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  SAIL TO KENTAR -INDONESIA                                                                                                 

Jury Rigging the Steering

Oct 22

After discovering that the autopilot would not come to life, Bob and Gord spent a number of hours jury rigging a spare auto pilot that was on board Stardust. They drilled holes in the deck and made mounts with an array of wood blocks scavenged from the bilges. The whole contraption looked quite foreboding and we wondered our fate as we finally set sail for Kentar, a 3 day sail away.

We were in the transition season between the south and north monsoons at these latitudes at this time of year. That means calms and squalls mostly, with some nor'westers (the direction we are headed) thrown in for good measure.

October 25

98.6 deg F in the cabin

We had the company of a large Egret bird that roosted on the end of our boom for the night. It must have been hard for him to hang on because the faulty self steering caused the boat to do a number of near accidental jibes, but each time I shone my flashlight in his direction, there he was!

We struggled steering with the wind vane which would not steer the boat to any course we could use. It would keep steering the boat into the wind until the main tried to crash across on a jibe. With extreme frustration we hand steered through the rough seas, fortunately the winds were only 15 to 18 knots. Gord spent 90% of the day and night hanging over the transom trying to modify and adjust the windvane, but with not much luck.

We spent the night herding the boat into the moonless night, the smoke concealing any stars that may have been in the sky. Instead our shining star was the masthead light from "Gone with the Wind" who led us along our rum line and notified us of the boat traffic we needed to avoid.


By the end of the following day, we were sailing wing on wing and Gord finally got the wind vane to steer a rough course line with only the occasional need for readjustment. It meant we still had to sit behind the helm but only needed to "help" the self steering every once in a while when it lost its mind.

But it was not long after that the wind died completely and the Iron Horses had to be brought into action. So now it was time to test the jury rigged auto-pilot that Bob and Gord had attached to the helm.

At first the belt would only slip and then the unit would beep its off-course alarm. We were wandering all over the ocean while Gord tried to remedy the situation. With advice from Bob, Gord did a make shift conversion to the auto-pilot, with vice grips holding the belt to the wheel, a block tied to the rail providing tension to the belt, and a whole spider web of lines and pullies holding the entire thing in place. But it worked reasonably well and we motored into the night, again following our leading star "Gone with the Wind", each of us getting a good night's rest on our off watches.

A little tweety bird joined me for the night, precariously trying to balance on the lifeline very close to me. He appeared so exhausted and scrawny. I reached for a banana tied to the stern and offered to share it with him but his only interest was to get some rest.

Indonesian Squid Boats

Surrounding us in every direction were banks of bright million candle power lights that light up the cockpit enough to read by, a mile away in the blackness of the night. At one point I counted 35 of these boats that glowed along the horizon. It was a game of dodge-um, made easy while the fishing boats were lit, but often the boats would turn off all the lights and were only visible on radar.

October 26

94.6 deg F, 100% humidity, in cabin with all the fans blowing.

Mobile Aviary

Perhaps because we were so far from shore and the heat was so intense, we started to see more and more swallow type birds circling the boat, trying to find any available spot to land. One thought Gord's hair made a suitable nesting site and was perfectly content to remain there. Soon we had an ever increasing flock of tweedie birds on every available perch on the boat.

"Port & Starboard" came aboard to help out with the steering!

Gone to the Birds

But then our cabin suddenly turned into a birdhouse! Birds were flying through the companionway and settling themselves inside too. They were all so fatigued, thirsty and hungry that we could put our finger out and they would hop on for transport back out to the cockpit. We offered cherrios and water but I think the birds just wanted a place to rest from heat exhaustion.

Becky does Taps

But as time went on, some of the birds' vigor declined rapidly. One of our little friends was failing fast so we tried to administer water, attempted CPR, but alas, the tiny frail creature expired. We then discussed using the 5 birds aboard GWTW for poll bearers.

We wondered about performing a proper Viking Funeral, or perhaps if the birdie would like a last flight from our flare gun, or maybe.... fried chicken?, but we settled on Taps over the radio by Becky and burial at sea. We set him afloat in a Tupperware container.

In a short while we got a call from GWTW who had another visitor roust on their boat. It was a small hawk-like bird but what was astonishing was that he had our little deceased bird in his mouth! A coffin robber.

Throughout the day we were constantly bombarded by birds flying into the cabin. Perhaps to get away from the Hawk that also took a short reprise on our spreaders. But the hawk found easier pickings at GWTW, where he brazenly swooped into their cockpit and snatched a little birdie from a row resting on the top of their doorway. He did this twice, until Liam and Annie moved the birdies under the table for the night.

Unfortunately, over the course of the evening the bird fatality grew. We lost another, while several died on both Stardust and GWTW. Was this Asian Bird Flu coming to our doorstep?? Oh. the perils of the sea!


Bird of a Different Feather

We also got a visit from a pencil thin white heron-looking bird who looked bedraggled, his feathers stuck together by dried salt, although his lack of webbed feet indicated that he was not a waterbird. He clung to the antenna for a while before moving over to GWTW, a much steadier platform to rest upon.

