How is life in Thailand today. Soggy! There seems to be a hurricane up in the Bay of Bengal that is no danger for us, but is sending moisture our way. "Sending moisture" really doesn't tell the story. I think every piece of paper on the boat is moist. It was time to begin the installation of the re chromed port hole finish rings when it started. It has been raining 3 days with only short breaks. Last night was an amazing amount of continuous downpour. It does dry quickly when it ends. I will enjoy that if I don't dissolve first.
I have almost completed a redesign of the pressure fresh water system on the boat. It had a flaw in that the pumps had difficultly re priming after the tank was filled after running dry. There are now an abundance of check valves and 40 feet less hose to correct the problem. The job has involved many hours of working in small spaces. Completion feels good to my sore old body.
PS: The email couldn't be sent until the 4th, a bright sunny day.
Weather is predictable. It changes!
Aloha Capt Koo, Nov. 24, 2005
I am overdue for a letter to the log. There is a file of pictures enclosed covering the same part of the world.
Back on August 28 we crossed the equator for my 4th time at 2315 hours and 107 degrees 23.56E before arriving Pejanton Island in the morning. This was a very nice spot where I held an initiation into the Court of King Neptune for Helene, my crew, with Lennie and Peter from the yacht Fejao. This island is the last stop in the Carimata Straits before an overnight passage to the large islands Batam and Bintam, which border the Singapore Straits. Pejanton was once known as a pirate haven, but we met only a bunch of nice fishermen.
We cleared out of Indonesia tediously at Noonsa Point Marina, Batam Island. This was the end of good sailing winds that we had enjoyed much of the time since Australia. Boats that followed us by a couple of weeks found little or no wind most of the way which is typical of SE Asia in the NW monsoon season. Luck beats skill consistently! We arrived the posh Raffles Marina on 9-2 after a busy crossing of the Singapore Strait where the busiest shipping channels in the world is found. Apparently about 30% of the world’s shipping tonnage passes through here in 4 controlled lanes. It was a very nervous day and made the San Pedro Channel off Los Angeles seem peaceful.
Singapore was established as an independent nation a while after WW II and is an amazing place. People live in high-rise apartment blocks almost exclusively. It is a beehive of business activity. There is little crime, no litter, great public transportation and one of the world’s higher average standards of living. There are rules for everything and they are well followed. It is a great place to live and work. Far too well organized and controlled for me, but it works well for it’s population. Helene left the boat after a couple of days and is backpacking again somewhere. I really enjoyed Singapore for a few days, but stayed 3 weeks. I was treated very well at Raffles and the adjacent boat yard. It was very hot, but most places one visits in the city are air-conditioned. I found that the 500 miles from Singapore to Phuket Thailand can be day sailed easily, and I have enjoyed being without crew for a while.
The 24th of Sept. I headed up the busy Malacca Strait and made night stops at the Malay islands of Pisang and Besar in the Water Islands. The islands were lovely but the sea in the straits is mostly brown so I just kept trucking and cleared into Malaysia officially at the very nice Admiral Marina near Port Dickson. This is a great place to leave a boat to tour Koala Lumpur, the capital and a budding Singapore. It has the tallest building in the world and I don’t care. On the other hand, Malaysia was very impressive. It is an Islamic Republic having Islam as the official religion, but the people are very helpful and seem reasonably prosperous. The women wear the scarf, but were pretty stylish in all other respects. The girls were very attractive. The government supports Islam but is tolerant of other beliefs which are practiced, or not, by about 30% of the people. I was able to get some needed parts here with a minimum of trouble, using English-speaking taxi drivers as translators.
After 4 days I headed the 56 miles to Port Klang, a huge container port, anchoring in a muddy shallow area to the west of the contained port. There is a Yacht Club up the river, but it didn’t look very inviting, so I planned to leave in the morning. During the night I had heavy rain squally and an exciting lightening display to say the least. It went on until late morning so I just caught up on sleep the next day, setting off at 4:30 am to make the 96-mile day trip to a beautiful anchorage at Pankor Island. I took a very deep and rolly anchorage off a resort in the north bay protected by huge granite boulders. I was up and out early and arrived (barely) and Penang Island, the “Jewel of the Orient”, where I anchored behind the small Jerejak Island in front of a large Motorola Factory. In the morning I was able to get a spot in the small police marina just to the south of the amazing long bridge that connects Penang to the Malay mainland. There is a small community of cruisers there, most of which have been in Penang for a year or more. This is a pretty good place to stop and work. A number of American companies have plants here employing 20,000 workers or more. The best known are HP, Intel, Motorola and Fairchild. Penang is a happening place!
