Saturday 31 August 2019

August 2019 Newsletter

News from the Crew of Matilda
August  2019
Indonesian warship 361, escorting us as we exit their live firing grounds - thanks guys!!
Ships log 
  • August 1: 35.9nm’s to Java, Tg. Pakis. Anchored at 06 52.27S, 112 29.69E in 5mtrs.
  • August 2 to 4: 199nm’s to Java/Madura Selat Surabaya. Anchored at 06 56.47S, 112 43.19E in 8.3mtrs.
  • August 5: 52.8nm’s to Java, Tg.Warangan. Anchored at 07 38.21S, 113 00.70E in 4.3mtrs.
  • August 6: 56.6nm’s to Java, Tg. Paras. Anchored at 07 40.18S, 113 57.26E in 5.8mtrs.
  • August 7: 35.9nm’s to Java, Tg. Sumberbatak. Anchored at 07 46.93S, 114 25.50E in 7.5mtrs.
  • August 8: 42.6nm’s to Bali, Lovina. Anchored at 08 09.65S, 115 01.24E in 6.4mtrs.
  • August 12: 47nm’s to Bali, Amed. Anchored at 08 20.02S, 115 39.13E in 7.3mtrs.
  • August 13: 33.3 to Lombok, Marina del Ray. Anchored at 08 45.70S, 115 55.77E in 18.6mtrs
  • August 17: 32.1nm’s to Lombok, Medana Bary Marina. Anchored at 08 21.64S, 116 07.71E in 22.1mtrs.
  • August 19: 37.48nm’s to Lombok, Gili Lawang. Anchored at 08 17.95S, 116 39.99E in 8mtrs.
  • August 20: 46.3 nm’s to Sumbawa, Badas Harbour. Anchored at 08 27.93S, 117 22.16E in 14mtrs.
  • August 22: 34.3 nm’s to Sumbawa, Kananga. Anchored at 08 08.51S, 117 45.97E in 14mtrs (drifted back to 35/40 mtrs)
  • August 23: 43.8nm’s to Sumbawa, Kilo. Anchored at 08 19.85S, 118 23.12E in 6.9mtrs.
  • August 24: 38.8nm’s to Sumbawa, Wera Bay. Anchored at 08 17.56S, 118 55.85E in 8.7mtrs.
  • August 25: 33.2nm’s to Komodo Island, Loh Serau. Anchored at 08 27.05S, 119 26.98E in 5.7mtrs.
  • August 28: 35.8nm’s to Flores, Labuan Bajo. Anchored at 08 30.33S, 119 52.49E.

Jeremy on the bow of his beautiful Moonshadow, pointing his finger towards the west as we leave Java, bound for Madura.
Crew log:
The month of August started as another rough trip. August 1st saw us leave Perang, Java with the most incredible fleet of local fishing boats. The area is clearly marked as out of bounds for trawling (due to unexploded ordinances). The locals get away with trawling by towing short lines with large floats on them so the line doesn't sink. Which lucky for us made it a bit easier to move through the most incredible pack of fishermen all trawling. The noise was incredible as they merged on the same area together.

The sun rising over the local fishing fleet.
Their boats are really colourful and quite decorative. To the right of his boat in the haze is the local power station, left of him are his mates buzzing along.
Our first night was spent on Java's most western tip, anchored amongst another incredible amount of fishing sticks and squid houses. On the 2nd we hauled anchor bound for a few nights out along Madura's coast line with the hope of making the island of Raas. It was tough going to say the least. We had wind and were sailing, but the current was strongly against us. 

And we are concerned about our main sail.........
We passed a small fleet of enormous fishing boats, clearly using very large nets as it takes all the crew to hand reel them in.

Bruce was amazed at how well built these old girls are. The design allows them to raise their props so the nets don't get caught - very ingenious.
As we motored along the coastline, we were again surrounded by local boats. I only just caught this guys stern, amazing decorations. Note the busy commercial infrastructure in the background.

