26 July 2011 | Saumlaki, Indonesia
Michael and Jackie
Well we finally got away from Darwin. After weeks of preparation, we sailed out of Bayview Marina, through the narrow lock gates and out into Fannie Bay. We anchored there for a couple of nights to check out things and then left Oz on Sunday morning. We met some very nice people in Darwin and had some fine times but it was time to depart Australia.
We decided to leave before the rally so that we could catch the tide going through Van Diemen's Gulf and out of Cape Don reversing our journey in. It didn't quite work out as well but overall it wasn't too bad. First we didn't leave as early as we planned various teething problems eg the teeth of the sail bag which wouldn't undo. So we left about an hour and a half before the main fleet. Most of the boats were heading for Kaupang, about 80, 20 were going like us to Saumlaki. There's a choice of routes out of Saumlaki you can either go West round Melville Island or East through the gulf and then Norht to Saumlaki. We chose the latter. The tide was with us at first but soon it changed so were chugging along with the engines at around 4 knots with a light wind against us. This lasted until the evening when at last we got the tide right and Australia spat us out at about 8 knots into the open seas. From then on we had a good wind on our beam, about 20 rising to 30, although our dodgy wind meter indicated more and we shot North. Even with two reefs in we were averaging 7.5 knots, as we tried to slow down to avoid arriving in darkness. So we arrived in our first Indonesian harbour 10 am on Monday morning, Jackie's birthday. It's quite a long, wet dinghy ride from the anchorage to the town but the welcome has been great. We cleared customs, immigration, health etc etc with no problem. They were very friendly although their procedures are heavy on paper. Somehow whatever the pieces of paper you have they always ask for something else. So lots of copies of passports etc.
The town is an interesting mixture of third world type shacks and stalls with one posh hotel on the waterfront. There are some huge churches and massive modern building by the mosque. The population is roughly 50 50 Christian Islam. Proportions seem to vary depending on whom you speak. Both religions clearly feel able to spend freely at levels which would embarrass their European counterparts.
We've met lots of interesting new people on the boats here and have enjoyed our first Biltangs (Indonesian beer) in the local bars.
Having checked out it turns out we didn't really because there is a welcome ceremony tomorrow. So we may leave tomorrow or more likely the day after for Banda. This is another two day trip and is supposed to be a glorious set of islands for diving and snorkeling. More on that in future dispatches