We motored through the night on flat seas with absolutely no wind. It made using the jury rigged auto-pilot possible but seriously diminished our fuel supply. We still had 100 miles to go to our destination island of Kentar, in the northern area of the Lingga Islands.

Back to the Northern Hemisphere

October 27

By 8 am it was smoking hot an indication, I suppose, that we were getting closer to the equator. Today we would cross the equator for the second time, bringing us back into the Northern Hemisphere.  Since we were already Shellbacks, I felt I didn't need to bake another chocolate cake - cookies and wine would pacify King Neptune this time.

Crossing the Equator, again

We decided that we would all cross over the 00.00.00N line at the same time so coordinated our boat speed and course lines. It was GWTW's first crossing so excitement was in the air.

We lined our boats abreast, Stardust, Ascension and the pollywogs GWTW .  The countdown to Zero..... At the line, we blew horns, set fireworks, mooned each other (at least Gord and Liam did!) and toasted King Neptune, sending him offerings for good luck. A crossing party was planned when we reached the anchorage.
Pic right: Gord, wearing his "North-South" hat, dedicates a glass of wine; Stardust isn't taking any chances, he sacrifices the bottle!!

Kentar Island

As we approached Kentar, there were "fish trap houses" on stilts throughout the water. These were bamboo houses with peaked thatched roofs atop a platform, from which a net hung below like a huge hammock.


The anchorage at Kentar was basically just a huge bay and I was disappointed that one of the unique fishing villages built over the mangroves on stilts that I had read so much about was about a mile away from our location.
We were soon visited by a boatful of young boys and I was able to offload some items including school supplies and balloons. But they were ecstatic when I produced the big ball, although I wasn't sure how they could play with it knowing that they came from the "stilt" village on the distant shore.

Shellback Party

Liam taxied us to GWTW, where Annie had made a sign and strung it across the boat. We all brought food and drinks and prepared for the festivities. Soon we heard the bellow of a conch shell as Becky announced the arrival of King Neptune, complete with crown, carrying his trident and adorned with squid fish lures.


 

 

 

Time for Initiations!

Annie and Liam were prodded to the swim platform in preparation for their initiation.

King Neptune performed the ceremonious inauguration by first dumping water from the Southern Ocean over the Pollywogs.

  Then a bucket of water from the Northern Ocean was emptied over the couple   But the initiation wasn't quite finished. Liam was made to wear a snorkel and mask and then Gord proceeded to fill the snorkel with beer until the can was emptied. Liam did a remarkable job of not drowning, in fact, I think he liked it!

And now, Congratulations Liam and Annie....you have earned your Shells!

After dinner, Becky presented a delicious chocolate cake to celebrate a successful Equator Crossing for all of us!


Mubut Durat

October 28

We had another windless day dodging more fish traps. These ones were clusters of bamboo poles sticking out of the water and there were hundreds of these clusters. We anchored at Mubut Durat for the night. The sandy shoreline of the little island looked inviting but we did not go ashore.


We all got together on GWTW for an afternoon swim. However the current was so strong that when we stepped off the swim ladder we had to hang on tight or we would be swept away. We tied a rope under the boat between the hulls, then by pulling ourselves along the rope to the bow of the boat, we could just let go and let the current rip us back down the length of the boat
 
That evening we enjoyed another great pot luck dinner on Gone with the Wind and partied the night away with Annie, Liam, Becky and Bob.

Nonsa Point Marina

October 29  We arrived at Nonsa Point Marina, our last port in Indonesia excited about spending a few days in the luxury of another high class resort enjoying the pool and restaurant. However, as soon as we tried to check in we could see there would be a problem.

Since our Indo visas were about to expire, we checked out of Indonesia in Kumai, so the officials would not let us land at Nonsa Point, even long enough to provision. They allowed us to buy fuel and then instructed us to leave immediately suggesting that we anchor by a nearby island so as not have to traverse the dangerous fish trap ridden waters at night.

Suddenly....a Reef!

We sailed toward the island, setting course as instructed and using Max Sea. We were carefully watching the depth contours looking for a suitable spot to drop the hook. Suddenly, although the chart showed we were in 20 meters of water, we heard a horrid crunching and scraping and Ascension came to an abrupt stop. We had hit the reef!

After several attempts to back off and pick our way out of the dangers, we left the island anchorage and found our own spot in the bay off the mainland. There was no way to asses the damage at that point in time, we could only hope it wasn't too severe.

The following morning we set sail early for Singapore.


A strong sense of sadness was felt as we sailed out of Indonesia and crossed over to Singapore. We had never felt threatened or endangered at any time, only warmly welcomed by genuine loving people. Three months was not nearly enough time to explore all the vastness of the country's treasures that Indonesia has to offer. Each place has been unique, both in topography and culture, and we feel that the Indonesian  cruising experience has been a highlight that we will cherish for years to come.
PHOTO ALBUMS OF INDONESIA

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