On the shore line we lost count of the Mosque's, and don't even try to count the insane amount of local boats. This is a tiny section of what we saw as we travelled along, they are all behind a small break wall protecting them from the NW winds when they arrive.
To get some protection from the wind we had to go in behind a long sandbar which meant we both had to anchor amongst the stick houses,,,,another interesting anchorage.
As usual the haze is impeding the image, but this is a small capture of the stick houses we anchored among.
At the beginning of the second day we all made the now wise decision to turn back. As the two boats approached Madura's most eastern tip the winds were in full swing at 28knots from the sou'east, the swell and current was creating a very dangerous stretch of water. Our speeds were under 2 knots, the motors were revving hard and the safety of our vessels and crew were being compromised as both boats fell off the peaks of the waves into the troughs. I found the decision to turn back unbearable and had visions of our failed attempt to return home in 2017. After consulting the guide books, charts and asking for recent information on transversing Selat (strait) Surabaya and under its bridge, we decided to go this way. Turned out to be a great decision.

Sitting just off the channel and behind a red marker, we watched quite the passing parade, but the vessel above was something we had never seen before. She belongs to the Indonesian Navy.
Turning back had some unexpected surprises for us all. Our first anchorage on the northern end of the Strait, offered fabulous shelter. Anchored just off the main channel, the calm waters gave us a time to catch up on sleep and rekindle bruised relationships. We all suffered from stress and lack of sleep over the last 199 nautical miles, causing strain on relationships and damage to our vessels, thankfully both repairable. At one stage we totally knotted our genoa on Matilda, not a good look and poor Bruce got slapped in the face by a whipping line, lucky not much damage. Moonshadow had a heck of a time clearing a fuel blockage and nearly ended up back at Java - thankfully Jeremy's persistence paid off and we all were all delighted for such a nice anchorage that afternoon and evening.

The US Coast Guard passed by - a long way from home waters.
Well rested we took off around 0630 so the 2 - 3 knot current could push us towards the bridge, it was a fantastic free ride. Because this is a path less travelled due to unfounded opinions warning people away from this passage, we wrote a blog entry about it here so others will not experience what we did, prior to turning back. The sheer amount of diesel, wear and tear on our vessels and bruised relationships could have all been avoided, not to mention precious time. 

There is a lot of people moving going on in Indonesia, and this ferry was one the largest we have seen.
Selat Surabya turned out to be a real treat. The sheer amount of water traffic was insane but not unlike Singapore Strait, nearly all vessels where at anchor. We saw the most incredible amount of tug & tows, loaded with teak waiting their turns to go to port for processing. Java's coastline was lined with commercial infrastructure. If anyone thinks for a second that Java, Indonesia is a little backwards they seriously have never seen what we saw - it was mind blowing. We had no issues whats so ever with officials, other captains or fishermen, if anything every single person who saw us waved like mad - it was so much fun.

Local fishermen waving hello.

A couple of lads on a very large tug at anchor, were all smiles for the camera.

More happy crewman.

Local officials buzzed past a fair bit, always snapping their phones at us.
A very well maintained tug and tow with their load of teak.
It is hard to capture the commercial shore line, but behind this fisherman there is quite the busy background on shore.
Our timing through the strait meant we were travelling 12 days before Indonesia celebrated their Independence Day. Lucky for us the navy were in full practise mode. It was an incredible display seeing all their warships fully dressed in flags, we heard and saw through the binoculars the marching bands in all their splendour and their training vessel Bima Suci was also fully dressed and on display for the public as they did a sail past. 

This is an incredible photo: Bima Suci is the new Indonesian naval training vessel, she is one of the worlds largest tall ships and the statue on shore is a symbol of glory. Note on the tall ship, all the spreaders have crew standing on them and not that you can see it clearly, but that seriously long bow sprit is littered in crew (that's how big this vessel is).
A handful of warships fully dressed in flags - note the fire power, seriously big guns.
The Suramadu Bridge according to Wikipedia has a 35mtr clearance at high tide, and is a grand sight. Matilda cleared the bridge with her 18mtr mast easily and then the next stage of the journey began. There are a few sand bars to miss, but they are well charted and the channels are well marked and buoyed. The water is shallow to some degree, never going under 3mtrs so this along with watching several commercial vessels use the same channel we needed, made our journey problem free. 

