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.

























Wednesday October 14

Andy's Birthday. He wanted to forget it but we reminded him all day. It was a beautiful morning with crystal clear water and no jelly's. After cleaning the boat with the dew we motored around Turtle Rock to another anchorage close by to get more shelter from the strong afternoon NE'ly. We were the Canary and the other boats followed after tracking our course with AIS. 12m of water all the way gently shoal into 6m in clear sand in the anchorage area. A nice change of scenery.

Ervan arrived with a local boat to pick us all up for a trip to the Lighthouse. It was fun and games getting all 11 of us aboard as the wind was strong and the boat not very manoeuvrable.

All aboard and we headed off to the little Island of Langir and its impressive Dutch built Lighthouse. Sue and I chose the wrong place to sit and we got soaked due to high waves and low freeboard. Lea was ok perched up on top of the engine box. Very noisy single cylinder deisel engine with no muffler.

Lots of local tourists from Java visit Belitung for a boat trip out here.

Enjoyed a refreshing green coconut under the shade of the trees.

It was very hot and after exploring the island and it's great rock formations we headed out for a snorkel. Good coral and lots of small fish.

Lea got artistic and came up with this great shot.

On the way back we visited another island with a turtle hatchery and conservation park. In true Indonesian fashion it was very agricultural and bordering on cruel, but the good intention was there and some success was being reported. Small steps.

Back at the boats we used our dinghies to offload passengers safely without danger to our boats.

Kalili came in late afternoon in company with Ocean Jaywalker (OJ for short). Lloyd reported that Bel on OJ might have a broken leg after being caught by the main sheet in an emergency gybe to avoid a bommie. She had fallen hard onto a winch on the cockpit coaming. Andy and I went over to help once they were anchored. We diagnosed severe muscle damage but no break. However, a radiograph to check was advisable.

Birthday Party for Andy onshore at Ervan's Warung on the beachfront. Great fun with a keyboard player and Karaoke. ( Once I got them to turn down the volume to a reasonable level). There were a number of government officials associated with the Sail Indonesia program who wanted to talk to us. They nearly hijacked the party until I made it clear that this was a private function, our banquet was going cold and we would talk to them tomorrow.

Sue sang a karaoke song and Warren off Mustang Sally got into it after a couple of wines. The local Indonesians love their Karaoke and were right into it. We enjoyed a couple of dances and I enjoyed too much of Alex's (Alearis) 23 year old rum.

Thursday October 15

I went over to OJ and checked on Bell. Still in lots of pain but seemed ok. Discussed ways of getting her off the boat to the shore but eventually she was able to shuffle herself with help into the dinghy. Ervan was waiting to take her to hospital for a Radiograph.

Ahore for the official welcome which stretched out until 1200 as they wanted us to stay and wish the Belitung Tourism Minister Happy Birthday. The things we do!

We cancelled our motorbike hire and rebooked it for tomorrow.

Back ashore for 1530 for a burning boat dance that didn't start until 1630

Friday October 16

Picked up our motorbikes and zoomed off to Tanjung Patang's large market 27km down the road to top up supplies. We lost the others somehow but after a brief stop to refuel we found the market and got what we needed. The roads were good and not too busy except in town. We didn't linger and retraced our route back to Binga. This is a quaint, traditional fishing village. The waterfront homes have extensive racks in front of them for drying fish.

Lea had seen a nice restaurant with a pool and a view in one of the brochures we had been given so we went in search of it. We did a few circles of the town before finally locating it. It looked deserted when we arrived but we had seen nothing else so stayed. The big beautiful pool in the brochure was tinged with green and not inviting at all. We ordered lunch but non of the 4 beers on the menu was available. Apparently it is getting quite hard for restaurants to obtain beer in these more northern Muslim islands. However, the food was exceptionally good, especially the squid for which the area is famous. The nearby village is home to many of the massive “Spider Boats” as we call them that are out every night after squid. Lloyd, Mandy and Heidi off Kalili and John and Sukiama off Millenium soon joined us.
Very pleasant outlook over the bay with a nice breeze to keep us cool.
After dropping off the shopping back at the boat and returning the bikes we were entertained by some more traditional dance. The first was a ” Dragon Dance”

Then some brilliant dancing from the dog puppets complete with mobile eyebrows and ears.

