Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama


18 October 2007 | INDONESIA
Borneo Orang-utan experience with Isy and Big Tom. "Welcome to Kumai" a neatly dressed man popped up out of the little speed boat that had zoomed across the river and swished alongside Talitha. We had just put our anchor down in the Kumai river, 12 miles inland on Borneo. The official Indonesian name is Kalimantan but even the locals still call this Borneo. The day had been long, 4.30am had seen us caught in a fishing net, 15knots of wind from behind, main sail right out and going nowhere. We managed to get the main down and bounced up and down for 2 hours until the net owners in a nearby fishing boat woke up. The crew started to pull in their net, with the net half in they suddenly realised why there was a yacht so close to their net. The look on their faces was a good old fashioned minties moment!! Luckily with good humour on both sides they cut their own net freeing our rudder, the cut net floating away to perhaps snare some other unsuspecting yacht. Sailing on across Kumai bay we wove our way through more nets and boats, held our breath as the water diminished alarmingly under our keel. Then into the Kumai river past 2 unmarked rocks , trusting our depth sounder as the water was now a chocolate colour, shallows and channels all looked the same. The muddy river banks are lined with rich green rainforest and palms. The daylight was disappearing as we rounded the last bend to see the town spread along the Western bank and yachts anchored on the eastern side. Feeling very tired and frazzled we hoped the orang-utan were worth the effort. Welcoming us and introducing himself, Ardie gave us a run down on the services he had to offer. Solar, water laundry, and orang-utan tours. We invited him on board a long with his silent friend. A few minutes later the sun set and Ardie asked for a drink of water for his friend as he could now break his Ramadan fast. Ardie was apparently a bit of a lapsed muslim and would have been happy with "a strong wine" but we were only offering water. A pamphlet was offered showing different options and prices , too complicated for our tired brains. Ardie was a bit of a hustler but he knew when to step back and we arranged to see him the next day. It would also give us a chance to check out the opposition. Eventually we decided to book our 2 day up river trip with Ardie arranging the details. We teamed up with fellow Kiwis, Tom and Raina from Matariki to spend 2 wonderful days visiting with the orang-utan , spotting monkeys, birds and crocodile from the deck of our river boat as we putt putted our way into the Borneo rainforest towards Camp Leaky. At 8.30am as arranged the blue and white narrow river boat arrived at Talitha to pick us up and drop off our boat minder. Tom and Alan were pleased with their negotiating skills as the best boat arrived complete with 4 plastic deck chairs at no extra cost. The night before they had been taken by Ardie to look at the boats on offer, choosing the best looking boat with matching blue deck chairs. Ardie muttered about extra costs and other tourists flying in so they left it for him to decide. I think he liked us or it was the beer Tom gave him during the negotiating round! All those people who asked us before we left NZ.."..but what about the pirates?" We thought he may have been one of those land based ones we have met along the way. On the day he came up trumps, nicest boat, chairs and best of all a superb crew, no added extras to the negotiated price. The fact that we mentioned we had lots of friends arriving in the following days needing good orang-utan tours may also have helped. We liked Ardie too as he dismissed with a wave of his hand and "poof of course you can take some beer or strong wine ", the rumour that no alcohol was permitted because of the Muslim crew. As we found out our skipper "a small rum, no a little more, helps me sleep" didn't mind alcohol on board. The package deal included a boat minder for Talitha for the 2 days. The boat is locked and the minder sleeps in the cockpit and will do cleaning etc, for a little extra. For the amount they expect I wouldn't even lift a cloth!!! We left the dinghy down so our man could clean our very dirty water line, hoping he would keep the dinghy well fastened as the swift river would have him swept away in a jiffy. Snacks, water, mattress, "no mosquito net thanks we are tough", buckets, cloths, the minder was set up, passed over our overnight bag and pre dinner drinks to the boat boy and we were away. Before meeting the crew the first instruction was where to sit and how to move to keep this narrow double deck boat balanced. The top deck was for the paying guests, "please don't all stand on one side", and the bottom deck was the business part of the boat, the engine, galley, steering and crew sleeping all on the bottom, kneeling height only. At the stern was the toilet and shower room, open to the sky, western toilet on one side balanced by a drum of water on the other. A dipper was used to sluice water over the body(the shower) or throw water down the toilet(the flusher). Raina, Tom, Alan and I sat down on the mattresses placed either side of the shaded top deck and had morning coffee served by our guide, Isy, made by his wife of ten days, Connie. The journey to Camp Leaky took us out of the wide Kumai river into a smaller river followed by a smaller river the rainforest encroaching further onto the river until at times we could nearly touch the trees. Sitting up on the shaded top deck in our chairs was a real River Queen experience, panama hats, crinolines and white parasols wouldn't have been out of place. The crew consisted of the skipper, a beautiful smile that never left his face, the silent boat boy who was also washer up and general helper, Connie our cook and Isy our guide. The couple