Darwin to Saumlaki
08 August 2011 | Banda
Jamie & Dawn
14th to 22nd of July 2011
A great time spent in Darwin preparing for our departure on the 23rd, all the necessary tings to prepare for our 3 months in Indonesia.
We found Darwin to be a very friendly laid back city easy to get around, a bit expensive, but has all the needs for a cruising yachts
We had to arrange the following:
Indonesian Visa, Darwin Port clearance Customs clearance, Indonesian cruising permits, Duty free liquor, Duty free fuel, finalize our vaccinations, and anti malaria drugs, stock up the Larder with things we won’t get up there IE: Powdered milk, chips, biscuits, fruit, meat, toilet paper, cheese, butter, chocolates, museli bars, last minute chandlery items, ropes and pulley’s ect
We had to attend all briefings for the rally, which were very informative and helpful, we are also very pleased that we elected to take the Eastern passage, mainly for the history of the spice Islands but also there will only be 23 boats going this way so not too crowded in the anchorages.
23rd to 29th July
Darwin to Suamlaki
A very busy morning on departure day attended a breakfast at the Darwin sailing club, topped up the outboard fuel, and prepared Azzan for the Rally start, dawn decorated her with Green and Gold, balloons and streamers, put all our flags up and were ready to go for a 1130 start.
We stayed well back to miss all the jostling at the start, unfortunately there was no wind so it was a bit slow; it was a great spectacle to see 100 plus yachts all heading out of Fannie Bay for the Arafura sea.
Once past the start line we had to motor for the next 10hours out to the Eastern side of Mellvile Island where we finally got good wind at 2am 15 to 20 on the beam with a half meter sea, we also struck the out going tide and with all sails up with Azzan hitting record speeds of 9.3 knots, during the rest of the morning we had boats passing us and us passing some others.
For the rest of the passage we had consistent wind from the ESE between 15 and 25 knots, perfect conditions for our crossing, in all it was a good crossing our average speed was 6knots, there only breakage we suffered was the watermaker pump bracket, welds cracked so had to remove the pump for the rest of the passage .
We finally dropped anchor at Saumlaki 1430 in 20 meters and about 1 klm from the wharf, we were the 15th boat to arrive which we were very pleased with.
Customs and quarantine came out to the boat at 1730 and completed the preliminary checks, and paper work, we then settled in for a good nights sleep, even though the anchorage is prone to a fair bit of wind and roll.
We did our final clearance checks the next morning, found a little welding workshop!!! To repair the watermaker bracket, cost $12 Aus bought a Sims card, and found our Telstra phones are locked, found the only hotel in town and settled in for a nice Nasi goring lunch and a few Bintang beers.
Saumlaki town was more than we had expected, all the necessary services, a reasonable clean place, really neat houses, the main industry is Fishing and government jobs, very friendly people, lots of motor bikes, plenty of people offering to help for a price, pretty cheap, beer was more expensive than we expected about $30 to $40 for a box of 12 big bottles, this went up as the week progressed, we waited until the last day and got one for $32.
GEOGRAPHY OF THE TANIMBARS .
The Tanimbars, also called Timor Laut, separate the Banda Sea from the Arafura Sea with the Aru and Kai lslands lying to the northeast and Babar lsland and Timor lying to the west. They consist of around 150 known islands, of which about60 have no names. Thirty are relatively large and about ten are inhabited. The total land area is 5,44A sq km.
Only 300 nautical miles north of Darwin, and 200 from the coast of Australia, the Tanimbar Islands are the furthest east in the chain of islands making up the Indonesian Archipelago, and as such are very isolated. Often referred to as the Forgotten Islands, their remoteness has led to poor conditions for its people, but in many ways this makes the area more interesting for visitors. The locals are very welcoming and friendly, very inquisitive about our boats and our ways, and respectful of our possessions. Expect a crowd with whatever you do, and be wary about inviting anyone aboard, as the whole village could arrive. There are limited shopping opportunities, you'll not find supermarkets and chandlers.
In Saumlaki wE were also pleasantly surprised with the standard and variety of fresh food available at the daily markets, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin, all sized but delicious tomatoes, garlic, ginger, chives, onions, chillies, bok choy style greens, egg plant, papaya, lemons, limes, cabbages, sweet corn, green beans and snake beans. At the fish market next door, there were fresh whole fish of all sizes, we saw large coral trout and tuna, prawns, squid, and an assortment of bits and pieces of other marine animals. The fishing boats come in at high tide, and as there is no refrigeration, so it was best to go early.
The rally had organised welcome functions, every official with a title was there, really well done and very sincere, the rally is possible the biggest event of the year and supported by most of the residence. We went on an Island tour and made a visit to a remote village where we were presented with a traditional dance and welcome ceremony, very moving in parts, in all it was a long but rewarding day. The majority of this island group are Christians which was a surprise’s
From Saumlaki we travelled out to the western side of the islands and spent some nice days at Waulutu Village on Siera Isalnd and an overnight stop at Wotap Island, on the way we had good catches of Shark mackerel and small barracuda which we traded with the local fisherman. Beautiful clear water for snorkelling but a lot of damaged coral, still haven’t had a dive yet.
The rally boats have all split up and have made their own groups, we have stayed with mainly Aus, NZ, British, Dutch and american boats, there are 5 French boats who all stick together.
We have a Radio sched that we link into at 7am and 6pm each day on HF 4146 frequency.
We left Wotap on the Tuesday the 2nd with Veeedon Fleece and Lady Kay for Banda Islands 190 mile run, again we had good winds from the ESE 15 to 25, the passage was reasonable good , again we averaged 6 knots, the sea got a bit sloppy at some stages which made it a bit uncomfortable. The sea depths in this part of the world average 5000 meters
We arrived at Banda at 1330 on the Wednesday 3rd WOW what a place, but this is another story to be written, we will be here for a week it is that good. Food is excellent and the beer is cold.