Saturday, June 11, 2016

Bali to Dampier


745nm / 5 days 18hrs / avg speed 5.39kn

Leaving Bali on the 25th May we motored out of Serangan Harbour with very little wind to assist us on our way to Dampier. But once clear of the land about 3 hours out a light SE’ly wind puffed in and we were on our way under sail only. By 1530 that day we had put a reef in the main and were averaging a good 5.5kn. By 1600 we had reefed the headsail and our speed picked up to a steady 6.5kn picking up to 7.0kn on occasions. The wind had turned more E’ly but still had a little S in it but we managed to sail on a course of 171deg which would take us straight into Dampier. It had been a long time since we had winds like this and we were surprised at just how different the new sails were pushing the boat along. We both had to dig into the depths of our lockers to find our sailing gloves as handling the sheet ropes was starting to make the hands a little sore. Of course sailing at this speed and direction meant the boat was leaning over so getting around took some getting used to, again after the last few years in Asia where it was 95% flat waters and very little wind. It was a bit  like doing  a 24hr pilates  lesson!

Not that we were complaining. At this rate we would be in Dampier in 5 days!

We had these winds for the first 3 days and averaged 140/150 miles per day, we were very pleased with progress. However, by the end of the 3rd day the the wind starting dropping and we shook our reefs out and not long after that the motor was on. We motorsailed on & off for the next 24 hrs, still able to keep up an average of 5kn.

Day 4 a very light S’ly came in, dead on the nose so we had the choice of sailing slightly off course or continue to motor. By this time the dear old gearbox was back to rattling again so we decided to sail and tack our way south giving the gearbox and our nerves a rest from the constant rattle. That night the wind dropped altogether so the motor was on again and we adjusted course towards Dampier. By Sunday night we had a S’ly again but with the motor on and sails up we were able to stay on course for Dampier and not be too uncomfortable.

We arrived just outside Mermaid Sound, the approach into Dampier Harbour, at around 2100 and we tossed up with hoving to and waiting until morning to enter or continuing on in the dark We had been into Dampier a few times before so we decided to go on and Jerry chose to sail down the gas line as anchoring is prohibited and we figured we would not bump into any other boats or moorings. It was a good decision.

The wind now had picked up and turned westerly and there was a fair swell running so we were constantly trying to slow the boat down and had to decide on where to anchor for the night as our chosen anchorage off Angel Island would have put us on a lee shore. We carried on into Dampier and Jerry suggested we round the bottom of Angel Island and motor into Flying Foam Passage a short way and drop anchor there. Now I was a little nervous of this decision as its not called Flying Foam Passage for no reason. We had sailed this very narrow waterway before (in daylight) and the current rips through at a rate of knots so if the wind is coming the other way there is a lot of chop. We had wind and current with us and it was only a matter of maybe 15 mins before we were in calmer waters. Dropping the anchor was fun as the current was very quick to shoot the boat back on the anchor so I had to be very quick on the anchor winch.

By now it was 0200 on day 5. We were very tired but very happy to have almost arrived so we had time for a celebration beer before falling into bed for some much needed sleep.

I was up bright and early the next day and oh what joy it was to look out the porthole and see Australia, the Plibara landscape, though red is very beautiful. We had 5 mile to motor into Hampton Harbour where customs  and quarantine awaited us.

Apparently when we left Australia 3 years ago we should have exported our boat and now on return we needed to import it back into our OWN country.! How ridiculous is that. But you cannot argue with customs and so we had to do as advised. We needed to engage the services of a customs broker to complete all the paperwork formalities for us, something we thought we should be able to do ourselves after all we were now experts at paperwork after being in Asia. But no, that is not the case as the paperwork is not available unless you have a broker. After quarantine inspected the boat and took what was left of our fresh fruit and vegetables and some rice that had little insects in it we were able to go ashore but the boat could not leave the harbour until paperwork done and customs had finally cleared us. That took a week! The cost for coming back into Australia  - Quarantine $350, Customs Broker $385, Quarantine woodwork clearance certificate required by customs $85 !!! So all you yachties out there that complain about having to pay the odd bribe in Asia (something we never did) stop complaining!

With the help of a friend we are now looking into the regulations for yachts returning home to Australia as there is nothing on the customs website detailing any of this. Apparently it is not legislation just a policy that any yacht that is going to be away for more than 3 months has to exported and then imported on return. That seems ridiculous but what is infuriating is that that we are not able to complete the paperwork ourselves and have to pay someone to do it for us.

