And on to Belitung . . .

Post date: Oct 28, 2011 8:42:14 AM

Belitung is a long way from Bali – nearly 600nm. We planned to stop at the island of Bawean 230miles and 2 days away. This island is in the middle of the Java Sea and many rally yachts used it as a stepping off point to go to Kumai on Borneo. It was a quiet and peaceful anchorage in a large bay. A substantial town was just around the corner – a short dinghy ride away over the coral reef flats and rubbish. The town was very interesting. I don't think they see many tourists there – it is a working town. The people here are largely fishermen and they process fish products – clay pots full of fish and salt that they heat on fires and store. There were bales of tobacco leaves in sheds too. One shopkeeper pulled us inside his shop and sat us down to have a chat. He asked many quite personal questions but we think he was just trying to find out what it was like to live in Australia. When we told him about the comparison in fuel prices he was surprised. It was informative for us too.

We stayed 2 nights at this anchorage and then we were ready for the next 3 days at sea to Belitung. The sailing was easy. There were many hazards in the way of ships and fishing boats that kept us awake at night and added excitement to our lives at sea.

Many ships use the Java Sea travelling from Singapore to other parts of the world. Most of them seem to be on a collision course with us when Greg is on watch. Our technology is very useful in letting us and them know we are there. The AIS and radar confirm how fast they are going and when we will collide. We hope not to. Sometimes they come quite close though.

Ships going every which way. Grey box - our details. Yellow box details of one of the ships

On my watch we get the fleets of fishing boats – one night there were hundreds of them surrounding us. They were fishing for stingrays and cumi-cumi (squid) with very bright lights and were easy to see - we just steered through the middle of them. The experience was awesome – we only had to change course once or twice of them when they were less than ½ mile away. Fortunately when they got close they showed on the radar. It looked like a piece of fruitcake so many spots on it.

The anchorage at Tanjung Kelayan was a welcome sight . ..