Penang was the capitol of British SE Asia until Sir Sanford Raffles moved it to Singapore in the 18th century. The old city, Georgetown, is very colorful. The colonials lived well and there are lots of mansions or government buildings to see. They even build a great cable car system the 2300 feet to the top of the island where they could enjoy cooler outings than found at sea level. The history museum is small but very well done. It feels like a Chinese city in Malaysia. Except for the collection of historic buildings in Georgetown, which Singapore lacks, it feels like a budding Singapore. My last day there I powered up the east strait, under the bridge to the Junk Anchorage off Georgetown, with 4 other yachts, to anchor for the night and prepare for an early morning departure.
The afternoon of 10-10 I was making the breath taking approach to Langkowi Island through Tyson Strait. The small, uninhabited islands south of Langkowi have steep limestone cliffs and caves beaten in by the sea. I anchored in a small paradise for the night and checked into the Royal Langkowi Yacht Club in the morning. The YC is in Kuah Town where most yacht part shopping can be satisfied. Langkowi is a duty free port making it a convenient spot to ship to. Not only are duties avoided, but also customs hassles are eliminated, almost more important in Asia than the duty savings. I rented a car, driving around the island a few times, very impressed with the scenery. Langkowi is a tourist destination but seems very rural other than in a small portion of the south coast. On the SW coastal area is a very first rate gondola ride to a rugged mountain peak that shouldn’t be missed. The top offers views of the Langkowi coasts, the island group to the south and the islands of Thailand to the west and north. It is very spectacular. Before the February tsunami Langkowi had three marinas and two full service boat yards. Two of the marinas and one yard were wiped out. Reconstruction has begun. One marina will reopen this season. In the interim, yachts will be anchoring out in Bass Harbor in front of the town or in dozens of lovely all weather anchorages. I was in the Royal Langkowi YC three times to fill up my social tank, visiting anchorages the rest of the time. Other than the many spots to the south, a high point was a series of bays, mangrove channels and cave passages called the Hole in the Wall. Entry is through a 60-foot break in a cliff to a number of lovely and bullet proof anchorages. A fish farm inside has developed an unusual seafood restaurant where tourists come via long tail boats during the day, but the area returns to pristine quiet at night. Wild fish eagles are abundant. Caves connect the mangrove offering miles of beautiful dingy exploring. The water looks nice, but lacks the clarity for scuba diving or I might still be in these islands.
Phuket Thailand is only 125 miles NNW of Langkowi. I lazily spent 3 days underway, first finding clear water 25 miles into Thailand at Ko Bulon Le, a very small island with a 10 bungalow resort that those of you who land travel might want to remember. It looked very clean and quiet. The second stop was a park island, Ko Roc Nok. I love the name! I picked up a mooring in the afternoon and cleaned the bottom. The next stop after a morning run was a famous tourist island Phi Phi Don, considered by some the world’s most beautiful island. The island is two parts with soaring limestone cliffs connected by a low isthmus with very dense tourist development. The development was denser but the tsunami crossed the isthmus last February as a 35-foot wall of water taking 2000 lives. On the windward side a lot of rubble remains. I caught up with Aussie friends there and enjoyed the place and it’s beauty, but it was a bit creepy.
I cleared into the country at Au Chalong Bay on SE Phuket Island then checked out a couple of anchorages on the way to Yacht Haven Marina where I am now anchored. Phuket has a serious lack of marina space, made worse by the tsunami that destroyed the marina at Phuket Yacht Club on the south coast. On arrival I ordered new sail covers, chrome plating and a few other projects started. I rented a Suzuki Jeep and checked out the island, which is about four times the size of Singapore Island, almost totally supported by tourism. Business here is still very slow but most of the west side is now operating. Some small resorts that were carried away by the waves remain as rubble, but they are the exception. The beaches look nice and, even now, too busy for me. The tourist market here is led by Swedes and Germans. Europeans have created a big market here for dentistry and cosmetic surgery done at first class medical hospitals and at prices 75% below home. Some examples are upper and lower eyes $1250usd; face lift $3750usd; boob augmentation $4000usd. Sex change is also a big market, but you will need to get your own quotes.
