We had to get back to the boat since we are not comfortable leaving it in any anchorage unattended for two long. Gwen and Don, two friends of ours who were baby-sitting another boat volunteered to turn on our generator twice a day while we were gone and keep our batteries full and our fridge and freezer running. Once we got back to the boat Hannah decided that she would like to go see Ubud – the center for arts and culture in Bali. She took a shuttle bus there and found a beautiful little “home-stay” in Ubud ($10 a day including breakfast!) and had an amazing adventure – meeting a lot of Balinese, watching a Balinese dance class and then arranging for a private lesson with the teacher, getting invited to the teacher’s house in a nearby village, attending a cremation ceremony and a wedding ceremony (separately of course), and just falling in love with the beauty of true Balinese culture. A lot of Ubud is very touristy, but she was able to find her way out of that stuff.
There were a lot of “Sail Indonesia” activities while we were in Bali as well. There must have been 70 sailboats from all over the world there at the same time – all in the same anchorage – all having started with the Rally in Darwin, Australia like we did. There were organized activities every night which were fabulous – Balinese dance and gamelan music on the beach for all the cruisers to enjoy for free. I had not seen Balinese dance for 30 years, but it was as beautiful as I remember it. The last night of the rally there was dancing and music and a big dinner party on the last night of the rally and we all enjoyed it –complete with crazy fireworks being set off about 10 feet from where we were eating- and funny karaoke singers with sailors joining in full voice.
We left Bali on Saturday (November 24) at 1:30 am heading for Kangean Island in the Bali Sea. We arrived there at 4:00 pm after a rolly sail with plenty of wind, and anchored next to our friends on “Gosi.” We were very tired since we had little sleep the night before but after a good night’s sleep, we got up early on Sunday (6:00 am) ready for the 2 ½ day passage to Kumai in the province of Central Borneo (Kalimantan Tengah), across the Java Sea.
There was lots of traffic to avoid in the Java Sea. There were scores of fishing vessels, many of them quite small and without lights. There was substantial international shipping traffic, such as tankers heading for Brisbane, that broadcast an AIS signal warning us of their approach, but also lots of Indonesian inter-island traffic without AIS or the internationally required sets of lights. These included tugs pulling enormous barges loaded with coal from Borneo. We had to scan the horizon constantly during the night, plus check the radar looking for targets. Night watches were very tiring compared to those we experience sailing across the Pacific Ocean. We often had to change course to keep clear of other vessels. Having Hannah on-board was a great help. She was with each of us for half of our night watch, scanning the horizon while we fiddled with the AIS and radar, or just relaxed a bit in the cockpit. We had enough wind to sail about half the distance to Borneo, motoring the rest of the time, which is about what we expected.
We wound our way up the brown water of the Kumai River, the banks of which are dense mangrove and rainforest, for 3 to 4 hours until we arrived at the town of Kumai about noon yesterday. The town is adjacent to a large national park that contains orangutans (the only great ape found outside of Africa), proboscis monkeys, and a variety of other remarkable creatures. The only transportation in this area is by boat on the myriad rainforest rivers. Tomorrow we will take a two day trip on a local klotok (wooden boat) to see the orangutans and monkeys at Camp Leakey and other research centers in the interior rainforest. We will sleep on the deck of the klotok, under mosquito nets. We will have a captain, a boat boy, a cook, and a guide. Should be exciting, and no night watches.
L. & M. & H.