Dampier is a great place to stop, apart from the red dust that can blow across the anchorage from the conveyer belt if the wind is in that direction. The harbour is very safe, there is a yacht club ashore that has showers and a washing machine, the kitchen is open 4 days a week and they cook up the biggest meals, one can be shared between two easily.

A community bus runs into Karratha 3 days a week and mostly you can get away with a concession ticket for $420 return otherwise its a bit expensive at $11.50.

Its expensive here but the we are in a NW mining town so its to be expected. But everyone is just so friendly and go out of their way to help you if they can. Nothing is too much trouble.

We have a new gearbox arrived here yesterday, so when the wind abates we shall put it in the dinghy and bring it out to the boat. Is blowing a good 25/30kn E’Ly at the moment. Good weather for heading south.

Its good to be back in home waters. The wind blows everyday, sometimes a bit too much, but we are enjoying the change of climate and snuggling under our duvet at night.

Sorry no pictures this time. There was not a lot to take out there in the Indian Ocean!




Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Serangan Harbour

It was good to get ourselves tied up on a mooring in Serengan Harbour as Jerry wanted to remove the gearbox and take a look at why it is rattling again. I won’t deny that I am (and probably Jerry) are pretty fed up with the way it has been after a rebuild in Senibong but as all yachties know we just have to deal with it and get it fixed as best we can and move on. Firstly though we got off the boat for the night and went to stay with our friends Steve and Cheryl at their villas in Sanur and enjoyed the pool, the king, size bed, the airconditioning and everything else you would expect from 5 star accommodation plus the company of friends from home to chat to. We can highly recommend Taman Kesari Villas to anyone wanting somewhere private but close to shops and beach in Sanur.
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Returning to the boat it was time to tackle the gearbox and I sent an email to family telling them of our day, it went something like this.
And so the fun begins! Jerry removed the back of the gbx & gave it a whirl, no funny sounds & all appeared to be in tact & running smoothly. Next he removed the damper plate, which was fitted new when the gbx was removed at Senibong.
There are signs that it has been "hammering' as the springs are shiny and there is dust on the plate. Further reading in manual states that often when a gbx is rebuilt the damper plate can get damaged when gbx is refitted. Considering our gbx was fitted 4 times Jerry is thinking/hoping that this is what has happened to us. Mr Choos men were not the most "gentle" of fitters. So after a wild goose chase around Denpasar yesterday we have now ordered one from the UK & it has been promptly despatched via DHL & on its way. They say 4 days, who knows how long to clear customs here and also what it will cost us. We need to fit this new one then run motor to see if noise goes to know that this is the problem. One step at a time as they say!
Talking to other yachties who have had engine bits sent they arrive ok but there is no such thing as Yacht in Transit and we have heard that anything from 0% to 80% duty having to be paid. Lucky our part is only worth $100 so if they do charge us it shouldn't break the bank account.
On top of all that is my computer somehow decided to upgrade to Windows10 yesterday??? I must have hit the wrong button but I have been saying no to this upgrade for months now. Then when we wanted to order the part we could not connect to internet  for hours. I think it was a problem with Telkomsel & not Windows 10 but for a while there I was about to throw everything including the gbx (if I could lift it) over the side!
Today is a better far, nice boiled eggs for breakfast & lovely bread from Sanur. :)
During all this time Ruth (Isle Marine Services) has gone missing from office, we were desperately trying to get hold of her to have an address to send part to. But Mandi from Serangan Yacht Services who we are renting mooring from, at half the cost Ruth quoted!, came to the rescue. Ruth however still has our water pump keyway that snapped locked in her office & we would like to get it back to have a new one made as a spare. She finally emailed me last night to say she is in Jakarta at government meeting....again, according to the other yachties.
Yachts are coming & going on the new entry system, some are swapping from old CAIT to new system, even though Ruth says you cannot. I think most are going ok but I am not asking as so far no one has bothered us and I like it  that way!

There is a young American, Justin, here on his own who has his left arm missing & a prosthetic left leg fitted. Justin tried leaving in November but his engine failed when motoring out. That has been rebuiltbut the gearbox was taken out 7 times before they got it right! When he tried leaving again 5 miles out his cap shroud at top of mast broke & his forestay gave way. Luckily he was able to return to Serangang without his mast coming down.
The reason I tell you this is Justin is still smiling and happy and he is a lot more agile than me even with an arm missing & one false leg!
This morning Jerry is swapping our headsail sheet ropes for heavier/thicker ones, says it will make handling the sail easier in the stronger winds! I best do some weightlifting excercises while we wait for parts.