While waiting for projects to finish I have done a bit of cruising in the Phang Nga Bay area. These are the towering limestone islands you think of in this part of Thailand. I understand they were features in the James Bond film Man With a Golden Gun. Many of the islands have sea caves that enter into hongs, or open rooms in the island open to the sky. I have been impressed.
That is all the writing for now. It looks like I will miss skiing this winter due to getting ready for the Indian Ocean crossing starting in Mid January.
Winkie me boy,
Today the porthole rings are coming off, AGAIN GODDAMMIT, to be sent to Bangkok for heavy chromium treatment. The work I have seen is great, and the price about 1/2 the US.
I am off on Saturday for a week in Pang Nga Bay. That is the area with the towering limestone islands made famous in the James Bond movie, that you associate with this part of Thailand. There are about 40 of those islands, lots of caves and Hongs. A hong is a giant well, usually accessible through caves, where the vegetation covers the surrounding walls that are often over 100 feet high. The hongs are created geologically by water undercutting the limestone and causing a
cave in. Where the limestone strata are vertical, the hong walls are too. The only bad news is that the area does not offer great diving. Three rivers enter the bay, so the water is greenish and the visibility limited.
By the way.. If you ever want a free trip to Thailand, let your dental work back up. In a very high tech clinic, not the cheapest, Xrays and two small fillings were $45, a full crown $245. I had one eye tooth with a very deep silver (amalgam) filling that showed through like a shadow. The dentist replaced the filling with the new lovely white stuff---$9.45US. They do laminations, posts et al. www.phukethospital.com on the net. The same place as the cosmetic surgery, Lasix.
All the nurses are attractive and have eyes a bit like Keen Paintings.
Here is the Penang report through night two. This is a happening place. It feels prosperous. Intel, Hewlett Packard, Fairchild Industries, Motorola and lots more have large plants here and no one looks hungry. It is about 250,000 people and feels bigger as masses of humanity come across the bridge each morning. Some of the city, particularly the south end , look like a budding Singapore. Lots of high rise apartment blocks and shopping centers. Though not up to Singapore, the prices are mostly
better. It is not a good place for yacht goodies, having very few slips.
The trades are active and some recommend it for SS work and custom machining. Georgetown is very nifty and named for the King George blamed by some for the American Revolution, many of the buildings are well over 100 years old. Most government buildings are still British Colonial and
flights to the UK are always advertised as a prime holiday destination. I have just started touring around and love the place so far.
The bad news is brown sea water and limited moorage. Until 10-20, when the posh looking 200+ slip marina next to the ferry terminal opens, the ONLY slips are at the police marina, called Marina Batu Uban, where nice guys Sharip and Amir are in charge and very helpful. There are not
always slips available, but you can always anchor off and dingy in. There is less protected anchorage off Georgetown and Chinese bum boat service was reported. There are no yachts there today. To get to this marina, if you decide to stop, come around the S end of Penang and into the channel made by the smaller island the bridge crosses. Run up that channel a mile to the bridge. The marina is on your left. They do not monitor VHF but Sharip's cell is 016-4730430, Anuar's is 0164936674. Another limiting factor is the fact that it will take 3 days to see much. There is a beater rental car here for 40R per day, about $10. Motor bikes are about 1/2 that. Fuel is only available in front of
Georgetown an 11 mile trip from here under the bridge. I am probably heading to Langkowi on Tuesday in search of clear water.
I am now in Panang, earlier known as "The Jewel of the Orient". Very cool although busy place. I just arrived last night. The island is similar in size to Singapore and about 1/4 the population. About 1/2 chinese and the rest evenlysplit between Malays and Indians. No diving as yet. I am still in the Malacca Straits and the water is very far from clear. Various unsightly things float by. Much like the Ala Moana canal after the first big rain.This place pretty interesting though, historically and cultualy. Probably will hang here 3-4 days then head to Langkowi.
After my layover on the North Port Klang mud flats waiting for the thunderstorm activity to end, I left for Lemut and Pankor Island at 5:53 am. Port Klang is not a heart wrenching place to leave. It is a very
large commercial harbor, dirty as a result, and the Lemut River feeds it many other bits of filth. Some seem familiar, some new to me.
