Belitung, Indonesia
 
 September 17, 2018    |   read entry >












  




September 17, 2018    |   Belitung, Indonesia - A cluster of towering granite boulders form a very popular selfie destination for drone-flying Javanese tourists.



September 17, 2018    |   Belitung, Indonesia - Colorful local fishing boats ferry Indonesian tourists to Pulau Kepayang for a little island dining.



September 17, 2018    |   Belitung, Indonesia - The BVI-I's. Dramatic boulders and clear waters have inspired some travelers to declare Belitung the BVI's of Indonesia.



September 16, 2018    |   Belitung, Indonesia - Island hopping.



September 16, 2018    |   Belitung, Indonesia - A sense of scale.







September 13, 2018 (Day 4,123)
Quick Fix: 02° 44.5 S / 111° 43.8 E
Conditions:  Wind: Variable  Sky: Mostly clear

Respect The Orangutan
The orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park are cared for. These gentle apes can only be found in the rain forests of Sumatra and Borneo, but sadly, within the next 10 years according to Orangutan Project, extinction is likely for wild Sumatran orangutans and soon after for their Bornean cousins. Both are critically endangered. During a feeding we witnessed for rehabilitated orangutans, some in our group, not to mock or disrespect, laughed when a young orangutan struggled to cram bananas into its mouth and carry a dozen in its hands, preferring, perhaps, to enjoy a quiet breakfast in the canopies far from our scrutiny. When hearing the chuckles, a Tanjung Puting keeper hissed and berated those responsible. His disappointment was clear - laughing, no matter how innocent, for a creature so proud, intelligent and lonely, was just wrong. You can help respect the orangutan, click here to adopt one today >

           


 


   
Day 4,122 - Borneo, Indonesia
17:42hrs - September 12, 2018
Bali to Borneo

We have read and heard about the congested waters of Indonesia but this last 400 miles between Bali and Borneo has been the most congested water we've ever crossed. Each day was like a game of Frogger with tugs and cargo ships, and the night sailing was a whole other challenge. As each night fell the darkness revealed a million twinkling lights with a horizon to horizon view of brightly lit fishing and squid boats all without a single traditional navigation light between them anchored and working in 250 feet of open Java Sea completely surrounding us.

Mostly they picked a spot and stayed in one place but the boats that moved around were harder to predict and required very close attention. But now add to this a steady stream of 100,000 tonne international cargo ships some with AIS fixes (Automatic Identification System) some without, underway at an average speed of 12 knots running close enough to us to require regular course changes on our part, and huge tugs towing massive barges with nav' lights but no AIS fix, it seemed an impossible system.

I spent my night watches hyper alert to every move wondering how no one hit? How do the fishermen, tug and ship captains coexist in this apparent chaos? I guess it’s essentially just like Bali traffic, and somehow it just worked, the ships were like the precariously laden trucks unable to deviate their route very much for fear of accident and the fishing boats and the little sailors like us, were the million zippy scooters zigzagging between lanes and traffic, and astonishingly it actually worked. We made it across the Java sea without incident and I have learned that we could tolerate and manage a whole different level of night sailing stress and as a helpful by-product, I now I feel better prepared for the even busier traffic of the Malacca Straits!

Borneo was a welcome relaxing adventure after our exciting Java passage and after some much needed sleep we arranged for a trip up the river to visit the famous native orangutans. Most people choose a leisurely 3 day amble up and down the river on traditional Indonesian river boats, but we chose the less sedate but rather faster speedy boat version that would take us up the river and back down again in the same day so we wouldn't have to leave Dream Time unattended overnight. So a little after 8am a somewhat weathered small orange speed boat appeared alongside with a guide and driver full of morning cheer. We hopped in and went to pick up Bobby and Sam from Confidence who had agreed to join us on the trip, this made us 6 adults in a boat whose aging engine I think would have been happier if we had only been 4, but on we went speeding through the river past rich green fragrant jungle only stopping occasionally to unwrap river grass from the propeller and with Neville being asked to balance at the front in order for us to be able to get up on the plane.

