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.

29 May 2017 | Tarempa - Anambas - Indonesia
26 May 2017 | Eastern Anambas Islands - Indonesia
23 May 2017 | Western Anambas Islands - Indonesia
18 May 2017 | Western Anambas Islands - Indonesia
15 May 2017 | Beautiful Anambas Islands
15 May 2017
15 May 2017
12 May 2017 | Anambas Islands - Indonesia
10 May 2017 | Anambas Islands - Indonesia
07 May 2017 | Anambas Islands - Indonesia
05 May 2017 | Anambas Islands - Indonesia
02 May 2017 | Tarempa - Anambas Island - Indonesia
02 May 2017
02 May 2017
02 May 2017
02 May 2017
02 May 2017
01 May 2017 | South China Sea
28 April 2017 | Teleuk Tekek - Tioman - Malaysia
28 April 2017

Bye Bye Beautiful Anambas

29 May 2017 | Tarempa - Anambas - Indonesia
Provisioning, fuel and formalities at the main town of Tarempa concluded our month in the beautiful Anambas Islands. Today we commence our 300-mile journey to Kuching in Malaysian Borneo. We intend to minimise the night hours underway by occasionally anchoring at conveniently placed islets and islands. Normally we do not object to night sailing, or possibly motoring in this case; the starlit dark nights at sea are wonderful for gazing at the galaxy, and straining ones comprehension of the magnitude of the magnificence. However, we have seen two whole tree trunks, complete with roots, floating past during our travels. Colliding with one of those monsters at night would not be a happy encounter. Many rivers run into the South China Sea, heavy inland rainfall in any one of a number of surrounding countries can bring uprooted behemoths into range: remember a tree may have commenced its journey more than one season ago. Indonesia has a reputation for awkward bureaucracy where yacht movements are concerned. A change was made at the end of 2016 and it has made formalities much less complex. The revised system has done away with a bond agent. It enables the skipper to self-guarantee the vessel will be removed from Indonesia, or tax will be levied. The one difficulty that still requires an agent or other in-country representative is a Sponsor Letter. UK nationals can enter at 19-different ports with a 30-day, non-renewable, visa granted upon entry. If a longer stay is desired a Social Visa-60 must be obtained. These visas, initially for 60-days, can then be renewed every 30 days up to 6-months maximum. That Social Visa requires the in-country sponsor. If this requirement were changed, perhaps to create a six-month cruising visa, we believe cruising yachts would flock into Indonesia, and drive a demand for marinas and repair facilities. Developing the infrastructure and skills for that market will be challenging but probably far more beneficial for the wider economy than the existing network of specialised middle-men who navigate bureaucratic shoals for relatively small numbers of visitors. The authorities we interfaced with in Tarempa were excellent at providing an efficient service. We found them most helpful in steering us through their requirements. Our hopes are for a similar experience as we sail eastwards through Indonesia later in the year. First, we have our sights on Malaysian Borneo: Sarawak and Sabah provinces and tiny affluent Brunei nestled between. We have added a Photo Album to the gallery on the blog with pictures from our month in these islands.