The passage to the anchorage in the SW side of Pancor Island works out to about 85 miles. I had a bit of wind help the first 4 hours and then the wind went to the NW, the same way I was trying to go. So, it was a very long day of powering into wind chop. The last 8 hours I had 2-3 knots of contrary current. As a result, I logged 98 miles to go 85 and reached the anchorage at dark. It is a pretty spot , if a bit rolly, was too tired to care. The chart shows the anchorage as 10-12 meters. I dropped in 20 meters and swung to 25 meters. I held and it seemed too dark to move.
This morning I am off to Penang, "The Jewel of The Orient" as named by the Brits in the late 1700s. I probably will try to contact Phil Blake to see if the new marina is open. I am ready for some tourist time and Penang sure sounds interesting. It is another power boat day into light head winds. So far the current is favorable.
PS: Arrived Penang 1830. More later. First night "Uncle Quah's moorings".
Well I just anchored off Port Klang, Malaysia. This is a huge container and oil shipment port about 20 miles seaward from Koala Lumpur, a city of about 3 million. On the way in I was passes by a tanker with STOLTZ lettered on the side. The last time I saw one we were happily steering
toward Hilo Hawaii, the auto pilot having given it up. It was a good bit of reminiscing.
I am day hopping up the coast now. I expect the next multiple day stop will be at Georgetown, Penang, once called the Jewel of the Orient when the English controlled it from the 1700s, after the Dutch, after the Portuguese. I should be there in a couple of days. It looks to be a great stop, known for great food. Muslim country so booze is scarce. No problemo.
I have included on the Cd some pics since Bali. Didn’t know how to label them so here is some description.
We sailed from Bali 120 miles to Kangean Island in the Java Sea where we spent two nights resting. The people were very nice and not pests. We stayed aboard and the high point was watching the local canoes sail at high speeds using clear plastic sheeting as sails.
Our next passage was a fast down wind 166 miler to Palau Bawean. This was a great stop. The island is mountainous and verdant. The 350,000 people are Muslim and 100% Indonesian, meaning that there are no Caucasian workers or Chinese shopkeepers. We were welcomed and really cared for. Local men took us on shopping and motorbike tours to see much of the rest of the island from the north side bay where we anchored. There was almost no begging and a lot of generosity. Many of the men in the north go to work for six month periods as crew on ships of Singapore and British registry, so there is an active cash economy, nice houses with tile floors and walls, and a superior shopping area. The canoes and ships built here are very colorful, some painted a with rainbow theme.
The next passage was downwind 180 miles to the Kumai River on Borneo. This is Joseph Conrad country. I really felt the history drumbeat in the chest on reaching soundings. Soundings are reached about 6 hours before sighting the low land on approach to the river. The town of Kumai is 18 miles upriver which is pretty challenging for our 8-˝ foot draft. We did ground one time but made it to anchorage across the river from the town that looks a bit like a Wild West movie set. We arranged for a two-day riverboat trip into the Orangutan sanctuary and caught up on sleep. The next day we took a mini bus trip to the nearby city of Pangalanbun (about 300,000) for some shopping and Internet access. Returning, we found another boat in the anchorage with two British men aboard who decided to join us on the river guided charter leaving early the next morning.
The riverboat was about 40 feet long and 8 wide. We had a crew of 4 including a cook who prepared food almost all the daylight hours in a very primitive galley aft. There was a river water shower operating off a gas motor in a platform-mounted house hanging off the stern that also contained a western style toilet with a 4” outlet plumbing run. Sleeping is on mats on deck and in a small cabin below, under mosquito net. The accommodations were really ok. The price is about $85 US for the two days each including food, bottled water and soft drinks. Included in the price was a man who stayed in the cockpit of Jubilant to guard the boat.
While winding up the river, in places less than 20 feet wide, we saw Orangutans, Proboscis Monkeys, Wild Boar, Tropical Birds, Crocodiles and many of the more common monkey types. At two research stations we got very close two large oranges in the wild. This is really worth doing for anyone curious about jungle nature and a bit accustomed to heat and humidity.
