Java and Karakatoa

Tuesday April 3

Psycho Puss weere still hoping for some passengers so wanted to wait until 0800. We left earlier hoping to ghost along under spinnaker. It was an auspicious start when we had a large pod of dolphins swimming with us as we left the bay. A few hours of motoring and battery charging before the breeze came in,  Main and Genoa until the wind backed to the north a few hours later and we could hold the Screecher. The wind contiunued to back and half an hour later we dropped the Main and lifted the spinnaker. 7.5knot average for the next 8 hours.  We broke our “no spinnaker after dark “ rule and kept it up in a moderating breeze until a dark mass strarted to block out the stars in the sky ahead of us. Time to drop the kite and keep going under Screecher. 
Stocks of fresh food were getting low but Lea used what we had to make some great soup. Nasty storms ahead showing on the radar.

Wednesday April 4

We managed to stay off to the side of the worst of the storms but the last cell got us before dawn. We went dark ship as far as possible with all mast circuits disconnected and “I” products in the microwave. Fortunately no lightning came close. The wind increased and soon we were doing 8 knots under Genoa alone. The sea state was awful due to wind against tide so lots of crashing and banging for a couple of hours. It finally moderated as the tide changed and we had good sailing. 10Nm out of Palau Panitan the wind died and we were back to motoring. At least we have not run short of water this trip as with all the motoring the watermaker is run every day. 
The last part dragged on as usual but eventuall we entered the large south facing bay and the SW swell slowly eased. By 0930 we were anchored off a beautiful beach. Shower, shave and sleep were very welcome.  When we woke up we scanned the shore and decided to move to the other beach as looked better for landing and the bonfire we had planned. Psycho Puss turned up 3 hours late as usual. They had ripped their Screecher. 
Late afternoon we all went ashore. We found pig tracks on the beach and lots of birds could be heard. Bit miffed that we didn’t see the Banteng Silvery Gibbons, Crab eating Macaques, Leopards or the Javanese Rhinoceros that are supposed to live on the National park Island.
Thursday April 5
Clear water and jungle down to the small white beach made for a perfect anchorage at Palau Peucang 10 Nm from Panitan.  We explored the little river on the Java side while the tide was up but got stopped by fallen trees.


We headed for the jetty on the Java side and followed the track inland.


The track opened onto a broad grassy plain where the native wild Banteng cattle grazed. We did see a herd and they certainly looked healthy enough.

After lunch we visited the Island and parked the dinghy on the beach.

The Ranger Station had old photographs of Leopards and Rhino’s. They were very faded. However, there were more recent photos taken by remote cameras that showed that the wildlife was surviving. 
The Ranger wanted 150K for each boat plus 150K per person as well as 6K per person for Insurance. None of had that much cash left as ATM’s had been  very limited in the Islands. We negotiated a deal we could afford of 156K per boat all inclusive. Rod didn’t plan to walk and Heather didn’t go far so it was more a donation anyway. 
There were wild deer at the station and throughout the forest. 


The walk to the NW corner of the Island was beautiful. It was fairly clear under the high canopy so very pleasant walking in the shade.


Some of the trees were enormous and many of the strangler figs we could walk through the roots


The little Barking Deer were all about


We made it to the NW corner but it was getting late and the light in the forest gloom was fading rapidly. Fortunately we found the track marked with tin lids nailed to trees so we didn’t get lost.



