12-28-12 Busy Days

We've been driving around trying to find a place to live during our refit. Sue's getting back in the groove of driving on the left with steering on the right. (If it could all be country roads we'd be in good shape!) Unfortunately, the rental units at Boat Lagoon were booked so we were scrambling. We then received a surprise call...our friends on sv Gromit had just arrived; we hadn't seen them since NZ! We arranged to visit them in Bang Tao Beach, where they were staying at a house our friends from sv Rhythm had rented for the holidays. We missed our friends from Rhythm, as they were out sailing with family for a few days, but it was great reconnecting with Gromit! We snacked a bit, played a game of farkle (Maia won) and, of course, talked about boats! It's always great fun with those guys.
Picture: M, Maia and Liam trying different hairstyles.

Dec. 25, 2012 Phuket, Thailand

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
We wish all our family and friends a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2013. May you find contentment, joy in simple pleasures, and experience 'fair winds and smooth seas' wherever you are!

Dec 22 - A day on the road..Thai style

We picked up our rental car here at Yacht Haven Marina and Sue got into "chaffeur" mode. Realize, she (nor I) have driven since this past April in New Zealand when touring the North & South Islands, so getting in the car, hitting the roads, checking out the signage in Thai, and trying to avoid the many motorbikes (going past you on both sides, as well as coming at you on your side of the road!) took a few minutes....The many tourist maps we had weren't that good, and most side streets didn't have any signage at all, so it was kind of like guess work! At any rate, we thought we'd go to Boat Lagoon Marina but ended up next door at the Royal Phuket Yacht Club and Marina. Well, close enough, really, and we needed to check it out anyway and get haul out and storage prices from them. They told us how to make the u-turns to get into Boat Lagoon Resort and Marina, and we found it without drama. This is a huge complex, of boatyard, hardstand area, service providers, hotel, apartment and condos, restaurants...we were lost within minutes. Eventually we found the contractor we were looking for and had a nice discussion. Leaving, we decided to go to Patong Beach for lunch and check out the hotel we had booked for New Year's eve. Traffic got busier in this top tourist beach destination, but I must say, Sue did a quite admirable job and we eventually found the hotel, directly across from the beach. As expected, the front desk personnel told us they didn't have a reservation for us, but, in anticipation, I showed her the email confirmation on our iPad, and we were quickly put right. In fact, for just a few more dollars, we upgraded to a larger room; we're good with that. After lunch, where we spotted Mike & Juanita from sv Keris, we went to the heart of Patong Beach, as I wanted to see where we were going to hang out for New Year's before returning to the beach to see the fireworks. We ended up at the Jungceylon Mall, where we literally bumped into our friends Steve & Liz from sv Liberte; amazing to run into people in the midst of a crowd of thousands. We had a great iced coffee (free wifi) and compared notes before it was late afternoon and time for us to get on down (or in this case, up) the road back to Yacht Haven before dark. Again, the signage is pretty much non-existent, so we drove about 5 km out of our way and had to backtrack to find our way back to the marina. There, Bruce & Clark of sv Two Amigos were just leaving The Haven (one of the local bar/restaurants), and we had a nice visit with them before returning to Infini. A busy day; we felt we had accomplished a lot (also, no dents or traffic accidents....)

Dec 19 - Yacht Haven Marina, Phuket, Thailand

Position: N08deg10.221min/ E098deg20.432min. Berth C-37. We departed the east anchorage at Ao Chalong and motor sailed the 30 miles here to Yacht Haven Marina. We're getting bids on having a major refit done on Infini, and this is the place the contractors wanted to see the boat. The other major marina nearby is Boat Lagoon Marina, but they were full as this is peak season. Yacht Haven is a mega-yacht marina, and many of the 300 wet berths are filled with mega's and charter yachts of all descriptions. We're a bit out of the mainstream here, so are planning on renting a car to get around.
Pic: Yacht Haven Marina, Phuket

Dec 18 - Warning about mooring at Ao Chalong on Noonsite

This morning I just read the following article on the Noonsite website:
Thailand, Phuket, Chalong Bay: Warning about Unsafe Mooring Buoys
By Bob Mott — last modified Dec 17, 2012 10:15 PM
Published: 2012-12-17 00:00:00
Countries: Thailand
This is a warning for yachts taking up on moorings in Chalong Bay and elsewhere in Phuket and surrounds.
Please note that the local Thailand marine department has dropped dozens of moorings in Chalong and other areas surrounding Phuket. They are concrete blocks with a rope tied to them and an orange GRP buoy with a dark blue marking on it. They are not safe as the rope chafes away where it goes through the concrete block or where it is tied on to a metal ring on the concrete block. One yacht, a 40 footer, has already broken free within 5 days of being tied to one of these moorings. Use you own anchor or seek the services at either yacht club in Chalong Bay to have a mooring put down using the correct equipment.
The marina department advise that you use these buoys "at your own risk".
See this Phuket Gazette article for more details.
The older moorings in National parks, such as the Similan Island, are OK and have to be used by visiting yachts and large dive boats, so are well tested. But in any areas other than the Similan Island National park, including other national parks areas, the mooring should be dived on to check for suitability. The dangerous moorings are the ones recently deployed, most of which are in Chalong Bay.
Bob Mott
Well...we can personally attest to the above!

Dec 17 - Ao Chalong, Phuket, Thailand

Position: N07deg49.064min/ E098deg21.699min We arrived in Phuket around 1300 hours and took one of the many hundred mooring buoys, then went ashore to check in with Immigration, Customs and Port Captain personnel. Lots of paperwork, but things went smoothly. After, we ate a great lunch at the Anchor Bar & Restaurant, walked to where Stuart's new dinghy was sitting waiting for pick-up, then stopped at the Lighthouse Bar for a beer before returning to the boat at about 1700 hours. About 10 minutes later I noticed we were heading differently from the surrounding boats, and immediately realized our mooring buoy had parted! If we hadn't been aboard, I shudder to think what could have happened....As it was, we were quickly anchored (I've said many times I don't trust moorings...whodathunk our mooring would have parted in little to no wind?!) and all's well. Another little adventure and another reason to give thanks for all our blessings....and lady luck.
Pic: The pier where we park the dinghy is a long walk to shore. The big Budda on the hill is a landmark. It's even lit at night.

Dec 15 - Ao Lohdalum, Ko Phiphi Don

Position: N07deg40.486min/ E098deg46.070min We had a wonderful sail, close reaching in 16-18 knots of ENE breeze at 6.5-7.4 knots, and reached Ko Phiphi Don by early afternoon. In Ton Sai Bay it was mayhem, with tour boats, dive boats, long tail boats, fishing boats, speed boats, and jet skis all going at high speed thru out the harbor. We soon gave up on finding a spot to anchor, and motored around the island to the other side of the isthmus, the northwest area of Ao Lohdalum. We could motor quite close to the cliffs, where the depth was still about 80' and you could just about reach out and touch the stalagtites. It was a lot calmer in Ao Lohdalum, and we found 40' easy enough to drop the hook. There are still boats buzzing around, just a lot less of them. In the late afternoon, we picked up Stuart and Sheila (sv Imagine) and dinghied into shore. First was the ATM; then came a SIM card. After, we had a few beers and then found the Papaya Restaurant and had a delicious Thai meal. The tidal range here is only about 2-3 meters, but our dinghy was high and dry amongst the rocks, and we carried it on its wheels out to knee deep water. A bit after we returned to our boats, the music started on shore. It was like being in hell; really loud music blaring from multiple speakers simultaneously; like an audible Hieronymus Bosch musical. Well, the music finally stopped at 3:45 AM, so I managed to get about 20 minutes of sleep. It's still a nice place, though; kind of a warren of dive shops, bars and restaurants, tourist places, small hotels, markets, a pharmacy, food stalls, a few banks and ATM's, tattoo and massage parlors, laundromats...and we haven't even walked the place yet. More tomorrow.
Pic: Looking back as we head to shore in our dinghy.