Approaching the bridge did seem a little daunting with this view on our bow.

And Matilda is safely under the bridge.
Moonshadow approaching the bridge - loads of clearance.
Local fisherman never cease to amaze us with their ingenuity to catch fish. The fishing sticks which are so thick in some places have literally created a fence line. Some sticks went from the channels all the way back to Madura's coastline and some indeed went from the channels all the way back to Java's coastline. Even though this area is well charted, we would not travel here at night. Even though there is an insane amount of sticks, the channels are clear and not impeded. This was one of the reasons people are avoiding this area saying you have to dodge the sticks with fishing nets. This is not true - the area is well monitored we did not see any fishing lines, nets, or floats encroaching on the channel.

Now that's a lot of sticks with nets.

More sticks with nets, you can see 'fences' further down.
The reward for our efforts was unreal - as we approached our anchorage along Javas coastline and again amongst 100's if not 1000's of squid houses, we thought we saw shark fins, we were correct but these fins belonged to whale sharks. What an incredible treat it was. We must of had 6 or 8 whale sharks in the immediate area all feeding. All four of us were spell bound with these giants in such shallow water.

A first for us: this is a whale shark, mouth wide open and feeding.
During our last two anchorages along Java's coastline we managed to hit something submerged in 4 meters of water. It's a shocking sound as you hear the hull hit and grind, luckily upon diving a few days later Bruce established there was no damage done. Our very last day on Java's coast was spent at an unexpected stop as again the current wasn't letting us pass the most western tip. So we kinda stopped in the middle of no where and even though it felt like we were very exposed we had a fantastic calm night under the lee of yet another magnificent volcano.

What a beautifully decorated vessel.

This local bloke made a point of pointing, now we wonder if he was signalling to us about a sunken boat that we think we hit the next morning in the dark in 4 meters of water.

Each village always has some thing slightly different in their design of their fishing vessels - this village had stripes on most of their fishing fleet. 

Our last anchorage on Java under under yet another volcano.
Up early and with the lighter winds releasing us from Java we finally and very excitedly arrived at Bali. The anchorage of Lovina proved a safe haven for a 5 day sojourn. Everything is easy here: phone credit, tender is safe ashore, supplies are easy and there are loads of places to eat out. Luckily for us the new supermarket named Pepito, offered the most incredible array of western foods. But the best thing is you can literally leave your tender ashore, walk up about 2 minutes to Pepito's, do your shop, walk your shopping back to the tender and off you go - sensational. Also as you approach Lovina, locals in their spider boats will come out to offer their assistance. We had a chap named Moda, his boat was MarcoPolo and he was a great help. Diesel was well priced and he offered assistance with laundry, fuel, gas, garbage, anything even offering to clean the bottom of our boat, for a price. They are just trying to make a living, and we were happy to support them.

Marcopolo was our boat who helped with diesel and a few other bits.

As we arrived the mighty Star Clipper was at anchor.
There is something magic about sitting in the cockpit as the sunsets to the west over Java.
Thanks Jeremy for the night shot of the famous Lovina sign complete with dolphins.
After spending too much at Pepito's we took off for a night at Bali's most western point - Amed. OMG there was no protection from the north east swell and we had the worst night we can ever remember. The two boats where almost rolling gunnel to gunnel. We tried to eat dinner, but we just couldn't finish it. The depths rose from over 140 mtrs to10 in a blink of an eye making anchoring a little interesting. It was such a shame though because we could see the township of Amed and all it has to offer but couldn't go ashore to explore. So a night in the cockpit trying to get some sleep was about all we could do.