20160516_065712 (800x436)5 days later Jerry is now down below fitting a new damper plate. It was ordered from UK on Monday afternoon and arrived on Friday morning! Of course we had to go to DHL at the airport to pay duty, $50. No point in trying to reason with them and explain “yacht in transit” after all we wanted the part and they had it.
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I have since read that Microsoft were very sneaky and fooled many of its customers into upgrading to Windows 10. Glad to know why my computer did this but it could not have been at a more inconvenient time when I was trying to order gearbox part and the reason I couldn’t connect to the internet was that the upgrade used all of my internet allowance!
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Water pump keyway, another win here. Ruth’s assistant eventually returned to the office and put us in touch with a local machinist who made up 2 new keyways for us in less than 24 hrs at a total cost of $30! Same job in Australia would probably take a week or more plus cost around $150 each. You have to have a win sometimes. Now we have 2 spares…just incase.
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Twilight over Serangan Harbour
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Justin. A few of you came back with the joke about the man hitch hiking and the driver pulls up and says “ Hello, you look pretty armless, why don’t you hop in I’ll give you a lift”  Must admit I found it funny but now have trouble looking at Justin without repeating the joke to myself. Things have not progressed too well for Justin. He got his mast problems all fixed, with the help of another kind yachtie who went to the top of the mast for him to do the refit of cap shroud etc. However, yesterday we heard that when he started his motor his gearbox failed again. Apparently he has given up and ordered a new one from America for the cost of $1.00 plus freight. I did not realise that the old gearbox was still under warranty. Now he has to work out how to get around paying duty which on a big item like that will be $1000 +. We had a beer yesterday and Justin is still smiling. As a friend said there is a lesson to be learnt for all of us from this guy.
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We are enjoying Serangan very much as we did when we stopped here in 2013. Nothing much has changed which is really good as it is very special just the way it is. Simple, uncomplicated and no tourists. The rubbish problem has improved and they obviously have that under some control, but I fear it is all just being dumped out of sight on the other side of the island. They are busy repairing the road surface so it is a little haphazard walking around the village especially at night as there are many potholes to miss.
The locals are kind, honest and friendly. Their main income is from the charter boats and yachts that moor here so they look after us well and there is no problem re security of our boat and dinghy. They go out of their way to help us and always want to chat about where we have been and where we are going.
Pojok Corner is still here and still the place to meet for a beer and have a meal. Not much on the menu still but its good basic food, the beer is sort of cold, the view is nice and the people are friendly.
20160520_173328 (800x450)As I normally do I took our laundry ashore for washing  but afraid it came back a little worse than it went ashore! I have had it hanging in the fresh air for 2 days now to finish drying and to air as it had obviously been sprayed with some very cheap perfume that was so pungent it made me  sneeze like crazy. Also I had to rewash the sheets as they looked like they had been dragging on the floor to dry.
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An old friend of Jerry’s, John Carter, is here on holiday and we caught up with him for lunch at Sanur. John then came back to Serangan to see the boat and it was inevitable that we would end up at Pojok Corner for a few beers.
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Today we cleared customs and immigration and tomorrow we leave for Dampier, Australia. Also for the first time since being here the clouds cleared enough for us to see Mt Agung as she towered above Tigress Too. Hopefully that is a good omen for our next journey.
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Indonesia–Batam Is to Bali

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We left Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island on 16th April and arrived at Lovina Beach, Bali on 7th May, where I am writing this post. We expected that we would likely have headwinds or no wind at all and we were not far wrong in our prediction. It was a very tiring trip. The heat & humidity was quite unbearable at times and we could not get any relief from this apart from travelling at night when the air is cooler and often their is a little breeze that we could take advantage of and turn the motor off and sail for a while. However, sailing at night has it’s disadvantages in this part of the world as there are always many fishing boats of all kinds out for the nights catch. Trawlers, long liners, squid boats, not to mention the fish stakes and FADS, oil and gas rigs and logs! Also as we found out that the many tugs we saw towing a barge did not have AIS fitted or a light so tiny on what they are towing it is almost impossible to see until quite close up, which can give you a bit of a fright!