Dec 14 - Ko Rok Nok, Thailand

Position: N07deg12.830min/ E099deg04.108min Chris and Ann (sv Silver Girl) cast off our lines and we departed Rebak Marina with fond memories of a wonderful stop. We had gone into Kuah yesterday and did a final provisioning. A friend had told of us of a food vendor that supplied the resort trade, and we stocked up, amongst many foods, with a 4.8 kg turkey and lots of different cheeses. There was a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the resort last evening, along with food, drinks and a band. Lots of activities are planned at Rebak for the Holidays, but we decided to go to Phuket and celebrate there. The morning was overcast with winds from the ENE at 12-15 knots, what I call diesel-friendly weather (we don't have to motor!), so we made good time to our destination about 45 miles away. There are two islands here at Ko Rok Nok, part of a National Park. We'll explore another time, as we're about half way to Phuket. We had sailed across the border into Thailand about 1000 this morning; yep...this is a long way from Florida!
Pic: More changing weather...our anchorage here was nice.

Dec 10 - The Sail Malaysia Rally ends

The last few days have been busy. Saturday, we had the official closing ceremony dinner at the Burau Bay Resort. This is a beautiful venue, and we ended up seated at the VIP table and were served by smiling resort staff, enjoying another delicious meal. Yesterday, a tour was arranged of Langkawi Island, and we had the chance to take the Cable Car ride to the second highest peak of the island. The vertical rise of the system is about 700 meters, and the views are amazing. We also visited the Seven Wells Waterfall, had a fast visit to the Perdana Gallery, and ended the day with a late afternoon lunch. Each tour bus had its own tour guide, and ours related facts and figures of the island as we went along. In the evening, we had a gathering aboard Infini and enjoyed the company and stories of our Aussie friends. Today there was a swap meet and a relaxing lunch. That's it - the Sail Malaysia Rally is officially over. It's been a really good run. We've experienced new places, people and cultures, and have made new friends along the way. We've enjoyed the experience, and applaud the organizers. For any of you following in our footsteps, we'd highly recommend the Rally.
Pic: Photo op with our entertainers

Dec 4 - Rebak Marina

Position: N06deg17.64min/ E099deg41.83min Yesterday we walked from the dinghy dock at Bass Harbor to the jetty terminal. I checked in with the Port Captain, but the Customs and Immigration folks told me to return when we checked out going to Thailand. Easy! We walked the town of Kuah, taking in the duty free shops (Tiger or Carlsberg beer is 45 ringitts/24 cans...about 1.88 ringitts/beer!). There's a nearby hardware/chandlery store called Multiquip Trading (phone 04-966 6953) that has a tremendous stock of yacht supplies and paints. Imagine's dinghy is on its last legs, so we picked up Stuart and Sheila and dinghied to the nearby Royal Langkawi Yacht Club for happy hour. Dinner was chicken satay, pizza and fish and chips (all for about $12USD!) at the 'western restaurant' back at the cruisers dinghy dock area; the food was outstanding. This morning, we departed the Bass Harbor anchorage (good holding in mud) and motorsailed to Rebak Marina, running the watermaker and taking in the sights along the way. The entrance to the marina is a bit hard to spot until you're just about on top of the markers, but we docked with no drama and checked in with Rizal and Abby at the office. We bought a plug adapter for the A/C unit and the boat is cool once again. The food here is good also, and we joined Chris and Ann of Silvergirl for happy hour at the beach bar of the resort and dinner at the cruisers restaurant, called the Hard Dock Cafe. Here are a series of four entry GPS coordinates to get into Rebak Marina: N06deg17.4813min/E099deg41.6909min; N06deg17.4898min/E099deg41.6884min; N06deg17.5077min/E099deg41.6876min; N06deg17.5393min/E099deg41.7015min. It's hard to see the red (up on a small hill of rocks) and green (blends into the shoreline) markers until you're quite close in. The marina office answers on VHF 69 and requests you call when you're just about in the channel.
Pic: The view from the cable car going up. Telaga Harbor anchorage seen.

Dec 2 - Bass Harbor, Langkawi

Position: N06deg18.77min/ E099deg50.63min We anchored at Kuah at 1330 hours after a wonderful morning sail. Hitting speeds up to 7.8 knots, we had full main and genoa up in flat seas, and the miles went by fast. The sky was overcast, but no rain appeared. Kuah is one of the port of entries in Langkawi, a duty free island. We'll go exploring tomorrow; the really good news is that Sue's feeling a lot better.
Pic: Eagle Square by the main ferry terminal is a waterfront landmark. We see many of these eagles fishing the waters around here.

Dec 1 - Song Song Island

Position: N05deg48.66min/ E100deg17.91min We departed Penang using the boost from the ebb tide which flows northerly. Although I've recuperated from the "yachtie flu," unfortunately, Sue's been down with it for the last few days and hasn't been able to do any sightseeing. Penang and surrounds is home to about 2.3 million people, mostly Chinese, Indian and Malay. The colonial homes in Georgetown, as well as the newer mansions of the wealthy, are really impressive. Along with some friends, we toured a few museums and ate some of the wonderful food Penang is known for. This area rivals many other great cities, and there's lots to do and see. And, for those interested, there's lots of shopping and eating! Since the Rally functions here take place over the next few days and with Sue being not quite full strength, we thought we'd just get on down the road a bit early. We anchored at Song Song Island at 1300, and have about 40 miles to get to Langkawi tomorrow.
Pic: We shared the anchorage with Imagine. Weather was unsettled, but the major cells missed us.

Nov 27 - Jerejak Island, Penang

We left on the incoming tide and had a slow motor sail 15mi. to our anchorage at Telang Island. (Position: N04deg25.17min/ E100deg.34.69) We departed Talang at 0600 in the dark and decided to forgoe anchoring at the mud bank 22 miles away as it was still before noon when we were abeam of the area. That area promised to be an open road stead anchorage, and I had noted a building westerly swell, so it just didn't look that promising. By the early afternoon we finally picked up a favorable current, and at times were doing over 6.5 knots, allowing us to pass the unfinished center span of the Second Penang Bridge at about 1815 hours. By 1830 we were anchored in 24 feet (N05deg18.52min/ E100deg18.16min) and were fairly amazed that we had made the miles we did in daylight. Other boats here at present are Rumrunner II, Amulet, Imagine and Fearless. More of the fleet are coming tomorrow (from the mud bank anchorage) and a few boats are already in Georgetown (north end of Penang) or Langkawi.
Pic: A new bridge is going up between the mainland and Penang Island (the Second Penang Bridge). We went between the open span and anchored between Jerejak Island, just past the bridge, and Penang to the left.

Nov 23 - Pangkor dinner

The marina here is full; boats are rafted to each other and one catamaran is even tied alongside the ferry dock. Larger boats are in smaller slips; it's all a bit chaotic, but it works. James, the marina manager here, has been working overtime to ensure that most everyone has a berth, electricity, and whatever else is needed (and yes, some boats chose to stay at anchor.) There are several small places to get a bite to eat, and one larger sea food restaurant, which is where the fleet gathered for its Rally dinner. Cases and cases of (free) beer continued to be served, and as the dinner proceeded, the noise level went up as well. Well over a hundred people were there, so the serving staff was quite busy. I saw nothing but smiles all around, and the few kids present were also having a good time. Indeed, one of them was busy putting ice cubes down anyone's back he could reach...Lots of pictures were taken, and the movie cameras were rolling as well. A really fun evening, and another milestone for the Sail Malaysia Rally. Tomorrow, Sue will take the all day bus tour to the Cameron Highlands before we depart Monday for our next stop, Penang.
Pic: Tea Plantations in the Cameron Highlands. It was great seeing the interior for a day...so much agriculture and jungle...what beautiful country!