These guys were even doing aerial tricks

Very entertaining afternoon and a good way to finish our stay at NW Belitung



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.


Wednesday October 7

Early start to use the heavy dew to clean the boat, now black with smoke grime. Ashore by 0800 for another full day of events. Our team met us onshore and we were away nearly on time, heading first for a Dayak Longhouse. As soon as we were on the bus another boxed breakfast was handed out.

The Long. House wasn't quite ready for us so we diverted to a conservation park not far from the Orangutan Rehabilitation Complex where wild Orangutans are held In Quarantine until they are released. The problem now is a shortage of areas that they can be released into and there is a backlog of over 300 Orantutans awaiting release. Tanjung Puting NP is full and no new Orangutans have been released their since 1991.

The conservation area was an educational complex emphasising re planting of trees, recycling and sustainable farming practices. Small steps but a start at least.

At the Long house we were greeted by 2 Dayak men fighting then slashing open the gate for us to enter. Lea and I received Beautiful and fragrant Jasmine Leys to wear.

Sue and I were chosen to receive the local blessing( with a tot of Arak).

We warned in the bus that the head of Tourism was a sensitive guy who was easily offended if we didn't give him full attention during his speech. Fortunately the speeches didn't go on too long and Andy did a great job speaking in response to the welcome and saving face all round by explaining that many boats could not come due to strong winds in the Java Sea recently.

Our jungle cruise guide Ami turned up. He had dealt with the funeral of his grandmother and was smiling brightly again.

Then the dancing began. Everybody participated after a couple of lovely traditional dances were performed.

Even the police enjoyed the dancing.

Again the costumes were beautiful.

After a huge buffet lunch we were invited to visit the local high school just over the road.

The kids were great, very shy at first but soon full of questions for us and wanting photos.

Then it was off to the Yellow Palace, rebuilt in the 1990's after the original burned down. Here we were greeted by one of the Sultans sons and Christof and Dagmar were invited to receive the traditional blessing.

The Palace itself was great. All constructed out of the local Ironwood on a hill overlooking the town and surrounded by geometric gardens.

Got to get me a gong! They sound great!


Back at the Harbour we thanked our Police Escort and invited the our Guides Rini, Nina and Eva back to see our boats.

The girls were shown over Spruce and then Flomaide. Then we all met on Gemini Lady for Sundowners. A great finish to a fantastic week in Kalimantan.

One of the great highlights was our friendship with Ami, Rini and Nina. We got a good insight into their worlds. Ami's father was a highly respected Dayak chief and passed on the traditional values and sustainable practices of the Dayak forest people to Ami. His mother was an educated Muslim from Java. He is quite conscious and articulate about the difficulties Indonesia has with balancing conservation and economic development in a governmental system full of contradictory actions based on individual power and influence rather than law.

Nina and Rini are 2 delightful, smart and well educated young ladies working toward starting their own business. We felt for Rini who is trying to divorce her husband, maintain some custody rights to her young daughter and build a new life for herself. Very difficult to achieve for Muslim girl in a Muslim society

We wish them all well.


Monday October 5

I woke up thinking we were being hassled by Hawkers again as speedboats were buzzing around close by. Went out for a leak then back inside again but something was not right. Went out again and out of the thick smokey haze the riverbank emerged and we were only metres from the houses, jetties and Klotoks. We were dragging. Called Lea up and started the engines. When we finally got the anchor up it had pierced a large rice bag. Must have snagged it on the reset with the tide change early that morning. We were about a Nm downstream. So lucky we didn't drag into the many large ships and barges anchored just downstream of us

With the anchor up we motored back to the anchorage. Spruce called to wish us a safe trip assuming we had left early to depart the river. Andy was as surprised as we were that we dragged after 3 days at anchor. Lesson learnt was always put the anchor alarm on at night.

Flomaide appeared out of the murk as we got back to the anchorage.

