Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Half Way Treat!

When we reached Bali, we had traveled 15,047 miles since leaving Madeira Beach in April 2016, and which for us, marked a slightly over half way point in our journey. The total miles we will travel once we reach Florida again, will be around 26,000 miles or more. The Captain decided the crew deserved a treat (as did he!) and checked us into The Menjangan Dynasty Resort, that was nestled on the hill in Banyu Wedang, where we were anchored, for 2 nights! The kids were beyond excited (and I’ll admit both Dave and I were too!). The thought of long, hot showers, or even a bath (gasp!), a bed that didn’t move, and no cooking for 2 nights had me quite giddy with excitement!! We checked into a 2 bedroom villa (tent) with our own little pool. This wonderful upgrade was made possible by a donation from generous Aunty Kimmy, who contributed towards the stay, otherwise we could not have afforded to do it. Thank you SO much, Kim!!

The resort from above.  Cool Runnings is the closest boat on the top right hand corner of the picture.
Checking in!  We are very excited!!
As mentioned before, the rooms at the resort are all upscale tents, imported from South Africa. They are beautifully done. The resort is brand new, it only opened in October 2016, so it is only 8 months old. Besides us, we think there were only 2 other guests, a couple and a family with a small child. We did meet a nice German couple, Wolfgang and Monica, but they checked out the day after we checked in, but we enjoyed their company at an afternoon wine tasting, and a chat after dinner.

Another drone shot of the resort.  Our "tent" is the furthest on the left with the little pool in front

Enjoying the good life!
The problem with cruising is always what to do with your boat when you want to leave it for a short while, so this was perfect. We could keep an eye on the boat that was anchored in the bay, we could keep an eye on the dinghy that was tied to a tree outside the restaurant, and we could enjoy the resort without worrying about our floating home! 

We could keep a close eye on Cool Runnings from the resort

Here we are, with the resort in the background!

We just relaxed, swam in the pool, watched movies, made use of the free internet and generally just did a whole lot of nothing! Because there were so few guests, we were waited on hand and foot. The resort is very remote, so not a whole lot was going on, and there was nothing to do outside of the resort, but it was exactly what we needed, and it was a wonderful treat for all of us!

Our villa - Ben gives the thumbs up!

No caption needed!

The kids room

The living area

Second bedroom adjoining the living area

The main bedroom

The bathroom - it was all open (there were flaps on the outside of the tent that could be lowered for more privacy!)

The chandelier hanging from the tent "ceiling"

Ah yes...morning coffee on our private patio relaxing in my resort-provided Bali robe!
After reluctantly checking out on Thursday, we went back to the boat and, since unfortunately none of us were feeling very well (we think we picked up some form of food poisoning!!), we just slept for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Dave was hit particularly hard, and was not well at all! By Friday he seemed to start feeling better, so we spent the morning getting the boat ready to go, cleaned the hulls and pulled up the anchor around 2:00pm. (If you wonder why we always clean the hulls, the reason is that the cleaner they are, the faster you go. Any dirt, algae or barnacles act as a barrier to the water moving smoothly over the hulls and it affects your speed. Plus, it’s easier to keep up with it if it’s done regularly!). Our plan was to sail around the corner, where we saw a possible anchorage at the point where the local ferries cross between Bali and Java. We had to go to Denpasar, in the south of Bali, for official check out of the country. The distance was about 90 miles. Too long for a day, but we thought if we could cut off about 15 miles, we could do a very long day the following day.

Sunset from our patio.  The mountain is a volcano on neighboring Java

At its narrowest point, the strait between Bali and Java is only a mile wide, and as we’ve learned sailing in Indonesia, the current in the straits can be severe! We knew there would be a strong current here, but didn’t quite expect it to be as strong as it was! As we rounded the corner into the strait, we could see the white caps and standing waves. This is formed when there is wind against current. And the wind came up from about 6 knots to 18 knots directly against us as we rounded the point. Luckily, for once, the current was with us, and although we were doing 3 knots boat speed, our speed over ground (how fast we were actually moving) was about 10, sometimes 11 knots!

In the thick of the current:  18 knots wind against an 8 knot current

On the left, 10 knots is Speed over Ground (SOG), and on the right is 2.9 knots, boat speed!

We got to the spot where we thought we could anchor, but it proved to be impossible. With the strong current and tons of ferries, there was just nowhere we could park for the night, so we continued, making the decision to just continue through the night. Just before sunset, neither Dave nor I were feeling particularly great, so we found a spot on the charts that we figured would work for the night, and we just dropped the anchor. We hoped that the bottom would be sand or mud, and not coral as it often is here. We seemed to get an almost too good of a bite on the anchor (suggesting rock or coral), and Dave was worried it was caught on rock/coral, and had nightmares about it all night as it is potentially very hard to retrieve, or even worse, could be permanently stuck, in which case the only option is to abandon the anchor, as it would have been too deep to dive to retrieve it. It turned out to be a worry for nothing, because, when we got up the next morning at 4:00am, the anchor came up without a hitch, and we were on our way again. It wasn’t too bad of a trip. We had to motor the whole way, as we were going straight into the wind, but we knew this from the outset, as the south easterly trades are blowing steadily every day. Dave spent most of the day sleeping, still trying to get over his stomach bug, and by this time, he’d started taking antibiotics to help speed up the recovery.

