Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Belitung - 02° 33' 34" S 107° 40' 15" E

“… the charts leading into the only good anchorage on the island are totally inaccurate. Disregard them.” - Cruising Guide to Indonesia
With that advice and knowing Popeye needs at least 3 metres of clear water beneath her, we gingerly eased into coral-reef-filled bay of Tanjung Penayang. We had been given a set of lat/long waypoints that we had programmed into our iPads and followed in a connect-the-dot fashion until we were uneventfully far enough into sheltered water.
The blue pins are the waypoints we followed.
What a treat the vista provided. The water around Belitung (our main destination for the week) was filled with smaller islands - a mishmash of haphazardly piled granite boulders with bright, sandy beaches and think, leafy bush retreating from the shoreline. The water was very clear, allowing us to see the coral bommies on either side of our carefully prescribed path. After we dropped anchor, had a late lunch and a refreshing swim.

Our thirty hour passage had gone quickly, thanks to a favorable 2-3 knot current. The wind hadn’t been strong enough to allow us to sail the whole way, but the sea hadn’t been rough, either. Despite having to work through being on rotating watches and only having two hours of sleep at a time, we were excited at the prospect of going ashore and seeing what this island had to show us. It would be the jumping-off point for Lorne and Joelle as the island had an airport where they could catch a flight back to Singapore (and eventually, home to the States). We would also need to re-provision with fresh fruit, some produce, diesel and propane.

Evan gives Kate an overview of the island
The island of Belitung was a bit of a mystery as it isn't really a foreign tourist destination - it is just a convenient stop between Java and Borneo.  We've since found out it is a former Dutch colony, once rich in tin ore.  The price of tin dropped out in the mid-1970's and the island quieted down considerably.  It now hosts pepper farms, rubber plantations, fishing and boat building, some Indonesian tourists who come for the fabulous beaches and reefs.  Joelle and Lorne had two days to enjoy the snorkeling and to visit the 130+ year old lighthouse not far from where we are anchored.

We now have established ourselves at Kelayang Beach Resto and met Evan, the local guy who can get you a rental car, diesel and anything else you need.  Oh, and his wife takes in laundry and runs the restaurant at the end of the pier.  Evan has acted as tour guide, taking us to a Tarsian Monkey sanctuary; the Belitung museum; a songbird competition, the local produce market, the ATM and to get Kate a SIM card for her phone.  It is a beautiful island, the best snorkeling yet, sandy white beaches, stunning granite outcrops and wonderful people.  Paradise found.... Amazing adventures...


Thanks Lorne. The rain didn't seem to faze you at all!

Heather and Charlie tracked us down a few days ago, based on little more than a screenshot of a google map and a photo of a roadside sign that points down a dirt road to our beach.  Never having cruised on a yacht before, we are quickly orienting them with all the necessary information and they are catching on very quickly.  The first morning after they arrived, they both joined Kate and I for our morning plunge off the stern swim platform.  We then floated in the bathtub-temperature water and planned our day.

We will be leaving tomorrow, having a 40 - 42 hour passage.  Heather and Charlie's indoctrination will continue as they learn to do night watches.  What fun we are going to have.

How Charlie and Heather found us
Crown of Thorn starfish on the reef
Joelle and Sean snorkeling
We are here.
Lengkuas Island Lighthouse
The original flat pack. Each panel, stair tread and floor plate are numbered. Manufactured in Holland, shipped across and assembled in the Dutch East Indies in 1883.  The light is still in use and we used it as a landmark on our passage from Kongka Besar.

All of us at the top
Great views
More of the same
Cheap Lunch
down the iron stairs of the lighthouse
Kelayang Island
Sluice ponds at the tin mines
A Tarsier Monkey at the sanctuary
This little fellow has eyeballs the size of his brain and can leap 40 times his body length! They are unable to move their eyes so their neck compensates by being able to rotate 270°.  When lit up at night, their eyes shine red.  Swiveling heads and red eyes- just like Regan out of the Exorcist -  lead them to be known as ghost monkeys.  When the hunters when into the forest to catch dinner and saw a tarsier, they considered them bad luck and they would not catch anything for supper.  Sadly, they were often killed...

Budi, the man behind the sanctuary
Hooray!  Fresh vegetables!
Bird singing competition ... with trophies!
Bird singing is a huge pastime in Asia.  Predominately by men, these pampered birds are 'pitted' against each other to sing.  Points are awarded based on their melody, pitch, clarity, stamina, modulation and volume.

2 comments:

  1. Great pictures of Joelle snorkeling! Too bad we missed the remainder of the tour of Belitung. Oh well, the part we were there for was amazing so not complaining. We had a safe, if a bit long, trip home. Nice to get a hot shower and fresh change of clothes back in Singapore.

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  2. When are you heading out of Belitung? Looks like there is not much wind anywhere. Spent some time on Windy.TV this evening dreaming.

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