Thanks to Google Images, this is the bay we stopped at in Amed.
Next day the moment we had day light we all took off bound for Lombok. The passage of water between Lombok and Bali is called the Lombok Strait. This strait can be notorious for foul weather and high winds. Lucky for us we had an almost dream run over, even sailing most of it. Crossing so early meant we came across the fishing fleet all bound for Bali. There must have been 100's of small craft all with their little sails up racing along. All the fishermen on our nose actually changed course so they could sail right hard against Matilda and all waved like mad, we laughed and laughed once we realised they were just curious and we think they felt a feeling of comradery from one sailing vessel to another under full sails. 

In our original passage plan we had planned to go from Amed, Bali to the northern Gili islands, eg. Gili Air which is quite famous for tourists. But an opportunity came up for Deb to write about the new Marina del Ray facility, so we ended up in the southern Gili's. The marina is located on the most protected end of Gili Gede and we liked it so much here we spent a very calm 5 days in the anchorage. Its very deep close to shore (we anchored in 18.6 mtrs) but its so peaceful and quiet, you don't want to leave. 

Gili Gede is an island with no bridges so all supplies: building, water, food, etc etc have to be ferried in by small craft.

Marina del Ray.

And just for something different, the sun protection strip on our genoa came loose (the green bit). It looks good now its been resewn.

Our girl sitting pretty at anchor at Marina del Ray - Lombok.

Deb being creative at the cafe.
After our lovely stay at Gili Gede we took off early for Lomboks other marina, Medana Bay. Again you can anchor here, which is just as well as there are no fingers at the moment to tie off too. The anchorage is between two reef systems but they are easily seen, and again its deep - 23.1 mtrs was our depth. In the south east monsoon season its very well protected. We had a lay day here so we could get a few supplies and bits and pieces. Its definitely worth stopping here as the staff are lovely and its easy to get around the island.

Medana Bay Marina early morning with Moonshadow at anchor.
Another incredible sunset over Bali from Lombok, love the warm glow on the reef showing itself.
We took off and landed for the night at the most western end of Lombok at the  Lawang anchorage and loved all the noisy fishermen heading out at dusk for a nights fishing. Their boats where so loud it was like a Saturday night at the drag racing.  The next day the passage over to Sumbawa via the Selat (strait) Alas was in full swing. We had wind from the south, giving us a sensational beam reach sail, then it died a bit so the motor was turned on. Then the wind funnelled and came in on our stern, so we actually deployed our spinnaker, engine off. Then finally the wind died totally, engine on again to the anchorage.  

Bit worried about his boats name! This bloke was so fast I couldn't take a clear shot and man he was loud.

Boys checking out Moonshadow.

'Slow' was so fast I couldn't take a clear shot of him either.
The beauty of sailing with another couple who weren't on our rally in 2016 is they have stopped at different places to us. Moonshadow told us about a little harbour named Badas (not pronounced as Bad Ass, but more like Bad asz) on the island of Sumbawa. Its a tiny little spot offering protection from all degrees of wind. During our short stay we did not go ashore but we saw a variety of wildlife: monkeys, cows, eagles, water monitor lizards, goats and fish jumping out of the water all hours of the day. The harbour had quite the array of vessels in, from small fishing craft right through to shipping containers and oil tankers. It was a great spot to catch up on our games of Phase 10 and Mexican Train Dominoes.

Badas Harbour, Sumbawa. The view from Matilda's bow towards to opening (right of screen). The docks can accommodate up to 6 ships and a few local boats, including the white Phinisi. I even managed to capture a plane coming into land - its above the two yellow cranes on the first ship on the left.

Over the other side of the harbour the little fuelling buildings reminded us Sydney with their colours.

We love these old girls (which probably ain't that old). This is the white Phinisi at the dock.

One of about 6 cows munching their way along the shore.

