Thursday October 8

We planned to depart at 0530 using the strong ebb tide to head down river. Spruce had left at 0500. But by 0530 the smoke had closed in again and vis was down to 30m. We finally got going at 0700 flying by instruments. It was quite disorienting so Lea sat on the bow with eyes peeled and ears open. We dodged a few vessels/ ships without AIS and the radar was crucial. I called up a couple of ships to confirm passing sides as port to port did not necessarily apply. Another rally boat Conrad, followed us out.

Very relieved to be out of the River and into the trade winds for some good sailing on a close reach with 1 reef in making a little bit of southing to get below the maze of shallow banks to the north. We agonised over trying to find a way through the banks to save 30Nm but decided the risks outweighed the saving. We cursed later when I found Esoterica's gpx files from last year complete with waypoints and track through the banks.

Dropped the Main before dark, rounded our most southerly point then bore away up NW toward Belitung ambling along slowly under Genoa. No point running into FAD's and nets at speed.

Friday October 9

Lots of fishing boats and Fads but once we were in the shipping lanes at least the vessels had AIS. Lucky encounter with a net in the early hours again but this time we didn't snag. The breeze dropped through the night so we were wing on wing with Schreecher and Genoa until sunup. Then the Spinnaker went up.

A perfect days sailing under spinnaker from dawn until dusk. Changed to Schreecher on dusk for another quiet night.

We had arranged a midday and 1800 sked with Flomaide and Spruce, which is nice and reassuring when your out in the middle of the ocean. The 3 boats kept with 30 Nm of each other. We lost Comms with Conrad as they didn't have an SSB radio.

Saturday October 10

Our night was blissfully uneventful with only commercial ships to deal with, all with AIS. However, we were monitoring the Radar very closely too. Spruce chose a more northerly course around the outer islands of Belitung's NE corner. Flomaide and us decided to shoot a gap between these islands and reefs to get into the inner shipping lane servicing Manggar. We did have thoughts of anchoring at Manggar but it was dark when we arrived so we elected to continue around to the NW anchorage at Tg Kelayang.

30Nm out and Conrad popped back up on AIS. They had had a good run and pushed on hard during the 2 nights, motors sailing when the wind died out.

A whiff of smoke in the early hours indicated more burning off but the air cleared as we neared our destination. Arriving around 0700 we wove our way in through the reefs and dropped the anchor. Had a snorkel around to check and while the anchor looked good we were too close to a large, shallow reef if the wind changed. Took the opportunity to give the waterline a quick clean. Up anchor again further inshore behind another reef. All good.

Flomaide and later Spruce arrived just before the wind built from the NE. This put us all on a lee shore and bounced us all around quite considerably. Dagmar and Christof invited us for dinner and poor Dagmar suffered from seasickness while trying to prepare dinner.

It all turned out ok as the wind dropped in the late afternoon and the swell subsided and we enjoyed another good night on the beautifully appointed Amel 54 with Sue and Andy off Spruce.

Sunday October 11

Laundry dropped off and a walk to get the lay of the land. Found a massive unfinished resort abandoned amongst the vines and creepers that were taking over. Very scenic spot with massive granite boulders a major feature.

We met up with Spruce and Flomaide while having a coffee and decided on another walk along the beach in the other direction. This turned into an epic in the heat of the day and we were all shattered by the time we got back. Headed straight to a Warung for a cold Bintang.

Met up with Robbie, the Sail Indo rep from the next stop, Bangka. He did a good sales job on his programme of events and more importantly we all decided to clear out of Indonesia there. We would have to rush too much to get to Nongsa Point in time and in Bangka there was no 1,750,000Rp fee to clear out.

Organised a tour by car with Ervan Amir for the next day then retired to catch up on sleep.

Monday October 12

Replaced the range hood fan with a new one then ashore for our Island car tour with Ervan. Our first stop was Tinggie Beach. A popular tourist destination and a beautiful beach. Andy and Sue reckon the scenery and geology reminds them of the BVI's with its large smooth granite boulders.

These 3 environmental vandals were caught in the act.

Just down the road was another huge resort / hotel / waterpark complex looking for investors.The reception area was complete and very appealing with glossy banners and a scale model of the completed complex. Offering incredible “guaranteed” returns. However, the place looked very stagnant. Seems to be a common occurrence here for big projects to get started and then never get completed. The waterpark at the end of the path looked like it was operational and Ervan said it was popular with local weekend tourists.

Then on to a traditional Chinise Hindu Temple.

At Tanjung Padung we explored the docks before being asked to leave by security and safety staff.
It was fascinating to watch these huge dows being unloaded by hand. This boat had encountered some very heavy weather and much of the cargo was water damaged. An offering of bananas had been made to the boat for delivering the crew safely to port.
The local museum and mini zoo were next. The museum was great with large displays of pottery salvaged off sunken ships in the area. These pottery pieces have given archeologists a picture of the extensive trading in the area for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The zoo was a sad place with small cages housing a variety of wildlife. A step back in time and not a good one. In one empty cage an Orangutan had lived for 40 years. In another enclosure a salt water croc had no water to swim in. He must have been cooking in the heat. An owl was visibly distressed flying into the walls of his cage. It was all very depressing and a stark reminder of how far Indonesia needs to rise to get to acceptable International standards.
Lunch at a Warung frequented by locals was great and the food range diverse and plentiful presented buffet style.
Back on the road we checked out a pepper plantation.

Then a palm oil plantation seeing for the first time the large fruit from which the oil is extracted.

Next was a conservation park for the smallest primate in the world, the Tarsier monkey.

This little fellow is tiny and we disturbed him halfway through his afternoon snack of a cricket. Not surprisingly they are dangerously under threat due to habitat destruction caused by slash and burn Palm Oil plantations. Here a couple of Tarsius have been successfully introduced to an enclosure together in the hope they will breed. We were lucky to encounter the man behind the establishment of the reserve. He was here with a cameraman to film a short doco for the UN. The film is to be shown at a UN ceremony presenting an award for the work done at this reserve. Andy agreed to do an interview in support of initiatives like this to conserve wildlife both for global and tourist benefit.
They are tiny cute little monkeys and obviously were the inspiration for “gremlins”. They communicate at frequencies up to 90 MHz and can kill prey with ultrasonic sound.

Continuing the tour we viewed an open cut tin mine which had a large deposit of Kaolin underneath. The lake was a beautiful azure blue but we were not sure how environmentally toxic it might be. However, it made a pretty picture.

Heading back we spied a ship building yard and stopped again to explore. These were big boats and all beautiful ironwood timber. The shipwrights were great and let Andy and I crawl all over them.

The quality of work was very good. The caulking between the planks intrigued us as it was like a plastic closed cell foam.

The end products varied in size and shape but were certainly build solid.


Tuesday October 13

Went over to the Granite Boulder Island and did a dive with Andy and Sue. Lea dropped me off and went to join Christof and Dagmar and Alex and Iris (Alearis) for a snorkel. However, she couldn't find them so she pulled into a lovely white sand beach and had a swim. The snorkellers and divers eventually all met up there.

The dive was not particularly spectacular and I was carrying too much weight and found it difficult to get bouyancy right. We should have turned right into a granite canyon to get the best from the dive but missed it.

Very windy afternoon and bouncy in the anchorage so it was a welcome relief to get off the boat for a cold Bintang ashore in the late afternoon.