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We travelled a total of 1021nm. Actually on the move for 221hrs of which 156hrs we had the motor running and only 64hrs of sailing without it. Not very pleasant! However, I did catch a couple of mackerel, one kept us and another yacht fed for a few days and do some essential washing with the rainwater we caught.

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Our trip took us through the Riau and Lingga group of islands and then down the Bangka Straits We anchored at the towns of Mentok and Toboali on Bangka Is. Hoping to go ashore at Mentok as we had been told it was a nice town with quite a bit of history, but we arrived at spring tides and it was too low during the day for us to get ashore. We did try but when we got out of the dinghy to drag it up the beach our feet just sank in thick gluggy mud. Soggy Moggy who were also there with us managed to stop a local as he passed in his boat and arranged for diesel to be delivered out to both of us.  Toboali was a very nice small town where we were able to get a new starter battery and  stock up on fresh fruit & veg at the markets.

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From the bottom of Bangka we were hoping to get to Karimanjawa Island but the wind was a very strong easterly that day and we decided it was easier to head towards the coast of Java and work our way along the top of Java in hopefully calmer water with the possibility of some offshore breeze. We had been getting a lot of rain squalls, thunder and lightening since leaving Nongsa but we noticed as we left the bottom of Bangka  the squalls were not so frequent and any rain we did get was just rain with no wind attached to it. The rain was very pleasant as it cooled the boat down and filled the water tanks.20160501_070736 (800x445)20160501_070721 (800x450)

The problem of course with being near the coast is the fishing boat activity at night and the fishing floats that you can dodge during the day but can’t see at night. It all makes for interesting night watches and there’s no chance of dozing off while on watch.20160418_110043 (800x450)

20160425_155116 (800x450) (2)20160425_155309 (800x443)20160505_061212 (800x431)Near to the end of Java we had the choice of travelling along the north coast of Madura or taking the shorter way through the Madura straits between Java and Madura. We chose the latter and it was a very interesting journey. At one stage we had 126 ships within a 6 mile radius of us, fortunately most were anchored. It was like we were travelling through a ships graveyard. Sad to see were the huge barges of logs waiting to be loaded onto ships. I guess these were all rainforest trees, so sad to see the evidence of the logging that is happening up here.

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At the end of the straits is a bridge connecting Java to Madura, its quite impressive and we decided to anchor close by for the night, rest up and see it in all its lighted glory that evening, we had read it was quite spectacular. However that was not to be as not long after we dropped anchor along came the Navy and said we were in a restricted area and had to move on. But first they needed to see all our paperwork and while that took sometime they were happy with what we showed them and we moved on. It was now 4pm and we had the tide with us so took advantage of that as at one stage we were travelling at 8kn.

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It was a very busy night as far as negotiating fishing boats and at one time I noticed we passed a squarish shape at a fairly safe distance. In the morning we discovered what this shape was and realised that we must have passed quite a number of them plus bumped a few too as Jerry did here a few thuds on the side of the hull! They seem to be for the fisherman to tie up to and fish,fortunately only during the day, we think!

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Our final run as we rounded the very bottom of Java and headed towards Bali we got a bit of a breeze and had a nice sail for an hour or so. We were also greeted by dolphins who came and went and played on our bow.

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Heading into our anchorage at Lovina late afternoon our water pump drive snapped and caused the engine to overheat. Luckily we noticed the change in engine noise before any real damage was done and even luckier is the fact we had a spare onboard. At first we thought we had sucked up a plastic bag and Jerry jumped over board to take a look, quickly surfacing again to remind me to drop the sails! Luckily there was very little breeze and we had stopped when we turned off the motor!

He spent an hour swapping pumps, imagine hot engine that has been running for best part of 24 hrs. It was a sweaty job and a few fingertips got a little burnt in the process.

By this time it was getting dark and I thought we would have to spend the night outside the anchorage but when I checked with the binoculars I saw a little local boat heading our way and just knew it was Abdul from Lovina. We met Abdul in 2013 and he is like the guardian of the anchorage here guiding people in through the reef and then getting diesel, water and anything else you may require. He stood by the boat while Jerry finished fitting the pump and then in the dark and a rain squall (just to add to the adventure) he guided us into a safe anchorage. Things were a little tense onboard by this time so we had a couple of beers a shower and bed for some much needed sleep.