I still had suspicions about the Starboard prop following the net incident so we set up the video camera for a look. Sure enough there was a basket of net around the prop blades. No option but a dive in the brown muddy water with about 6 inches of vis and crocodiles.
Waited an hour for slack water then took the plunge. Fortunately the net was just around the blades, restricting their rotation and hadn't wrapped around the shaft. It came away easily and the job was done in a couple of minutes.
Our tour company provided us with a car and driver for the morning to go into town to resupply. At the harbour jetty we were greeted by. Herry Roustaman one of the senior guides in the area. He had been appointed by the local government to run a program of events for Sail Indonesia. This was news to us as Wati had informed us 4 days earlier that there was no programme this year. In a typical Indonesian way the Programme suddenly materialises at the last minute. We couldn't say sorry we're leaving now, so we all agreed to stay another 2 days to enjoy the festivities.
We went shopping anyway, heading to the new hypermarket, a large mall, all airconditioned. The supermarket was great. Wati joined us from the university next door where she is studying part time to make sure all was ok. She also invited us to join the festivities.
Back in Kumai we stopped at the wet market for fresh fruit and veggies. We noticed lots of women with faces caked with a white, chalky cream. This is to bleach their skin white, which is their idea of beauty.
Back on Gemini Lady we hosted a big dinner of roast pork and lamb, with Sue's apple sauce and Dagmar's Brochetta and desert.
Another great night with our newest best friends.

Tuesday October 6

Herry insisted we be on the jetty by 0630, a tough call after a big night. But we were all present and correct by 0630. Then we had to wait until 0900 to get going. It did give us time to chat to our 2 lovely guides, Nina and Rini. The bus finally arrived with a police escort and more entourage. We were given official shirts that we were expected to wear. Andy and Sue were distressed as the shirts didn't match Sue's fuchsia skirt or Andy's pink shorts. Nice shirts though.

We loaded into the bus and headed off to join the local Yellow Rice Festival. Sort of like an Indonesian Thanksgiving.
Police escort all the way with no stopping at red lights for us.
We marched in the parade for a while then got introduced to the Regent and his wife. I had to answer a few questions in front of microphones and cameras. It was like having Rock Star Status.

It was a huge festival and lots of work had gone into the floats and costumes.

We also met the Prince and Princess of the parade.
We branched off and did a city tour ending up on the Riverbank Market on stilts over the North River. A short walk along the boardwalks to catch a Gedek for a ride up river.
We passed boatbuilding yards where new timber was being seasoned buried under mounds of Sawdust.

Arriving at yet another wet market built out over the River.


Back on the bus we headed for the Sultans Palace.

The palace was not as decorative as we expected but had large open rooms with high ceilings which kept the place nice and cool. We enjoyed our boxed lunches here. I forgot to mention the we were given boxed breakfast as soon as we got on the bus. Followed by boxed snacks for morning tea. Our entourage suddenly expanded for the lunch stop. 20 people plus the 6 of us.

Back in Kumai we joined Nini and Rini at a friends wedding. It was a very structured affair with a token gift to all who came to pay their respects to the couple. invitations are not necessary and the Bride and Groom need to cater for around 1000 people during the day. Guests come and go all day and there is music and food provided. The bride and groom have 3 changes of outfit over the day and sit on the platform all day with the parents to greet guests. The bride is always heavily made up and this bride had bright blue contact lenses. The dress was very fancy and looked heavy and hot.

We stayed a short time and as we left we put some money in the gift box and paid our respects to the parents and the bride and groom on the stage. Of course more photos were taken.

Exhausted we went back to the boats with yet another boxed snack pack. Quick visit to Spruce to exchange a few photos over a beer.


Sunday, October 4

Not as much smoke this morning and a Kingfisher was watching. Lots of laughs over breakfast about snoring. The accusation was that I was the worst offender. Very sad news from Ami this morning. His paternal Grandmother had passed away. As the head of the family he was required to leave and attend to funeral arrangements. Ami's grandmother was a highly respected elder of the Dayaks and Ami was very close to her. A speed boat was sent to pick him up to return to Kumai. The only good news was that Wati arranged for the forgotten Tuak and Arak to be delivered to us via the same speed boat. We all felt his loss and the cruise wasn't quite the same without his smiling face and enthusiastic wildlife spotting.

We visited Feeding Station 2 after saying goodbye to Ami.

