Slow Sailing

25 February 2020
29 November 2019 | Vero Beach
09 October 2019 | Washington, NC
27 September 2019
06 September 2019 | Norfolk, VA
07 August 2019 | Washington, NC
07 July 2019 | Washington
10 June 2019 | Washington, NC
15 May 2019 | St Augustine
30 April 2019 | Black Point, Exuma
16 April 2019 | Bahamas
02 April 2019 | Washington, NC
15 March 2019 | Washington, NC
10 February 2019 | Washington, NC
22 January 2019 | Washington, NC
07 January 2019 | Washington, NC
15 December 2018 | Washington, NC
03 November 2018 | Thetford, VT
21 September 2018 | Bradford, VT
13 August 2018 | Thetford, VT

Beautiful Banda

10 August 2015 | Bandaneria, Bandas Islands Stop #2
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015
From Sail2Indonesia Rally 2015

If someone had told me 6 months ago that I would have Muslim call to prayer songs replaying in my head for days on end I wouldn't have believed them but... little did we know we'd be within earshot of this type of "music" whenever we're in port! At first I thought it was live- someone was up there in the little tower chanting but after a few days I began to notice that it's the same songs sung exactly the same way, like automated bells. We're learning Bahasa Indonesian and a few new songs too!

Stop #2 on the Sail 2 Indonesia rally was the Banda Islands. It is one of 3 stops that are called "free & easy" where you do your own thing and there are no events planned. We had a really nice time and ended up staying 10 days which is unusual for us. We, along with Jan & Rich, were the first boats to Banda and we got great spots med moored right to the Naira Dive Shop. Therefore, we didn't have to worry about our boats the whole time we were there and the spot was like a little oasis.

Banda has a lot of history. In the heart of the famous "Spice Islands" where nutmeg & cloves have been heavily sought after in the past, they are now much more modest exports and the Bandanese have their trees & their islands back after hundreds of years of turmoil from everyone wanting these islands and their spice trees for profit. When you walk around, you can see all the crumbling Dutch buildings, reamins of the VOC, tree lined pathways, forts & cannons built hundreds of years ago. The architecture gives the islands an interesting feel. We kept thinking to ourselves that we like nutmeg, but not enough to kill for it....

There were a lot of things to do in Banda and because of the rally it was also very social. We climbed Gunung Api, a volcano right across the bay, twice. The first time we were deathly ill with a bad cold virus but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to do it with David, who was visiting friends on a boat Tulu that is in the rally. And the second time, we were feeling more human and did it with Jan & Rich and a new friend Cynthia, and we enjoyed it much more. Steaming fumaroles, great views and a challenging trail up. We organized a couple of happy hours at the place we were staying to give back to the dive shop (they let us tie up there for free) and with all the rally boats, we ended up having the longest table I've ever seen. We also toured a fort, strolled through a museum, took some walks around the island and talked with the kids. It wasn't unusual to exchange the usual hello, what is your name, my name is, we're from America, then part ways and hear them softly count from 1-10 in English since they practice what they know.

We took a spice tour that involved a local boat ride to Banda Besar- next door- and it was very interesting. We saw cloves & nutmeg on the trees & being dried on many a village lawn. Cinnamon trees have the most aromatic smelling bark! We meandered through the plantations with huge, old almond trees and then had cookies, nutmeg jam & nutmeg coffee at our tour guide's house.

After getting over our colds, we could finally start diving and we used the dive shop to get out to some popular sites then did a couple more dives on our own. It came as a surprise when we got to Indonesia and really started studying things that while we're here in the best sailing season, we aren't here in the high season for diving- that's in October! So the vis isn't as good, there is more wind and the water is cooler- 79 degrees or so. This is not the best diving we've ever done. But we did 5 dives and enjoyed each one. We did one on a site called "New Lava" which is the lava flow that occurred when this volcano last erupted in 1988 and it has an amazing amount of coral that has grown up on the fertile lava flow. In clearer water, it owuld have been more amazing. Another was an orange & purple wall that was awesome with massive barrel sponges like we haven't seen anywhere so far in the Pacific. Then we did one right under our moored boats which was a muck dive and we saw a few new things such as a fire urchin and a crazy sea cucumber that looks like a head of broccoli and feeds itself. There are supposedly mandarin fish on this dive, but we didn't see any. The first muck diving we'd ever done was in Port Stephens, Australia and we really liked it. As we've done more reading on the subject, this was considered "clean muck diving" whereas what we did under the boat is dirty. Dirty because there is a fair amount of litter down there that things live in. I personally prefer clean to dirty in most anything I can think of but I tried to see through it, which is what I do in most of the places I visit these days. Crazy creatures live in this almost barren dark muddy sand and if you don't mind puttering around down there looking for small things, you can see a lot and you're certainly not distracted by a landscape of beautiful corals! We were all psyched to do some more in famous Ambon here in Indonesia but found out the dive shops are closed since it is off season. That doesn't make it too appealing to do any on our own.