Visitors

26 May 2017 | Eastern Anambas Islands - Indonesia
The tail end of boisterous winds from the west gave us an opportunity to run eastwards with genoa poled out and mainsail rigged on the opposite side. So far in the Anambas, our sailing has been to windward; it felt a little odd to be rigging a booming-out pole on a rolling deck two-months since the last time. The southern islands of Semut and Akar gave protection as the stronger winds blew themselves back to a light southerly. These islands presented yet more scenery that is gorgeous. Snorkelling was impaired by diminished visibility caused by fine white sand stirred up by a gentle but turbulent current. This morning another move to the north, this eight-mile hop closed our circuitous anti-clockwise loop of the Anambas. In all, two-hundred and twelve miles have been logged: further than we originally anticipated. We are now anchored opposite Pencil Dot Island, our old friend of three-weeks ago. Three squid platforms are moored near our anchorage, no doubt ready for work tonight. The presence of a sailing boat seems somewhat novel. A host of mobile-phone cameras pointed our way as we passed. A group of young lads paid a visit. They were as intrigued about us as we were about them. In the photo, from L to R, are Deni, Rio and Umar: aged from 19-years to 21-years. They work 7 nights per week, fishing from dark until dawn. The small squid (Cumi) is their target catch; the larger squid (Sotong) are not for them. Per kilogram, around 30,000 Rupiah can be expected at the market. Their nets typically haul in between 100Kg and 200Kg per night. They work continuous nights on the brightly lit squid platforms because the money they make is good compared to alternative employment. They did invite us to join them tonight to see what is involved; the thought of a 10-hour watch without a break was not appealing enough to convince us of the merits; if a shift were a mere couple of hours then maybe. They were bemused when we revealed Cruisers midnight is 9pm.

Low-Tech Fishing

23 May 2017 | Western Anambas Islands - Indonesia
In the last blog, we wrote of relatively hi-tech squid platforms riding the currents in the inter-island selats (channels) overnight. This photo shows the lower technology end of techniques seen in the Anambas Islands. Near to villages, people paddle canoes, carved from a single tree-trunk with prow and stern colourfully painted, to nearby reefs. A face mask is donned and heads immersed into the water on one side, often fishermen lay right across the canoe with legs overhanging to avoid capsizing the precarious balance. Sometimes a spear is held, now and again, a line with hook tantilisingly baited is dangled before the fish pursued. These craft are steered around the reef zones by a leg kicking on one side and an arm the other, propelling the canoe in pursuit of the next meal. Further from civilisation, a single cylinder diesel engine powered boat may heave into view. The resonant tok-tok noise of the unsilenced motor heralds the arrival long before the vessel is sighted. Water gushes from a plastic pipe hanging outboard, the heated raw salt-water cooling fluid returns to the ocean. Usually these are low freeboard craft. Difficult to see in the swell, up to two canoes are carried on the narrow squat superstructure, occasionally another towed astern. They range everywhere around the islands, once anchored the canoes are deployed and fishing commences in the manner described above. Even in the deeper waters between islands, a sharp lookout must be kept for tiny canoes; often the first sighting is a torso sitting in the waves, the hull invisible: alternatively, perhaps water flying into the air as another bout of frantic bailing is undertaken. If the pilot is lying with face submerged, as little as 200-metres warning may be all you get to avoid a collision. We spent time in the western island of Djemaja. The east coast did not offer the sharp drop-offs in depth from coastal reefs we like to dive. A snorkel survey of adjacent Gumbong, a small offshore islet, did offer steep edges but the quantity of coral seemed sparse. Many Crown of Thorns starfish were spotted, these beasts are responsible for eating huge quantities of coral, and excessive numbers are not good for reef survival: perhaps this is why coral is limited here. A lovely drift snorkel, riding a current running through a cut, was had: plenty of lush corals and fish were to be found in this shallower region. The winds associated with the SW-Monsoon are becoming steadier as the season progresses; strangely, they typically blow from SSE here. The latest spate of 15 knots winds were used for a cracking 25-mile beat towards isles closer to the main island and Tarempa. We have only another week before we must clear out of this beautiful archipelago and sail east towards Malaysian Borneo.

Chummy Cumi!

