Trippin' Turpins

Sabang Marine Festival 2016

24 May 2016 | Pulau Weh, Sabang, Indonesia

The Sabang Marine Festival - 2016 - was extremely well organised, a lot of fun, and facilitated the healthy and happy mixing of many different cultures. 18 boats from all around the world participated and the visiting sailors included Australian, Swiss, French, American, Canadian, Malaysian, Thai, English, South African, Zambian, German, Italian, Czech, New Zealand, Swedish and New Caledonian. The participants, of which we were two, enjoyed many organised activities such as cultural performances, a tour of Banda Aceh and the Tsunami museum, as well as interactive games including tug-of-war, greasy pole climbing and canoe races.




Most, but not all, of the participants and some of the main organisers.
Most, but not all, of the participants and some of the main organisers.

This years Sabang Marine Festival (SMF), only the second time this event has been staged, was held on Pulau Weh between 26 - 30 April 2016.  Organised by the BPKS the festival's main objective is to promote the Sabang area as an international destination. The festival is particularly aimed at increasing visitors sailing their own yachts to use Pulau Weh as a check-in or check-out point (Indonesia immigration etc). Indonesia has made some changes to their rigorous visa and sailing permit laws which now enable cruisers to enjoy longer stays in Indonesia with, we hope, minimal fuss and no need to procure an agent.




Raising the Sabang Marine Festival flag!

Raising the Sabang Marine Festival flag!

Sabang is a city in the Aceh Province of Indonesia. Sabang is comprised of five islands, the biggest being Palau Weh. Pulau Weh is home to the local Sabang government and the centre of Sabang. Palau Weh is also an active volcanic area, has some spectacular snorkel and dive sites, waterfalls and historic Japanese world war two bunkers. For a small island it is jam packed with things to do.



Sabang Marine festival T-shirt and the program book.
Sabang Marine festival T-shirt and the program book.

Boats began arriving as early as the 20th of April. For those of us that arrived early, the check-in procedure probably took a little longer as the officials were expecting the boats to check in between the 23-25th April. However, those of us that may have had a longer wait for check in did get in a few extra days of snorkelling. And I gotta say wow... when I jumped in the nearly-crystal-clear water I was speechless... well not quite, I still managed a bit of snorkel babble! The marine life is quite simply astonishing! We had fish, of so many varieties, swimming every which way around us.




Snorkelling Pulau Weh!
Snorkelling Pulau Weh!

For the rest of the visiting boats the clearance, into Indonesia, was a predominately painless experience with the BPKS accommodating all of the necessary officials in the one room of their office building. Participants were instructed to raise there quarantine flag and await the arrival of officials from the quarantine office, immigration and customs, after which they were directed to the office to complete paperwork. Online visa applications, done before hand, sped up the process.




Welcome dinner included a band, dancing and a lot of fun!
Welcome dinner included a band, dancing and a lot of fun!

On the night of the 25th of April the festival officially opened with a welcome dinner, speeches and entertainment. Throughout the next five days all sailors were fed three delicious meals a day by our hosts.



Maureen, Colin and Colin in the marquee where we enjoyed our breakfast and dinner.
Maureen, Colin and Colin in the marquee where we enjoyed our breakfast and dinner.

The first day we went to a large gathering at the Sabang Fair. We were greeted with a welcome dance and presented with a little green leaf-wrapped package. It turned out it was betel nut. It was in a little bundle - the betel nut was wrapped inside a leaf and held together with a clove. The way to eat it is by putting the whole thing in your mouth and chewing it. It is ok to swallow it or to spit it out. 'twas not my cuppa tea!




The betelnut
The betel nut

The day progressed with a few speeches, one done by yours truly, and then we were entertained by some very talented artist. The festival was enjoyed as much by the locals as by the tourists! The Sabang Fair was packed with families all just as enthralled in the performances as we were.



Dwayne and I were asked to do a speech!

Dwayne and I were asked to do a speech!


We had a few hours to ourselves in the afternoon before dinner.  While relaxing on our boat we were kept amused by a couple of PPC's (powered parachutes). After another scrumptious Indonesian dinner we went back to the Sabang Fair for more entertainment. This time the crowd was huge and there were rock bands and fireworks!




Sabang1
Enjoying watching the PPC's fly over our boats.

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Vessel Name: Thorfinn
Vessel Make/Model: Adams 45
Hailing Port: Adelaide, South Australia
Crew: Dwayne & Kelly Turpin
About: After seven years of planning we sold the house and moved aboard Thorfinn in October 2013. Our journey started in May 2014 in Australia and, if all goes well, it will continue for many years with many seas to sail and places to visit.
Extra: Intrepid sailors, perpetual travellers, enthusiastic fisher people and lovers of food. Visit our other blogs at http://trippinturpins.com http://gourmetfromthegalley.com Like our Facebook page - Trippin' Turpins - A Sailing Adventure.
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