Sea Child: Big Cat Sailing Around the World

Tales of our journey around the world aboard our 56' Catamaran, Sea Child.

29 March 2015 | 10 13'N:95 05'E, Bay of Bengal
27 May 2014 | Pangkor Marina, Malaysia
26 September 2013 | 07 20'S:114 29'E, Enroute from Bali to Kumai, Kelimantan
30 August 2013 | 08 22'S:120 0'E, Gili Bodo, Komodo, Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia
14 August 2013 | 08 30'S:123 13'E, Kawula Island
14 August 2013 | 10 52'S:122 49'E, Nemberala Village, SE Rote
14 August 2013 | 10 09'S:123 34'E, Teddy's Bar, Kupang, East Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia
28 July 2013 | 11 06'S:125 40'E, Sahul Banks
27 July 2013 | 12 15'S:130 23'E, Offshore Darwin, Australia
26 June 2013 | 12 25'S:130 49'E, Fannie Bay, Darwin Sailing Club, Darwin, NT
26 June 2013 | 11 12'S:131 48'E, Alcaro Bay, Cape Don, NT
26 June 2013 | 11 01'S:132 33'E, Croker Island, Arnhem Land, NT, AUS
26 June 2013 | 11 33'S:133 23'E, North Goulburn Island, Arnhem Land, NT
26 June 2013 | 11 56'S:134 44'E, Cape Stewart, Arnhem Land, NT, AUS
26 June 2013 | 11 56'S:135 40'E, Elcho Island
14 June 2013 | 11 33'S:136 20'E, Gugari Rip, (Hole in the Wall), Wessel Islands, Northern Territory, AUS
14 June 2013 | 10 40'S:142 31'E, Cape York, Queensland
08 June 2013 | 11 57'S:143 12'E, Margaret Bay, Far North Queensland
03 June 2013 | 14 39'S:145 27'E, Lizard Island, Queensland, Australia
30 May 2013 | 15 27'S:145 14'E, Cooktown, Queensland, Australia


29 March 2015 | 10 13'N:95 05'E, Bay of Bengal
Tamara Barto
Sailing across the Bay of Bengal, SEA CHILD is averaging 8 knots boat speed and is expected to land in Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India in just a little over 18 hours from now. The passage has seen incredible sailing, after an initial 11 hours of motoring to clear the Similan Islands of Thailand. We encountered 3 large merchant ships throughout the night, and witnessed an incredible light in the sky after sunset, above the horizon. While studying the bright white cloud above what appeared to be a yellow mass of contrails, we came to the conclusion that perhaps a rocket of some type had been fired from (maybe) India, and we were witnessing the booster rockets re-entering the atmosphere? Or perhaps it was a UFO? In any case, as we sailed on, the gaseous clouds evaporated about an hour after sunset, the bright white contrail cloud the last is dissolve.

We have enjoyed wonderful meals, balmy nights and good watches. Our 3 hours on, 6 hours off works well for us, giving each of us a steady 6 hours of sleep or rest. The Bay of Bengal has some radical currents, where areas of water move at incredible speeds and other areas appear to be calm and flat. The waters here are deep, our charts show our current location at around 1,000' deep. As we approach Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India, we will keep watch for a reef about 50 NM due west of Port Blair, and directly across our path. We expect to bear away around midnight tonight, and once passed, we will have almost arrived. All is good on board.

Back in the Water

27 May 2014 | Pangkor Marina, Malaysia
hot and humid
Sea Child is currently tied up at Pangkor Marina, at the outside finger of the small marina. Shuttle ferries come and go, taking passengers across the way to Pangkor Island, the resort island due west of here. The marina facility is decent, the staff pleasant, and the local Thai and Pizza restaurants delightful. Of course, iced beers at the end of a brutally hot day are wonderful. The heat here remains a challenge, with high humidity and high heat index, working in the sun to put Sea Child back together is frustratingly hot. Covering our bodies with sun shirts that immediately drench from sweat is the daily attire, until well after sunset. Things finally cool off around here by midnight or so, and a cold shower allows our bodies to cool just enough to sleep for a few hours. We have reprovisioned Sea Child, but the idea of cooking in this heat is unbearable. Hopefully, once we are able to head north this weekend, things will get more comfortable on board. I tried to talk Eric into an ac unit for Sea Child, to no avail. We compromised on a new box fan, with helps to move the air around just enough for comfort.