Nov 18 - Pangkor Marina

Anchor Position: N04deg12.39min/ E100deg03.30min 22'. We had a tough time of it last night coming up from Port Dickson to Pangkor. The early morning started off gray, but by afternoon the clouds had built up and by early evening it was raining hard. The lightening and thunder surrounded us, so there was nowhere to really go but towards our destination. With steady winds of 18-24 on the nose, that meant slow going, at times one knot of boat speed with the current against us. Frustrating, especially since the autopilot chose today to be cranky, leaving us to hand steer on a one hour on, one hour off schedule. Well, we know you just have to take the cards that are dealt, although that doesn't mean we have to like the hand! On top of everything else, I've finally succumbed to the "cruisers crud." The yachties were dropping like flies, with head and chest congestion, fatigue and so forth, and I was immune to all that until a few days ago, when it reared its ugly head, so taking lots of medicine is also part of the deal. Just great. Well, the good news is that we dropped the hook in the waning light at 1930 hours, put the sail cover on, took badly needed showers, and had a good nights rest! Pangkor Marina on the mainland 5mi. away has to be entered at high tide, so by 0830 we were tied up in a berth. Position: N04deg12.68min/ E100deg36.11min) A rally dinner is planned here in a few days. There are about 63 boats participating in the Sail Malaysia Rally (6 from the US), so you have plenty of opportunity to see the same people over and over.
Pic:We took the ferry across to Pangkor Island with friends and toured around. This Foo Ling Kong Temple has a mini version of the Great Wall of China.

Nov 14 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We took a tour to the capitol of Malaysia today. Starting with the impressive Batu Caves, it was explained that these gigantic limestone formations were discovered about 120 years ago. The Hindu's have since erected many temples, and a pilgrimage happens every year during the 3 days of Thaipusam. We walked the 272 steps to the top, giving our legs a much needed workout. The large golden statue outside is a local landmark and the caves are dedicated to Lord Subramaniam (Muruga). It had rained earlier, so our visit had the normal drippings from the cave openings, and the usual visits of the local monkeys hoping for handouts. From there we had a brief stop at a batik factory, then onwards to the National Monument war memorial sculpted by Felix de Weldon (the creator of the Iwo Jima monuments in Washington, DC), the Petronas and KL Towers (we chose not to go up), the King's Palace, the City Gallery, Merdeka Square (also known as Independence Square in the heart of colonial KL, where Malaysia declared their independence from Great Britain in 1957; this is also where the running and drinking club of the Hash House Harriors started in 1938!), and then to busy Chinatown for a delicious, authentic Chinese supper. We drove past the National Mosque, the KL Train Station, Little India and the Lake Gardens. Two million people live in KL, and the variety of shops, goods and foods available is staggering.
Pic: The King's Palace

Nov 12 - Melaka

We took a tour bus to Malacca, also spelled Melaka, which is a UNESCO city with Portuguese, Dutch and English history. Many of the buildings are over 500 years old and a lot of them have been restored, so the preservation of the area is ongoing. We visited various cultural places (museums, churches and forts), and our tour guide was very informative. The city used to be the major port city for the entire SE asia region, but it has long lost that appellation to Singapore. Ethnic Chinese, Indian, Malay and others have been settled in the area for hundreds of years, and the many restaurants are known for their various foods. Antique and souvenir shops line Jonker Street, and we wished we had planned an overnight visit to walk the city and enjoy its ambience.
Pic: Another form of transportation; quite a change from the rickshaw.

Nov 8 - Admiral Marina, near Port Dickson

We departed Puteri Harbour Marina at first light (0700), and anchored at Pulau Pisang at N01deg27.87min/ E103deg15.85min in 12.5' mud. We decided to do an overnight to Admiral Marina (N02deg28.54min/ E101deg50.75min) and had an easy time of it. Although there was a tremendous display of lightening nearby, we had none of it, and the night passed quickly enough. We kept on the edge of the busy shipping lanes of the Malacca Straits. The marina here is part of a deluxe condo-club complex, and we've hooked up our air con and are definitely walking in tall cotton....There are lots of activities planned as part of Sail Malaysia later this week. Btw, the entrance here is a bit tricky, and there are shallow patches nearby, so good navigation is mandatory....or better yet, follow someone else in...(we didn't have that luxury!)

Nov 6 - Sail Malaysia activities have commenced

We're departing Puteri Harbour Marina in a few hours on the way towards Langkawi. Last night was the Rally welcoming dinner at Danga Bay Marina Convention Center; a lovely meal, cocktail hour beforehand, and entertainment during; then a 20 minute ride back by the Puteri Marina water taxi. We've been on a bus tour of Johor. This area has a vibrant economy and the long range urban plans are just amazing. The new government center, Kota Iskandar, has been operational for a few years and we were able to see where the representatives work and laws are passed. After a mid-morning tea break, a tour of the pineapple museum followed by a traditional lunch (delicious!) at a homestay was arranged, then stops to a National Park on the coast and to one of the upscale shopping center outlet malls completed a full day. Yesterday morning, our main navigation briefing for the rally took place, and during the afternoon break I bought a window air conditioner unit! It is seriously hot and humid here at this time of year, although we won't be using the a/c unless we have dock power at a marina. So...things are happening, and the fleet is starting to move around. Some of our friends are in Langkawi (about 460 miles from here), a few have even pushed to Phuket, Thailand (another 170 miles further from Langkawi), and we're looking forward to seeing new areas on our journey up the Malacca Straits.

Oct 26 - Singapore

We shared a taxi to Singapore with Gary and Tara (sv Pursuit IV) and arrived at our hotel in one hour. There were no clearance fees to enter Singapore via the Second Link bridge, and we didn't have to get out of our taxi. This is one of the world's great cities, and is a separate country from Indonesia and Malaysia. The amount of building construction defies the imagination; cranes and heavy equipment are everywhere. The economy depends greatly on exports and tourism, so it's pretty easy to find your way around. The MRT
(mass rapid transit), or subway system, is just amazing, as is the bus system. Traffic is heavy, in spite of governmental efforts to limit auto ownership by the application of heavy taxes, but if you ever want to see luxury cars en masse, this is the place to visit. Education is stressed, and there are multiple places of higher learning. Years ago there was a book entitled "Europe On $5 A Day." Today, another book would have to be titled "Singapore On $200 A Day!" This is an expensive city, from $16 beers to meals at $25 minimum. We haven't bought anything, but can tell you that shoppers have found nirvana here at very, very high prices. We've visited Little India, Chinatown, the Singapore National Museum, the Botanical Gardens along with the National Orchid Garden within, and the Asian Civilizations Museum. We've also done the obligatory visit to the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, where Sue enjoyed her Singapore Sling (where they were invented.) We've done a lot of walking, enjoying the architecture, taking lots of pictures, and also took a narrative city sight-seeing bus tour ($18.-24hr. pass; highly recommended). Tomorrow we'll be returning to Puteri Harbour Marina via MRT and bus.