Last night we joined a teeming mass of over heated humanity at a festival to celebrate 60 years of Indonesia’s independence from the colonial powers. I think they date independence from the Japanese occupation. The Dutch stayed until 1949 in some places but they celebrate 60 years of independence non-the less. It would appear they traded independence from the Dutch, Portuguese, British for often much more brutal domination by the Javanese but they called it independence last night.
So, today is another rest day. Time for another engine room project. We will probably head out in another day or two.
Greetings to you of the news-aware world,
We arrived at Nongusa Point Marina, Batam last night and will clear out of Indonesia. It has been a great trip through an immense, beautiful and often strange country. We are just across the Singapore Strait from the city-state where we will move to the Raffles Marina tomorrow and stay
for 10 days or so.
I tuned the TV for Singapore stations last night and received world news for the first time in 2 1/2 months. The devastation in New Orleans was a great shock. It seems I am used to tragedy in the rest of the world, but not ready for natural disaster on that level in my country. This AM the mayor there has said he sees no alternative to abandoning the city. I felt a great sadness I am sure you all share.
I am looking forward to being in a big city for a bit, getting absorbed in the busy world I escaped from a few months ago. Singapore has become one of the world's most prosperous and sophisticated cities., a dramatic contrast to the country across the strait which is facing financial
disaster again. The Indonesian Rupiah has dropped 30% on world markets in just the last month. It appears that the country may have honest government at the top level for the first time in the 60 years of it's existence, but the mess and corruption represent a big challenge to stability in the densely populated parts of the country.
Love, Denny (Ne Bullamacow) (Ne Poppa Boat)
We are loafing along in the Kalimata Straits today between Palembang, Sumaterre and Pontianka on Borneo. Sounds pretty exotic doesn't it. The names are cool but almost impossible to remember. A lot of them have been similar so a navigation challenge.
After hanging out in the rivers near Kumai, Borneo and getting to know some Orangutangs and other monkeys pretty well we sailed a long(240 mile) overnight to Seratu, a small island off the Borneo coast. It was the kind you hope for being about 6 miles long, mountainous, sand bottom anchorage with no village and a river dumping on the beach that allows pools for wallowing around. It was so nice, we stayed 3 nights and just sailed this morning. We were in company with Feijau, an Aussie boat with two nice guys aboard. Most of the yachts coming through Indonesia are still far behind us, so company has been a nice change. There is Piracy in this area leading up to the Singapore Straits. A tug and barge were taken a week and a half ago. Yachts have not been bothered for a few years. It is still nice to have some company. It is a bit like you feel about Crocodiles. The rarely eat people, but -----.
The next stop will be in the midmorning at Pejanton, a lone island out in mid strait and 145 miles from the last one. After that it is a 170 miler to Bintan and surrounding islands just across the narrow straits from Singapore. We will probably do a few stops there, clear out of Indonesia and stop at the Raffles Marina in Singapore for some big city civilization.
We cross the equator tonight and return to the Northern Hemisphere. It is my fourth equator crossing in one of my own boats. It feels pretty good. Who knows, I might have been a bank teller?
Aloha Captain Koo,
Time you send you an update on my Indonesia wanderings, but I can’t remember the last. It was probably the one about the computer problems. By the way, I went to the Comp USA web site and found the drivers for the USB to two serial ports board. I was able to download and successfully install in one long evening. Not bad, huh?
Indonesia has been wonderful cruising. Lots of great anchorages, snorkeling and diving. Some times the aggressive begging (or friendship) of the Indonesian people causes me to want more peace, but it has all been great on balance. This eastern part of the country is pretty recently volcanic in geologic terms which means they look as volcanoes should. Some were still active, spewing out steam and gasses. Two of them erupted in the 1960s, killing or relocating hundreds of thousands of people. At least two are huge. Rinjani on Lombok Island is 12224 feet within 10 miles of the sea. Agung on Bali is 10308 feet 7 miles from the beach. Our second Indonesia land fall at Alor Island is surrounded with smaller cones, all of which have a classic shape.
Since arriving at Kupang, Timor on June 20, we have been in around 28 anchorages on Alor, Plantar, Lapan, Lomblen, Adunara, Sago, Serbete, Flores, Besar, Sabador Cecil, Ninca, Komodo, Nusa Kode, Punja, Banta, Sumbawa, Lombok and now, Bali.