Sea Child had a 6 month dry dock, where she was totally repainted. Top sides, cockpit, name graphics, anti foul, even the dinghy received new paint. The painter here, Jimmy, did a fantastic job! He personally applied every coat of paint, adding a few areas himself that were not part of the job. As we sit in the cockpit at the end of the day enjoying a sundowner or two, we are amazed at how beautiful Sea Child looks. Jimmy did a fantastic job and we can highly recommend his painting here at Pangkor Marina. Sea Child also had new rigging to replace the old roller Furler. Chris Morgan is a rigger/repair friend of Eric's who was able to import a new system from Florida well cheaper than West Marines' price. New metal parts were made and new scuppers were fashioned out of fiberglass. All in all, Sea Child is like a brand new boat, in the 6 years we have owned her, we have never seen her look this fresh!

Our plan is to sail north to Penang this weekend, then on to Langkawi where we will find a mooring for Sea Child when we return to the states. For now, however, its wonderful to explore the surrounding area of Pangkor, busy with new construction and a giant coal sorting facility nearby. We have seen the heaviest rains since Panama, the downpours so heavy you'd think Sea Child would come out of the rains sparkling clean. However, the filmy residue left on the boat is evidence of the industry in the Pangkor area, yet still fascinating to see the local culture in their busy lives. The people are kind and helpful and willing to do just about anything for us. Its been a pleasant experience so far.

Two Months Gone By

26 September 2013 | 07 20'S:114 29'E, Enroute from Bali to Kumai, Kelimantan
We arrived in Indonesia 8 weeks ago, and have visited dozens of anchorages and several incredible islands. The Sail Indonesia Rally 2013 just completed the visit to the island of Bali, where Sea Child was anchored for about a week. We visited Ubud, the artsy village above Kuta with its compact streets and bundles of tourists all crowding around the scenic palace and across town, the monkey forest where wild monkeys scavenge for food from the tourists. We had to watch our sunglasses and pockets, and as Eric crouched down to take a look at a monkey, it became aggressive and went for his wedding ring and took a bite out of his finger. The monkeys at the monkey forest are protected and worshipped by the Balinese people.

We were so blessed to have the kids visit for a too short 6 days in early September. Sea Child was full, minus Brittany who stayed back on Maui, and while we were able to hike Rinca Island in Komodo National Park and search for komodo dragons, we felt incomplete without her with us. Carter returned to Maui shortly after arriving, but before he left, we took the family to the welcome ceremony at Labuan Bajo. There, we were regaled by the local dancers, speeches from the local regency heads and tourism officials. A week after this welcome ceremony, the President of Indonesia arrived in Labuan Bajo for the Sail Komodo Sail Pass, a parade of sorts by various nation war vessels and the Sail Indonesia Rally boats were asked to sail past as well. As Americans, we understood the security measures that the Indonesian police force adopted during the preparations leading up to the Sail Pass. There were Navy Seals in numerous RIBs taking notes on every vessel at anchor, and several rally boats were searched as well. On Sea Child, we were invited to visit a local maritime school and with other rally participants we were given a formal escort to the school, where a festive native dance show awaited us along with a traditional lunch. We visited the school for about an hour, then invited the students out to Sea Child for a quick hour lesson on an ocean-going catamaran. We had about 24 people on board, students and faculty, and they were truly thankful at the opportunity to ask us questions and learn more about what Sea Child is capable of doing on the sea. Many of the students had never been on board any type of boat, so as we opened up about what we do, we could only wonder what they may think about crossing an ocean themselves, let alone if they would ever have the opportunity to do so in their lifetime.