Oct 22 - Puteri Harbour Marina happenings

We've been here a week and a lot has been going on. The marina provides free shuttle services every Tuesday evening to the Gelang Patah night market. This is a huge market with unbelievable amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, stuff to eat, and incidentals (I bought a new waterproof watch for $3USD - we'll have to see how long it lasts!). We came back loaded with fresh stuff. The cafe here serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but no alcoholic beverages. There's a small library here called the Chart Room, with hundreds of books and many charts available for copy, trade or take away. It's comfortable and air conditioned; we spend a bit of time there...Every Thursday, a free shuttle goes to one of several nearby shopping malls (your choice at Jusco Bukit Indah); these are very large and rival most of those we're used to in the USA. I forgot to mention the marina does the clearing in paperwork for Customs, then transports everyone to Immigration for electronic fingerprinting and passport stamps. Meanwhile, several of our friends on nearby boats have either left for their home countries or have gone to Singapore for sight seeing. More friends arrived in the last couple of days; we hadn't seen Gary & Tara from Pursuit IV for a couple of years; Leu Cat (Dave and Mary Margaret) showed up, and Fred and Cha Cha of Manufaktum are here. We've met our neighbors on Tovo, a French couple we spoke with over the VHF but hadn't met until their arrival here. So, a bit of socializing takes place at cruisers happy hour in the late afternoon. We've dried out sails, cleaned the deck and SS, and even put up our boat awning, something we haven't taken out since we last used it in Guatemala! We have noticed many cruisers are arriving with a variety of boat related issues: generator problems, engine turbo problems, one boat with a failed transmission (he was towed for over 300 nm by another cruiser!); refrigerator problems....it just goes on and on. Unfortunately, in this part of the world at this time of year, motoring is the norm. Yesterday, we topped off with 260L of diesel (2.85RM/L); the boat boys used their high pressure transfer pump to transfer fuel into our filter....no drama, and no lugging around heavy jerry jugs. On the weather front, we're getting heavy thunderstorms with lightening on a daily basis now; they're as impressive as those in Florida. Tomorrow we leave for our Singapore jaunt; more about that later. Meanwhile, Sue has posted more picture albums of Indonesia (she's got a few more to go!)....enjoy!
Pic: Sunrise from our cockpit

Oct 15 - Puteri Harbour Marina, Malaysia

Position: N01deg25.07min/E103deg39.50min
We departed on the day our Indonesian CAIT (cruising permit) expired. There was a lot of confusion regarding the CAIT's issued to the Sail Indonesia Rally participants as apparently there was an error in the expiration dates and a new CAIT with extended dates was supposed to have been issued, but was sent to only a few of the boats in Belitung, not those of us in Batam, so not wanting to leave anything to chance and risk fines for being in Indonesia with an expired cruising permit, we (and five other yachts) decided to leave. We crossed the Singapore Straits without any problems at all. If any of you are squeamish about ships, stop reading right now...There were hundreds of ships on AIS and the laptop glowed blue (the color of the ship symbol with AIS on our nav program) around Singapore. We've never seen so many ships in one place before. We motor sailed the entire way from Nongsa Point Marina and, of course, the wind was on the nose, but we did manage to raise the main and get a bit of boost during the hour of so of actual Strait crossing. Our CM93 charts were pretty accurate, and we found favorable current most of our trip, which was a huge help. We came up the Johor Straits (west side of Singapore). We spotted the large Puteri Harbour sign outside the marina entrance at about 1530 hours, and were tied up in their secure lagoon by 1600. Of note, our charts did not show the Harbour entrance as the complex is newer than the charts, and there is a large red marker right outside the entrance that can be passed on either side; entrance is easy and the marina is large. Marina details: there doesn't seem to be much going on here. The complex is new; there's one restaurant that serves until 7PM, no alcohol served; there's laundry and shower facilities (which Danga Bay Marina doesn't have), as well as wifi, fuel and non-potable water. The other yachts here are storing their boats long term (at very favorable rates), and there's a lot of construction on a large hotel project in the marina complex. We're in Malaysia!

Oct 11 - Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island

N01deg11.80min/ E104deg05.84min
We departed Mesansak Island at 0100 hours for the 55 mile run and had a long, slow motor to Batam Island. Wind was on the nose at 10-12 knots, and current was against us until about 1030 hours, so the first part of the trip wasn't fast.... Every morning towering cumulus clouds have formed and the thunder and lightning gets your attention quickly; October is a transitional month to the NE monsoon season (November to March) from the SW monsoon season (June to September). Calms are frequent, as is motoring. Shipping traffic has picked up, but the lanes are wide and there's plenty of room for everyone. We entered Nongsa Point Marina just before 3 pm, and the attendants took our dock lines. It didn't take long to get to the pool and enjoy a cold beer. Think being outside in the Florida summer; the heat and humidity take a bit to get used to. There are other boats here from Sail Indonesia, and folks come and go. Weekend trips to Singapore by water ferry are popular, and we're considering doing this. We'll be spending a few days in the marina here cleaning and resting up before departing to cross the Singapore Straits to Malaysia.
Pic: The crews of 6 boats went to the Mall (grocery store) for a last Indonesian provisioning. Beer won't be this cheap elsewhere...until duty free Lankawi probably. It'll be hard to find in Malaysia. Here our Swede friend Bernardo from sv Albertina is guarding our wares.

Oct 9 - Equator crossing

00deg00.00min/ 104deg49.589minE
This is our 4th equator crossing, but first in the eastern hemisphere. We had an appropriate ceremony for the occasion, and continued motoring to Kentar Island (position: 00deg03.268N/104deg45.501E) where we anchored in 30' sand. This is a nice bay, well protected, and, at least at this time, very calm. Another early start tomorrow morning (0600) is planned, but from here on it's a motor trip - no wind is predicted.
Pic: fishing huts are everywhere along this coast. And not lit at night.

Oct 8 - Lingga Island

Position: 00deg18.520minS/104deg58.887minE
We motored, sailed, and motor-sailed for the two night passage across the South China Sea from Serutu Island to Lingga Island. Between the unlit fishing nets we've gone over, fish boats running with incorrect night lights, dozens of commercial ships on AIS to dodge, tugs with single and double barges with no AIS and weak as hell lights, and just general fatigue, these have been challenging waters to traverse. Holding here is in 24' of mud, although wind and current are countering each other. Those eagle eyed readers of our blog will note that we're about 19 miles from the equator; we're heading northwest towards Singapore, and our crossing tomorrow into the northern hemisphere will mark Sue and my fourth equator crossing! We've been traveling along with sv Silver Girl, with our Australian buds Ann and Chris aboard; they'll celebrate their first equator crossing! We've planned a few more stops as day trips before getting to Nongsa Marina on Batam Island, our last stop in Indonesia, where we'll have a proper equator crossing celebration(s)...
Pic: We actually flew our 'sunshine' sail for a few hours!

Oct 5 - Serutu Island

01deg42.300minS/ 108deg43.192minE
We did a two night passage to Serutu, departing the Kumai River in the early morning. It was good to get out of the smokey haze and brown water. At night, we encountered dozens of boats fishing for squid, each lit up like a stadium for a night football game. We actually only had to divert for one 620 foot freighter; the squid boats tend to congregate in patches and are easily avoided. Winds were SE 15-20 until 0200 this morning, when we had to motor the last 25 miles due to light winds and strong current. We had just finished anchoring here when some local fishermen came over in their canoe selling fish and lobster. We passed on the fish, but bought two large lobster for $5.00USD. We'll be catching up on sleep today, and departing at sunrise for Kentar Island, another two night passage, about 260 mi away.

Oct. 1 - Orangutan country

Tanjung Puting National Park is the home of one of a few places on the planet where orangutans can be found in the wild. It's a natural ecosystem rain forest which has 600 types of trees, 200 varieties of orchids, almost 250 species of birds, 28 species of large mammals, and 9 species of primates. We took a 2 day, 1 night tour by klotok boat, a traditional Indonesian river boat where the tourist lives upstairs, and meals are prepared down below, where the guide, captain and cook live. At night, mosquito netting is spread over mattresses, and the boat is tied up alongside some palms or pandanus. We trekked a short distance to Camp Leaky where we saw 9 orangutans, including young ones with their mothers. A feeding of bananas is arranged for a particular time, and these wild and semi-wild orangs know the schedule. It's a delightful photo-op time, but serious research has been going on there for over 30 years. The highlight of our visit there was when Big Tom showed up. He's not there a lot during feedings (which is when the tourists are there); weighs about 110-120kg, is about 38 years old, and is the Main Man (ah..make that Orangutan...). You get the idea. When he walked towards us, we calmly walked the other way. The orangutan's strength is reputed to be 8 times greater than man's, and the guides constantly reminded us to keep a respectful distance. There were other feeding stations to visit also, but not as many orangs showed up when we were there. We also saw wild boar, squirrel, proboscis and macaque monkeys. On our boat ride, we saw several varieties of colorful kingfisher; the spectacular Stork Billed being our favorite with it's bright red beak, yellow head and bright blue body and wings. There were also wild orangutans, monkeys, crocodiles, butterflies, and we were surrounded by a cocophany of insect sounds. A wonderful web site is http://www.orangutanindonesia.com/tanjung-puting-national-park.htm, which gives a lot more detail than the above. Another good site is www.orangutan.org.

