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Published: October 12th 2014
colourful fishing boat
miles out to sea, had the whole family on board
The passage to Bawean was one of the most pleasant overnighters so far and we made good speed with 15-20 knots up the bum all the way. It would have been more relaxing if we didn’t have to be so vigilant about the fish traps that started about 70 miles out from the island. They were no longer platforms, but large palm tree trunks, often with only a frond or flag sticking up to show itself and sometimes these were missing.
Just as it was getting dark around 7pm there was banging noises on the side of the boat and Naomi, who was out on watch, exclaimed “we just hit one!”. From downstairs I hadn’t heard any grinding along the hull so I think just the flag hit the rail of the boat. These things were so hard to see in daylight I really started to think it wasn’t worth looking out for them as they would be impossible to see at night. On the plus side as we were running down wind we shouldn’t run across the log but rather along it. We didn’t see anymore over night but were told they were there by others. A few ships
Just before Bawean Island. In background is sandbanks and shipwreck
passed behind and in front during my watch and it was mostly quite mundane.
When Naomi came on she had a few wind shifts as a cloud line came over and then she called me up as we looked set to collide with another boat. Similar to when I was on watch the previous night sail the large boat came right up to us, then rode about 100m in front of us for a while and then turned back to where he had come from.
We arrived in the bay at the north side of Bawean to find about 10 cruising boats and it felt like a real reunion to wave to our friends that we hadn’t seen for a while as we came in and dropped anchor at noon. Had some food, a beer, a nap , then the long awaited beach visit for Alex (found we got ignored by many of the locals which is unusual) and then dropped in on a few yachts to say hello.
We had been umm-ing and ah-ing about when we should leave and where for (to Borneo to see OrungUtans or the more direct route towards Singapore)
and it was sad to see everyone leave the following morning. I had a bad feeling about being left alone - we should have left too. Even that morning we were procrastinating about our next step, then decided we would get it over with and leave that afternoon for a 3 nighter to Belitung Island. As recommended we went to visit the market at the nearby town. Took the dinghy to the beach and was approached by some guy in his late teens wearing a Rolling Stones T-shirt who seemed to be mute and like following us around. When we got to the road he returned to the beach, and further up the road where there was a break in the trees I saw him leaning into our dinghy. I shouted at him and briskly walked back to give him firm words that he didn’t understand but I think he got the gist. He then followed us again, a little further up the road this time.
We had been told the walk was just over a mile and when we found the road was both busy and narrow, with little space for pedestrians, especially Alex, we returned to the
Luna Ray's scars
note scratches to hull, scratched rail & stanchions, 1 broken stanchion, wind generator
dinghy. We rode the dinghy over the reef around to the main village - hoping the wind would drop for the return journey. Had a pleasant look around the one street town lined with various shops - the people were friendly without being overbearing. Got some supplies at a minimart and some bananas from one of the two ladies at the market stalls (the rest of it was closed). There’s a definite difference to the appearance of these Indonesians - more of an oriental look about them.
Had a bit of a rough ride into the waves returning to our bay. We had seen a large barge being slowly pulled into the bay when we had left and it was now anchored in front of Luna Ray - almost on the beach. The first thing I noticed was the wind generator looking odd and as we got closer you could see it was vibrating a lot. Then as we came up along side we saw the large rust coloured scratches along Luna Ray’s starboard side, the broken stanchion, more rusty scratches on other bent stanchions, the pull pit (which was bent), the jib, the rail and covers for the
stays. When I stopped the wind generator we could see a blade had been snapped off, it had a large hole in its body and the pole that held it up was bent! Large shards of rust were littered over the deck - it was obvious we had been hit by the barge.
We dinghy’d over to the tug and requested to speak to the captain. They presented a slim boy in his twenties, and the “chief engineer” of a similar age spoke limited english. They came over to inspect the damage and seemed serious that the cargo company would compensate us. They suggested involving the police could complicate communications with the cargo company however speaking to Sam our Indonesian liaison for the rally he said we should make a police report so we “can get them”.
I paid another visit to the tug to get photos of their IDs and they told me their boss advised we try to get repairs there - the chief engineer and I agreed this would not be possible. We took the dinghy back to the town and entered the police station that appeared closed. We called out and eventually
an officer appeared but didn’t speak english. We got Sam back on the phone which was passed to an overweight guy in a singlet and shorts smoking a cigarette out at the back of the station- it turns out he was the commissioner. When I got the phone back, Sam told me he told them to forget about the whole thing as we wanted to be travelling on! I asked why I bothered to come to the police station to which he said it was so the police were aware in case the company wanted to claim against me! adding that I would never get any money from them so making a report would nbe a waste of time.
On top of all this it had come to light that the visa extensions that we had left to be sorted in Bali and our passports to be sent on once processed now needed our presence to be done, therefore we needed to come to him in Kumai, Borneo. This was the more time consuming and longer route and apparently a high risk area for malaria but we might see the apes. Bugger! …we really should have left with the
making a non official police report
the policeman is the one on the right
others going that way that morning (turned out they had better sailing wind that day too!). The only silver lining was that at least the decision was made for us.
Despite not making a report the police still wanted to check the boat out and drove us back to the beach off Luna Ray, along with a young couple on moped to help translate. On arrival they finally understood that we had left our dinghy on the town beach so we had no means to get to Luna Ray now. They did however manage to send a boat to collect the captain - why we couldn’t use that boat to visit Luna Ray I don’t know. He arrived with the chief engineer and we sat around drinking coffee while they discussed what had happened. The engineer apologised again and appeared genuine when he told us to email the costs to the company but I would be amazed if anything came from that.
We returned, by the police pick-up, to the dinghy for another rough ride back to poor scarred Luna Ray. Tidied up the rusty mess on the deck and I removed the jagged
broken bottom half of a stanchion so that no-one would impale themselves on it.
We left early the next day for an easy sail across the Java Sea to Borneo, though the winds were quite light so progress was not fast. Like a cat, Naomi found various places around the boat to take naps - blaming the seasick pills for her fatigue. There were not many fish platforms to avoid and mostly the sea was empty until nightfall (starting with a red moon from an eclipse of some sort) when ships seemed start coming at us from all directions. I called one tanker to make sure he had seen us, and the passenger ferry that was heading straight for us never replied- so reduced sail and changed course slightly so that it could pass ahead.
The next day Borneo came into view, we rounded the large shallows extending from the headland of ’T Puting’ and then quickly sailed into shore to drop anchor about a mile form the beach at 6pm. The headland really gave us no protection from the wind, but the waves were smaller and we hung into them so it was just a
Woke to a windless hazy morning making the rising sun red (this is from burning the forest the Orangutans live in to make room to grow more palm trees - apparently its been illegal for 10 years but no-one cares). We headed toward the river mouth and after a couple of hours were able to sail again following our waypoints into shallower water in the mouth, and then about 10 miles around some jungle like river bends - the river never less than half a mile wide -the industrial buildings, ships, tugs and barges, and masts of rally boats came into view around Kumai. We dropped anchor across from town next to the palm lined riverbank and were soon approached by Mr Yono on a speedboat to talk about a tour into the park.
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