took all the newly wed jokes and 'advice' very good naturedly from the guests and crew. After a couple of hours in their company we realised how fortunate we were to have chosen Ardie to arrange our trip. Isy although only 28 had been involved with the orang-utans since he was 14, also as a conservationist and protester against illegal logging he had so much enthusiasm and knowledge of the rainforest, the orang-utan and people of the Tanjung Puting national park. At the end of our first day Isy virtually skipped down the board walk to the boat, thrilled for us and as much as for himself, saying "we've seen them all today" We had seen a large number of orang-utan, he was especially pleased to see Custasi the deposed king, and sentimental favourite among the guides. Custasi had been king for 10 years, most of these young guides had learnt about guiding during his reign. Big Tom was now king having soundly beaten up Custasi until he was near dead. The dedicated workers at Camp Leaky rescued him and nursed him back to a healthy exile. Lunch of rice, fish balls, chilli chicken, Cap Cai(vegetables) and watermelon cooked by Connie on a small stove next to the ear damaging loud motor was one of the best meals we had had in Indonesia. The meals that followed were great, shrimp salad, gado gado, fried fish, banana pancakes and more everything was delicious. This wasn't even her proper job she was on holiday/honeymoon from her real job. I told Isy he was a very lucky man. After lunch we arrived at the Camp Leaky jetty to be welcomed by two orang-utan, slouched sleepy eyed in the trees, watching us watching them. Isy took us up to the information centre introducing us to the orang-utan that came out of the trees to escort us up the boardwalk. The rules for humans are no touching the orang-utan, if they approach, stand very still and let them past, hang on to your back packs. The orang-utan of course don't care about these rules, they will walk up to people and touch, pose for photos, stand and wait for you to catch up. When they think they have distracted you enough from your back pack they will try and claim it for themselves. We got up to the information centre with nothing taken but lots of photos. One female came out of the trees with a cute wide eyed baby clinging to her back. We stopped to ohh and ahh but Isy hurried us on as the mother had bitten him on his backside not so long ago, ignoring us she loped on past intent on getting to the feeding station for her share of bananas and milk. There was time to read most of the information and watch part of a video at the information centre before walking through the rain forest to the feeding station. Camp Leaky was started in 1971 by Dr Birute Galdikas , she set out to observe the orang-utan then started rehabilitating captured and sick orang-utan back into the wild. After 30 odd years of living there she now only visits several times a year. The centre is run by dedicated Indonesians. The other two feeding stations we visited the next day are run by the National park. The illegal logging and mining in the park mean that the habitat for all local species is in danger. Two wild pigs turned up to clean up the scraps dropped from the feeding platform by Big Tom and his clan. The feeding station is a big platform under the trees where bananas and milk are left for the orang-utan. Isy was concerned there would not be many visiting as the fruit season was in full swing so the forest was full of more interesting food than bananas and milk. To his obvious pleasure there were several peeling bananas and slurping milk either on the platform or hanging off slender vines. We sat down cameras poised to watch the feeding, adolescents and mothers with clinging babies, some managing to swing up high into the trees with a hand of bananas and a bucket of milk. Suddenly guides and orang-utan became agitated as Tom the alpha male swung his huge body from slender vine to slender vine until despite his size he landed softly on the platform. We spent an hour or so watching and dodging Tom and his clan. The guides were a bit nervous as Tom could be a bit unpredictable and they made sure we kept a good distance and tried to anticipate his moves to keep us out of the way. There were bench seats to sit on but Tom decided they were a good place to hang out around. We stood amongst the trees and he occupied the viewing area. Who was viewing who? Tom swung off into the canopy and it was time for us to head back to the boat for the evening. The boat took us for a short trip past pot bellied honking probiscus monkeys, to a small indent in the bank for the night. The anchor, a tyre was thrown into the water hyacinths and we settled down for the night. Sleeping on the top deck encased in mosquito netting listening to the sounds of the rainforest night and waking at dawn to the howls of monkeys was an amazing experience. Well the whole trip was amazing. We saw more orang-utan the next day at feeding stations run by the Indonesian forest service, but the day at Camp Leaky was hard to beat. We returned down river past more monkeys and birds, a bright green snake slithered across the river disappearing up into a palm. We tried to spot the small crocodiles we had seen the day before but no luck. Connie cooked banana fritters for afternoon tea and all too soon we were back at our boats. The boat minder had cleaned our hull, eaten all the snacks and the dinghy was safely tied on Talitha's stern. I would recommend a trip to Camp Leaky, Kumai hosts many fly in tourists so if you are interested look up www.orangutaneXperience.com and take a trip with Isy. Photos will be added in Singapore. At present we are just across the straits, the Singapore high rises and the constant stream of shipping has just disappeared amongst the blue late afternoon haze.
Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