Actually sailing in Indonesia

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August 14th 2014
Published: August 14th 2014
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12th August - We weighed anchor at about 8 as the current lessened and by all accounts the current should start to flow with us as we headed north between the main islands although I didn’t feel we had the current with us any of the time that day. This was a very frustrating day’s sail and I was starting to despair that all Indonesian sailing would be like this… a current that’s always against us, winds just too light to sail with, especially as when we got to the north side of the island chain there was a 1-2 m NE swell. Progress was mind numbingly slow, we motored for 13 hours and only made 49 miles. On the plus side the scenery is beautiful, with smoking volcanoes, surf beaches with turquoise blue water and locals thudding passed on colourful wooden launches.

The slow progress also meant that what would normally be a long day sail ended up with entering the anchorage at night. We had a GPS waypoint but didn’t know much else about the anchorage so it was a great relief to hear on the HF radio that CD had arrived there so we could follow their anchor light in. We had a very dark sail close the coast in the hour or so between sunset and moonrise, keenly looking out for every little light ahead of us. As we came around the headland we had another 2 miles before we were up amongst the 3 boats anchored. We had just slowed right down as we got close and good thing too as I looked up to notice the depth had dropped dramatically to 4m (unexpectedly low as we were planning to anchor in about 15m), then we felt the telltale bump and grind as we scraped up against some coral! I didn’t even know the anchorage was surrounded by coral - the communication to guide us in could obviously have been better but things are lost on static filled radio messages.

We steered to deeper water and got up along side the other boats, dropped the hook but then when the chain was paid out we were back in 4m again so got it up again to move it 20 m forward nearer one of the japanese boats. The next morning we watched the two japanese boats leave and the catamaran came to standstill on the reef, before reversing back off.

Despite the troubles coming in it was a lovely anchorage. Fishing boats milling around, a ramshackle town in the distance, blue water around the coral, coconut palm fringed beaches and 2 smoking volcanos in view. This is how I pictured our indonesian experience should be.

We took the dinghy and dropped its anchor in a sand patch in the middle of the coral and went for a snorkel. The water was a little cold for Naomi but I thought it was just right. The coral wasn’t very colourful but there were plenty of small fish and I saw a Lionfish - a first for me. Alex happily waited in the dinghy for us. Then we headed to the beach, rounding some floating plastic bottles marking a net. The water was warmer here and great for Alex to have his first play in the water since Lizard Island (Queensland). Sat on the beach drinking cokes and having a snack. Then I went looking for a coconut and found they had all been split and in amongst the trees found some small shelters and coconuts piled 6 feet high wrapped to posts. Wandered back through the massive peeling banana trees to the beach to bring Naomi & Alex to take a look too. No coconuts but a lovely spot to stop.

This morning we left early, carefully following yesterday’s second track to exit the coral enclosure and with the light breeze to actually sail, albeit at only 2 knots, out of the bay. I thought the wind would drop as soon as we left the bay but it actually increased… so it is possible to sail in indonesia, and we weren’t making too bad a speed either. It was another day of beautiful scenery passing volcanos and villages with sporadic sailing on and off with a mixture of flying along with 25 knots on the beam to less than 5 knots at times, depending mostly on the topography of the coast we were keeping close to.

The wind dropped off again as we rounded the headland into Leba Leba Bay and the currents went crazy, with overfalls and eddies, our boat speed over ground varying from 5 to 1 and back to 5 knots within 20 minutes. As we turned toward the anchorage we had leeway of about 70 degrees! so Naomi had the good idea of riding the current, which changed after half an hour and then allowed us to go where we wanted. The wind picked up to 20 knots again giving us a good run for the last hour into the anchorage filled with about 10 rally boats which not surprisingly was pretty choppy. There’s a nice looking jetty nearby (freshly painted for us apparently) and the town a little further east with the waterfront lined with houses on stilts.

Apparently there is a cultural festival organised for us tomorrow starting at 4pm and maybe a meal in the evening. Unfortunately Alex and Naomi both have colds, probably caught from one of the many locals kissing/hugging/pinching Alex.


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15th August 2014

Sailing in Indonesia
Have had trouble opening blogs until this one arrived. Glad to see your finally in Indonesia and enjoyed the photos. Hope the smoking mountains behave themselves. Best wishes Wayne

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