Friday, July 29, 2011

We are still in Saumlaki, Indonesia. We are having a wonderful time. It is great being part of a rally. We have had a welcome ceremony with dancing and singing and then an Indonesian snack afterwards. Then yesterday they took us on a tour. We went on a smallish bus, smaller than a regular Canadian school bus and we drove 54 km to a village where there was a stone boat. The drive took 2 hours, the roads were very windy and narrow and they deteriorated from good pavement to pavement with potholes to dirt roads. We were in a motorcade, in front was a police truck with the siren going, then there were 2 buses the size we were in then 2 more smaller vehicles, slightly bigger than a mini van and there were a few motorcycles as well. We would wave out the window to the villagers we passed, we felt like super stars. When we had to stand to have our pictures taken one sailor asked us, if we had split up with our boyfriend and whether or not we had kicked our drug habit!!!
At the stone boat village we were welcomed with singing and dancing and then led off to a feast. The food was cooked in a pit in the ground and was delicious, casava wrapped in banana leaves, taro, chicken and some kind of bean sprouts cooked with tumeric. Then we trooped off to the stone boat and another ceremony took place. I bought a piece of hand woven cloth that I am going to have a skirt made from. We have been exploring around town, Barry and I both had our hair cut $3.00 each, we had both had a meal for lunch for about $5.00, so we think we may have a chance to make ends meet while we are in Indonesia. We are headed to Banda tomorrow, the co-ordinates will be on the sail Indonesia site. Banda was known as one of the Spice Islands so I am quite excited about visiting there. The Spice Islands, it sounds so exotic.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Arrived safe and sound in Indonesia about noon today. We fought the tide at the beginning of the trip and then the tide changed and it had a slingshot effect. We did over nine knots for almost an hour, I was in my glory. After we cleared the Australian land mass, the wind picked up and we did over 7 knots crossing the Arafu Sea (the body of water between Aus. and Indonesia). The winds were on the beam at 15 to 20 knots most of the time and it made for a rocky, rolly trip. I was actually a bit nauseous with the swell and wave action, but I ingested some candied ginger and my stomach settled down. We got lucky when we arrived and they came and cleared us before lots of other boats that had arrived ahead of us. There were 11 boats in the anchorage when we arrived, with 29 on this leg of the trip, that puts us almost in the top third, for sure in the top third of the monohulls, because there were about 6 cats here when we arrived, so we did good. We went ashore and explored a bit. I got a haircut, which I have been wanting for a few weeks but delayed because it would be cheaper here, I am happy (not ecstatic) with the results. My impressions were that we were back in Mexico, the vendors with non-first world goods, the shops all crowded together, the lack of road rules(scooters driving on the side walk), the hustle and bustle. Everyone seemed happy to see us and we were definitely an oddity on the street, everyone calling out to us. More later when I figure out internet access.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Darwin Happenings

We are ready to leave tomorrow morning, we have spent the last week visiting spots in and around Darwin, interspersed with that are boat chores and social evenings. We became millionaires when we visited the bank and got out some Indonesian cash. This 100,000 bill is worth about $12.00 Canadian, so we have over 4,000,000 on the boat at the moment, I am sure I will have to do a lot of mental math once we get there. We also visited the Indonesian Embassy the other night and we sampled the food they had and watched the entertainment. They had some great dancers and some singers that had lovely voices. We learned a few Indonesian phrases and got some great handout about where we should go and what is offered there. We have been told that patience is required and things are done on Indonesian time and you can expect plans to change at any time. I will have to get used to "island time" again.

