Day 157, Year 3: Second Day of Passage to Belitung
Date: Hari Minggu (Monday), Bulan Oktober 13, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Overcast Morning; Clearing in the Afternoon
Latitude: 02 degrees 48.357 minutes S
Longitude: 109 degrees 03.891 minutes E
Location: On Passage from Borneo to Pulau Belitung, Indonesia
Miles to Go: 89

Sunshine here comes with a price. It is hot! But the cloudy skies of yesterday and early this morning have mostly cleared and we are still motor sailing under sunny skies. We have had no wind all day, but just a few minutes ago the wind switched from E to SE and is now a good 15 knots. Unfortunately it is directly behind us so we will need to pole out the headsail and go wing and wing or just keep motoring. Mark is down for his afternoon passage nap, so I have just put out the staysail and vanged
the main out to starboard. I will keep the motor going until he gets up and we can really adjust sails. When one person is asleep, the other is never to go out on deck and deal with sails alone. I cheated and went out to change the vang over, but I had on my inflatable and held on tight. The seas are totally flat, so I didn’t feel like I was taking much of a risk.

Last night was totally overcast but the near full-moon shone through the thin clouds overhead giving the effect of a floodlight. It was so much better than when it is pitch black and you can see nothing. There are unlit fishing boats in this part of the world, so having the light of the moon from here to Singapore will be a blessing. Last night there were little bubbles of light all along the horizon to port. We were obviously passing fertile fishing grounds and the lights were coming from fishing
boats out on the shoal we were passing. There were also loads of fishing vessels in our path and tugs pulling unlit barges, but the tugs do follow the light configuration demanded by international marine law. At least the ones we have seen so far do and for that we are thankful.

On this passage we are in VHF radio contact with a few other other boats. La Passarola and This Way Up of Australia, Nabob of Sweden, Oema of the UK, Galiano from New Zealand, and Cherokee of Canada are all on our same path. All of these boats except Nabob and This Way Up were on a klotok in the national park while we were there and we got to know them a little better. It is always comforting to know that friends are nearby on long passages. If something should go wrong, a radio call should bring

We spent part of the day looking forward to the next three months of sailing in Malaysia and Thailand. We are working out a rough schedule that we will continue to modify but we do now know that we plan to arrive in Singapore next Tuesday. When we reach Belitung and phone service, we will try to call Singapore marinas to make a reservation. It is cheaper if you reserve for ten days, so we will probably stay that long and then head up to the Malaysian coast to Langkawi.

I never really got a chance in the logs to describe the little town of Kumai. So before it is a long gone memory, I’ll reflect on that here. There were two very distinctive features about it. One was the four and five story concrete buildings that lined the waterfront. On the street side, these buildings were decorated to look like fancy houses, but on the sides and waterfront, they were painted a dark gray but instead of window, there were just rows of little holes. We couldn’t figure this
out, but finally we got an explanation. These big buildings are bird houses. Their purpose is for nesting and the nests are sold to China for bird’s nest soup. The town had one hard-packed dirt road along the waterfront and it was lined with mom and pop stores selling the stuff you would find in dollar stores back in the US. There was a morning veggie and fruit market along the street that closed in the afternoon, but it opened again in the evenings and had fresh fish to sell. The other dominant
feature of Kumai was the mosque. It was the most popular place in town and the prayers blared forth religiously four times a day and at 3:35 am. Even though we were anchored across the river from town, it was loud and clear. The mix of Malay Muslims and indigenous Dayak people was most interesting. It is certainly not a tourist destination and just untamed enough to be the perfect town from which to launch a trip to the national park to see the orangutans. But our fondest memory of our stay
in Kalimantan will certainly be the orangutans. Getting to know them was a highlight of our voyage to date.