16 October 2007

Belitung Island

Anchored at Belitung Island
Java Sea

Sandpiper is anchored amongst the rally fleet once again!

We left Kumai, Borneo at 5am (sunrise). After transiting the Kumai River, we motor sailed 280 miles to where we are now, anchored off Belitung Island. This was a 2 day and night trip and we had to be time our arrival at Belitung to be 50 miles offshore at sunrise. This was because we had to thread our way through the reefs and islands on the north side of Belitung.

On the first night out there were many fishing boats all along our port side, about 1 every mile , for the whole evenings transit. These boats are squid fisherman. Their boats had very bright halogen lights hanging right over the water to attract the squid. These lights made them visible from a long distance away. They were all fishing at the same depth, and lucky for us, they were in deeper waters than us. This kept them off on the horizon all night as we passed hundreds of them. On Amy's day watch she saw a large wooden fishing vessel that looked like it had caught fire and been abandoned.

On the second night out we passed very close to fishermen with their nets out. Fortunately the float on the end of their nets showed up on our radar. So we were able to make a hard turn to port and avoid running over their net. Our friends on S/V Uterus ran one of these nets over a few days ago as the nets are not marked at night. They ended up sailing right over the net without it snagging their keel or rudder. However, it did bend their depth finder transducer. So it reads twice the depth now.

Out trip timed perfectly and we arrived at sunrise exactly 50 miles off shore. We were able to transit through the north side of Belitung with little drama, passing a few fishing boats along the way. We had to motor the whole way here since there was no wind at all, not even enough for a light breeze to cool the cockpit!

It is quite hot and humid since we are only 200 miles from the equator. There are lots of intense lightning storms, mostly at night. Sandpiper is not a big fan of lightning because one hit will most likely wipe our everything electrical on our boat. We have a lightning grounding rod on the top of the mast that has a grounding cable which we drop into the water when we are near storms. We hope that this protects us.

Our friends on SV Uterus were anchored at an island north of here next to a large Australian catamaran. The catamaran had lightning hit their mast and it destroyed all of the boat's electronics.

Speaking of SV Uterus! As we rounded Belitung, guess who should show up right behind us. We had not seen them since they left Bali and we had though that they were way ahead of us. As soon as we all got our anchors set we dinghied ashore for some cold Bintangs.

Belitung is a large island and we are anchored on the NW side in a small bay. There are a few islands in this bay with white sand beaches and palm trees. Ashore is more white sand beaches. This is the first time that Belitung has been a rally stop . It is quite a show for the locals here since I doubt that sailboats ever stop here, not to mention 40 boats all at once. As soon as we got ashore there was a group of about 100 Indonesians just standing on the beach taking pictures of us and watching everything that we did. Once again we are like rock stars with paparazzi following everywhere we go taking pictures of us.

We found a small outdoor beach restaurant that cooked us up a huge feast of fried squid and fish. Our table had 8 Large icy cold Bintangs, 4 big delicious plates of fried squid, 2 plates of whole grilled fish, a monster bowl of rice, and 2 bowls of sea spinach for $5 dollars each!!

Belitung is the final stop of Sail Indonesia 2007. We will be here for at least 5 days as are events scheduled ashore for the fleet. This is also where we check out of Indonesia. We are 320 miles from Singapore, our next destination.

We are going to be in Sebana Cove Marina for 3 weeks. It is in Malaysia and that will be the next country that we are checking into. The marina has WiFi, a swimming pool, a go cart track, roller blading track, and archery range. Sabana Cove Marina is right across the channel from the island of Singapore and should be a short bus ride across a long bridge that connects Singapore with Malaysia. Marinas in Singapore are quite expensive and the rate for a slip at Sabana Cove is only $8.00 a day... so Malaysia it is for us.

We will be there from the 27th of October till the 17th of November. If anybody wants to send us anything in the mail, our address in Malaysia is:

Tom & Amy Larson
S/V Sandpiper
PO Box 102
Bandar Penawar PO
Kota Tinggi, Johor Darul Takzim
Tom and Amy

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