Friday April 6
Two storms overnight had as up and going Dark ship with everything we could switched off and disconnected. Hours of lightning bright enough to see through closed eyes and thunder that shook the boat. A bit to close for comfort but everything fired up ok in the morning. After a careful study of sat images and our charts as well as watching a local boat we decided the north channel was ok. No problem and minimum depth 16m. No wind so it was a 43Nm motor up to Carita Bay.  Lea did another workout while I dodged logs and rubbish. 
The tide was low when we arrived and still ebbing. After anchoring we headed ashore with a mission to find an ATM and get some cash. The marina entrance is very shallow and we had been warned about getting the dinghies stranded at low tide. We got in ok and figured we had about 90 minutes before we got stuck. 
The locals were very helpful tying up and directing us to an ATM. They said 2 km so we were up for the walk. However, another shop keeper we met said it was too far to walk so he organised a bemo for us. The closest ATM didn’t work so we had to do the full trip into Labuan. The driver had been told to get us to an ATM and as he had no English we couldn’t make him understand that we wanted to stop for some supplies also. He dutifully delivered us back to the marina without stopping. Good trip though as we had lots of locals join us in the bemo. One lady had 2 big containers one of iced down fish and the other of squid. Another 2 ladies got the giggles and offered us massages. All good fun.
Made it back to the boats just before the rain.
Saturday April 7
Carita will go down as the most dreadful early morning call to prayer we have ever heard. Totally out of tune and awful voices. Not just one mosquebut multiple   ones. It was so bad it was funny. Still in need of fresh food we were ashore early and caught a bemo into the Chinese market a few km toward Labuan. Here we found a good selection of vegetables and some fresh chickens. The chickens were already covered in flies but being Asian Veterans now it didn’t deter us. (We wash all our veggies and meat in a bleach solution as soon as we are back on the boat). Fruit was a bit scarce but we did get some delicious Javanese bananas. The locals were great, exited to have us there and keen to chat with us. Lots of big smiles and laughter.  As a bonus we found fresh lettuce and bean shoots.
Then it was time to head out Karakatoa, our “bucket list”, must see place. Another boring motor out to Anak Karakatoa the new volcano growing within the remains of the old crater. 

The original Karakatoa erupted in August 1883. The eruption and accompanying tsunami killed 36000 people in 160 villages. The explosion was 10000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb and the sound could be heard 4500km away.
The 11km diameter Island that was Karakatoa was obliterated in the eruption but left behind 3 small sections of the original Caldera as small seperate Islands. The depths within the Caldera are over 100m and shelve up quickly to the shore making anchoring difficult.  Our first choice was to anchor under the cliffs of Rakata Besar but we didn’t like it as anchorage. We took turns photographing the boats under the 813m high cliff of the ancient Caldera to get some appreciation of scale.


More photo opportunities as we passed the most recent, 2012, lava flow on Anak Karakatoa, before heading over to another anchorage on Rakata Cecil.

The depths are an easy 10m on black sand in crystal clear water. From her we could watch the sun set over Anak. 
The rebirth of Karakatoa (Anak means “son of”) is being watched closely by the global scientific community. It is a unique opportunity to watch the evolution and colonisation of the new island with flora and fauna. That said, in the very kind Indonesian way, there was no restriction or policing of people impact. There was only one sign requesting you to be careful of your rubbish.
Sunday April 8
Rod and Heather were not going to do the climb so we left Gemini Lady early to do the climb in the coolest part of the day. Calm waters for our 1Nm dighy ride to the black beach in front of the Ranger Station. We just beat a full tourist boat to the shore.




We felt rather overdressed with our boots and packs compared to the rest of the people on the beach in thongs, resort wear and holding selfie sticks. We met the Ranger and he said to go on and catch up with him on our return. He had his hands full with the newly arrived tourist boat. 


The track wound through the green shrubbery before thinning out as we began to climb. 


Soon we were on fine slippery gravel and we were very grateful for our boots. 


We arrived at the first rim in front of the lava flow we saw yesterday. We could just make out the boats in the distance. We headed down the ridge to the bottom of the lava flow then worked our way up to the crater rim.

Steep and fine gravel made it a bit slippery but not too bad. Close to the top we entered a canyon full of steam and sulphur fumes. The rocks were quite hot to touch. We couldn’t continue along the canyon as the fumes were swirling and choking so we headed up to the right.




We found an old flag and pole at the top and the ground seemed a bit too soft and fissured so we made a strategic withdrawl.


The sulphur crystals around the vents looked perfect.


Its an eerie landscape up there.


We were quite glad to get off the top and heading down.


When we returned to the Station the Ranger came over. He hadn’t realised we were going to the top and had been watching us carefully as you are not supposed to go up there without a guide. He was still happy to take our 500K for the walk. 
We caught to tide for the next 25Nm leg to the SE tip of Sumatra. The wind came up strong right on the nose due to a nearby large squall, so with wind over tide it was the most shitful trip of the voyage. At least we found a nice anchorage in the lee of Palau Sindu.

Monday April 9

Lay day today waiting for the good Easterly wind forecast for tomorrow to take us North again. Lea did a work out then I did some surgery on Heather to remove an infected sebaceous cyst. Lea assisted but when she went deathly pale I suggested Rod take over. We didn’t know at the time but it was the beginning of a severe gastric flu for Lea that had her extremely sick for the next 3 days. 



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