Day 82, Year 3: Impounded in Kupang

Day 82, Year 3: Impounded in Kupang
Date: Hari Rebu (Wednesday), Bulan Juli 30, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Clear and Sunny, Again Very Little Wind
Location: Kupang, W Timor, Indonesia
Latitude: 10 degrees 09.640 minutes S
Longitude: 123 degrees 34.279 minutes E

We made it here right on schedule this morning, but we were met by some political confusions. Sail Indonesia had assured us that we would be cleared into Indonesia without following their new law that requires yachts to pay a huge fee. Well, evidently Indonesian Customs has a different take on this and while the forces are battling it out we are checked in but impounded. We have a big 12 x 18 inch sticker attached to the side our boat that says we are not to leave here. The powers that be assure us that this will be worked out in the next few days, and I trust that this will be done. In the meantime we will enjoy this new-to-us part of the world.

The welcome here has been tremendous. Putting the Customs issue aside, everyone else has been extremely helpful and friendly. Because there are so many yachties, a huge number of locals have turned out on shore to greet us. Many of the greeters are “wanna-be” guides and many of those are university students who can speak English. Their language skills help us and we can help them by paying a small fee for their help. It costs the equivalent of $250 for a student to attend University here for one year and our contributions while here can truly make a difference for many students.

After arriving here, we had Quarantine visit Windbird, then Customs, and then we went to shore to check in with Immigration. Kupang is a large city and it is old and crumbling. Captain Bligh made a stop here after being “cast adrift” after the mutiny on the Bounty. And now Windbird has made a stop here on her voyage around the world. We’re just hoping that we won’t have to be here longer than planned due to the political battle being waged on our behalf.

080730 Day 82 Darwin to Kupang

Day 81, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day Empat (Four)

Day 81, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day Empat (Four)
Date: Hari Selasa (Tuesday), Bulan Juli 29, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Finally a Few Clouds and a Little Wind, 12 Knots ENE
Location: Passage from Darwin, Australia to Kupang, W Timor, Indonesia
Latitude: 10 degrees 40.056 minutes S
Longitude: 124 degrees 29.858 minutes E
Miles to Go: 80.6

After 68 hours of motoring, the wind gave us an opportunity to turn off the engine and sail this afternoon. The wind is only averaging about 12 knots, but that seems like a wind storm after having absolutely no wind for more than two days. We will have to turn the engine back on sometime during the night so that we can make our waypoint at the southwest corner of West Timor when the tide turns in our favor, but at least we have had a delightfully peaceful afternoon. In Indonesia the passes between
islands are called seluts and you can have three or four knots of current against you if you don’t hit it just right. So by 8:30 am Darwin time tomorrow we should be headed up Selat Semau and be in Kupang about three hours later. We will have to set our clocks back 1.5 hours when we get there, so it will still be early morning there when we arrive. Of course, that is supposing that everything goes according to plan. And we all know how that goes.

There has been none of the excitement today that we had yesterday and into the night last night with fishing boats and fishing nets. Only one boat hit a net and they were able to quickly free themselves. Our next challenge will be in the Selut Semau which is said to be littered with fishing boats and nets of all sorts. But at least it will be daylight and we can keep a careful watch. I have worked non-stop on researching all possible anchorages in Indonesia. I spent my two 3-hour watches last
night reading and editing a document we got from Sail Indonesia. It is a compilation of comments on anchorages from previous Sail Indonesia cruisers. It is full of information but very poorly organized. Since we were too cheap to purchase the book called “101 Anchorages in Indonesia”, I am writing my own book. If nothing else, the exercise has familiarized me with all of the islands and all the possible anchorages we will be visiting. It is truly overwhelming to read about all we are going to
see and experience in the next three months.

The big news of the day is that fuel in Kupang is not going to be any cheaper than it was in Australia. And since we will be close to empty when we arrive, that is a real bummer. But it seemed unreal to me that we were going to be able to get fuel anywhere in the world as cheaply as had been reported in Indonesia. I think the days of cheap fuel anywhere are long gone. And if you are going to use precious resources, I think you need to be prepared to pay the price without complaints.