18 May 2017 | Western Anambas Islands - Indonesia
The word for small squid in Bahasa Indonesian is Cumi, (pronounced Chu-mi). And the human density at which locals pack their rafts for night fishing expeditions definitely smacks of chumminess. The industry might be small scale but it is organised efficiently at the village level. The first requirement is a pair of long floats onto which a structure can be fabricated. We have seen floats made with huge logs and Heath-Robinson affairs using empty plastic fuel drums: all lashed together with polypropylene rope. A wooden framework is then erected onto which a flat working platform can be laid. The all-important generator housing and accommodation shed are the only solid structures added. At each end, and along the sides, wooden frames are raised to provide mountings for a host of bright floodlights. With the approach of dusk, harsh metallic tok-tok noises move towards these scattered platforms, moored during the daytime in creeks and bays. Hordes of crew leap board and these ungainly looking vessels are towed to offshore stations for the night's work; rope rodes attached to anchors tether the craft in fifty to sixty metre depths. The by now indistinct distant silhouette emits the muted sound of the generator engine as it fires up. Banks of lights spring into illumination, a row at a time. There they stay until the whole process is reversed with the first blush of dawn reaching into the eastern skies. We now realise some of the brightly lit craft we first encountered in the channel approaching Kupang, upon our first arrival in Indonesian waters during 2015, were of this type. Incandescent at night and gone by dawn, so easy to assume they were all conventional boats because no detail can be discerned through the haze of brilliance emitting a glowing aura while they fish. The advantage of this arrangement is a small motor boat can manoeuvre a relatively inexpensive fishing structure into position. Probably far more economical than squid-boats we saw in Flores, each sporting two large flimsy outriggers at the sides to create the working platform. It is interesting to see how diverse communities solve similar problems with alternative solutions.

How Unspoiled?

15 May 2017 | Beautiful Anambas Islands
Andy & Sue
Glorious skyscapes ephemerally cloak the heavens in abstract patterns during the short period of dawn break in these beautiful islands. Stand off a little way and the scenery is stunning. Perfect arrangements of palms, rocks and sea vie for attention, almost as if a Bonsai expert has been appointed to work as a large-scale exterior designer. Is that the whole picture? Look closer and one of the huge problems faced by island communities comes into sharp focus.

15 May 2017
Rubbish and discarded items inexorably find their way into the sea. Some of this alien detritus is deposited directly into the water from local craft or coastal communities. Off the Malaysian coast, one always knew where the fishing fleet of small boats had congregated overnight. At around dawn a cluster of empty plastic bottles bobbed on the horizon ahead, a clearly defined zone of discarded objects. Passing closer a plethora of plastic bags and maybe a rice-sack or two hove into view. Along with offcuts of rope and net, hazards that must be dodged, they would play havoc if wrapped around the propeller.
This “desert island”, in the photo, sits in a strong tidal stream during the ebb: we must hasten to add, this is an extreme example, and some other beaches are almost pristine. What looked inviting from afar is less so as steps are imprinted into the freshly uncovered sand. An assortment of synthetic materials lay where the last tide deposited them: rope, plastic bags, disposable cigarette lighters bottles and a selection of the odd flip-flops (thongs or jandals for our antipodean cousins) that travel the ocean currents.
Our thoughts turn to the islands we have visited right across the Pacific Ocean and on to here. Island life, when trading with the modern world, is expensive living. The levy applied to transport products into island communities adds to the cost. The incentive to get those items delivered is extraordinary; the expense to deal with subsequent waste, packaging and broken products is much less of a priority. From defunct bulldozers in Tonga’s Ha’Apai, a former international aid project finished, rust slowly leaching into the lagoon, to plastic waste disposed of in watercourses upstream from the mighty Ganges, all ultimately has an impact on the oceans, for that is where it eventually arrives.
We see action groups pressing to reduce the use of plastic water bottles and disposable bags in Europe, laudable and it sets a good example. However, is that genuinely where the biggest threat to the oceans exists? Around half the world population lives in Asia. The culture towards managing waste seems ambivalent. Until relatively recently natural materials were used for packaging and carrying, they rotted equally naturally when discarded. The same approach with modern synthetic materials will likely be disastrous for the planet’s oceans. Education in changing the culture towards rubbish will clearly play a role, but cost effective disposal mechanisms will also be needed.
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 - Martinique - French West Indies
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The Sprucettes off Snorleing with the Elmarleens
The Sprucettes off Snorleing with the Elmarleens
Added 12 March 2010