Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Relaxing in Nongsa

We do like Nongsa Point Marina. The pool is nice, the staff are sweet and the internet is fast. I'm sitting in an open air lobby with a gentle breeze keeping me cool as I look across the Singapore Strait at the endless stream of shipping. 
Another boring tropical sunset
This a rough life. Last night Kiwi friends with a lovely sixty foot power yacht invited us over for a barbee and a little libation. They are a most interesting couple and have adventured around the world. There aren't a lot of guys who can tell stories of ten years buying coffee in the highlands of New Guinea. 
Dinner with Alistair and Melody
Scott is getting a little education in international bureaucracy today. He got up before 0500 to catch the ferry to Singapore. The purpose being to go to the Myanmar Embassy to apply for tourist visa. I was not on the boat when he called and told Janet the embassy would make him wait a week before he could be issued a visa because he was a tourist in Singapore, not working. 
It's a John Deere main, his genset is the same Yanmar as our engine.
He thought he needed to give them his passport for a week and since he needed it to get back to Indonesia he declined the honor. Now he's heading back where he will learn from us that he doesn't need to give them his passport for a week, they won't need it until the visa is approved. So tomorrow I think he'll end up going through the process all over again. This builds character in a young man. Whereas it just makes an old man mad as hell. My patience with bureaucracy hasn't gotten one little bit better over the years. 
Lighten up, Bill.
So the boat is in good shape. We plan to hang here until we head for Myanmar, hopefully about the 1st of August and we'll be up there for a week or so. And that's flying up there from Singapore, we'll leave the boat here at Nongsa. The Myanmarese make cruising their waters difficult and expensive. You have to buy a cruising permit that costs several thousand dollars and then you have to have one of their government guides on board at all times and provide for him. Not worth it.

So life here is good but I envy our friends who have the Indian Ocean passage behind them or are en-route now. We're considering our options  but the Indian Ocean isn't happening for us this year. 

Love to all,
Bill, Janet and Scott

Saturday, August 18, 2012

North to Nongsa

Much as I have always hated retracting a route it seems we're getting a lot of it in South East Asia. At least this run from Belitung back up to Nongsa is a nice sail. We departed yesterday about 0830 and should have a 170nm day behind us even with a few hours of 3-5 knt light air sailing. Most of it has been wing on wing moving very nicely, 8.75 knt the highest I have seen on the trusty speedo.

Scott comes on deck
So we're sailing dead down with the Hydrovane steering fairly well and a 2-4' "swell" behind us in about 15 knts of wind. The boat has always moved very well in these conditions, right now we're doing 7.5 knots, but that means the Kiss wind generator doesn't have enough relative wind to be effective so I'll have to generate some amps this morning.
A little basic navigation
We may just head right on through to Nongsa, we may stop somewhere for a night. Right now we're approaching the equator one more time and conditions are very comfortable, why stop?
Whadda we do with this stuff?
Oh yeah, the lower end drive unit of our dinghy outboard seems to have shelled out. Hopefully we can get that fixed around Nongsa but at least we won't have to deal with it in Cocos-Keeling.

Love to all,
Bill, Janet and Scott

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Belitung and a Change in Plans

The bash to Belitung finally ended, as all bashes do, and we anchored at the initial Indonesia Cruising Rally anchorage we used two years ago. The hook was down at about 0100 on the 14th. We were very, very tired puppies. Since then, after getting some decent sleep, we've had a great time. Part of  that was due to socializing with Tom and Suzie from S/V Priscilla and a lot of it was due to Harun Cahyadi, an Indonesian businessman here in Belitung who is a great guy.
Harun Cahyadi flanked by Tom and Suzie of Priscilla
We had been put in touch with Mr. Cahyadi by other cruising friends who had met him and made use of his services as a customs agent in Belitung.  The morning after arrival we moved over to anchor near Priscilla off Harun's beach about a mile east of the rally anchorage and got caught up with Tom and Suzie.

Morning market scenes from Belitung
We all then went ashore to meet Harun and get started with the port documents. To consider Harun as just a customs/port agent would be a big mistake. He and his family are Chinese business people who have been here  three generations and own a sand and gravel mining business, hardware stores, machine shops, barges, tug boats, an oxygen supply business and a lot of land with some of the most beautiful  beaches you will find anywhere. They're interested in developing the tourist industry in Belitung and yacht services are included in that interest. This man speaks excellent English (as well as Bahasa Indonesian, German and three Chinese dialects), was educated in Germany and beyond all that is just a very nice and friendly guy who wants to be of help and wants to learn what yachties desire in the way of services. He also proved to be a very efficient agent.

Beaches at Belitung
So Tom, Suzie and us spent most of our time ashore with Harun and his family. We went to markets and restaurants and bakeries (oh yes, they own the main bakery in town) and we hung around their beautiful pool with the family. Today we went out to the big lighthouse offshore of the NW corner of the island by boat with his friends and family and climbed the 230 foot steel light house built in 1882 and still in use. We've had a great time with them and it has been one of the cultural highlights of this entire voyage. Any yacht traveling to Belitung, one of our favorite places, should  deal with Harun Cahyadi for any services they might require.