Sept. 28 - Kumai, Kalimantan, Borneo

Actually Kalimantan and Borneo are two different countries. Borneo belonging to Malaysia; Kalimantan is part of Indonesia.
Position: 02deg44.382S/111deg44.022E It's hot, muggy, and I'd like a beer....We've had to motor about 8 hours to get up river to the town of Kumai. The water is brown and depth is impossible to ascertain without a depth sounder. As we turned the last bend of the river and got a visual on the town, a jet roared overhead and a city of commercial boats, loading docks and a few wood mills greeted us. No wonder the orangatans are endangered. Tour guide operators buzzed around us in speed boats, obviously looking to score more business. We'll be taking a 2 day, 1 night tour with Ann & Chris of sv Silver Girl, and we're also looking at exploring the town a bit and topping off with diesel. There's cell coverage and internet, and an ATM is now available in town...progress, of sorts.
Pic: The huge concrete buildings make it look like a big city...but they're really 'swallow hotels' for a huge export: birds nests...for 'bird nest soup'.

Sept. 24 - Enroute to Borneo!

We've decided to go to the Orangatan Sanctuary at the Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Borneo. This area covers about 1175 square miles and in a UNESCO BIOSPHERE PRESERVE. Departing Lombok, there are two lovely islands along the way to anchor at, each about 140-150 miles distance, breaking up the journey into three individual overnight passages. How convenient! The first anchorage was at Ra-As Island, position 07deg07minS/114deg30minE. This is an exceptionally well protected, beautiful spot. The second island was Bawean, at 05deg43.8minS/112deg40.2minE. Again, another beautiful place, but exposed to NW winds. Our routine has been to raise anchor at 0600 and get underway for a long day and night. We're in the Java Sea now; how exotic is that?! If there's enough wind, we sail; much of the time is spent motoring in winds less than 8 knots. Once again, currents are strong and course adjustments need to be made. Night cruising is challenging, with unmarked fishing buoys, multiple fishing boats of many descriptions, tug and barge tows, freighters, and other hazards to navigation. Many of the boats and floats do not use lights, and when they do, more often than not, it's a blinking red, blue and green light giving a strobe effect. Psychedelic. We're in company with two other boats, both Australian, Christine Ann, and Silver Girl. We've taken a lay day here in Bawean and are catching up on rest and chores and will leave tomorrow for the Kumai River, in Borneo. When I think Borneo, (haven't you been thinking "Borneo" today?) I get this National Geographic picture in my mind of wild things; we'll see what the reality is in a couple of days.

Sept 18 - A tour aound Bali

We hired a private driver for the day and toured part of the island. We didn't know much about Bali before our arrival, but used the internet and the Lonely Planet Guide, as well as talking to some locals here in Ubud, to determine what areas might be of interest. Leaving at 0900, our first stop was the Hindu Temple of Goa Gajah, the Elephant Caves. Built in the 9th century, there are carvings at the entrance that are thought to ward off evil spirits. Next was the 11th century temple of Gunung Kawi. There are ten shrines cut into the rock face, each about 20' high. After, we went to Tirtha Empul, the Holy Water Temple. The Balinese people go here for purification rites. Many legends exist about all these temples, all dating back more than a thousand years. We then took a break and had coffee at a local coffee plantation (Madu Pertiwi), where we learned a bit about the harvesting of the coffee bean and the spices they grow, as well as Luwak coffee (for those of you who don't know, this is coffee that is made from the poo of the civet, a nocturnal cat-like creature with an elongated nose like a mongoose or possum, that eats the coffee beans, and whose digestive juices work on the beans before excretion,then the beans are gathered, roasted and served....a cup of Luwak coffee is the most expensive brew around). Breaking for lunch, we had a wonderful view of Mt. Batur (1730 meters) and Mt. Agung (3142 meters), two nearby volcanoes in Penelokan, with a view of Batur Lake. We saved the big kahuna for after lunch, the Besakih Temple. This temple is the largest and most well known in Bali, and built on the slopes of Mt. Agung, a major volcano. A "donation" was asked (after the entry fee of $3.50USD for two), but we gave $5.00USD and a guide accompanied us and explained stuff that we wouldn't have been aware of attempting to cover the huge area ourselves. Twenty two temples are in the complex, and I think we saw most of them. Having worn shorts, I had to use their sarong and waist belt to be allowed in; Sue had long pants on, so she was allowed entry. We then drove thru areas of beautifully terraced rice paddies before finally returning to our bungalow at 1600 hours. Total cost for the day was $40.00USD, plus lunch. This has been a tiring day, but we feel we've seen just a bit of Bali and have a better understanding of the Hindu culture and history. We could easily spend more time exploring this beautiful island...but it's time to move on and return to Infini.

Sept 16 - Bali

We decided not to sail Infini to Bali, and instead, took a 30 minute plane ride there. (After the 1.5 hour ride to the 'new' airport!). Avoiding Kuta and the beaches, a taxi took us direct to Ubud, known as an artistic, hippy type area that is laid back and easier on the senses than most of the tourist areas here. The taxi ride took 1.5 hours, and the traffic was, to be kind, chaotic. Thousands of motorbikes drive the narrow streets, often coming right at you on what was thought to be a one way street. How no one collides defies my imagination. Riding a bicycle along the streets is almost suicidal. We found Ubud to be a massive dose of shops close next to each other, many selling the same things, but with one occasionally displaying some originality. We enjoyed browsing thru some of the shops, talking with the artists who made their wares and finding out where stuff came from and the significance of the shapes and carvings. Small restaurants and inns are everywhere, as are their prices. Goods and services are negotiable here, and just about no one pays list price for anything. Taxi drivers are looking for customers, as are the many spas here. We went to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary today, and walked the many paths to the temples there. Seeing the many offerings being places in front of residences and businesses was very different for us, the air smelled of flowers, a nice change from the smokey smell of the coast.

Sept 12 - Lombok touring

We hired a tour guide and driver to take us around and see a bit of Lombok, along with our Ozzie friends Chris and Ann from Silver Girl. We arranged pick-up at 0800 and first stop was Banyumulek, one of the main pottery making villages in Lombok. We toured one of the many factories where everything is done by hand, and the beautiful finished products are sent world wide. Next on the agenda was a stop at Sukarara, a weaving village where ikat and Sasak traditional cloth is displayed and sold. Some of the weavers work outside, and a quality piece will take from 1-3 months to weave! Blankets, sarongs and cloth are made and sold here. We had previously made a short stop in Mataram where our guide, Awan, bought a box of breakfast pastries for us. He usually guides the overnight mountain treks to the second highest volcano in Indonesia- Mount Rinjani, but a friend of his (and a new friend of ours) asked him to take us around and he was a wonderful guide, explaining everything in good English and answering our many questions. We headed south to Kuta, and stopped at Tanjung Aan, a beautiful small village on the water with fine, white sand beaches. Talk about laid back. After a late lunch we headed back and made a final stop at Rungkang Jangkuk to visit a wood craft and furniture making facility. What a treat for the eye! The workmanship and complexity of some of the pieces was amazing; good thing we had no room aboard for any of the larger pieces! We returned to our boats at about 5:15 P.M., after a nine hour tour of a small part of this beautiful island. During our drive we saw lots of mosques and temples, two weddings; tobacco and vegetable fields; lots of monkeys, rice paddies, and thousands of mopeds weaving in and out of the traffic. Everyone says that parts of Lombok are what Bali used to be like 20-30 years ago, before heavy tourism changed everything there. We certainly enjoyed and highly recommend our day trip; cost p/p: $15.00USD.(Please be aware that prices are always negotiable, and often change...) Awan's cell: 0819 0734 5121.
Pic: They notch the design with chisel, and cut and inlay the shell...this was a big shop with a lot of furniture.