Repainting the name. 
What a treat for being up early - look at that sunrise.
From Badas we made it to Kananga. We decided to sail behind Mojo Island to Kananga, what a beautiful area this was. Moonshadow saw loads of dolphins, we didn't see any. Again at Kananga the sea bed rises rapidly from over 160mtrs to 12 in a heartbeat. We dropped our anchor in 15mtrs and just before bed the drag alarm went off (such a badly discript name, we prefer to say 'slip alarm') to let us know we had floated out to over 40mtrs deep. Just what you don't need as you are heading off to bed, so Bruce let out more chain and in the morning we hadn't moved, were glad to move on.

From Kananga we stopped at Kilo were some locals came out to say hi and we gave them a Cruising Helmsman magazine, some fishing gear and shared some home baked ginger nut biscuits with them. This was a fabulous anchorage for the night. Sadly as we were leaving at O'dark thirty the next morning we hit a local fisherman. I can still hear the poor young lad yelling out: 'Hey Mister, Hey Mister stop stop'. Good grief, he was using a lighter as his anchor light and we simply hit him. No damage was done to his boat, but I am pretty sure the sight of Matilda heading straight for him will see him right in the story telling circles for many years to come.

Our little family paddling off with their Cruising Helmsman magazine, biscuits and fishing gear. 

Poor Moonshadow being swamped.

Our lovely young man, so happy.
Again as the afternoon winds picked up and the current turned against us, our planned journey to Komodo was not meant to be, so we stopped off at Wera Bay and dropped anchor just after lunch time. It's hard to describe some places and this is one. On one side of you there is a little town that specialises in building the Phinisi yachts and the ladies make traditional cloth in their weaving looms. The Phinisi boats are local to Indonesia, they are built completely out of wood with no power tools - all by hand. This includes no metals fasteners, or nails, its all timber. On your other side is the active volcano 'Api'. Standing 1949mtrs tall with two cones, its hard to miss. Sitting having sun downers in the cockpit proved entertaining as the volcano was puffing out huge clouds of smoke every now and then, accompanied with some low rumblings.  

Finally we had some dolphins on our bow, here is a quick video of them having fun.

A sensational photo of Matilda from Margie as we left with sunrise one morning.
Everywhere we go in Indonesia the kids are playing and laughing all day log. This lot spent more time bailing their little craft than sailing her, but once they got it going they actually speed around the harbour like crazy.

Volcano Api from Matilda's deck.

The town of Wera is famous for its boat building using traditional methods.

From Wera Bay we made Loh Serau, Komodo in a lovely easy days sail, arriving around lunch time. Bruce and I had been waiting for this day for a long time. The anchorage is in the northern end offering incredible calm water, its crystal clear and is totally fringed by coral reef. I think after swimming most of each day, after our 4 day stay, Bruce started to grow gills! The snorkeling is simply sensational. We saw loads and loads of fish, soft and hard corals and one morning we even jumped in with the giant manta rays who seemed to come in each morning just before sunrise. Brilliant!

Thanks to Jeremy we have a beautiful shot of Matilda cruising along nicely with her big blue spinny up.

The epitome of owning a boat is this,,,,,maintenance in exotic places.

Komodo at sunrise.
I (Deb) have been lucky enough to have a lend of Jeremy's GoPro, so between Bruce and I both armed with our little cameras, we were able to capture loads of underwater footage. Here's a few short videos from our snorkeling.

Bruce's encounter with a giant manta ray.......

This is a quick look at how clear the water is as you approach the reef......

Deb testing the photo function,,,,seemed to work well.

A quick video of Matilda in and out of the water, its a bit shakey (I need more practise)...

And last one for now is a little capture of a scorpion fish over a large bommie...

Right at the end of the month we motored to our final destination of Labuan Bajo, Flores mainly to complete our first of 3 visa extensions. On the trip over we went via Makassar Reef in the hope of seeing giant manta rays who frequent this region but lucked out this day. Once our anchors were set we headed into town. Topped up phone credit, picked up some supplies and enjoyed a good walk.

We are pretty certain we have shares in the Burger Time cafe. They quite simply made the best burgers we have eaten in a very long time. Their claim to fame is they only use Australian beef!!! 
The local fruit and vegie ladies had a mixed bag on offer.

