Through the Torres Strait to Indonesia (Oct 2019)

Beautiful Arafura Sea

The passage through the challenging Torres strait could not have been better. The most critical part we crossed on a beautiful and sunny day in very calm conditions. It was my birthday by the way but as we had to have constantly a careful lookout we decided to celebrate the next day when we will have passed the strait.

Once we had passed the critical part with all the reefs some beautiful light wind sailing days in the Arafura sea followed. We sailed silently with the gennaker or sometimes with the Code zero . No banging, no heeling, no waves… it was simply perfect! Every morning I threw the fishing line at sunrise and after maximum one hour there was a nice tuna on the hook. The kids could play lego on the table and I even had a cup of coffee now and then. Normally both does not work on passages because of the heeling. My stomach does not like the combination of coffee and heeling. We even used the BBQ and I think that was the first time we did that on a passage. It was not our fastest passage but definitely one of the most beautiful ones and we all enjoyed it.

After 10 days we reached Kupang at nighttime. The traffic on the last few miles gave us a little taste of how challenging night sailing in Indonesia is going to be… many fishing boats and fish attracting devices…. some with no lights, most of them without AIS. Our friends from ALDIVI who had left Port Moresby before us were already there. Also ALKYONE, a German boat with five kids, who knew ALDIVI and POLARWIND from Fidji and had come from Australia. Normally we avoid to arrive on an anchorage at night but both ALDIVI and ALKYONE assured us that it was no problem and helped us to find a good anchorage spot.

We had many officials on board for the clearing in. One guy started to investigate the cabins and lockers and wanted me to take pictures of him investigating while the lady from health department wanted me to fill out a form. André was with other officials in the cockpit, filling out other forms…but then after a short while they got ready to leave again without really completing the investigation. A quick group selfie and off they went… A bit strange and chaotic but we were cleared in and ready to explore a new continent.

Clearance Indonesian style…

We went ashore all together for dinner on a street with many barbeque stalls offering fish, all kind of seafood and meat. We had to get used to all these zeros of the Indonesian Rupia… we spent over 1 million rupias for the dinner for three families that sounds a lot but it is just about 50 Swiss Francs. Bye the way… for the first time during our travel we hit the mango season!!! Yummy! They were incredibly delicious and cheap.

The next day I went for provisioning on the local market together with Jutta and Bernadette. It was great fun. Altough many of the locals did not understand English we got along somehow. There was always someone trying to help. I love to stroll through markets. It is one of my favourite things to do in a foreign country because you can learn a lot about local food and you feel the atmosphere. You discover local fruits and vegetables , you can taste them and you learn about people’s everyday life. Of course the strolling part on a provisioning tour is more limited to the beginning as your bags get heavier and heavier with every stall you stop at. But it is still fun especially on an Asian market, where there are heaps of different flavours, smells and colours to soak in. We squeezed in one of the local minibuses, just next to a fisherman with a bucket of fish and headed back to Teddy’s Bar.

Jutta, Berna and me really enjoyed our provisioning trip

Before heading off towards Komodo National Park we not only had to stock up our pantry we also had to refuel. And I do admit provisioning is the much nicer job than doing the refuel. At some places it is very easy of course. When there is a fuel dock where we can go by boat, it is similar to refuel a car – you basically just plug in the hose and that’s it. But in smaller places it is not as simple as that… There you have to refuel with 20lt. jerry cans. So you have to get a taxi to get the diesel, then load the heavy and super smelly jerry cans in the dinghy, lift them on the boat and fill them one by one in the fuel tank. And then you repeat the whole procedure depending how much diesel you need and how many jerry cans you have. Our local “agent” in Kupang was very helpful though, lent us jerrycans and delivered them full to the dinghy at the beach.
We left Kupang and planned to meet each other again in the Komodo National Park. Our concerns about nightsailing in Indonesia proofed to be true…


Leave a Reply