After an hour or so we were at the first of 3 stops and after a short jungle trek we reached a small clearing with a platform about 5 feet above the ground covered with fruit. We found a spot with a good view amongst the trees and waited quietly with the other river tourists for our breakfast guests to arrive.  When I looked around and saw all the expectant faces with cameras focused on the platform and shutters poised I suddenly felt very sorry for the creatures that were now expected to show up and eat breakfast in front of us, just so we could all go away having captured a moment of their lives purely to satisfy a curiosity, and so at that moment most of me hoped for that they would outsmart us and find a way of reaching the fruit without being seen. But then there was a leafy rustle and the undergrowth moved and he (or she, I’m not sure who’s who) emerged from the dense green and was suddenly there in front of us, and it was magical.

Every part of me was thrilled that this creature had decided that it was going to allow us to see it, even if only for a short time over a quick breakfast, and I was just entranced and so grateful for the moment. And that turned out to be just the beginning of a day filled with an abundance of up close orangutans, monkeys, steamy jungle walks, exotic picnics and interestingly two tourists and a novice guide lost overnight in the jungle found the next day by an impressive ninja jungle rescue search party.

The guide book says this particular excursion might be the highlight of your Indonesian journey, I would have to say that barring some pretty amazing something else happening, it very well could be.

 


September 11, 2018    |   Borneo, Indonesia - Only in the rain forests of Borneo & Sumatra will you find wild orangutans, which in Malay translates to, 'people of the forest'.



September 11, 2018    |   Borneo. Indonesia - Getting intimate with an orangutan in the Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan. What an experience.



September 11, 2018    |   Borneo. Indonesia - Absolute calm on the Sekonyer River.


 


   
Day 4,118 - Java Sea, Indonesia
18:59hrs - September 8, 2018
Island of the Gods

Every week in Indonesia delivers something new and entirely wonderful. We’re sailing through the region at a pace that feels more like a yacht delivery than a casual cruise, well, at least for Dream Time’s moving average. But we've got a date with Singapore in a few weeks so press on we must.

We’re now at latitude two degrees south, just 200 miles from the equator. The northern hemisphere awaits along with a change of seasons where weather spins and water drains in a whole new rotation. The air temperature is 94 degrees at our current location, the water is 83 degrees and the wind delivers not a cool refreshing breeze, but the warm heavy moist breath of the tropics.

Bali, Island of the Gods, delivered a week of congestion and excitement that made even the streets of New York City seem like a sleepy suburbia. We rented a car for three days and drove from Lovina, an anchorage on the northern coast, across the mountainous backbone of the island to busy markets, dusty roadside fruit stalls, rice paddies and broody volcanic peaks. Locals seemed bemused and somewhat concerned to learn that we were driving ourselves. The roads, we quickly discovered, were aswarm with scooters, thousands upon thousands of them meandering, flowing, and squeezing through the streets and around cars like water. But we found order in the apparent chaos and horns are exercised freely and continuously: one blast, we learned, serves as a, ‘Hey, I’m overtaking you’ or ‘Do not cross the road right now’ warning. Two short blasts are commonly used as a reprimand, while three happy toots are exchanged when passing a friend or family member.

Bali is home to Indonesia's largest Hindu population, 83% of the island's 4.2 million, in fact, so thousands of temples and shrines adhorned with fierce, boggly-eyed growling gods, crafted from the crushed powder of black volcanic rock, leer at you from every direction. Tiny palm frond trays filled with flowers and food - fruit, Ritz crackers, even snack-size candy bars - are placed at the base of each shrine as a daily offering. By late afternoon the contents is strewn across streets and sidewalks in colorful trails of confetti, the contents either scavenged by street dogs or accidently kicked by sandled feet.