Sept 9 - Gili Air

We moved Infini once again, tying her med moor style by anchoring and attaching a stern line to a beach anchor. It was quite a scene as we are now pidgeon holed in a tight space, but we left the boat unattended, and the owner of Medana Bay Marina, as well as several yachtie friends, will be able to look after Infini a lot easier now; she's directly in front of the bar/restaurant in 3 meters of water. We then took an early morning taxi to the harbour, where we boarded what's called a "public boat" for transport to Gili Air with Cris and Ann from Silver Girl. This small island has about 1000 residents, and no motor vehicles. There are horse drawn carts and bicycles, as well as walking, as the only modes of transportation. We're staying at Sejuk Cottages, a group of small thatched cottages on the NE side of the island. Walking paths cover the island, and we found ourselves walking along trails thru the villagers simple living accomodations. Much of the waterfront has small bars and restaurants which all serve pretty much the same food and drink. The east side of the island has some fair snorkeling; the coral was pretty dead, but the fish were nice. This morning Sue and I had a massage; we're definitely living the high life now...upscale at $12./hr! We're heading back to the boat tomorrow; we've already turned in the paperwork for our visa renewal, and have an appointment at Immigration this Tuesday. After, we're planning another road trip for a few days before the Sail Indonesia Rally event here at Medana Bay Marina scheduled for Sept. 20th.
Pic: We enjoyed a fresh pineapple 'popsicle' after our snorkel. Yum!

Sept 5 - Gili Lawang

Position: 08deg17.73minS/116deg41.41minE We had to motor sail most of the day before picking up a stiff NW wind of 16-20 knots, gusts to 28, and had a nice sail for three hours to the NE corner of Lombok. Gili Lawang is a small barrier island, and the anchorage here is good holding in mud. Fayaway, Christine Anne and Silver Girl are here alongside in this small lagoon area, and we're all heading out in the early morning for another long day's run to Medana Bay Marina (medanabaymarina.com) on the NW corner of Lombok. Being a fairly new marina, there are no slips, but moorings and anchoring only.
Pic: Fayaway at our anchorage at Gili Lawang.

Sept 4 - Madang Island

08deg08.45minS/ 117deg22.42minE
Last night was our first overnight sail in Indonesia since Lembata. At various times we used our main, genoa, staysail, reacher, and pole. Winds were contrary to steady; from 00.0 knots to 26.4 knots. Seas were confused to following; current was strong and usually adverse. We motored just to get steerage in the current when there was little wind. Our speed was 3 knots (motor sail time) to 7.4 knots (hold on, Sally). We saw a few local fishing boats, but they presented no danger to the four boats in our small group, and we all stayed about 1-4 miles off the coast. We arrived Palau Madang (off the NE corner of Sumbawa) at 1130, less than 18 hours from departure from Telok Batu Montjo, which is located on the NW corner of Komodo Island. We'll have a good rest tonight and head out to Lombok in the morning.
Pic: Silver Girl was the only boat with us at Batu Montjo off Komodo Is.

Aug 31 - And then there be dragons

This has been a day to cross off one of those things on my bucket list - meeting the Komodo dragons up close and personal. We were picked up by our tour boat and joined 10 other folks for the 2 hour trip to Rinca Island, the other large island besides Komodo Island where the Komodo dragons are found. Coffee and tea were served and it was a great feeling for all of us not to have to navigate thru the many reefs, just to be tourists for the day and relax. Hendrik, our tour guide, was a 7th generation descendent of the Portuguese settlers of Flores Island, and spoke fluent English, Dutch and, of course, Indonesian. We docked at the small boat dock at the entrance to the Rinca Island Park, and met our two rangers assigned to our group. They both carried long forked sticks, and one was in front and one took up the rear of the group. Accidents do occur here, and people are occasionally attacked by the Komodo dragons, whose saliva carries toxic bacteria. We were told that the dragons bite and attempt to tear their prey up by shaking it from side to side. Hmmm. At any rate, about six dragons were resting under the kitchen cabin where the rangers cook their meals, so finding them was easy. There are different choices of trekking paths of different lengths, 1-5 km in length, so it's up to the individual folks which trail they walk. We came across a female dragon guarding her nesting area, a 3 feet deep hole in the ground, and the ranger explained their breeding habits. If I recall correctly, about 15-30 eggs are laid, although the survival rate is about 20%. We then saw a very unusual sight, another female digging her nesting hole, like a dog throwing dirt all over digging for its bone...The ranger was very excited at this event, as apparently it's quite rare to actually see it. We stood about 25' away from her, busy taking pictures but giving her lots of room and attempting to be as non-threatening as possible. After walking back to the entry area, we had again seen about 8 more dragons, so the total days sightings were quite high. We returned to our boat for a wonderful freshly cooked lunch of rice, fish and tofu dishes, with plenty of food for second helpings. We then took a diversion to go snorkeling and found a beautiful reef with lots of fish and plentiful coral. After, we ate a dessert of fried bananas and finally returned to our boats in the late afternoon. What a great day! Total inclusive cost per person: $48 USD. We'd highly recommend Hendrik, who arranges the boat and tour; his cell is 62-81-331-364-926.

Aug 30 - Labuan Bajo

Position: S08deg31.05min/E119deg52.00min
We continue to motor 30-35 nm daily, sailing when able. I look for what I call the 10/10 effect; that is, at 10:00 in the morning, give or take an hour...after all, this is Indonesia time, the wind comes up to 6-10 knots. Don't get excited...it only lasts an hour and then the water returns to glass flat and the wind speed indicator returns to 00.0. This 10/10 effect has seemed to occur regularly over the last week or so. The night before last we had our first rain in over 2 months, a very light sprinkle that lasted a few hours, but hardly enough to wash down the decks. We arrived Labuan Bajo yesterday. This is a tourist area catering to surfers and divers; we've been told that world class surf is about 50 nm from here. Labuan Bajo is also the gateway to Komodo and Rinca Islands, where one can see the Komodo dragons. Komodo Island has been designated one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We've anchored directly in front of the Eco Lodge, and took a dip in their pool along with a bunch of other cruisers. There are restaurants at many of the resorts, and we ate lunch here at the Eco; tourist prices but good food. Today I've arranged diesel delivery from one of the many boat boy boats (7000 rupiah/liter), who will, by the way, also arrange for water and gasoline delivery, laundry service, and act as taxi service (70000 rupiah return trip per boat) to town from the anchorage here about 2 miles away. Convenient. Btw, at this time, it's about 9100 rupiah to 1 USD. Rally events here have been cancelled...a familiar story. We're now at the northwestern corner of Flores Island, after traveling about 270 nm east to west on this northern coast, and it has been a beautiful island to visit. We didn't realize
that Indonesia, being the 4th most populous country in the world, had so many islands and coastline. Most of the population lives in Jakarta, but there are small and larger villages and towns scattered along these coastal islands with lots of people living a simple lifestyle. All have been friendly, their small fishing boats have been colorfully decorated, and everyone we've encountered waves and smiles back at us. Tomorrow, we're planning on a tour to Rinca Island to see the Komodo dragons; more about that later.
Pic: View from the village; our group of boats is in the distance (it's much quieter and out of the way of traffic.) The boat boys ferry us to town, wait for our return, and bring us back for 70,000R (about $7.00)

Aug 22 - Out and about; In Mausambi

We've had to do a lot of motoring to get to our anchorages. The wind has been light, frequently on the nose or dead downwind, or non-existent. Of course, the currents are strong, so our trawler imitation is getting pretty refined. We've found the Sail Indonesia Rally data a bit confusing...some of the dates and locations of Rally events are conflicting or have been cancelled...We're just heading in the general direction we want to go, looking for good anchorages, of which there are many on this north coast of Flores Island, and taking advantage of meeting some of the locals. Here in Mausambi, yesterday afternoon we enjoyed a visit to one of the local schools and met the English Club students. They were 8-11 years old and each gave a very short presentation...they were just as excited to meet the 20 cruisers who showed up! After, we had a BBQ, although Sue and I stayed vegetarian as the pork didn't look that well cooked. The anchorage here is very rolly (E08deg20.1min/S121deg47.2min) so I expect we'll leave in the next day or so. Sue's off on an early 0400 trip to Kelimutu and the Three Colored Lakes (http://www.indonesia.travel/en/destination/78/kelimutu-adventure-to-the-three-colored-lakes); she'll post pictures when we have strong internet.

