Halmahera and Moratai

Friday September 20

It was a glassy calm night and the bay looked beautiful with the Resorts lights reflecting on the water.

We were up and away before 0530 with a lovely sunrise and flat seas. Kittani had left earlier and advised that the wind was up to 18knots ahead of us. We quickly put a reef in the main, handy billy on the genoa and zoomed off as the wind increased with an apparent of 60 degrees and a 2 knot current in our favour.

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Gemini lady ate up the miles doing the first 100Nm in just 12 hours. The boat was soon covered in sticky salt spray. Around 1700 we picked up a new crew member. He took over the watch and the engine controls and was very vigilant.

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It was a Brown Booby probably a juvenile. A very cute looking fellow with a blue beak, pale feet and a two tone brown chest with the lower chest paler. Lea christened him Bob.  He was a bit too friendly for Lea’s liking so we eventually put him on watch on the solar panels where he settled down for the night, making sure to shit everywhere up there he could. He didn’t even move when we shook out the reef around 2200 as the wind eased.

Saturday September 21

We arrived with Sharman at Suba Bay around 0300 and anchored up without disturbing Bob the Booby. Enjoyed a refreshing shower and a relaxing drink before heading to bed.

When we woke Bob was still waiting to say goodbye. That done he flew off without a backward glance and I used buckets of salt water to clean up his mess.

Kittani finally caught up around 0900 and continued on to anchor off Dodola Island. The weather was looking a bit threatening and our first anchorage was a bit exposed so we all moved down to anchor off the sand spit between Dodola and Dodola Kecil.

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We went for an evening walk across the sandspit and greeted all the local tourists as we went. We checked out the water park and booked a session first thing tomorrow.

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One young lady very wrapped up being photographed by her partner left her phone on the beach. The the tide coming in Mariann and Lea picked it up and ran down the beach to return it. They continued to walk on eventually ending up trapped by the rising tide. Later that night a speedboat eventually came to rescue them. It amused us that the total self absorption of these Asian millennials with selfies resulted in their failure to notice basic survival requirements.

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Drinks on Sharman before early retirement to bed.

Sunday

Picture postcard day with the sun out and a calm sea. The crews of the 4 boats gathered on the beach for a play on the water park. First we needed coffee. Surprisingly, despite minimal English on their side and useless Bahasa on our side, we all got a decent coffee. The Ranger came by and we paid  the 50cent Island Conservation Fee per person. Then we paid our $2.50 per pax for the use of the waterpark for an hour.

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We had the park to ourselves and had a blast. Time trials, launchings, slips, falls, splashes and lots of laughter. Great fun!

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In the afternoon we motored over to Zum Zum Island to view the memorials to General Douglas MacArthur. Moratai played a major role in WW2 as it was where MacArthur set up the base to launch the Allied Assault on the Japanese.

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The Statues and memorials are looking a bit neglected but good to see.

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Then on to Moratai Island. We didn’t go ashore but enjoyed a night of card games and dinner on Kittani.

Monday September 23

Psycho Puss had a contact for the local tourism lady, Anne, and was trying to arrange motorbikes for us all. It was all very Indonesian and confusing with promises made but not delivered. However, we went ashore and Anne met us apologising profusely for not being able to source any motorbikes for us. The rest of us soon had an alternative plan and loaded into Tuk Tuk’s with jerry cans and laundry and set off. First stop was the laundry drop off then to the local Pertamina Station where a friend of Anne’s would get our jerry cans all filled. Then on to the market.

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The market was quite good but without a large supermarket there was a few holes in our shopping list. Pete and Mariann took off and managed to find a single a single motorbike to hire. They went up to the waterfall but due to drought conditions it was dry so we didn’t feel like we had missed out.

During the afternoon we swam across to Sharman as we saw Geoff in the water scrubbing the hulls. We did the port hull for him down as far as we could reach from the surface. We advised him he needed a good underwater clean. He later negotiated with Mariann off Kittani to dive on the hulls for a complete clean.

We were invited to Sharman for fish and prawn cutlets for sundowners. Charmaine had also baked some Tiger Bread. The four boat crews gathered aboard for drinks which turned into dinner which turned into party which meant the Karaoke microphones came out along with  a tambourine, kazoo and clackers. We danced and sang late in to the night.

Tuesday September 24

Martin and Ivy flew in at midday to join Psycho Puss for 3 weeks. We went into the market to get a few extras, pick up our laundry and visit the museum. We kept the same Tuk Tuk driver for our multiple small journeys. Each stop is 5000Rph but he waited for us each time so we gave him a generous tip.

We were impressed with the displays and quality photographs of General MacArthur and Moratai from WW2. In September 1944 Allied forces were bought into Moratai as the strategic position to push the Japanese out of the Philippines.

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3v Runways were built which could accommodate 293 combat aircraft including 174 bombers. 30105 Army troops and 16915 Air Force personnel were bought to Moratai. Unfortunately all the display boards were in Bahasa and our dutiful guide who shadowed us the entire time explaining away in Bahasa about all the photos and displays. We couldn’t understand much at all. He knew we were Australian and made sure to point out important Australian items. Out in the forecourt there were a few original tanks on display and an excellent statue commemorating Indonesian Independence in 1963.

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Another potluck dinner and party on Sharman that night. Geoff cooked up a duck for us all.

The forecast was not particularly favourable but we all wanted to push on to Raja Ampat tomorrow. Word came in that the rest of the Rally fleet had been denied early Visa Extensions in Bitung and many changed plans for a quicker exit from Indonesia. Indonesia again pissed a lot of people off and lost tourist revenue and goodwill to boot.

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