the remote Fijian Lau group of islands. Approximately 130 people living in three villages were given eye tests while we were there. Using his decades of professional skill and portable opticians' consulting equipment carried aboard 20-20-Vision he has since also provided optical services to islanders in other remote communities, not only in Fiji but also Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. People in these distant communities often find it difficult to get access to optician services. What Jimmy has been able to offer, in addition to prescription spectacles, is a full eye-examination. Those who do need medical attention can be pointed in the right direction, those with no evident problem do not suffer disruption to their relentless cycle of subsistence living.
Soon Jimmy will be carrying his anchor ashore and leaving the cruising lifestyle astern. He has taken this opportunity to give Sue some basic training in conducting sight-tests, simple prescription of spectacles for short and long sightedness and identifying obvious eye problems typical to the tropics. In his indomitable manner, he called Sue on the radio, had her accompany him into the remote local village and started offering to examine people's eyes. Sue thought she was an observer, by client number two she was doing the check-ups under supervision. At the end of two days, they had examined 55-people: word travelled fast. A couple of folks have been identified with issues that can still be medically corrected, they are alerted to see the doctor on his next visit: without action, blindness will be the consequence. The most remarkable outcome was the story of one delightful 53-year old fellow who is short sighted, he has never had spectacles and has never seen the distant and near -distant vista of this beautiful place in which he lives. The gift of the correct pair of glasses and this man now, for the first time in his life, can see beyond near vision; the wondrous look on the chap's face was a joy to behold, he was almost in tears. His gratitude to Sue and Jimmy was overwhelming.
The photo shows Sue on the left, Jimmy on the right with some of their new friends wearing spectacles. In the foreground is Sassi, a local dive guide, he speaks excellent English and gave tremendous help with translation. His brought elderly villagers from his nearby village by boat and was pleased his community had been helped.

Into the Blue - Maratua

14 September 2017 | Pulau Maratua - Indonesia
Andy & Sue
The obstacle course negotiated by Sue to get ashore at Tarakan was not something to be repeated until her injured ankle was better. The local tourism board had planned a gala dinner for visiting yachts-people but we departed. Sue may as well rest her foot while we made progress towards our next destination: Maratua Island, some 90 miles to the SSE.
We hauled the anchor at 09:40. Before heading out of the channel, we assisted Jimmy (s/y 20-20 Vision) and his crew, Martin & Ivy, to free their anchor, snagged on harbour bottom debris 15 metres deep. He would not be given new clearance papers until he was unattached. Fortunately, Chris (s/y Kaluwasan) had brought his portable compressor/breather aboard. The belief the anchor had been brought to within 5 metres of the surface, in murky water, was optimistic; nearer to 15-metres deep, it took almost an hour to clear, while Sue held Spruce ready to depart, under engine, nearby.
A typically windless day was accompanied by the hum of our engine in the background, until a strengthening breeze emerged after a few hours motoring. An initially light but favourable wind increased to 16-20 knots and shifted to put our destination almost to windward. An early tack out towards deep, safe, water during the night was met with a steadily shifting wind. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the wind-shift. Eventually 141 miles was sailed to reach Maratua at around midday, but what a stunning destination. The photo above shows the reef passage, credits for the picture to Daniel (MV Restless-M) and his drone.

14 September 2017
Another one of Daniel’s drone pictures: Sue and Andy wave from the deck of Spruce. This one shows the lovely blue water in which we anchored with a small village in the distance. Sue accompanied Jimmy (s/y 20-20-Vision) there, to help locals with sight problems, but more of that later
Maratua boasts a long oceanic drop off from the reef along the eastern side. It was a perfect location for some enjoyable but fairly easy diving. Although a current flows along the reef, winds are typically light and towing the dinghy on a long tether while submerged down to 25-metres, not a problem.
On the outgoing tide fine sand and particulates from the lagoon clouded visibility in the sea. When the flood commenced the ocean-visibility rapidly cleared. We drifted along the wall on a slight current, a delightful way to spend an hour. Spotted Eagle Rays, Trevally, Crayfish, Bump Head Parrot Fish and a host of other colourful fish darted back and forth, earnestly engaged in subsistence on the edge of an oceanic abyss. Away from the wall, an indescribably beautiful deep purple-blue hue sweeps towards the mysteries of Mother Earth’s inner space. Occasional predator fish flit past, cautiously eying the strangers in their domain. Turtles disengage from crevices, and swim lazily away, their time in cleaning stations disturbed by our close passage. Corals and gorgonians waft in the watery breeze that brings nutrients into their hungry grasp. The unceasing motion of Bat Fish, Unicorn Fish, Angel Fish, Fusiliers and their comrades in survival is a wonder to watch.

14 September 2017
Sue testing one of our newly fabricated reef hooks in a flow of current: see the bubbles streaming out to the right. The hook is a device that enables one to attach to a rocky part of the reef, avoiding damage to sensitive coral, while taking a break to watch denizens in action. Where there is a strong current there are usually rocky outcrops denuded of coral. Friends Mike and Jules (s/y Sirius) tell us that the Raja Ampat region, far ahead, is swept by strong currents so our hooking technique must be perfected before arrival.

14 September 2017
Also at Maratua is an inland brackish lake. Seawater percolates through uplifted limestone, rainwater floods into the catchment from surrounding land. The salinity of the water must undergo diurnal and seasonal changes; surely a difficult environment for flora and fauna entrapped or evolving in this ecosystem.
Gaining access involved a longish dinghy ride. Four inflatables chased our local guide who was clouded in a mist of spray thrown up by his long tail propulsion system. Mr Boxan sat hunched, caressing his hinged motor, dark hair flowing astern and grinning impishly as he chain-smoked his way across the expansive lagoon. Skilfully, he showed our deeper draft vessels the less shallow routes through gorgeous turquoise reefs.

14 September 2017
A brief hike through swampy land bedecked with tortuously tangled mangrove roots took eleven of us onto a steeply ascending razor sharp limestone trail. Sue’s recovering ankle, firmly strapped in hiking boots, grimaced with consternation at this unexpected second outing. However, the path was much shorter than anticipated, the climb gave way to a descent and the lake was quickly reached.
The minor expedition proved a fantastic day out and a wonderful complement to the reef diving that occupied most of our time.
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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Sue with her typically smiley face.
Sue with her typically smiley face.
Added 12 March 2010