Driving was so mentally exhausting that by the end of our second day we booked ourselves into Lakeview Hotel at 5,000 feet above Dream Time and relaxed for the evening with a stunning view of Batur volcano off our balcony, a cold mountain breeze blowing into the room, unlimited hot running water and complimentary WiFi - a treat beyond description for two road weary tropical cruisers.

Next stop, Borneo...




September 3, 2018    |   Bali, Indonesia - Five thousand feet above Dream Time with a sunset view of Mount Batur, Bali's less vigorous volcano. (Last eruption 2000.)



September 3, 2018    |   Bali, Indonesia - A Yali carved into the entrance of a Hindu temple in the Bangli region. Bali is known as 'Island of the Gods'.



 


   
Day 4,111 - Bali, Indonesia
09:15hrs - September 1, 2018
Navigating Indonesia

We've been navigating Indonesian waters for a month, from crossing the Savu Sea - sails stretched in thirty knots of southeast tradewinds, to coastal hopping along the leeward shorelines of Sumbawa and Lombok where the gentle onshore breeze requires more motoring than sailing. But these are good cruising days, perfect for running the watermaker, catching up on laundry, boat projects and charging the batteries. It is the balance of living on the sea.

It's a mellow way to explore the region, one where days are spent lounging in a canopy covered cockpit as we glide slowly alongside impressive panoramic island backdrops where black volcanic sand meets twinkling cerulean seas, dark green forests of swaying coconut palms guard the beach, and faded by distance, volcanoes rise to meet the clouds with cones so colossal in size they seem to challenge the very scale of things.

We're averaging around forty nautical miles a day, and by mid-afternoon Dream Time can usually be found resting in a new anchorage with reef to snorkel, beaches to comb, perhaps a village to explore and local entrepreneurs to vet. For now we're avoiding the challenges of night sailing, especially along shorelines as local outriggers, fishing nets, FADs (Fish Aggregation Devices), inaccurate charts and unsurveyed areas make day cruising a more appealing sailing strategy.

Night passages here require a little more effort as local fishing outriggers almost never display customary navigational lights, and if they are lit they're usually of the blinking strobe variety, blue and red seem to be the most popular colors. The FADs used to attract fish are never lit, they’re not marked on charts and elude our radar as most are bamboo rafts supporting a simple wooden A-frame and a few vertical palm fronds, an attempt, presumably, to increase visibility. The north coast of Bali is a virtual minefield of FADs, we've counted hundreds and found some anchored, remarkably, in depths of over 2,000 feet.

Charts for Indonesia often serve more as vague guidelines than a tool for accurate navigation. Not all reefs are surveyed, whole islands have been omitted, and inaccuracies can register not in mere meters but miles. Our electronic charts, both Garmin and Navionics, regularly display Dream Time charging up a hillside when approaching an anchorage. Depths and seabeds can be wildly misleading, too, so we're using satellite images to navigate coastlines and anchorages.

Cruising guide books for the region are very good, specifically The Cruising Guide to Indonesia by Andy Scott, but with 18,000 isles covering two million square miles of water, the 300-page book is exactly as the name suggests, just a guide. So we cache satellite photos of our anticipated route using Ovitalmap to help us discover anchorages not listed in books or displayed on charts. And in areas where the cruising guide suggests anchoring in sixty feet of water or near a village that had 'a reputation for harboring Islamic fundamentalists', we've discovered idyllic anchorages just a few miles along the coast in fifteen feet of clear water, away from clusters of rally boats or Islamic extremists.

We're now anchored on the northern coast of Bali and have hired a car from a family-owned business for 300,000 rupiah a day (about $20). It's the grandmother's car and has a bobble-head dog perched on the dashboard, a car freshener hanging from the rearview mirror with a scent so potent it makes your eyes sting, and a driver's seat slid so far forward it almost touched the steering wheel. Locals seem surprised to learn that we're not hiring a driver, the roads are chaotic and apparently, with four million people on the island and no apparent 'rules of the road', most tourists choose the passenger seat. But hey, if you can drive in New York... and besides, we've made it this far in Indonesia without incident, so I'm sure we can navigate Bali.