On Tuesday morning we departed Kentar and motored about 30 miles northwest to the island of Mesanak. Three other cruising boats (2 American and 1 Australian) had arrived in Kentar a couple of days previously, and all 3 of them followed us up to the northwestern anchorage at Mesanak. At one point we had to turn almost completely backward to avoid a long line of floats. We could not tell if these floats marked fish traps or a fish net, so to be on the save side we detoured around them. Later we heard one of the other boats say on the radio that these markers were for fish traps and that we could have gone between the floats. Better safe than sorry. Prudent move was to avoid that long line of floats and I don't regret wasting a half-hour making that detour.
Before dawn on Wednesday morning we weighed anchor and headed northwest between the islands of Batam and Bintan. The other 3 boats were still asleep; guess they were planning to hang around another day or 2. We were ready to put this trip behind us as quickly as possible. Only 55 miles to go and we could sleep in air-conditioned comfort at a marina! We left at beginning of ascending tide in Singapore and had a 1 1/2 to 2 knot favorable current the whole way until we reached the top of Batam and turned left. Then it was 2 knots against us for the final 2 hours. Several miles north of Mesanak we noticed 3 masts sticking up from the sea surface. This was in 14 meters water depth. Obviously this was a shipwreck. Must have been relatively recent because it was not indicated on our charts dated 2005. Glad the sun was well up from the horizon before we encountered this little surprise. We noted the location so we could email friends who will be coming this way next week and warn them of this hazard.
As we progressed northward between the islands the number of small fishing boats decreased and the large shipping traffic increased. By the time we reached the northern 1/3 of Batam we were in a large mooring field for large ships. There were more than a dozen cargo ships either moored or anchored, several of which were being loaded from barges with cranes. Apparently there is not a deep-water port in this shallow part of Indonesia and the cargo ships must be loaded and unloaded while at anchor. This area is very close to the separated shipping traffic scheme for the Singapore Strait. We were picking up at least 40 AIS targets in this area. Busy place! And the VHF radio traffic was awful. Channel 16 never stopped. Gets on your nerves after a while but you have to listen just in case one of them hails your boat. Was very nice to hear a US Navy ship at one point. Rarely have we heard American voices on the VHF radio in months and months.
The marina had requested via email that we hail them on VHF channel 72 when we were 10 minutes from the marina entrance. Well, with all the excessive radio chatter it was impossible to break in on channel 72 to hail the marina. We started trying to hail them when we were 30 minutes away. Bill pulled out the cell phone and tried calling them, but the phone number connected with the wrong marina office. The reception office couldn't help us. When we were close to the marina entrance we finally made VHF contact and the marina manager sent a small launch out to guide us in. There are some submerged rocks near the entrance and several shoal areas to avoid, so the launch guide is a nice service. We were docked in our slip before 2 p.m. at latitude 01.11.82N, longitude 104.05.82E. Plan at this moment is to stay here for one week and then get over to Singapore if the marina there has a slip available for us as reserved.
Nongsa Point Marina is very nice. It is new; the old marina was damaged in a storm just a couple of years ago. The new floating concrete docks are very nice. The slips are very long (far longer than necessary for our 16 meter boat) and these are the widest slips we have ever seen. Very, very spacious. Everything is super clean and well-staffed. They fog for mosquitoes each evening. This is a resort hotel so there is a nice restaurant, bar and swimming pool. And there is almost no one here. It is a very quiet place. When the weather is very clear we can see the skyline of the big city of Singapore in the distance across the shipping lanes.
For our first night here we treated ourselves to a nice dinner in the resort restaurant. Bill had nasi goreng (rice dish) and I had mee goreng (noodle dish). Both were good. I tasted the accompanying little bowl of sweet brown sauce filled with sliced peppers and decided it wasn't too spicy so I dumped the entire bowl of sauce on top of the mee goreng. After all, I do normally like spicy food. It tasted delicious until I picked up a whole mouthful of the tiny sliced peppers hiding beneath the noodles and set my mouth on fire! That set off a coughing fit. Then I separated out the rest of the tiny sliced peppers and was more careful about what was on each forkful. All this time Bill was enjoying his nasi goreng. He does love rice. There were several components arranged attractively on this plate of nasi goreng -- shrimp, chicken satay, fried chicken piece and sliced fresh vegetables. Bill thought he was eating a couple of small green beans and darn near caused a heart attack. They were raw little peppers, just like the tiny sliced peppers in my sweet brown sauce. His eyes, neck and face turned beet red and he couldn't speak. Literally took his breath away. Drinking water doesn't do a thing for hot peppers. Luckily, he still had a half glass of beer because beer did cut the heat of the peppers. As soon as he could get the waitress' attention he motioned for another beer. Then I convinced him to eat a large bowl of chocolate ice cream. Milk or cream coats the stomach and digestive tract to help alleviate problems that the peppers might cause. We were afraid that peppers this hot might cause a reaction from his Crohn's disease. He normally avoids spicy food these days. Guess the beer and the ice cream worked because he was pain free all night. We both will be more careful in the future about peppers while here in SE Asia. They do like their food spicy.
The resort/marina has a car that we can hire like a taxi. For 210,000 rupiah (about $22 USD) round-trip they will drive us to the town of Nongsa and wait 2 hours for us to shop or eat lunch or dinner or whatever. Whole trip takes about 3 hours. We planned to explore the town today but it is raining so we are sitting in our nice air-conditioned boat and playing with the free WiFi instead. Life is good.