We visited a few sites around Darwin this week. We visited oil tunnels that were built to store the oil for the forces in WW II. They were built in the huge rock cliffs on Darwin Harbour. It was a real feat of engineering. They had photos of the bombing or Darwin posted on the sides of the oil tanks. I guess they kept the severity of the bombing in Darwin secret from the rest of Australia in order to keep up the country's morale. On our way back to the boat we stopped off at an old WW II hanger. It now houses the antique car club in town. The hanger is located right in the middle of a residential district, right beside it is a 4 story apt. block. The old runway is now a major street. Barry thought it was very unique that they have kept the hanger and let the neighbourhood grow up around it. I know that Graeme and his Dad would have appreciated these old cars. Yesterday we walked up the hill and visited the Fannie Bay Gaol. It was opened in 1883 and the last prisoner was transfered out of the jail in 1979. We were a bit surprised to read that when the war broke out and they evacuated Darwin and they needed the jail to house the troops, they just let all the prisoners go and told them they had to fend for themselves, I sure hope they didn't have very many violent offenders in there at that time.

I was going to get Barry to shut the door and shoot the bolt but I realized that I couldn't reach around and open it, so I decided I shouldn't chance because he may just have thought it might have been fun to leave me in there for awhile!!!! It was a pretty grim place with big thick walls where they kept the more dangerous criminals.

Barry went and visited the Air Museum and I guess they had a B52 Bomber in there. Barry was surprised at how small the cockpit was, he said it was quite cramped inside.The museum also housed the famous Spitfires with the painted sharks on them .

We were also very lucky to receive two packages from Canada this week. My family has come through in spades and helped beautify the boat . My Mom, bless her soul, has made another table cloth for the boat to match our new upholstery. She also, with her wonderful colour sense, choose some material to match the upholstery, both the items I received from her will enhance our living space considerably.The second package I received was from my sister-in -law Barb Shanks. She very generously made new covers for our cockpit cushions. The set we my buddy Helen made 4 years ago were wearing out, the sun and the salt had just about done them in. Our cockpit is now suitable for guests at all times. Before I received this new set of covers when I was expecting company I would take the old covers off because of the hole in one and the stains of the others. I have been enjoying sitting on the new ones all week. They shipped them to us at considerable expence to make sure we received them before we left and we really appreciate the fact they did this. THANKS VERY MUCH TO BOTH SEAMSTRESSES!!

I am not sure what the internet connections will be like in Indonesia, so although I will send in blogs to my brother to post you may not get many pictures for awhile. I have a few chores to complete on the 2 1/2 day trip to Indonesia, I need to sew a flag, this one is dead easy, red on the top and white on the bottom and I have some material left over for when I make the Tongan flag. I also bought new bug netting for the hatch opening and have a little sewing left on that before it is finished. We are going in for breakfast in the morning then the mass start of over 100 boats at 11:00 A.M. That should be an interesting exercise. I hope there is enough wind to sailing in and we don't have to loll around trying to stay out of each others way. We'll take pictures.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Barry and I went on a trip up to Kakadu National Park this week. The park is about 250 km from Darwin. We decided that we probably were not going to be in this part of the world again and we should take some time to visit the rock art that the park is famous for. I felt humble to think that people had been painting on these rocks perhaps over 20,000 years ago and their efforts are still there for us to view.

In this picture the paintings are on the rock face as well as on the roof of the overhanging cliff. The topography of the area was stunning. There are rock escarpments that seem to jut out of nowhere. We climbed up to the top of the first one we came to and the 360 degree view was just stunning. The rocks edge was very pronounced and the land fell away to become a flat river valley that floods in the wet season and although the ocean in 100 km away there is a still a tidal influence that far upstream. the view alone was worth the price of the rental car and the hotel room. We drove up one day, stayed overnight and drove back to Darwin by a different route the next day.

We got up early after luxuriating in the double sized bed, (oh, the room to strech out and have space for your arms at your sides). We headed off to hear a park ranger talk about how the aborigines used the plants, for food and to make baskets. We walked to an area where there an abundance of birds and saw this sulphur crested cockatoo trying to make a meal of this fruit of the pandanus tree.