Aug. 14 Lembata Festivities

When we first arrived in Lembata and met Max, the Dept of Tourism official, he asked me to become the "Official Representatives of the Yachties." I did my best to get out of it, but finally agreed to become the "Cultural Representative" and give a speech (!) at the official welcoming ceremonies. Max was Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and things began around 7 pm. But, I'm getting way ahead of myself. At 2 pm, the Official Welcome to Lembata began, with the Regent and Vice-Regent of the Lembata Province opening up the festivities. Sue and I were both fitted with serongs and ornamental palm headdress, and offered the betel nut with drink? as an introduction and welcome to the village. Being gracious visitors, we both chewed the betel nut and made motions to smoke the tobacco offered, but then the gate was opened for all the yachties, and a parade ensued to the downtown area. The school children and teens were all costumed, and about 300 people in the parade wound around to a large sport field area where native dancing took place. Of course, Sue and I were "required" to participate, so we humbly tried to follow the footsteps in what appeared to be a kind of line dance, and did our best to keep up. The villagers wanted to take lots of pictures with us, so it was quite a scene. We finally returned to the waterfront, and sat for a bit before the evening festivities were to begin. The local Officials made their speeches, and then I got up and spoke four lines of Bahasa Indonesian to welcome the Officials and thank the town on behalf of the yachties. There were loud shouts of appreciation and applause at my attempts, and my very short speech seemed to go quite well; at least everyone else thought so! Traditional dancing performances then took place, and we eventually lined up for a buffet meal of delicious traditional Indonesian food. There were, I estimate, about 125 yachties present, and lots of villagers, so the amount of food prepared was prodigious. During the dinner, more presentations took place, and after dinner, Sue and I were, once again, called forth to dance with the locals. Things finally wound down at 9:30 or so, and we returned to Infini tired, but having had a wonderful experience with these very friendly people. It was a unique opportunity for a cultural exchange, and we felt we had made the most of it. We heartily recommend Lembata as a stop for future Rally participants and other cruisers.

Aug 11 - A busy day in Lewoleba, Lembata

The morning started off by taking the Yamaha 15HP outboard motor off the stern rail and putting it in the dinghy. I hadn't started the motor for several years (!), and thought I had done the proper storage procedures, but when I went to finally use it, it wouldn't turn over and the starting cord didn't budge. I figured the piston was locked up in the cylinder, so was waiting for the proper time and place to find a mechanic to sort it out. Here in Lewoleba, Max is the "go-to" guy. He works for the Dept of Tourism, and his job this week is to help the yachties with any problems they may have. Yesterday, he took me by motorbike to a local welder who fixed our windless lever. The "shop" was primitive by most standards, but the results were perfect and the cost of repair ($2USD) most welcome. It turns out that the welder fellow is also the mechanic, so we arranged a bemo (no hauling that outboard on Max's motorbike) and took it to his place for him to work on. After taking a look at the pistons, he declared them in fine shape, but needed a 22mm socket to get off another engine part. I went back to Infini to get my socket for him, and by the time we returned to the shop the outboard was running smoothly! The 22mm socket wasn't needed after all, and Mr. Tomo (the mechanic/welder) had figured out the magneto was stuck. When Max asked him what he did to fix the engine, he replied "Magic..." I love a mechanic with a sense of humor. We then took the motor back to the dinghy, took off the 9.8 Tohatsu motor, put the Yamaha on, and did a test run with Max, Mr. Tomo, a dock hand and myself aboard. The motor purrs like a kitten and runs perfect! Again, cost of repair was most welcome, $15USD. I took a few jerry jugs in for diesel (7000 rupiah/liter-about $0.65USD/liter), and the local Government Tourism office has arranged for petrol, diesel, fresh water, laundry, tours and most anything else to be available to the yachties. During this whole time, Sue had gone on a tour with some friends of ours to see local traditional villages and meet some weavers, visit a leper hospital compound, and see a bit of the island. Her one hour tour took five hours, but everyone enjoyed the experience. In the afternoon, we ferried Max and three of his co-workers out to Infini; it was their first visit ever aboard a yacht, and we had a really nice visit and answered their many questions about our life and family. After a brief break in the action, we met up again with friends to go to dinner. The local Indonesian food is quite reasonably priced here, and Sue and I can both eat, with soft drinks, water, or a beer included, for about $3.50USD total.

Aug 8 - Lembata

We motorsailed to Lembata in the late morning. To go anywhere around here, you have to wait for the tides. If they're against you, you'll be going 0-1 knot SOG; with you, you'll be going 7-8 knots SOG. Lowobela Harbor is where we're anchored, and is surrounded by five volcanoes, two of which are about 5000' high; and one of which has an active steam vent escaping from its top cone. Lets hope it stays dormant for just a while longer. Dozens of fishing boats putter past; some of the boats are quite large, but the sound of their single cylinder engines without mufflers is quite distinctive. The fishermen weave in and around the sailboats, as about 20 of us are anchored in their fishing grounds, and lay nets or string lines from Chlorox bottles. The rest of the Rally fleet isn't here yet, and the anchorage will be more crowded than now, not a bright prospect. The loudspeakers from one of the nearby mosques blare either recorded prayers or music, depending on the time of day. This evening we enjoyed a farewell/one year friendship/wedding anniversary dinner aboard the Georgia J; Scotch fillet steak, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, Oriental noodle salad, and chocolate cake. We met Kim & Sharon one year ago at Suwarrow Atoll, Sue and I celebrated our 31st, and GJ leaves tomorrow to fast track to Bali and eventually Thailand. Tomorrow we'll go explore the town, await the Rally events, and plan our path across Indonesia.

Aug 3 - Kupang happenings

Last evening there was a dinner for all the Rally participants, hosted by the mayor of Kupang, with lots of traditional dancing, food, and modern music. It was attended by about 300 yachties and another 200 or so onlookers; there was quite a crowd. This morning we toured around Kupang with a guide. Our first stop was to see the monkeys in Tenau; not much to comment about. We then went to the Oenesu waterfall, a beautiful park setting with a fast flowing stream coming off the waterfall. Following that, we visited where the traditional Indonesian musical instrument, the sasando, was made, and listened to a performance by the local sasando master, Jeremias Pah, as well as his son, Dorce Pah. Their skills were amazing, and we ended up buying a small sasando, as well as a CD made by Jeremias, as souvenirs. Lots of pictures were taken and Jeremias autographed our instrument; a nice touch. Following a delicious lunch, we visited the local museum, which housed collections of weaving and wares of the East Nusa Tenggara province. We then stopped to see a traditional Indonesian fishing boat being constructed, although power tools are now being used these days. Our last stop was at the vegetable market. It was a full day, with some wonderful insights into this unique local culture and peoples. Time for a Bintang.