Bali is the first stop with western shopping and lots of tourism, though the bombings have chased away a big slice of the tourist dollar. The temples, tiers of rice paddies, and general scenery here are great. Most of the people have been helpful and warm. Those that deal directly with tourists can be very pushy in selling crafts or guide services, frequently attempting to stop you by grabbing or blocking your way. I sure wouldn’t want to come here as a tourist. Also, the tourist areas are where all the terrorism has happened.
We are leaving again in a couple of days, and are now at the Bali Marina Yacht Club. This place was very run down and had had a reputation for being pretty junky. The new owners have been making improvements, so the place now seems shoddy (like the old parts of Ali Wai) but functional. It is the only marina between Alor and the islands near Singapore, so it is a worthwhile stop to do repairs and stock up. We have been able to fill up on fuel here, even though it was only available one day since we arrived a week ago. Fuel is a bargain here (about .26 US per liter) but it is rarely available in Indonesia now as the world prices are so high that the government (corrupt, of course) is selling their oil on the world market. The fuel I was able to get here was $.50 per liter even though the government controlled price is .26. Go figure? Anyway, I was happy to pay.
Over the next month we will do some more small island stops in the Java Sea, make some river stops on Kalimitan (Burma) and head for the big city (Singapore).
Pass my Alohas to all there, Denny
The cruising is fabulous. The islands are very mountainous with lots of geologically recent volcanoes. Often the whole island is a volcano and active, though we have not seen lava floes as yet. Right now we are transiting the north end of Sumbawa Island and passing Tombora, a 9035 foot volcano that rises from the beach in less than 9 miles. It is the highest one to the east of Lombok Island where there is one that exceeds 12000 feet. Great scenery.
The drama of the computer continues. The big remaining problem relates to serial ports. You will remember that I have serial port hookups to the SCS email modem and thence to the radio, also a frequency control line and a GPS nmea interface. The computer has only one serial port. That problem was solved with a third party card that made a USB port
deliver two serial ports. When the computer last acted up, I had to reinstall non Windows software, and the cd to support that card can't be found. So I am left with com1 only, meaning manual tuning, email works with a few bugs, no GPS charting interface other than manually. In Bali or Singapore I will just buy another serial card and life "should"
return to normal.
As to your crew question... Helene is working out pretty well, but will be leaving at Phukett. I will be looking for crew there or before. Mark had expressed interest in doing the trip to the Med via the Red Sea and Maldives (world's best diving they say) and I have another candidate or two, but departure would be in January which is a long way off. These
things have a tendency to work out.
All for now. Love, Denny
Hi all who wonder where I am,
We are anchored in the Komodo anchorage where there is good snorkeling and, of course DRAGONS. This area between Flores and Sumbawa is great cruising and, because much of it is national park, villages are few. That gives a break from the attention we get from very nice people, but
far too many. There are still only 1 or 2 cruising boats in SE Indonesia. I am actually looking forward to the cruising rallies arriving. I could stand a bit of relaxed English.
The computer died about a 10 days ago for some reason far beyond my technical ability. I was able to do a "hard" restart but was not able to get the email system working until this morning and a number of other bugs remain. I use a card called a multi i/o controller that lets me
have 3 serial ports rather than just the one that came with the computer. The bad news is that I have been unable to find the CD that will let me install the thing (called a Netmos 9835 PCI Multi i/o controller). So I need to shut down the charting system, remove the computer, unplug com1, plug the radio and modem to com 1, and then do email with manual frequency control. I hesitate to do this when soon to be under way in fear that the charting system will leave me and not return. I have gotten accustomed to regular email and found it difficult to do without.
From here we will head around the top of Komodo and stop at Banta Island for some more time in the water before moving west.
Distances are great here and it was actually 160 miles logged from Kupang. Sounds like the new map system is pretty precise though. The town is 70k folks. There may be 10 good looking ones, probably Muslims. Lots of betel chewed here. Remember Bloody Mary?? Climbing today and I
am really pooped. Helene had "no problem" but is napping before dinner. 25 is stronger than 65.
