Saturday October17

Up and gone by 0630. Wove our way out through the returning fleet of “Spider Boats” and dodged the shallows and reefs. One heart in mouth moment as we deviated off our inbound track and found ourselves in less than 5m.

Good breeze early for some good reaching but then the wind swung around behind us and eased, so we motored the rest of the 40Nm. Lea caught up on washing as we filled the tanks with the Watermaker.

Our anchorage was on the Island of Gelasa, about half way to Bangka. It is a thickly wooded and very scenic island. It is used by the local fishermen as well and the main beach is covered with their rubbish. Snorkelling was good either side of the deep cut in the bay but not many fish.

We had to anchor well off to avoid coral bommies and this put us into the swell. It was probably one of the worst catamaran anchorages we have encountered. Sundowners on Gemini Lady with Spruce, Flomaide and Kalili.

Sunday October 18

A jiggly night and very hot. I spent the morning catching up on the blog while Lea vacuumed and cleaned. Our 0900 snorkelling expedition with Spruce and Flomaide was a bit disappointing as the water was choppy, strong currents and not much of interest. We came back into the key hole in the main beach reef and did the other side from yesterday. Quite good.

We organised a BBQ on the lovely beach just around the eastern headland that Lloyd and Mandy discovered. As we arrived on the beach a procession of other rally boats appeared, heading for the anchorage.

We got a good fire going and had a perfect afternoon, swimming and eating. Andy and Sue enjoyed Andy’s birthday present, Porterhouse steaks. The spread of salads and baked potatoes was great. Chistof and Dagmar (Flomaide) don’t believe in minimalism and had everything but the kitchen sink with them.

Lea and Heide are now great mates.
Lloyd did most of the cooking and did a great job.

After the cooking was finished we got a real bonfire going.

Great relaxing day finishing with sundowners on Ocelot with Sue and John who had arrived earlier that day.

No dinner needed tonight!

Monday October 19

Up and out by 0530. Spinnaker was up before the engines even warmed up and they didn’t go on again until 1 Nm before the next anchorage on Ketawi Island, Bangka. A great sail with 10-15 SE all day.

Flomaide put up her “Parasail” for the first time in age. Looked very spectacular once they got it set. It was inside out on the first lift.

Ketawi is a beautiful little tropical island complete with coconut palms and white sandy beaches. It lies about 8Nm off mainland Bangka. The Sail Indonesia Rally sign had photos of John and Kerryn (Esoterica) from last year.

A few cold Bintangs for me. Soft drinks for Lea as she starts her 7 day dry spell. Robbie, our host declared that no cooking was allowed on boats for the duration of our stay. Dinner was a buffet style smorgasboard prepared by the cooks in a tent, a number of gas woks and very good.

Tuesday October 20

Morning rounds to Flomaide and Cattiva to help with various iPad and computer issues then ashore for lunch. The group continued to expand as more Rally boats arrived. Up to 22 Rally boats, 5 Kolotoks and 3 Police Boats. Walked off lunch with an island circuit walk the spent 45 minutes in the water cleaning the waterline of Gemini Lady.

The official welcome and dinner was sheduled for 1830 but I came down with a bout of nausea, probably from dehydration and didn’t go. Dropped Lea ashore. We had had a couple of boiled eggs before she left which was just as well as the food was mainly small fish which are not Lea’s favourite. There was a fantastic dance troupe, some speeches and then a firedance. After that a soccer game was organised with a flaming coconut as the ball. In Lea’s opinion it was crazy and I am pissed off I missed it.

Wednesday October 21

I was feeling much better so we were ashore by 0700 for a day trip to the main Island of Bangka. 4 local Kolotoks took us with a police escort boat for the 8Nm journey.

Ashore we were loaded into 3 busses again with police escort and a police officer on each bus. It was interesting to speculate on the reason for all this security for us in Western Indonesia and Kalimantan. It is hard not to believe the sincerity and warmth of the welcome we have received from the people but maybe there are some of underlying civil issues. Either way we were very well looked after.

Our first stop was the local primary school, where we were met by the students handing us bouquets of chrysanthemums. A traditional dance was performed relating to the local harvest of what we would call “pippies”. We were then ushered into a classroom where we were all given a sample of these cooked “pippies”.

Then off to the Regents Office to meet the Regent and watch a tourism promo video of the Bangka Area. Directing the laptop video and sound into a projector and external speakers proved too difficult for the staff so we missed out on the video.

A short speech from the Regent, some water and snacks, then off again in the busses to the large traditional market for some shopping for fresh produce.

Lunch was an interesting selection of dishes all per prepared and waiting for us at a local Warung. We sat in groups of 4 and lifted the large decorative lid or food dome covering the selection of local dishes.

Traditionally, each family would prepare a large platter of food to share at religious ceremonies. The men would carry in the large platter covered with the tadung saji (food hood) with great ceremony. The mushroom dish was a real treat as it is very expensive to by the mushrooms used. The local honey drink was also excellent.

After lunch we did a jungle walk where we saw a green tree snake and a squirrel. Lea and I climbed the rusty old fire tower about 20m high but the view was not so good, revealing lots of burnt areas presumably to be planted with palm oil trees.

We then returned to the village for a display of local games. We were all a bit tired by then and ready to go back to the boats. However, it proved to be very entertaining and lots of fun, watching the wheelbarrow racing. The referee was ruthless and ordered teams to back up if they messed up part of the circuit.

