Thursday June 2

Another perfect morning but the peace was soon shattered by our chainsaw crew returning. After a morning swim and run on the beach we up anchored mid morning ready for the 95NM overnighter to Natuna.

Friday June 3

A light wind sail in the company of a few other Rallyboats dotted around the radar and AIS screen. We had full Main and managed to hold the Schreecher at about 50 degrees apparent. My repair seemed to be holding up quite well although true wind speed didnt get above 10 knots.

Lea head a funny noise and we tracked it to the water pump running continuously. Switched it off and went in search of the leak. Nothing found inside. Found the problem in the Port engine bay. The flush water filter housing of the watermaker had cracked. ( Another consequence of the lousy workmanship from Yachtworx in Langkawi). Dave and I attempted a repair with hose clamps and duct tape.

Lots of glowing chummi chummi (squid) boats on the horizon but our course was clear of obstructions apart from a couple of smaller fishing boats that suddenly appear in front.

The weather was fine and very clear giving us a brilliant star show until about 0330 on my watch. The stars were dissappearing on the SE horizon and the wind was backing to the west dead behind us. A few lightning flashes on the distant horizon confirmed my concern. I ran a motor to swing around and dump the Main then continued on with just the Schreecher.

By daylight we were almost at Natuna but the sky was full of thick grey clouds and building.

The wind died so we were happy to do the last 10 Nm with 1 motor charging the batteries.

This front line developed to the SE and soon enveloped us with 30-35 knot gusts. Many of the fleet were caught with sail up and scurried to get it down in the rapidly building seas.

We had checked our satellite pictures and ran through a narrow gap between islands to get into sheltered waters. We checked out the given anchorage waypoint but didn't like it so motored back up to a sheltered sand spit. We anchored but a boatload of local fisherman came over and directed us to a “better” spot so we pulled up and reanchored. The fishermen invited themselves aboard but they were very friendly & spoke little English. Unfortunately the strong current pulled us up against the wind into shallow water as the storm passed so we up anchored again. Lots of radio chatter about where we were supposed to be. Much conflicting and poor information, welcome back to Indonesia. We anchored again and about an hour later the “official” boat came to tell us we were all in the wrong spot and directed us to the ” correct” anchorage. Only problem was that our anchor chain had wrapped around some underwater bommie or obstruction in 20 metres. After much manoeuvring we managed to unsnag it and move on. The “correct” anchorage was about 3 Nm further on

Finally the whole fleet of 10 boats were all settled in the right place off Kumbik (Tiga) Island and enjoyed a restfull afternoon. Email to chandlery in Labuan re new water filter housing. We were visited by 3 young boys in a boat.

Dave tried out their boat.

Then gave them SUP lessons

The boys soon had it sorted.

Dinner ashore at a local restaurant was simple and average but with lots of friendly welcomes from the locals.

The village is built over the waters edge on stilts of concrete and timber with large timber deck areas. Hence sanitary plumbing not necessary.

We were told the locals had been busy cleaning up and burning all the rubbish in preperation for our arrival. At least they recognise it is a problem if they want to attract tourists. Many of the houses were lovely and very well set up.

They also love their cats

Saturday June 4

Lots of activity ashore in preperation for our official welcome. The locals had errected a large stage and covered seating and the obligatory huge sound system.

We were greeted ashore.

Then walked up to the stage area for a few speeches. We also handed over all our paperwork and passports for clearing into Natuna and out of Indonesia. They were placed in sealed envelopes and transported by boat to Ranai the capital city of Natuna for processing.

It rained heavily all day but cleared up for the Gala dinner albeit a bit wet underfoot.

Our small group of about 22 Rally participants was dwarfed by the crowd of locals who turned out to watch the show and us from the sidelines. We had a number of speeches then a delightfull meal before the dancing started.

The men performed a drumming number with each man having a special pole of different lengths and weights to give various tones. They would pound the sticks into the rim of a hollow drum like log, creating melodies and rythyms. The locals in particular were very enthusiastic about this performance.

Small children did a kind of intricate maypole dance wrapping and then unwrapping their ribbons from the pole.

The music was provided by a drummer and 3 girls playing these unique instruments which sounded great. After the traditional performances were finished a cover band took over and belted out all the 80's western hits at full volume. We danced the night away. A terrific event.

Sunday June 5

An 0800 snorkelling tour had been planned. Sometime after 0900 a boat turned up to take us. While we were waiting on the dock the stage and all the equipment from last nights event, were loaded onto boats for the trip back to the main island and the girls from last night gave us another impromptu concert on their traditional instruments. Unfortunately our schedule was too tight to be able to visit this main island. A couple of boats went but they had to skip Kuching.

We had a good look around the surrounding islands but the coral was poor due to cyanide fishing in the past. The reefs are recovering but it will take another generation or 2 before they are a good tourist attraction. One of the local boat crew threw a plastic water bottle overboard. I told him off. He looked a bit sheepish for a while but did it again later. They really have no comprehension of the damage they are doing with their plastic waste.

Quiet afternoon with a few rain squalls wating for Raymond of Sail Indonesia to return our paperwork.

Our young boys came back for another go on the SUP's. This time they could only comandeer a raft to get out to us.


I took them for a spin in the dinghy. Then we took some photos and printed and laminated them. They then wanted a photo with Lea.

Back on shore for dinner and shopping. Not much in the way of fresh vegies or fruit but plenty of packet noodles, snack foods, sweet drinks and other rubbish food. We did manage to get some eggs. Really nice dinner of curried and fried chicken with fresh baked bread. The lady interpreting for us gave us some dried squid to take home.
Monday June 6
Happy Birthday Lea! Still no sign of Raymond or the paperwork so we organised a walk ashore. The pace was a bit slow so Lea took off for a run. We arrived at a villiage but because Ramadan started today there was no food or drinks for sale.
Back to Esoterica for coffee and a chat with Naz and Moque re our time with the film crew aboard. Back on Gemini Lady Lea went through her birthday messages while I prepared a special lunch of fried rice with the dried squid. Much to Lea's surprise this turned out very well.
Jason off Allure took me for a wakeboard. Long time since I had done this and with only 15Hp to play with getting up was strenuous. Others in the fleet had a go and the afternoon was quite entertaining watching it all.

Late afternoon John and Kerryn turned up with a nice bottle of chilled champagne. We shared this and a bottle of chilled shiraz with a nice cheese platter. Raymond finally arrived with the passports and documents but we decided it would be prudent to wait until morning to leave.

Ashore again looking for somewhere to eat for dinner. Our favourite restauant was preparing for the first celebratory break fast of Ramadan and we felt 20 extra mouths was a bit of an imposition. We retired back to the boat and cooked someting up on the BBQ as the sun went down.
Tuesday June 7
I was restless to get going and the engines were on by 0515. It was a stress free day on the South China Sea. Light winds, minimal swell, great visibility and little traffic. However, there were a few large logs in the water which concerned us for the night passage.
We took it in turns for log spotting and finally got to turn off the engine just off Subbi Kecil which was our planned anchorage for the night. We decided to push on with the breeze but of course that died again as soon as we were passed the island. Another calm, clear star filled night until the moon went down and clouds built up cresting a pitch black ambiance.
Wednesday June 8
The day started with a worrying lightning storm in our path but it never built and caused a problem. Arrived at the anchorage on a little island just off Santebong and enjoyed a quiet afternoon. Tuppenny arrived and anchored behind us. We paid a quick visit to see if Dave and I could get her Autopilot going but had no joy. Apparently there were lots of turtles about during the night but we slept like the dead and heard nothing.