I think one of the biggest highlights in Banda ended up being this totally out of place restaurant & hotel called Cilu Bintang, owned by a Polish fellow that has only been open for 6 months so wasn't in my Lonely Planet. But one of the rally boats found it and organized a big group dinner that was great and soon it spread like wildfire and everyone was going nearly every night. It is a beautifully decorated, landscaped brand new building and they serve a fantastic buffet meal followed by a movie on Banda. Before you enter, you remove your shoes as is customary in Indonesia but at this place, you don't secretly wish you had them on! Jon & I aren't in love with Indonesian food per se, but this was really good and true to reputation, inexpensive.

While the beauty of Banda doesn't compare to other places we've been in the US, it was a really pretty spot and it was nice to just be there for a bit and sort of absorb all it had to offer. Some of the people we met, such as the staff at the dive shop, were so kind, helpful & fun we will never forget them. When we first arrived, they set up nutmeg tea & cakes for the four of us as a welcome. So Jan & I did some baking for them before we left to thank them. One thing we have noticed is that the brand "Hello Kitty" is very popular in Indonesia. We have seen whole cars emblazoned with the logo, many outfits with matching pants & shirt, backpacks, etc. Not quite sure why yet.

Then yesterday morning, we sadly untied our lines from Jan & Rich (it was so great being rafted together) who are skipping stop 3, and left Banda for Namrole. We arrived this afternoon after what felt like a long 200 mile trip. We had good wind at first, but pretty much bucked current the entire way and then the wind died so we motored the last 15 hours. We're at 4 degrees now, so pretty close to the equator and not much wind from now on I don't think. Plenty of heat though! And last night was truly unique. Boats ahead had commented about the ocean glowing at night but we couldn't have understood what they meant until we saw it for ourselves. For some reason, the phosphorescence is so incredibly dense in this part of the Banda Sea that the ocean just glows all by itself. It was cloudy for the first part of the night which made a reflection so everything was green- the sea and the sky just glowed green. It almost made you dizzy trying to focus on it. Then later, the sky cleared and you could at least make out the horizon, but the sea continued to glow green. Crazy! Then we saw a whale today as we were baking in the sun motoring along. It was good to give the batteries a long, slow charge and we made lots of water, did a little cooking and just tried to enjoy a break between stops. But we do get really antsy to move around and sort of bored. I took out a recipe for potato salad and noted that there was a whole meal laid out on that page. It was a pork roast, spinach salad, potato salad, then topped off with a strawberry rhubarb dessert. Our mouths were watering for that meal! I told Jon we could make it: we're just missing the pork roast, spinach, strawberries and rhubarb. On that note, we are sadly in to the island produce routine. It involves turning off your tastebuds and just eating produce because you have to. We are going to do a photo comparison of cruising guide photos for market shots and what WE see in the markets. Somehow it doesn't seem the same. Everything is a pale shade of green punctuated with bad spots, wilted leaves and as Jon says, holes as big as swiss cheese on the greens. We aren't sure, but we think the stalk of bananas that we had hanging on the stern for about a week was the breeding ground for about a million flies which later made our deck their home. So we had plenty of company on this passage. If I was rich, I'd have a huge freezer and stuff it with berries, frozen vegetables and ice cream that would last me the whole season.

Not sure when I'll be able to get this blog post up since internet seems to be hit or miss in Indonesia so far. It was reportedly oversold in Debut so you could buy internet but you couldn't really use any internet. Then in Banda it was great since we were right under the tower and it is a touristy place. Now here in Namrole, it is spotty at best. We joked on the radio net today that it is related to high tide vs low tide, cloudy vs sunny, you really don't know when you'll have it, or not!

So that's the round-up for stop 2. Reaching Banda was a milestone since we'd heard so much about it. And they are special islands. We definitely made some memories there.

Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Hello! We are Heather & Jon Turgeon of S/V Evergreen. We started sailing in 1994 on our first boat, a Cape Dory 31, then sought out a Tashiba 40 that could take us around the globe. It has been our home for 19 years. We've thoroughly cruised the East coast and Caribbean and just completed our [...]
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