Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Final comments on Indonesia

Hard to believe we will have been in Nonga Point Marina for an entire week tomorrow. Several boats that had participated in the Sail Indonesia Rally arrived several days after us. We knew none of these folks so it has been a week of getting to know new people while enjoying the amenities of this nice marina. Linda and Michael on S/V B'Sheret arrived on Sunday and it was nice catching up with them and hearing about their river tour on Borneo (Kalimantan) to see the wild orangutans.

Saturday night the marina had a special barbeque set up around their beautiful swimming pool. That was an enjoyable evening hearing lots of stories from the rally folks about their adventures in various parts of Indonesia over the past 3 months. Most of these folks are now heading straight to the Sail Malaysia Rally and will skip Singapore altogether. Singapore has a reputation for being expensive for marinas and clearance fees so they are going straight to Malaysia for the rally that starts on November 1st. These rallies can be fun with parties and celebrations and do promote a sense of comradarie among the participants, as well as often providing substantial discounts at marinas along the scheduled route. So it is easy to understand the attraction of participating in a rally. Unfortunately, the Sail Indonesia dates were impossible for our schedule for the past 4 months; and the Sail Malaysia dates are also impossible for our intended schedule for the next 2 months. We have yet again changed our plans and won't be going to Langkawi before we fly home for Christmas.

We have decided to stay put in the Malaysia-Singapore area for at least 6 months and do land travel from there. There are far better and far less expensive flights out of both Singapore and from Kuala Lumpur for SE Asia travel than the flights from Langkawi. Plus, and this is a big plus, we found a marina that is offering huge discounts for long-term berthing. The new Puteri Harbour Marina is in Malaysia. More about that in a future posting after we get over there and check it out. If it meets with our approval then S/V BeBe will be staying there for at least 6 months while we fly home and then do some land travel in Asia.

Since leaving Opua, New Zealand on May 5 we have sailed a total of 6406.1 nautical miles (that is 7,046.7 statute miles for you landlubbers). I have decided we need a break from sailing or motoring and Bill is in full agreement.

Our final notes on Indonesia:
1. The Indonesian people are friendly and greet you with smiles, except for a few places where they are sullen and obviously don't want the intrusion of visitors. We avoided the dangerous zones of Sumatra and Java altogether.
2. The poverty is depressing in some places, although the people in the poorest areas were some of the nicest people encountered.
3. Bali is lovely and the Balinese people are the nicest of all the Indonesian islands.
4. According to our sailing guide, the archaepalago of Indonesia consists of 13,677 islands -- they must be counting every single rock that sticks above the sea surface because it doesn't seem like there are that many islands on our charts.
5. I think we have seen every type of boat imaginable.
6. The jellyfish in this area are downright scary. The main body usually is about 3 feet in diameter, with tentacles 12-15 feet long. The bodies look like flowers--all pink, orange and yellow. And they float a foot or so below the surface of the water. Definitely get your attention and we definitely don't want to tangle with one.
7. As with other places we have visited, the rumors are worse than the reality. These people are generally friendly and Indonesia is no more dangerous, and possibly less dangerous, than the Caribbean islands.
8. Sailing in this part of the world during this time of the year is difficult because of the strong currents and light winds. That rally should be renamed to Motor Indonesia rather than Sail Indonesia.
9. Indonesia has been over-fished. So badly over-fished that I don't know that these waters could ever repopulate even if all fishing ceased today. In some areas they are even using explosives to fish and are taking fish that aren't even 6 inches long. It is so sad. Guess it was inevitable when a traditional fishing culture grew to a population of over 270 million people.
10. Flies are terrible. Every place we stopped had lots of flies, even way out in the anchorages. The flies at Nongsa Point Marina nearly drove us crazy. The marina sprayed pesticides nightly but the flies still swarmed out around our boat which was in the last outward slip from land.

The marina office is supposed to handle our clearance out of Indonesia early tomorrow morning and we should be out of here by 10 a.m. Then we are off to motor the short distance over to Singapore.

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