We are currently on a sail from Bali to Kelimantan Island (Borneo) about 300 NM away. We will sail through the night to reach the Kumai river anchorage and make arrangements to take a river cruise up to see the orangutans. Hopefully they will be a little nicer than those pesky Ubud monkeys. The rally fleet is splitting again, with several dozen heading up to Kumai, and others heading to the largest temple in all of Indonesia on the island of Java. Our visas have been extended another 30 days, a process that took about a week in Bali, and its hard for us to believe that we have been in Indonesia for 8 weeks now. Sea Child will be leaving the rally a few weeks early, and head up to Pangkor, Malaysia.

One Month Gone By

30 August 2013 | 08 22'S:120 0'E, Gili Bodo, Komodo, Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia
The Sail Indonesia Rally 2013 includes the Sail Komodo 2013 Rally, taking the fleet to several villages along the northern shore of Flores Island. The 6-week Sail Komodo Rally culminates in festivities at Labuan Bajo, the capital city of Flores Island, and highlights of this visit to Labuan Bajo will be a flotilla "sail-by" and gala dinner with the President of Indonesia. Every anchorage along the route, whether at a village or a picturesque island, keeps us busy with either boat projects or exploring the world around us. We are now at Gili Bodo, a beautiful little island surrounded by a picturesque coral reef system, pure white sand beach, even monkeys who play along the shoreline. There are two lobster farms here, where the locals charge $65 per lobster and sell them primarily to China.

After we left Maumere, we stopped at Batu Boga, another excellent anchorage just to the east of here, about 60NM away. There, we anchored in a tiny bay surrounded by high peaks, and with room for only about a dozen boats, the anchorage was also the night layover point for a dozen tiny fishing boats. They would sleep during the day, one man on board their tiny crafts, then their loud 2-stroke engines would fire up at around 3 am, taking them all offshore and through the sleepy rally fleet. The diving at Batu Boga was spectacular, the colors of the Indonesian reef a symphony of red and pink and blue and green corals, along with pipe coral and giant ear-shaped coral that had us convinced that the orchestra was well in session at 80' below the surface! The water clarity here is spectacular, though the bits of trash that float along the sea grass makes fishing impossible. We have tried to catch something to eat, anything, but have only scored one barracuda which we threw back. We have now resorted to approaching the local fishermen to buy directly from them, and save the frustrating efforts at fishing while underway.

Today we head to Labuan Bajo, well ahead of the rally. We are meeting up with Holly, Shaun & Kelsea, who arrive tomorrow for a 9-day visit. Andrew arrives the next day, and mid-week Carter & Brittany arrive. This is the first time in 4 years that all of our family will be together on Sea Child. We are excited to share the unique things we have found in Indonesia, and to discover even more as we visit the Komodo National Park in search of the infamous Komodo Dragon.

Current Position

14 August 2013 | 08 30'S:123 13'E, Kawula Island
The sail north, from Rote Island to Lembata, was flat at the start, with a nice following sea and gentle breezes. As we neared the passage between Rote & Timor Island, the winds picked up to SE 25 knots, with a 3-6' swell, and Sea Child was soon sailing along at +15 knots, surfing down the waves on a nice reach to the north, course 8 degrees. The winds did not hold, though, and we ended up motoring for the next 8 hours on one engine to conserve fuel. We were able to make water, though, which was needed since the tanks were getting rather low. We had met another yacht in Nemberala, who mentioned the sketchy fuel situation coming out of Bali. A barge delivers fuel to the yachts, with the locals using buckets to transfer fuel. The fuel is watery and dirty, and the better option to fuel up is at Labuan Bajo, where fuel is constantly consumed with the tour boats and dive companies that operate there. The scenery has changed from the flat island of Rote to the volcanic peaks of the surrounding Lembata Island and Flores Island in the distance. Crystal clear water with beautiful fringing reef nearby, its now time to snorkel and take in a stand up paddle!