August 1 - Safe arrival in Kupang, Indonesia

We arrived at the Roti Strait at sunrise and were anchored by 0930 in Kupang. A safe trip from Darwin across the Timor Sea with no boat issues; always the best kind! There are about 80 boats in the anchorage in front of Teddy's Bar, the cruiser hangout. The Customs folks boarded us about 30 minutes after we anchored, and to say the paperwork is voluminous would be an understatement. We then were able to take down our quarantine flag and go ashore to clear in with an entire room of officials seated at six tables! We now have a small bag of clearance paperwork that would impress the most hardened cruiser. Colorful booklets, stamped paperwork in duplicate, multiple signatures on many forms that we have no idea what they are...it makes any bureaucratic forms from the USA look short and puny by comparison. We used our boat stamp multiple times - you have one of those, don't you? We had our first Bintang beer; cost for a large bottle was about $2.75USD. Food here is cheap and good; tonight is another welcoming party (free food and drink) with the Mayor of Kupang attending; we were enroute a couple of days ago when the Governor welcomed the fleet at another dinner, but as a friend of ours who attended said, "these people really know how to party!" Yachties from all over the world are here, and the Sail Indonesia folks have done a wonderful job of putting together these preliminary events and easing of the clearing in procedures for everyone.

July 29 - Underway to Indonesia

Position: S11deg44.80min/E128deg16.68min We departed yesterday from Darwin and experienced varying wind conditions for most of the day. By evening, the fleet had separated, and the AIS unit displayed our nearest neighbors. We're now in the Timor Sea, and the first Sail Indonesia Rally stop is in Kupang, Indonesia, where arrangements have been made to clear all the boats in and festivities have been planned.
Pic: Leaving Darwin behind.

July 27

We cleared out of Australia this morning in a very well organized effort by Customs, and also received our official Indonesian CAIT, which is the Indonesian Cruising Permit. After going downtown for last minute provisioning, we returned to Infini for final departure preparations. Amongst other things, we've hauled the dinghy back on deck, organized lines, ran the engine and watermaker, and Sue's been busy making some easy to prepare meals while underway. We have sooo much cruising information about cruising Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, it's information overload. The official start of the Sail Indonesia Rally is 1100 hours tomorrow morning, and weather forecasts predict 20-30 knots from the southeast, pretty much behind us. We're keeping in touch with a few close friends via a daily HF Radio check-in, and all the other boat crews we talked to are, like us, a bit anxious to get underway. Update: Sue's uploaded some more photo albums of our Australian adventures - enjoy!
Pic: Our last sunset pic. from our Cullen Bay anchorage....low tide--the sandbar is exposed!

July 23 -Litchfield National Park

Litchfield Dreams (http://litchfieldtours.com.au/) picked us up at 0700; the full day tour by mini bus to the Adelaide River and Litchfield National Park was a welcome change to our routine. We first went for a boat ride and met some crocodiles...close-up. One of the boat crew held a piece of meat on a long pole and enticed the crocs, after a bit of teasing and leading them on, to propel themselves straight up out of the water to get it. When we looked down the gullet of a 500 kg, 15' croc....let's just say that nobody wanted to fall into the water....The Adelaide River was a chocolate brown color and there was no visibility at all. The many crocodiles that inhabit the river just roam around and do whatever they want....I'm not sure they've changed for the last 100 million years! After our boat ride, we went to the Litchfield National Park. Our bus driver gave a nice commentary of the various points of interest, and we stopped at the Wangi Falls, the Florence Falls and Burley Rock Hole, three popular swimming holes in the park. We also saw the Cathedral Termite Mounds, and had many photo ops. It was about a 12 hour day, and we returned to the boat at sunset.

July 7 - Darwin happenings

We've been here a while and a lot has been going on. First off, we joined the Darwin Sailing Club as visiting members ($10/person/per week), allowing us to use their facilities when anchored in front of the Club at Fannie Beach. There are restaurants, bars and a chandlery on site, and there will be Rally meetings there as well. Interestingly, in past years the Club was also host to the Darwin to Ambon Rally, one in which Infini participated in 1996 with her previous owners. We are learning the bus system here, and have visited the Indonesian Consulate as well as Aus Customs and Immigration a few times. We now have our Social Visas for Indonesia, and the Cruising Permit will be handed out to all the Rally participants on departure from Darwin. We've also been to see Colin at Copytime downtown, a well known yachtie facilitator we stumbled upon in our meanderings. July 1st was Territory Day here, and it's like July 4th in the USA. The fireworks display was the most sensational we've ever seen, and went on for hours. We had joined some friends aboard their catamaran after going to the Mindil Beach Market for a look around.
Picture: At anchor outside Cullen Bay. What a way to practice soccer.The sand bar behind us is completely covered at high tide.

June 29 - Trip Summary - Bundaberg to Darwin

For predeparture planning, we estimated 2000 nm for total milage; our actual mileage traveled was 1988 nm by ship's log. This was an eventful series of short and longer hops and one that, in total, we'd do again, wishing we had more time to spend in many of the areas we hurried thru during our seven week trip. Overall, we really enjoyed the diversity of the coastal areas, the isolation, the few populated towns we stopped in to visit, the history, and the daily navigational challenges we encountered. Just this one NE section of the Australian coast is so beautiful; the length of the entire coastline is beyond immediate thought. By comparison, if one were to travel the eastern and western coastlines of the USA, it's approximately 2400 nm; so it's as if we (just about) traveled both coasts of the USA in seven weeks.... For those following in our path, a strong boat and its components are mandatory. Opportunities to purchase boat parts and supplies, as well as obtain repairs, become few in these more remote areas. Shipping parts is possible but very expensive and time consuming; carrying extra spares aboard is a worthwhile consideration. Be prepared for strong currents and leave enough time to wait for an appropriate weather window. Although this is the dry season and winds are predictably from the SE, we encountered winds from S thru E, with an occasional morning NW breeze as well. Using the reaching/spinnaker pole is necessary many days as the wind goes aft of 150 degrees. Days are short this time of year and there are many reefs to avoid, so reaching anchorages during daylight, and having alternative choices available, is necessary. This has been a wonderful leg in Infini's travels, and we look forward to more adventures!
Picture of Infini sailing off Morris Island courtesy of sv Sea Dragon

June 27 - Team Infini is safely anchored in Fannie Bay, Darwin

Position: S12deg25.58min/E130deg49.03min We decided to leave Alcaro Bay yesterday afternoon after a few hours rest. The area was hazy and the anchorage rolly. We had the times and tides right for the Dundas Strait; we just didn't expect a southerly wind! Of course, it wasn't forecast, so we had to tack way over in the Van Diemen Gulf, and by the time we tacked back the tide had changed! We motored at 1-2 knots against the strong adverse current, and thought we'd never get anywhere. We finally made it back to our rhumb line (of sorts), and the wind had come up with just a bit of easterly in it, allowing us to sail; what a novelty! We actually did really well, and sailed all day until the last hour of the Beagle Channel when the winds died and we ended up motoring the last 30 nm to Darwin. We anchored at sunset in Fannie Bay! What a trip; more later....suffice it to say we're very happy to have the anchor down, not be motoring or hand steering, and we're ready to get on with other things in preparation for Sail Indonesia.
Picture: The anchorage is crowded. The sailing club is quite active, with all kinds of sailing lessons.

June 26 - Alcaro Bay

Position: S11deg17.216/E131deg47.696 We had a beautiful sail from Black Point today, arriving Alcaro Bay in the early afternoon and anchoring in 21' of sand. The Cape Don lighthouse is visible from our cockpit and the surrounding aquamarine water color reminds us of the Gulf of Mexico. It's been really hazy due to (we think) slash burns that take place all thru these Aboriginal lands. We're planning departure tomorrow morning thru the Dundas Straits for Darwin, about a 95 nm run.
Picture: It's so smoky you can't even see Cape Don. We anchored for a brief rest and departed for Darwin.