We made it!
15 September 2013 | Derawan!
Let's start with yesterday in Tarakan. We headed ashore in Puff(our dinghy)about 0745 and found one of the local wharfs that have many of the local boats that go to all the different islands and villages in the area. We tied off to a beaten up wooden jetty post next to a half dozen other boats(all from the same company) and climbed over them to get to a set of rickety stairs and up to the main wharf. We'd gotten numerous text messages on our phone from Robby Chakiras(station chief for Customs) as to where to go and a text message to show people along the way to get directions. I asked a driver for one of the local hotels where Customs was located and he gave us directions. We stopped a few times as we headed in and showed each person what Robby had written and they pointed us along the way. We finally met up about an hour later. He greeted us warmly and gave us each a big bottle of water to drink. Boy, it sure tasted great. He presented us with our completed Customs papers(all the info had been put into their system by the event coordinator).
We waited a few minutes for his car to be ready and two other Customs officials to join us and off we went for the Master of the Harbor's office, Immigration, and Quarantine. The Master of the Harbor wasn't ready for us so we took off for Immigration. They opened up the offices just for us since we were part of the rally. WOW!!! What service! A few minutes later, we were off for with all the forms and our passports stamped. On to Quarantine were again, they opened again, just for us. We gave them some copies of our papers and a few minutes later we were again set to go. Back to the Master of the Harbor where Tracy was advised to just sit out in the office while he conducted business with me. Women were not allowed in his offices. Again, I gave him the papers he asked for and we were again ready to go. As I left, one of the agents in the office asked "Do you eat pork?" I answered "yes, but very rarely". He wanted to know in a round about fashion if I was Muslim. What I told him made it clear that I was not as eating any form of pork(yes, even bacon) was forbidden. We then headed for the dock where Puff was, stopping along the way at an ATM to get some money. Tracy and Robby stayed at the car while I took the other two Customs officials to our boat for inspection. They opened numerous drawers and door and then we headed back to shore. We dropped the two other agents off at the Customs Office and then Robby took us to a local veggie market as well as a grocery store. What a change from the Philippines. Far more developed but none of the big shopping malls. BUT--Tarakan doesn't have 3.5 million people on it's island. Robby then took us to lunch at a local restaurant that specializes in food from the Sumatra region of Indonesia. Robby is from there so he told us and showed us what all the different foods were. They brought at least 25 different dishes of food to the table so we could choose what we wanted. It was GREAT!!! Some spicy and some not but a great selection of food. Best food at a restaurant I've had since we left Palau. Spicy but just enough to be great. There were several dishes of fish, chicken breasts, beef, eggs, chicken liver, chicken legs, veggies(like Indonesian spinach) and more. All were in some kind of sauce as rice is served with the meal. THere were four small bowls of water on the end of the table. These were for washing your hands before you eat. Now, I'll admit, I'm a prissy eater. God gave us a fork and a reason to use it--eat!. Well, not in Indonesia. We watched as Robby made his choices of dishes and then poured them onto his rice and mashed it all together with is hands. He then grabbed a handful of what he had combined and lifted it with his fingers into his mouth. I'd gotten a fork from a container on the table but quickly left it there and did the same. Wash my hands, choose my dishes( beef for me that has been cooked for at least 4 hours or more according to Robby). It was all spicy and very flavorful. Not to hot(with spice) but just right. Soft drinks were not available(Muslims rarely drink them) so "iced" tea was ordered. Here's how its made. Make the tea with hot water, add lots of sugar and then dump in a bunch of ice to cool it. Too sweet for Tracy so she grabbed a bottle of water that was sitting on the end of the table. As I said, it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Price for all three of us-- $134,000 rupia or about $12.00 US. One thing that came of the meal was that I got to discuss the Muslim religion with Robby. We discussed the things I had read in the Koran(have my own copy in English)and what was the truth about the Muslim religion and what was not the truth. It was facinating to me as I have been trying to learn more about it for quite some time. I hope to be able to sit down with an Iman at one of the mosques and get more information about it. Robby then dropped us off at the dock again and we took off for Zephyr after thanking him profusely for all his help. We both knew that had we not been involved in the rally, it would have taken far longer(sometimes days) to get through what we had gotten through in a matter of hours. Indonesia welcomes with open arms, cruisers from all over the world. They don't see us as boat lice but an easy way to help the economy. We spend money and sometimes, lots of it. Our anchor as up and we were off by just after 1400 for the 87 mile trip down to Derawan.
It took us three hours to get out of the harbor(under motor) and then start heading southeast(still under motor). I came on watch at 1900 and since we still had the engine running, I fired up the radar again. By 2130, I saw a blip on the radar screen out about 6 miles. Closer too us(about three) was what appeared to be a fishing boat. At the time, we had our sails up trying to get what we could from the wind and with the engine going we were doing about 5 knots. We just kept getting closer to the blip and now I could see that the fishing boat was a bigger mother ship with lights strung all over it. Again, I could see the blip of the big ship out now 5 miles and getting closer but no blip for the fishing mother ship though his lights were getting brighter. On we pushed and I could now see another boat on the horizon, about were the big container ship seemed to be on our radar. But still no sign of the mother fishing ship. Suddenly, it got clearer and the fishing mother ship was the container ship I was seeing on the radar screen!! It was that big that it had looked to be to be so much closer while in reality, it was miles away from us. PLUS--IT WAS STOPPED IN THE WATER!!!!! I didn't think boats that big ever stopped in the water. As I looked at the radar screen, all the blips on the screen were stationary. No one was moving out there. We'd entered the "Twilight Zone" section of the ocean where boat stop at night!! It was time for Tracy to take over the watch so when she came on deck, we dropped some of our sails and headed off again under motor.
We arrived at Derawan about 0900 and got the last mooring buoy in sea of other boats. How lucky is that! While we are a bit close to another boat, it's close to 100 feet deep here so anchoring would be tough. We were in by 0930 and attached to the mooring ball. They put the moorings so close that since the harbor is affected by both tide and wind, the boats drift all over the place. Sometimes closer to each other and some time farther apart. Just about all the other cruisers have gone on an expedition to mainland so there isn't too many people here. As we neared the harbor, I put out a call to the anchorage asking for info on where to enter and about the mooring buoys. Chris on Griffin II came up and and gave us all the info we needed. The field was just about full and there were more boats still coming. Not sure if everyone from Davao is even here yet. We think we are about 3 boats missing. Chris from Griffin II came over in his dinghy(he's right next door) and helped us get hooked to the mooring ball right at the ball and not at the end of the tag line where most attach their mooring lines from the boat. We're now in, safe and sound and from what Chris told us, there isn't much happening in the next couple of days so we can get some rest. The free fuel isn't getting here till Wednesday he says or so the rumor has it. That's just fine by us. In this last voyage, we figure we actually sailed about 24 hours of an 8 day trip. Our tanks are probably about half full plus, it's probably time to change the oil again as I did just before we left the marina at Samal Island. Tracy is below getting a nap and I've now finished this post.