Rote Island

14 August 2013 | 10 52'S:122 49'E, Nemberala Village, SE Rote
From Kupang, Sea Child set sail south to Rote Island, the southern most island in Indonesia. The SE trades picked up to well over 30 knots, and with a double reef and storm jib, we still took a beating as we tried to sail on. We decided to turn back to Kupang and wait until early the next morning to again sail south to Rote. Our departure was delayed from Kupang, as we needed to recharge the freezer system and get those ice cubes back! Leaving Kupang at noon was not the best idea, since the trades fill in rather strong in the afternoons. Waiting another day was smart, and gave us a nice sail south to Ba'a, Rote, the capital area of Rote Ndau. The anchorage at Ba'a was terrible, though, rough and rolly and choppy, so we headed 2 miles up the coast to a beautiful protected beach and spent the next 3 days exploring the Ba'a region. Again, there was another welcome ceremony, with traditional dancers and musicians, speeches, and local food given to us. Eric was asked to gi ve a speech to the local people, and he gave a brilliant talk about the welcoming nature of the Indonesian people and their unique way of life. Again, more pictures were taken, and afterward we decided to walk around the village of Ba'a in search of a cold beer. We found a town similar in nature to Lahaina, Maui, where the shops lined both sides of the street along the water front. Everything from hardware, clothing, food, and even street vendors selling local produce were available,and once we found the Grace Hotel, we were able to enjoy the local Bintang beer. We made plans to tour Rote Island the next day, and on the tour we hiked memorial peaks, toured the beautiful rice fields, and visited the endangered long neck turtle, who closely resembled a snake head in a turtle shell. The full day tour had us returning to Sea Child at the low tide, and this was a problem since the shoreline was now a mud field a hundred yards long. We trudged through the mud, knee deep in p laces, finally returning to Sea Child dirty and exhausted! We made plans to sail to the most south eastern point of Rote, to Nemberala Village where the surf is legendary.

Nemberala Village was the cleanest village we have seen yet in Indonesia. The tidy village is populated with pigs and piglets, goats, cows and horses meandering the area, and local children run through the palm trees on any given moment. The village is wealthy, homes are updated with concrete block and tin roof construction, rather than the traditional thatch huts that we saw in other villages on Rote. Surf hamlets are everywhere, and motor bikes are the means of transportation rather than automobiles. The village people are not only making a living on the surf, they are literally making a living in the surf, too! They grow a special type of seaweed in Nemberala, that is used in cosmetics and foods as a natural thickener. Most of the seaweed that is harvested is sold to China, and the beaches are lined with natural racks where the seaweed is dried in the sun. The surf break is spectacular, too, and the anchorage at Nemberala is set between two breaks and protected by th e surrounding reef. Nemberala is stunning, and lured Sea Child into a few days of total relaxation. Eric surfed the break on the stand up board, Tamara read two books, and we both rode bikes through the villages to another surf spot, Boa Beach, where we spent hours watching the surfers get tubed on the perfectly formed, overhead waves. We ate ashore at the Nemberala Resort, and took in a few very inexpensive spa treatments! When it was time to sail away, we took Sea Child offshore, just outside the surf break where several local ponga boats sit and wait for their surfers to come back to them for a ride in shore. We raised the full main, as we watched several of them catch their waves, and we bid a very fond farewell to Nemberala and Rote Island.

Next stop, Lembata Island, in the Solar Archipelago, middle Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia, +150 NM to our north. We expect this sail to take almost 24 hours, and with our cruising partners, Zangezi and Gemini V, we expect an exciting sail in good company.
Vessel Name: Sea Child
Vessel Make/Model: 56' Aikane
Hailing Port: Lahaina, Hawaii
Crew: Eric & Tamara Barto
Eric & Tamara Barto hail from Maui, Hawaii. They currently own & operate a successful catamaran snorkel/sail company, Paragon Sailing Charters. Their circumnavigation is broken into legs, usually 2-3 months at sea, 2-3 months in Maui. [...]
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Global Sailors

Who: Eric & Tamara Barto
Port: Lahaina, Hawaii