After leaving fabulous Belitung, we did a two day sail to Ketawai, a small island off the mainland. Robby the local organiser did a fantastic job of organising parties, food and music on the island, as well as tours onshore.
During a visit to a local school, I realised I had run out of money. No problem – our tourist police escort ran me to the nearest ATM with their blue lights flashing. I felt like a politician in South Africa!
An interesting item on our itinerary, was a boat ride to a secluded and unspoilt mangrove forest. A long walk on walkways to protect the mangroves followed, culminating with lunch at an eco-friendly cafe.
Back at Ketawai, a farewell party with live music provided by a very talented young band and their vocalist.
The sail north from Ketawai was best done during the day, as the sea was littered by fishing structures made of bamboo, complete with huts on top. Literally hundreds of them, unlit at night!
Two day sails brought us to Lingga island with it’s smaller surrounding islands – absolutely beautiful and unspoilt by tourism. On Tuesday the 17th October 2017, we crossed the equator just south of Kentar island. This was followed that evening with a party on Esprit with the other three boats at the anchorage.
Our second last stop in Indonesia was at Sembulang island where Thant Zhin from Burmese Breeze helped me repair four leaks which had suddenly sprung on our dinghy.
Our last Indonesian anchorage was at Bintan Lagoy where the Sail Indonesia Rally organisers and the Bintan Tourist Ministry pulled out all the stops. Trips to various sights, like a beautiful Buddhist temple with 500 soldiers, a music festival and the final night gala dinner with a band and a beach party.
After the farewell and checking out of Indonesia at Bintan, we had to cross the Strait of Singapore – quite intimidating when you have to cross two shipping lanes, with more vessels than you can count on your AIS.
Most of the large vessels are travelling at around 20 knots, with the numerous ferries going at 30 knots. A rain squall hit us just before the first lane so we waited for it to clear and was lucky to get a reasonable gap in the east flowing lane. The west flowing lane required gunning it at maximum revs to pass just ahead of a 200 metre long tanker doing 18 knots.
We checked into Malaysia at Puteri Harbour Marina where the organisers made the customs procedures part of their service, requiring only our electronic fingerprints. Absolutely painless and a 3 month visa at no charge! They laid on a gala welcome dinner for us at the 5-star hotel on the waterfront. A total of 68 vessels have signed up for the 5 week sail to Langkawi. We depart from here to Malacca on the first leg.
We will catch up again in Langkawi, before we sail into Thailand. Cheers for now!