As we were warned nothing was happening there. we waited over an hour but no Orangutans turned up. Andy got bored and chased butterfly's all over the place trying to get photos. We soon got fidgety and restless and returned to the boat. At least it was a nice walk.

Enough says Lea!
While Christof takes another power nap.

Onward to the village that had been relocated as a result of the creation of the NP. It was a well laid out village with street lighting and power, medical centre and paved roads. However, the atmosphere was not welcoming. It was the first time in Indonesia that we have felt uncomfortable. Glad to leave.

We all wanted to revisit Feeding Station 1 on the way back down River. After a short wait we were entertained by numerous Orangutans. Females with their baby's and juveniles together with an amorous male copulating with a seemingly embarrassed female nearly over our heads.

It was nearly dark by the time we exited the Sekonyer River and got back to the boats. All was well after a fantastic 3 days with great people and unbelievable wildlife.

Big thanks to our cook and crew.


Saturday October 3


We awoke to the noise of monkeys in the trees alongside to find the world closed in by mist and smoke. Visibility was down to 30m. We waited until after breakfast for the visibility to improve. We had plenty of time as we were heading upstream, direct to Camp Leakey to get in early before the other boats arrived. The boys soon had our bedrooms packed away.

Our cook Yarni continued to produce wonderful food in her tiny low kitchen over the main engine. Just as well she is only 4 feet 6 inches tall.

As we travelled Ami would stop the boat at any sighting of wildlife. We saw many different birds and Ami was spooked when he noticed lots of Asian Minor Birdsfollowed by 2 crows. This was a bad omen in his Dayak Traditional beliefs. Ami's father was a very traditional Dayak with a close relationship to the Earth and the Forrests. He hunted with the traditional blowpipe. He passed on his love and respect for the land to his son. Dayaks are considered to be the true aboriginal people of Borneo.

Our guide Ami was a man of many talents and he could sing too.

Ami kept a running sheet of the wildlife we spotted on day 2 of the trip. We were up to 15 before we got to the Orangutans. Some of the birds were Kingfishers (2 varieties), Hornbills, Minor Birds and Swifts. Animals were Probiscus Monkeys, Water Monitor, Gibbons, Fresh water Crocodiles, Long Tailed Macaques, Black and White Squirrels and Orangutans.

We turned off the Sekonyar River and followed the narrow tributary to Camp Leakey.

Andy practiced for the Orangutan Banana eating competition.

He ran into trouble getting the bananas between his toes into his mouth. The Orangutans win by 2 feet and a lower lip like a bucket.

The wildlife sightings continued

This one needs his teeth cleaned but I'm not volunteering

Finally arrived at Camp Leakey and after another sumptuous lunch went ashore to explore.

On the way to the visitor centre we spied this little fellow as well as some common grey monkeys.

The visitor centre was very informative, outlining the differences between Orangutans and humans, the medicinal properties of local plants and the family trees of the Orangutans that have been studied in the area.

Then it was on to the Feeding Station to seethe Orangutans. We were very lucky to find Tom tha alpha male of the area sitting quietly in the shade just 3m from the viewing area. His size and bulk were awesome.

He was watching the cheeky Gibbon that was picking up leftovers on the feeding platform.

This time the food provided was buckets of some kind of milk and the feeding antics of the younger Orangutans was very amusing, some going in head first others scooping handfuls.

With big Tom close by the juveniles were a bit nervous and not going to let go of mum.

Then Tom took over the platform for a while.

The others just hang around until he had eaten his fill.

Back at the dock a group of Orangutans were in the nearby trees.

The River was going to be busy that night so we left to tie up to another jetty downriver belonging to another conservation group Ami knew. He organised a night walk for us to find Tarantula and Bird Eating Spiders. Our guide took us on a well marked trail for an hour and we managed to glimpse one Tarantula close to its hole. Another area was roped of and user video surveillance as apparently there is a very rare Clouded Leopard with a cub in the area as well as a Sun Bear.

Dinner was another extravaganza although the cooking in general is heavy with oil. Our cold showers are heaven after the hot days with extreme humidity. We are actually grateful for the smoke as it is reducing the direct sunlight.

Ami and the crew sat on the jetty playing a guitar with only 5 strings and singing while we had dinner.