There was a demonstration of spinning tops and Robbie made the mistake of offering $100USD to anyone who could spin the top as he couldn’t. Many of us had a childhood history of spinning tops and had no trouble with it. Nobody held Robbie to his bet.
Back to boats where the fishermen were getting toey about the falling tide. The trip to the mangroves was cancelled and we headed out across the bar into the short sharp swell pushed up by 20kt SE’ly. Many people got soaked but Lea and I perched up on the cabin roof with a couple of policemen and stayed dry.
Dinner ashore again, very nice but we were tired so headed back to Gemini Lady early. Fortunately our neighbours on Evolution NT also went back on board early as all hell was about to break loose.
About 2130 we got a call from Mandy on Kalili the a local Kolotok was between the boats causing chaos. The next thing we know is that this boat passed across our bow then Evolution NT’s bow and suddenly we were moving backwards and toward Evolution. The Kolotok had picked up our anchor with his and wrapped it around Evolutions anchor chain. The wind was now a steady 20 kts. We had the motors going in 30 seconds and stabilised our drift. Lea tried to lift the anchor but it just pulled us toward Evolution. We dumped chain and I held our position with the motors. Evolution had taken their wheel off so had no steerage in the event of an emergency. It took Barry 3 goes and a lot of time to get the wheel on. Meanwhile Lloyd from Kalili had raced down in his dinghy. The Kolotok had wrapped right around Evolution by now, still trying to retrieve his dragging anchor and was close to hitting Evolution when Lloyd cut their anchor rope. The Kolotok was then able to motor away minus their anchor. Ray off Parlay ( next domino in the line) came across in his dinghy so Lloyd left him with Evolution and came on board Gemini Lady. We began planning to buoy and dump our anchor and reanchor with the secondary tackle. Fortunately Evolution finally started getting their anchor up. Ray was then able to release our chain from their anchor. More waiting as Evolution slowly realised she had to move away as our anchor was directly underneath her. Once clear we got our anchor up with the Kolotoks anchor attached. Lloyd and Lea managed to get it off and drop it so we could move forward and reanchor.
Thank goodness we are a catamaran with 2 motors. There is no way I could have held off to the side of Evolution if we were a mono unless I had both bow and stern thrusters.
Anyway a couple of rums soothed the nerves and all was well. Big thank you to Ray and Lloyd for their help and support.
Thursday October 22
Chatted to Peter off Per Ardua, anchored in front of us, about the Kolotok last night. It seems the saga began In front of him where the Kolotok began to drag. It hit Per Ardua then ended up “T-Boned” across his anchor chain before falling off and heading our way. The Indonesians were very apologetic and trying to motor out of the way while retrieving their dragging anchor. It seems the events that followed were just one of those things that happen.
The kitchen staff had made a request to visit some boats and see what they were like. This idea blossomed and soon all the dignitaries and security staff wanted to visit boats as well. Robbie asked us to host the Tourism Minister and the heads of both the Local Police and the Maritime Police together with an interpreter.
Ashore many military personal were waiting in full uniform to be picked up. I advised Robbie that most boats preferred no shoes. This was taken in good grace and soon the impeccably dressed police and other uniformed personnel had shed their shiny polished steel capped boots and were in thongs. It was rather windy and choppy so it was quite difficult to get our guests from shore onto Gemini Lady. However, they managed and I think we’re delighted to see our set up. We sat down to coffee and cake and I was rather formally interviewed re tourism in Bangka and what they could do to attract more visitors. I tried to be diplomatic but the reality is other islands have more to offer in terms of natural attractions. Once again for us, what made it special was Robbie and his crew who basically spoiled us rotten.
Many of us would like to see less money spent on Rally Participant Junkets and the funds diverted to programs for better education and rubbish clean up within local communities.
Lunch was provided again then we took a Kolotok ride to the nearby fishing village on the neighbouring small island. The 40 families here live on this small island 10 months of the year.
The kids here have no formal school so the fleet got together and provided a huge mound of gifts and school supplies to help out.
The younger kids were totally overawed but hung on to the soccer balls. What the photo doesn’t show is the older boys hovering nearby to get a soccer ball and start playing
Back to Ketawi for a Turtle Release. The turtles come from the conservation hatchery back in NW Belitung. One could raise lots questions about the release but it was fun.
We declined the local food tonight and enjoyed a red wine beef casserole with mash, a much needed reprieve from Indonesian food, shared with John and Sue (Ocelot) and Peter and Denise ( Reverie)
Saturday October 24
A lazy morning with Ben off Ocean Jaywalker(OJ) visiting then a round the island walk with the Kalili Crew. Had a good chat to Lloyd about his plans to resettle the family in Cambodia. Definitely sounds like it would be worth a visit.
Coffee aboard OJ. Bell doing well despite lots of pain. Bruising now coming out.
Robbie wanted all crews ashore at lunchtime for a last meal together. It got dubbed the Last Supper and was the best meal yet with beef rendang, fried calamari (chumi chumi), chilli eggplant, hot chips and chilli green beans all delicious (ena sekali). After lunch Robbie introduced and thanked his kitchen team (mainland kindergarten teachers) and their supporters (local marine rescue personnel). He got quite emotional while thanking us. He has done an amazing job to set co- ordinate this programme and it showed in the support he received from the Rally Fleet.

We hung around the makeshift bar after lunch finishing the last of the Bintang while waiting for our Clearance Paperwork and Passports. The whole camp was being packed up and with the job done the kitchen staff let their hair down and started a massive food fight. The Rally kids soon joined in, raiding the kitchen and in a very short time everybody seemed to be covered in a thick sticky mess of flour, water and dough.

Eva finally came through with the paperwork about 1530. Not sure how Spruce and Flomaide managed to get theirs last night and head off this morning. Said our goodbyes and retired to prepare the boat for an overnighter and get an early night.

Great finish to Sail Indonesia 2015.