Deb with her dream Hello Kitty scooter.

Walking along the streets the local kids just love posing for a photo.

The end of day treat.
For those that need to know our extension process, here we go:
  • We went in 8 days prior to our expiry date
  • Be mindful of public holidays, weekend and operating hours
  • A taxi is needed as the Immigration office is 8 km's out of town
  • Went in, our Sponsor letter was rejected as it must be addressed to the Labuan Bajo Immigration Office
  • Documents needed are:

  • we also didn't have any IDR6000 stamps for our sponsor letter
  • We did not have a copy of the page of our initial visa (and they wont photocopy at the office) so we had to do that. There are no close photocopy shops near the office.
  • back in another taxi
  • went to the post office and brought 2 stamps per person
  • got onto our sponsor and had the letters readdressed and emailed.
  • got another taxi and went back in the next day.
  • great, all papers accepted
  • we were given a form each to complete
  • the officer entered the information from the forms onto the pc and then gave us a bill of IDR500,000 (AU$50) each to be paid at the post office and informed us to return next Thursday due to their processing time over weekend hours and public holidays
  • back in another taxi
  • back at the post office we paid the 500,000 invoices and were handed our receipt for immigration
At the time of writing the following was still to happen, as the Thursday mentioned is actually September 5th,,but its just to give an idea.
  • back in a taxi on the following Thursday (Sept 5)
  • to hand over all our receipts
  • the office will take photos of us and will instruct us to return in the afternoon
  • another taxi
  • eat lunch
  • another taxi back to immigration
  • pick up passports with 1 extension in place
  • another taxi back to town (probably could have purchased a taxi by now)
Jeremy & Bruce buying our IDR6000 (AUo.6c) for our visa extension applications.

Bruce with the Immigration officer.
Margie & Jeremy enjoying a cool drink at what we call 'The Mouse Cafe'.

The view from The Mouse Cafe of the pink jetty was pretty easy on the eyes.
Labuan Bajo is on the most eastern point of Flores and offers incredible protection for boaties. We along with 100's of commercial boats enjoyed the anchorage. Our visa extension was a little tiresome but that is Indonesia. While there we provisioned, ate out at some really groovy places and enjoyed the friendliness of the locals. Sadly for the first time this month as we dropped the main sail we noticed a small rip. We spent the last few days of August at anchor waiting for visa extension to happen so we used the time to catch up on boat jobs and writing.

The small rip is upsetting, but best to repair it before its a big rip.

This is the main jetty in town and we were leaving our tender here at the furtherest set of steps (you can just see a tender right up the back) but our tender got damaged there. Another yachty swung by to say his was leaving his tender at the LaPrima Resort Hotel, so we went off to that the next time. 

The LaPrima Resort Hotel has a jetty they don't mind you leaving your tender at.

From the shore this is the LaPrima hotel's gardens, showing the jetty to the right and our boats are off screen to the left.
One afternoon we had some fun photographing the local boats in the harbour at sunset.

Making good use of the low tide these lads are painting anti foul on the two boats.

Dancing Wind.

Every time i see this boat i think of Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in African Queen.

The Phinisi's all at anchor being bathed in the warm glow of the sunset.

Ocean Rose.

Royal Fortuna.

Sea Safari VI.

Not sure if shes under repair or a new build.

Bruce was published in the August edition of Cruising Helmsman. His article on 'Scouting Using WiFi' has gone over very well.

What have we cooked or baked his month?

What else have we written about this month on the blog?

This month on the blog we did a post on our trip under the Surabaya Bridge. That article can be read here.

The day we sailed up the Surabaya Strait there were full dress rehearsals for the celebration of Independence Day. That statue is of a nameless Indonesian Navy Officer. The statue represents the preparedness of the Indonesian Navy for glory. And that incredible ship is the Navy's training vessel 'Bima Suci' at 93mtrs long and one of the worlds tallest tall ships she sure was impressive.

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