We have arrived at the former home of "Timur Man", that little guy who left bones that may be the oldest human remains discovered so far. The island where he lived, Timur Indonesia, is not a small place being 290 miles long and about 75 miles wide. It is now part of two countries. The new part, East Timur, was a Portuguese Colony until the early 90's when they gave it up as an independent country and the Indonesian army decided that was a bad idea. Before the thrashing was all over a few years ago and Indonesia gave up to keep the United Nations happy, over 200,000 people had been killed. The Indonesian end of the island felt almost none of the conflict other than a lot of population growth from
refugees coming from East Timur and Ambon, another spot still suffering from some conflict.
The Portuguese first established a sandalwood and spice trade from here in 1516. Over the next 350 years they got competition from the Dutch, English and Spanish, with the Dutch becoming the most prominent, the Portuguese keeping the east end of the island and giving up the rest to the Dutch. Similar agreements in other spice trade areas. Kupang City, where we are entered Indonesia was Dutch until the Japanese captured it in WW II. After the war it became part of the new country of Indonesia for better or worse. It is now a city of about 500,000. Very exotic.
The people are Malay, Timorese and a few Chinese. The city center feels somewhat European with strong Asian flavoring. The streets are narrow, winding through traffic circles loaded with motor bikes driven by happy
maniacs. The city is pretty run down, probably because there is little industry here now and huge unemployment. I have seen very little evidence of poverty at the starvation level but life is definitely
pretty close to the bone for most people. Penetration of the highlands and interior of the island did not even begin until the middle 1900s as the Dutch were traders, not developers, so we are told that highland village life is still traditional in most places unchanged in many ways for centuries.
At last writing I was in Darwin after you returned to Hawaii organizing a crew search. I got a number of good candidates, few available to leave soon. An application from a 33 year old lady English police officer got me looking for another woman to fill out a crew and I found a 25 year
old French gal who is with me now. After the commitment to the two Women, good crew came along in droves, but I stayed with the lady crew decision. A first. After a week of chasing down Indonesian cruising permit and visa problems and some expense on her part and mine, the English woman dropped out. Facing another delay to find another crew, Helene Saint-Marie and I decided to head for SE Asia. She is a very nice girl with backpacking, rock climbing, and diving experience but little
sailing time. Hoping she would not have sea sickness problems, I decided that the sailing and passage skills would come along with passage time. The first trip of 460 miles to Timur being only 3 days, it is pretty ideal for teaching and the weather chances are very settled this time of year.
The passage from Darwin made for excellent sailing the first two days reaching or broad reaching in 12-20 knots of breeze and making for 6-8 knots of boat speed. The last day we lost the wind and powered in flat sea the last 140 miles, stopping for a swim in crystal clear water 100 miles at sea. Helene worked out well and has been a great cook, probably bad for my weight. After the first night she was able to start regular 4 hour watches so I could sleep.
We arrived Kupang, Timur at 10:30 in the morning of June 20 and spent most of the first day clearing into Indonesia with the help of Napa Rachman, a very effective and pleasant agent with very passable English. We had an excellent dinner for three at a local restaurant picked by Napa. With soft drinks, the bill for three was less than five dollars. This is a very economical country! Local transportation is by mini busses called bemos that cost about $.15 which includes very loud rock music and less than 5 foot headroom at no extra charge. Climbing aboard with 8 0r 10 others is a challenge for a 6'2" 65 year old guy in an environment including 90 degree temperatures, but the experience has been great fun. We have stocked up on local fruits and veggies and will leave in the morning for an overnight crossing of the Savu Sea to Alor Island just east on the Flores Chain to begin some serious under water time.
Love to you all, Denny
Arrived Kupang yesterday morning and spent day entering with help of agent Napa Rachman. Cost $50 and a very attentive guy. He will also arrange diesel etc. Kupang is now about 1/2 million and crowded. I suggest anchorage in 20 feet seaward of the small fish boats directly in
front of the town steps. You will see the large painted Teddy's bar sign. We had to go to the commercial harbor to clear. It would be safe anchorage, but well away from the the Bemo (private bus) location and shopping. Prices here very low. Rupiah exchange is about 9000 to the dollar through cash machine here. A nice dinner for three the first night with soft drinks was 35000 rupiah. I am told diesel is good and about $.40au per liter delivered to the boat. The language is impossible for me so far, but English works ok for the patient. We are the only yacht here so far. Not paradise but very interesting and worth a couple of days. Leaving today for a short rest stop, then over night to Alor.
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