Day 80, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day Tiga (Three)

Day 80, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day Tiga (Three)
Date: Hari Senin (Monday), Bulan Juli 28, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Still Not a Cloud in the Sky; Winds SE 5
Air and Water Temperature: 78 degrees F (getting warmer)
Location: Passage from Darwin, Australia to Kupang, W Timor, Indonesia
Latitude: 11 degrees 14.559 minutes S
Longitude: 126 degrees 30.558 minutes E
Miles to Go: 204 (more than halfway)

If you are reading this pagi ini (in the morning),
“Selamit pagi!” (Good morning!)
“Selamit siang!” (Good day! – middle of the day)
“Selamit sore!” (Good afternoon! – late afternoon to sunset)
“Selamit malam!” (Good evening! – after sunset)

As you can see, I am practicing by bahasa Indonesian (the language of Indonesia). It is a form of Malay, a Southeast Asian language that is a member of a family of languages called Austronesian. Bahasa Indonesian is the official language taught in the schools and is used formally by most Indonesians, but there are hundreds of variations. They say there are as many variations as there are ethnic groups on the islands of the Archipelago. I will be very lucky to learn just a little of the official
language, but we will have to learn some as very few Indonesians speak English. Mark and I were shocked in the Rally information meeting we had last week. We were asked to raise our hands if we have been to Indonesia before and we felt like almost a third of the audience raised their hand. For us it will certainly be the first trip into any part of Asia, so the language and the culture will be totally new to us.

Siang ini (this afternoon) we got our first introduction to Indonesia. Seemingly out of nowhere, we were suddenly following a long line of flagged buoys. Then we spotted a fishing boat motoring down the line of buoys. The fishing boat was different than any we have seen and was painted in bright blue, red, and yellow. It was definitely flying the Indonesian flag, so we were glad that we had raised our Indonesian courtesy flag today. As I write this log, we are passing three huge Australian owned
oil rigs to our north and soon the continental shelf will drop off and we will be in deep water for the first time since arriving in Australia. Once we are in deeper water there should be less fishing activity until we reach West Timor.

There is still no wind and really no hope of any before we reach Kupang. So on we motor. We are kept busy learning more about the language and geography of the Indonesian Archipelago and working on a few projects. Before we reach Kupang, we need to make sure everything of value on deck is locked down and it took all morning for us to find the few locks we have onboard. It truly is amazing how things hide from you in such a small space as a sailboat. We found our Kryptonite bicycle locks and
are using those to lock down our outboard motors. We dug out the heavy chain and locks we used to secure our dinghy in the Caribbean. The locks were seized up but Mark has been successful in getting them to work once again. We really didn’t need to worry about security in the South Pacific, but it is an issue in Southeast Asia. We also had a watermaker issue today, but we think we have that under control. The pre-filter needed to be changed and we are dragging the dirty one in the water behind
us to clean it. That is the prescribed method in the manual. Scot Free called early today saying that they were not moving forward and thought they had lost their prop. Klinton, the son that is crewing with them through Indonesia, jumped in the water to inspect the prop and found that it was tangled in a mess of seaweed. Once he removed that, they were once again moving forward.

The moon is waning during this passage and it makes night watch a really dark experience. On the first night out when I came on watch at 10:30 pm and looked around, there were so many boat lights in the distance that it looked like we were surrounded by village lights. The lights behind us and to our port were closest with the lights in front of us twinkling in the distance. During the night, positions kept changing and we passed a couple of boats and a couple of them passed us. It took constant
vigilance to make sure we were at a safe distance from our neighbors. Last night things had changed. The lights behind us were much further in the distance and the lights in front of us were almost not visible. There was one other boat about a mile and half in front of us and that was our closest neighbor for the night. We have never traveled with so many boats, and we actually thought that by the second night we would have spread out even more. But since almost everyone is motoring, we are
all going about the same speed. The crescent moon doesn’t rise until the middle of the night, so the water and sky are pitch black except for the stars and boat lights. Usually the stars give off some light, but not last night. Watch during the daytime is much easier. We have only a couple of boats to starboard, so that is our escape route if anyone gets too close. When we approach West Timor, we have to go through a pass between two small islands and West Timor. We are hoping to do that part
of the trip during daylight hours as there are small unlit fishing boats and fish nets and no way to see them in this darkness.

Just one more note. The sunrises and sunsets out here are so different from what we had throughout the Pacific. Both sunrise and sunset look almost the same. The sky near the horizon looks like it is on fire. The reds, oranges, and yellows are so intense that the sky looks more like a painting than a natural occurrence.