So we've been in Belitung four nights and tomorrow morning we head back north to Nongsa Point Marina. The SE trades have been blowing unabated and we anticipate a nice sail up as opposed to the nasty motor trip down. The big change is that we are not going to do the Indian Ocean passage, not this year at least. Janet is very unhappy about the idea and I don't want to her to do a trip she's so dreading. We've adopted plan "B", again.
Lighthouse view
Since we didn't do the Myanmar trip we'd planned earlier in the voyage due to visa hang ups we're going to do it later this month after we get settled back in at Nongsa Point. We now have our visas and we'll see that Scott gets one and, probably about the 30th, we'll fly from Singapore up to Rangoon (now Yangoon) in Burma (now Myanmar) and spend about a week traveling around. Yachtie friends who's judgment we trust have raved about their trips to Burma so we can't resist one more chance to go.
A little of Harun's hospitality
After that the questions are open. Yes, we go home, but where do we decide to leave the boat? When do we intend to come back? Where will we go next, etc, etc??? I have no answers to those questions yet but I will say we've always enjoyed Rebak in Langkawi, Malaysia and it would not be hard to go back.
We all loved the lime marinated calimari

Thanks for following the blog. We'll upload photos from all these events from Nongsa Point when we get there.

Love to all,
Bill, Janet  and Scott
S/V Airstream

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Bash Continues

The day started out with light conditions but winds and seas still on the nose. The day went fairly well until about 1500 when things really started to get choppy. We ducked behind the last few islands before our planned destination and came in the back door to our anchorage at Kentar Island.
Eyeball navigation in these waters.
This is well protected and we're looking forward to a quiet night before continuing on directly to Belitung starting tomorrow morning. It will be 230 nm miles almost certainly motoring directly to weather. We just hope for the best conditions and we'll get there eventually. It's my hope this may be the last windward bash until coming back up the west coast of North America. We'll see!

Many fish traps off Kentar
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Bashing South to Belitung

We left Nongsa Point at 0700 and had a motor directly down the channel between Batam and Bintin about fifty miles to a very nice anchorage in the channel between the islands of Kepik and Mantang. Nice Muslim village on Mantang and we went ashore and explored. Everyone was very friendly and Janet, as usual, was a star with the kids and the girls.
5'10" blond ladies are pretty exotic here.
At anchor in the Kepik Channel
The village Mosque   

Main Street
Wooden boat building is NOT a lost art in Indonesia

Ceramic tile siding, steel roof
It's a nice cool evening (by our standards) now and there's enough breeze to be very comfortable.
Departing for a nights fishing
Tomorrow we plan on another motor job to Kentar Island which is supposed to be a lovely anchorage and then it'll be a two day trip on to Belitung. Hopefully we'll be able to sail most of that in relatively open waters.

Please stay tuned.

Bill, Janet and Scott

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Escape From Singapore

Across the Singapore Strait. More traffic in 13nm than I expect to see in the next 13000.
We're at Nongsa Point Marina, Batam, Indonesia, just across the Singapore Strait from Singapore. Nongsa is luxurious. It's  quiet and laid back and a nice resort is associated with the marina. All the amenities are here including a lovely pool and good restaurant where prices are a lot more reasonable than a few miles across the strait. It's a good start on the decompression from Singapore.
Nongsa Point Marina, Batam, Indonesia
And ok, ok, Singapore isn't that bad. Of course it's one of the most modern and well organized cities in the world. And one of the most closely governed. Lets just call it a dictatorship, well concealed. Some people love it and I used to think of it as a favorite layover. However, it's gotten to be a lot more expensive and congested and it often seems like one giant construction zone. 
Lunch in Little India

 We had left Keppel Marina for One15 Marina and we were berthed at One15 until coming  here. One15 is where we wanted to be in SIN all along but couldn't get a berth. It is a beautiful marina with the very best of facilities, probably the best marina in the orient. We stayed there a couple years ago and enjoyed the stay. Now they have a large and very excellent grocery at the marina (Cold Storage) that has about any western goodie you could want. Yes Tigs, they have Oreos! And, with all that, it's cheaper than Raffles or Keppel. That's why berths are hard to come by.
The pool, One15 Marina, Singapore
Our nephew, Scott DeVries, arrived from Denver on the 2nd after good flights in World Business Class (first class) on Delta. Us old retired pukes do still have some perks available. He's twenty four and just graduated from college and his recovery time for the trip and time zones seemed to be instant. Ah, youth!  He's never been to the orient and never sailed beyond an afternoon in small craft. We spent a couple days showing him around Singapore and now he's, quite literally, learning the ropes on this boat.
Across the Straits
We took a little trip by hotel van into the city of Nagoya (yep, Nagoya, Indonesia, not Japan) yesterday and got a sim card for the computer and a cheap cell phone for use in country. Also found, after a long search of an area consisting mostly of massage parlors and machine shops, a place where they can actually replace a damaged zipper on our dodger canvas. This is one of those unexpected small miracles which can make your day out here. Nagoya is crowded, chaotic, congested and rather a mess. It's a typical large Indonesian city but I am reminded that I like the Indonesian people very much. Even in a place like Nagoya, given half a chance, they are very sweet.
Ready to go aloft
So we'll be here until early morning on the 9th when we plan to shove off for Belitung. Should be about a four or five day trip back to the place we liked very much coming this way. We'll check out of Indonesia there. Please check our positions on either Shiptrak  http://www.shiptrak.org/  or Pangolin   http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps_reporting_boat_list   using ki6ike as our call sign.

Love to all,
Bill, Janet and Scott