Into Indonesia and Camomile on the Rocks
The journey continues.
From Tawau you have two choices
- Go back the way you came through pirate alley! A couple of boats did that and were offered another escort
- OR head south into Indonesia.
There’s an Indonesian consulate in Tawau so it’s possible to obtain a visa. To enter Indonesia you need a CAIT (Cruising Authority for Indonesian Territory), which needs to be applied for in advance. There are various places to obtain a CAIT. The Raja Ampat rally follows on from Sail Malaysia and the organisers were offering free CAITs, which many participants took up. As we weren’t going to Raja Ampat but heading south we paid $150 for ours, which is quite good value. I won’t include any more detail here but if anyone requires more information please email me.
We arrived in Tarakan, Indonesia from Tawau, Malaysia on 19th August. We anchored at
It took all afternoon for the authorities to check in the rally, which now consisted of 13 boats. We had a beautiful sunset that evening.
Tarakan was very under whelming so once we had our numerous bits of paper giving us clearance to proceed into Indonesia the rally moved south on the 22nd August to the Derawan islands.
The rally anchored off of Tanjung Batu on 24th August at
They don’t see many yachts in this part of the world and there was great excitement when the rally arrived. The organisers asked if we could put some flags up so we dressed Camomile overall, being one of only two boats who had the correct signal flags; the other boat was also British. Some people put up an assortment of courtesy flags. Shame I didn’t get a better photo.
The following day we were all picked up from our boats by a local passenger boat and taken on the 3 island tour. If you get the chance to do this I would recommend it. Unfortunately we arrived at Pulau Sangalaki, famous for it’s Manta rays and sea turtles, on a falling tide and the boatman said we couldn’t go in because we wouldn’t be able to get out until much later and there wasn’t time to do that. I have to say they should have known that before they took us down there but I think the boatman had told the guy in charge but he wanted him to try. We carried onto Pulau Kakaban and landed on the jetty and walked about 10 minutes to the centre. This photo shows us descending to the lake in the centre where we all got in the water and encountered these.
Normally if I see a jellyfish while swimming I’m straight out of the water but these creatures are non-stinging. Many thousands of years ago the island rose creating the lake, the jellyfish were stranded and without predators they have evolved as non-stinging. I believe the lake is one of only two places in the world that has these creatures; there were 4 different species. It was bizarre swimming among the hundreds of specimens surrounding us.
On our way to the third island our hosts handed out lunch boxes. Kind though it was the food wasn’t very nice and not many of us ate from it…. luckily. Maratua was a picturesque island with a striking beach. This is the boat we arrived in, Bill was happy to let some one else drive for a change! The water was an incredible azure blue inside the coral fringe.
We didn’t get the chance to swim in the inviting water but walked around the beautiful gardens on the island instead.
When we got back to the jetty I spotted this chap in the water. I think it’s a scorpion fish or lion fish but highly poisonous. It was quite happy swimming around the jetty supports and I was able to get really close to it in the shallows.
After a great day the ferry took us all back to the town where the locals had prepared a welcome ceremony for us presenting everyone with one of these beautifully handmade hats.
Dancing by some young ladies in the most remarkable hand made costumes followed the presentation. Their dresses were embroidered with exquisite pearls and shells; it must have taken hours of work.
As always the children were wonderful. The day was finished off with a buffet meal. Unfortunately either the lunch boxes or the buffet meal had some thing lurking in them because half the rally went down with suspected salmonella poisoning over the following few days including Bill. It was difficult to narrow down but it was decided it was either the boiled eggs in the lunch box (which tasted revolting) or the calamari.
The following day was a sad one because the rally were leaving for the next destination but we, along with 3 other boats, were staying behind. Among the boats leaving were Steve and Julie on Samsara II and Peter and Pearl on Simply Sensational both of whom were heading back to Australia. Saying goodbye is the one part of cruising I like the least. Great to know you guys and maybe we’ll meet again one day.
After saying our goodbyes we lifted the anchor to motor out to the anchorage by Pulau Derawan with Jackster, Calypso and Saol Elie, unfortunately Camomile found a rogue bommie only about a mile from the anchorage. Dinghies were launched and everyone tried to help us. A line was passed to Jackster, a 55’ Amel, who tried to pull us off while Steve took the topping lift to try and pull Camomile over but the tide was dropping and she wasn’t moving. Luckily we were still inside the reef so there wasn’t any swell running. After the initial rush to tow her off Bill said we needed to stop her falling over so yachtlegs were needed. They are stored underneath the saloon bunks and even though they’ve been used 3 or 4 times to dry out they haven’t been used in an emergency before. I just threw the cushions across the bunk so I could get the legs out.
Bill fixed the starboard leg in place before we had leant over too far.
Camomile was sitting right on the edge of the reef and the foot of the leg wouldn’t quite reach the bottom. Bill dived down to check. We put a call out ‘does any one happen to have a piece of 4×2 about a foot long’? Amazingly Saol Elie came back that they had some wood that size. I raced over in the dinghy to get it, it was just enough to get the foot on the bottom.
To relieve the pressure on the leg Bill tied a grapnel anchor to a line, which was tied to the topping lift and dropped it in the water the other side of the bommie, I winched it in and we were secure. There was nothing to do but wait.
The others carried onto the anchorage while Camomile creaked as the tide fell. Bill got in the water and decided to make use of our predicament and scrubbed the hull!!
4 hours we waited, 2 down and 2 back up again. Eventually, with me in the dinghy pulling on the starboard aft side to protect the rudder as we came off and Bill on the helm, Camomile glided off the reef with nothing more than a few scratches in the anti-foul underneath her iron keel. Westerlys are made of strong stuff.
The waypoint of the bommie is
If you are coming along behind us that position looks like it’s on the reef but the chart is out and the reef was several 100feet to our starboard but there were obviously a few bommies around the edge and the one time I wasn’t on deck spotting one jumped out and grabbed us!
We joined the others at the anchorage before nightfall in time for a stiff drink. The food poisoning really took hold then and of the 8 of us in the anchorage, 5 became really ill and spent the next few days recovering. Bill didn’t eat for 2 days and Dave on Jackster was really ill too.
The anchorage waypoint is
On the 28th Camomile and Jackster left Derawan leaving the others to continue to recover. We really wanted to go to Maratua, the third island on our trip, and anchor inside the reef but as we approached the swell was up and the entrance looked untenable. Having kissed one reef we weren’t about to do it again in an open sea. Sadly it was goodbye to Jackster on the radio because they were heading across the top of Sulawesi to Raja Ampat and we were heading south to Lombok to meet up with our son. The wind was strengthening and we had a good 5-day sail. On the second day we crossed the equator again but we’ll only be in the southern hemisphere for 2 months.
We headed towards the Sulawesi coast but decided not to land but to keep going. This was the closest we got and also the most easterly point of our journey this year.
On the fifth day we had a fantastic sail with the wind on the beam and a good current with us. Our 24 hour run was 162 miles which was very close to our record from the Pacific ocean. There was a lovely sunset that evening and we arrived at Medana bay, Lombok the following afternoon. We travelled 747 miles in 129 hours giving us an average speed of 5.7mph, a good average for us.