Day 79, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day Two

Day 79, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day Two
Date: Sunday, July 27, 2008
Weather: Not a Cloud in the Sky; Winds SE 5-8
Location: Passage from Darwin, Australia to Kupang, W Timor, Indonesia
Latitude: 11 degrees 43.481 minutes S
Longitude: 128 degrees 22.485 minutes E
Miles to Go: 318

It was another good day, but we still have little wind. Those that are extremely patient are sailing along at two to three knots, but we are using the motor to assist and are traveling at an average of five knots. We have current with us for six hours and then against us for the next six hours, and that pattern just keeps cycling. So we go a little faster with the current and a little slower when it is against us. But the seas are calm so it is at least a delightful motor sail. We are spending
every spare moment studying the information we have been given about Indonesia. I must say that it is a little disconcerting not to have specific information from the rally about what events they are sponsoring and where and when. Supposedly we will find this out in Kupang, but it is difficult to plan ahead without the specifics. The gentleman who has the information was supposed to fly to Darwin for our information meeting, but he didn’t make it. He is our only source of information, so we all
sure hope he exists and will meet us in Kupang. We have heard by way of the grapevine that he is trying to establish his own rally through Indonesia and is not as willing to cooperate with the current coordinators. But we are assured that this year he will be there to help us.

We got an email from Sam this morning. We wrote back with our “interpretation” which was that he really wants to come visit us in Southeast Asia. We are actually working on making that happen. If it does, it would be very exciting. There are three other boats in the rally that have children in the eighteen to twenty-four month range. And although I would love to have Sam come visit, I must say I truly admire the parents who travel with these little ones month after month, year after year. One
boat in the rally has an eight-month old on board. On many mornings in Darwin when we went to shore, the mother of this little one would be bringing the baby to shore in the dinghy and handing her off to one of us to hold while she went back to anchor her dinghy and swim in to shore. We opted to buy dinghy wheels in Darwin to avoid this anchoring out, but I surely did admire this mother. Then there is a catamaran named Ten with three children on board-an eight-month old little girl plus another
girl that is five and a boy that is eleven. Now that would be a challenge.

Day 78, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day One

Day 78, Year 3: Passage to Indonesia, Day One
Date: Saturday, July 26, 2008
Weather: Not a Cloud in the Sky; Winds SE 10 (NE in afternoon)
Location: Passage from Darwin, Australia to Kupang, W Timor, Indonesia
Latitude: 12 degrees 16.845 minutes S
Longitude: 130 degrees 21.154 minutes E
Miles to Go: 439

What a fabulous day! I must admit I have not been particularly excited about heading to Indonesia. Not that I don’t want to go, I just think we have been so busy that we haven’t had a moment to think about it. But when a hundred and seventeen sailboats from all around the world approached the starting line this morning, it did get exciting. Due to the light winds many boats had out their spinnakers. It was really a beautiful site. A local tourist boat, the Spirit of Darwin, was at the starting line loaded with people cheering us on. At exactly 1100, we all sailed (most assisted by motors) away. There were many local boaters out for the send off as well, so Fannie Bay was overflowing with boats of all sorts and sizes.

It is 467 miles from Darwin to Kupang. In the past five hours, we have traveled about thirty of those miles. We started out motor sailing wing and wing, but quickly had to put all sails out to port. The wind direction changed from southeast to northeast due to an afternoon sea breeze, so we are currently on a beam reach with only eight knots of wind. As I am writing this, Mark is on the radio waiting to check in. The net is being run by Sail Indonesia today and tomorrow, and then Dave on This Way Up, with Mark on Windbird as back-up, will run the daily check-in net. The boats report in according to alphabetical order, so Windbird is dead last.

As with any port we have visited, we did not get to do all we wanted in Darwin. It is a beautiful time of year to visit there. The weather has been incredible. We have hardly seen a cloud since our arrival there. We regret not getting to spend more time with Jane, the good friend of our daughter-in-law Jo, but we want to thank her so much for greeting us when we first arrived and giving us so much wonderful information that guided our Darwin visit. Thank you, Jane. And we are hoping to see you in Bali in September for a reunion with Jo.

We have never traveled with this many boats, so tonight will be interesting. We will have to be very alert. Depending on speed, we will be out here three or four nights, but hopefully by morning the boats will have spread out more than they are right now. We are closer to the front of the pack right now, but I am sure many boats will pass us during the night. We really needed to clean the bottom of our boat before leaving, but the fear of meeting a crocodile kept us out of the water. This morning we saw one of the lethal box jellies floating by Windbird. They are not supposed to be out and about this time of year, but it was there and I was glad we had not ventured into the water. We will move a bit slower than usual because of the fouled boat bottom, but we will take care of that once we reach Indonesia.

After three months of sailing in Australia, it is now time to switch gears. Tomorrow’s job is to start reading through the reams of information given to us by the rally coordinators. Once we start reading about all of the wonderful things we are going to experience in Indonesia, I think the excitement level will rise even more.

080726 Day 78 Darwin to Kupang Rally Start