One our way to the next rock art site there were these trees that had the gorgeous yellow blossoms , notice there are no leaves though. It was about 1.5 km out to this site and it was about 30 degrees so we made sure we were drinking a lot of water. About that stage, Barry's ankle had had enough and he did not climb up to the next lookout site. The view was not quite as spectacular as the first spot we went but suddeness of the escarpment was very evident.

Among the places you could visit were listed a number of billabongs. I wanted to experience a realy Aussie billabong so we went to one and it just looked like a big prairie slew, but at another there was moving water with areas where the land would flatten out and there would be a big pond. It was much nicer than the first spot. I think billabong just means a water hole.

Another thing this area is famous for is the crocs. There were numerous tours you could take where you experience the crocs up close and personal. We were lucky and managed to see two just on our own, well I guess I mean not on a tour, other people had to point them out to us. They are very hard to spot and you really have to know what you are looking for to see one. On the far side of the pond below you can see spiky parts of his back and his head is facing away from the picture. We were glad that we had seen crocodiles in the wild.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

We have arrived in Darwin safe and sound, 2000 from our starting point in Yamba, whopee. Here we are after visiting Customs to start the process for our departure from Australia. We are sporting our free Customs toques, the preferred head gear for sailors in the dead of the Australian winter. We heard the weater report yesterday and it was a chilly +30 degrees celcius in Darwin, go figure, why wouldn't they hand out lovely lightweight sun hats????

Check out the shell Barry is holding. He found it on a beach near a resort we stopped at just around the corner of Cape Don. It had been on the beach a long time and is pretty bleached out but it is huge, quite the find.

Barry took this shot as we were sailing along in 10 knots of breeze. The currents were huge as we rounded Cape Don and passed through the Van Diemen Gulf just north of Darwin. We did manage to get these tides right so had it with us, we were not so fortunate going through Hole in the Wall. The last blog I wrote was all about getting to Hole in the Wall at the correct time so we would have the tide with us. Well guess what, after the flood tide flowing west to east in Thursday Island, around Cape York and all across the Gulf of Carpentaria, it actually flows east to west through Hole in the Wall. So we got there and the tide was running about 4-6 knots against us. We had taken down the sails and were making about 2 knots through the gap, when we hit a narrow spot and

we were down to 0.3 knots of forward motion. The engine was howling at max revs and we were making no headway, sails to the rescue. I unraveled the genoa and soon we were making 1 knot over the ground and we slowly made out way through, WHEW! So much for going the scenic way!! Notice the current in the picture, the rock was very layers and worn into intersting shapes.

Hole in the Wall as seen on our electronic charts

Barry finally caught a fish in Australian Water. This is after trailing a line for over 500 nm, at the minimum. This is a spanish makeral, we had him for dinner shortly after this shot. We visited a fishing store in Cooktown and the fellow there recommended a simply silver hook and said the makeral really go for them. He was right, we should have consulted an expert 500 miles ago!

We arrived in Darwin in the dark about 9:00 P.M. We usually do not come into port in the dark but the entrance was pretty straight forward and we droppped anchor at the back of the fleet. The next morning we went ashore, caught the bus downtown and charged around doing what was required. We went to Customs, we headed to the Indonesian Embassy to apply for our Visa's, I made a doctor's appointment to renew my prescriptions and Barry and I both had our eyes tested and ordered new glasses. We managed a bit of shopping and then headed back on the bus. We were very pleased with the amount we had done, now for more of the mundane chores such as laundry and boat chores, waxing the fibreglass and more coats of varnish. The tropical sun is just deadly. We only broke one thing on the way up, a block on the main sheet, at the moment Barry is sawing the bolt that sheared on it so it can be replaced. We are contemplating buying an AIS ( Automatic Identification System) which sends and receive electronic signals from other boats, (required on all tankers). I am not convinced it is necessary but it would be another safety system, it tells you where boat are and at what direction and speed they are travelling. It also identifies them by name so you can call up those big tankers by name and they are more likely to respond. Someone said it was a requirement in Singapore Harbour. Our radar is getting pretty old and rather than replace it I guess AIS is the way to go.