A few days here relaxing and enjoying Lovina, topping up diesel and water and we are now on a mooring in Serangan harbour at the bottom of Bali near to Sanur and Benoa harbour. It’s good to be here.

31 days since leaving Malaysia and 1148nm.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Across the Straits and into Indonesia



Thank goodness we have had an air conditioner on the boat while we were based at Senibong. Not only has it kept the boat mould free in the months we have left her here and enjoyed travelled by other means but the heat and humidity has been quite unbearable and to be able to seek refuge down below in the coolness of the cabin has helped us keep our sanity these last few weeks while we waited for our gearbox to be repaired. I wont go into too much detail but just say it was taken out of the boat and returned to Kuala Lumpur 4 times before it was right. It really tested our patience. But many thanks to our mechanic Mr Choo from Supreme Power Engineering for not giving up and sticking with us on this one. He was recommended to us for his good work and we in turn have no problem passing him on to anyone who needs engine work done up here.20160217_133519 (800x450)

 Once Jerry was happy with the gearbox we were able to slip the boat at Dalac Marine for antifouling and general underwater check. For some reason Dalac has decided that yachties can no longer work on their own boat, for whatever reason they chose to do this remains a mystery. However, after many emails and phone calls we were allowed the privilege of working on our own boat for the daily cost per person of $50! We decided that $50 a day was manageable but no way were we paying for 2 of us at $100 per day. So we drew straws and unlucky for Jerry he drew the short one and for the first time in 30 years of owning a boat I got to sit back and relax in the airconditioned cabin while Jerry slaved below in the intense heat reflecting off the concrete and the horrible humidity.

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I did of course make sure he was well hydrated and fed during the day and also treated him to an ice cream late afternoon as a reward for all his hard work. I also did some secret work, unbeknown to the staff, some paint repairs on the  deck and varnishing down below in the cabin. We remained living  onboard for the 9 days while all this was going on, not very pleasant making the dash to the loo in the morning and not very pleasant having a mandi (shower) in the cockpit as the showers were so disgusting. But we soldiered on and were very quickly back in the water all cleaned up and ready for our next sail through Indonesia and back to Australia. That was a good enough incentive to make our stay on the hardstand as short as possible.

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Back to Senibong for a few days to stock up on final fresh food, gas, diesel, make some new flags and sadly to sell our beloved airconditioner!

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20160410_093038 gas filling (450x800)We said our goodbyes to Balan the manger and his friendly, helpful staff and motored off down the river to T.Pengelih where we checked out of Malaysia.

It was time to go as the smog from, fires, burning off? had already started and first thing in the mornings the air was quite horrible to breath.

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Our first day out was not taking us very far, just 11nm across the Singapore Straits and into Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island, Indonesia. We had a gentle breeze blowing so we were able to shake the cobwebs out of the sails and enjoyed a very gentle non stressful crossing of the Straits.

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Indonesia has just introduced a new system for cruising boats which is supposed to make it a lot easier for yachts to sail up here. We no longer need a CAIT permit and do not need to check in with every harbourmaster we happen to cross. So we shall see how this new system works We do however have a CAIT as we applied for ours before the new system was implemented, hopefully we will not have to show it but if we do it means that the new system is not working and could mean it will save us a lot of hassles and backhanders. So far our check in has gone smoothly but then that could be because the staff here at Nongsa take care of it for you for a fee of $50 and encourage you to sit by the pool and relax while formalities take place. Since this will be our last marina now until Australia we do not mind enjoying what it has to offer.

Its very hot without the airconditioner! We are beginning to think that life onboard without it is hell, but I guess we will get used to it. Marinas are generally very hot as they are surrounded by buildings so it should be cooler when we are out of here and anchoring everyday.

Tomorrow we take a car with driver into town where we will get simcards for phone and internet so we can check weather and stay in touch through the islands.

Hopefully we meet more interesting folk like young Scott on his small yacht who has singlehanded from USA across the Pacific and leaves tomorrow for Malaysia. His small petrol inboard engine will only run for 3 hrs in the heat up here so he decided to buy a traditional longtail to help him along in the breezeless air. It is so very noisy and thirsty, 4L of petrol an hour! But he’s out there living the dream and enjoying it too!

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Its good to be out on the sea and moving again and even better we are headed to Australia.

P.S. Something I have been doing in my spare time…for Oliver, of course!

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