Around lunchtime we were close enough to be able to see AIS signals, and I zoomed in on the chartplotter to the marina area where we were headed. I saw a sailboat AIS signal (they have a different shape to a ship), and I clicked on it, just hoping and praying it was who I thought it was….and it was!! I saw “Moby” was safe and sound in the Bali Marina! We had been tracking them almost every day since they had left Thursday Island in Australia 9 days previously! We had also been in touch constantly regarding the possible roadblocks we all faced about checking in and out due to the Ramadan holiday, and the possibility of customs and immigration offices being closed. By around 4:00pm we entered Benoa harbor amongst the myriads of watercraft entertaining the tourists of Bali. We dodged paragliders, boats pulling rafts that flew into the air, jetboats with screaming occupants and ferries returning for the day. It was a crazy scene, especially coming from the isolation in the north we’d just left!!

Not a good example to show the craziness, but this is all I had for entering Benoa Harbor!

It was a very happy reunion on the dilapidated concrete dock of Bali Marina with the crews of Cool Runnings and Moby! This reunion should have taken place in Kupang a month ago, but we were happy that Moby was all repaired, and had made it safely to Bali. We also met up again with Aerial IV and the 3 boats will sail together to Cocos Keeling.

Moby on the dock behind us in the Bali Marina
The concrete dock with Moby behind us

This is the electricity hook up in the Bali Marina...no thank you!
The last 2 days have been spent cleaning, fixing and shopping. We found a huge “Carrefour” supermarket, a brand we were familiar with from French Polynesia, and found everything we were looking for, except, to our children’s dismay, marshmallows for the bonfires on the beach in Cocos and Chagos. Oh well….Benedicte (aka Moby’s mom) has assured me she has a good stock on board, so I bought extra corn for popping, and sausages for grilling! We couldn’t buy too much fresh produce, as it will be confiscated in Cocos Keeling when we check in there, as they have the same strict quarantine procedures as Australia (it belongs to Australia), so I could only really buy enough to last the passage there. I was also still fairly well stocked from Australia, but was glad to be able to top up on the food we’d consumed since we left there, since our next chance will really only be in the Seychelles in about 2 months time!


Fixing (we had to patch a few small holes in the spinnaker...)

Everybody helps!  The spinnaker is a huge sail to handle!

Getting the boat ready...Dave secures the dinghy
Today we have spent another frustrating day checking out. Due to the holiday, the immigration only stays open until 10:00am. By the time Dave was done with immigration, he had to go to customs, but they decided to close for lunch. So we had to wait. And what in theory could (and should) have taken maybe 2 hours in the morning, has once again stretched into a full day. The bureaucracy is frustrating to say the least and we long for the efficient check in and out procedures of some of the other countries we’ve visited! 

Our overall impression of Indonesia, of the area we’ve seen (East and West Nusa Tengarra and Bali) from a cruiser’s point of view, is that as a cruising destination it still has a way to go. It is not really set up for cruisers, there are limited anchorages, diesel is difficult to get, and our biggest disappointment is that the water is so polluted. Even for miles out at sea we’ve seen plastic bags and plastic bottles, cans, tires, sacks, cigarette boxes…almost any trash you can think of, it’s floating in the water. In harbors and beaches, or anywhere there is a catchment area, it is even worse. The litter is also really bad on the streets, but we’ve noticed very few rubbish bins/trash cans, so there is nowhere for people to put their litter. It is also completely over-fished, and I’m sure the dynamite “fishing” we witnessed off of Flores doesn’t help the state of the fish at all! We saw very little sea life (save for the pod of pilot whales), and even the few dolphins we saw were small, as if they have adapted to the limited number of fish in the sea. 

So much trash in the water
In Labuan Bajo
And here in Bali
But having said that, we are glad we came, the people (on the whole!) were friendly and welcoming. It was interesting to learn about the different religions and cultures on the islands, and experience the different ways of life from the quiet mountain villages to the crazy hustle and bustle of the cities, with the swarms of scooters all beeping at each other!. On the sea, I will always remember the spider boats and other wooden, carved fishing boats, most painted in bright colors, each island having its own distinct style. But it is the inland beauty of Bali that stands out as a highlight for me…the lush, green mountains with narrow, windy roads; green terraced rice fields and deep gorges with tall bamboo, palms and trees; beautiful waterfalls and black volcanic sand beaches. Huge, towering volcanoes and the landscape dotted with brightly colored temples and shrines, and the intricate, gold painted carvings glistening in the sunlight. It was an experience not be missed, and I’m glad we had our short time here.

Colorful boats - Labuon Bajo

Wooden fishing boat on a black sand beach - Wera

Volcano - Bali

Rice fields outside Lovina - Bali

Terraced rice fields - Bali

Outside Ubud Palace - Ubud, Bali

Hindu Temple - outside Ubud, Bali

Tomorrow morning early we enter the mighty Indian Ocean and head for Cocos Keeling. It’s a 1,100 mile passage that should hopefully take between 6 and 7 days, depending on the wind, but the forecast is good, the wind strength is good and the wind angle is right for the sails. It is the next big passage on our journey across the Indian Ocean, and we are ready and raring to go! See you all in Cocos Keeling!


  1. Good luck for the next 1000 miles. Those tents look amazing - great to see South Africa exporting around the world.

    1. Those tents are my idea of vacation which I truly need right now. Amazing to realize how close you are getting to Durban - home sweet home! Safe travels across the Indian Ocean. Can't wait for your next update. PS the trash is such a sad thing to read about and see