The Sail Indonesia Rally started at 10am off Fannie Bay in Darwin on the 29th July 2017. There was a good 13-18 knot S-E sending us off on a cracking reach. Barely an hour out and Annie caught a 1.2m shark which put up quite a fight before she landed it and then released it.
After sunset the wind died down and we had to motor through the night. Sunday morning dawned clear and a light wind kicked in, allowing us to hoist the asymmetric spinnaker for a lovely downwind sail on a flat sea. The Timor sea was a vast improvement on the Torres Strait. Annie was gobsmacked when she landed a 1.8m marlin about midday. This fellow also put up a good fight, but we released it as the fridge and freezer were filled to capacity. No photos were taken as both the shark and the marlin required all our hands, to land and release them.
A light wind night followed as we sailed poled out past the West Timor gas wells and platforms. The third day continued as a poled out run, which lasted until 9pm when we entered the passage between West Timor and Semau islands. It was quite unnerving to motor through numerous fish traps and fishing boats at night, before anchoring off Teddy’s Bar at Kupang beach at midnight. The 488 nm passage took us a slow 3 days and 14 hours.
Customs and Quarantine boarded Esprit at 9 am for their inspection. They were a friendly mob and took photos and swabs of everything. We were then able to launch the dinghy and go ashore where the CIQP registration was done in a special venue to deal with the number of yachts and crew. All very efficient, with reams of paperwork, many stamps and signatures. We were asked where our ships stamp was. Not having one, a local assisted in having one made for us within 24 hours.
Lunch of Nasi Goreng and Bintang beer at Resto 999 followed, in the company of other yachties. A yacht rally provides the opportunity to meet very interesting people from the four corners of the world. On this rally there are sailors from Norway, France, Canada, Japan, USA, Malaysia, Poland, Burma and the UK, amongst others. We are able to learn a wealth of sailing information with these people. Best part is, they are mostly of our vintage, some with kids, and they are very relaxed and friendly.
Thursday was a busy day with the welcome ceremony at 10 am with traditional dancing and music and the start of the Koepan festival in the evening. We went to the fish market for dinner afterwards with some of the yachties on Burmese Breeze and Vadana.
A city tour with visits to the museum and traditional weaving centre was arranged for us the following day, with the welcome dinner in the evening. More speeches by dignitaries, followed by traditional music and dancing. Saturday was spent recovering after the splendid meal and lots of drinks the previous night.
At 7:30 am on Sunday we lifted the anchor and had a relaxed 69 nm spinnaker run to Nemberala on the west coast of Roti island, where we anchored at sunset. This is a lovely spot, famous for the huge waves the south current generates and visited by countless surfers. We met up with Steve Friedman from Darwin who has been relaxing here for the past 3 months. He has since lost his razor and is sporting a handsome beard. We also met Marco, Julie and their two young kids from Cape Town sailing on their catamaran. Burmese Breeze and Kandu on the rally, were also anchored here.
After 3 days we lifted the anchor again and had a wet and windy beat upwind to Semau island where we anchored in a beautiful bay in the lee of the island. Annie replenished our freezer with a big Spanish mackerel she caught on the way. Then followed two day hops, first to Naikliu and then to Wini, over a total distance of a 100 nm to our next festivities. At Naikliu there was a soccer match just off the beach with a very vociferous crowd in attendance. Here we were again reminded that even the smallest of villages, have dozens of 50 to 100cc mopeds roaring around without silencers – presumably to give the impression that they are actually 1,300cc Harley-Davidsons.
Our next stop will be Alor island 68nm to the north of Wini on Timor – we will keep you posted.