Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sail Samal 2 Raja Ampat Rally

Still catching up...

Another part of the "fun" we went through in April was that the original Rally leader, Luc on Sloepmouche, who had organized Indonesia Rallies from Samal for the last 4 years, decided that though he would organize the rally, he wouldn't actually go on the rally. Since Dave was the one who pushed Luc to hold another Rally, guess who got designated Rally Leader??

To complicate things, all the boats in Samal were really nervous about sailing south towards Indonesia, because of Abu Sayyef threat. As soon as Dave became involved in the Rally planning, he requested two things... (1) Minimal advertising and don't publish a specific departure date and (2) A Philippine Navy escort out of the Gulf of Davao.

In the end, it took 3 meetings with the Naval Forces in Davao to arrange, but we had a naval escort all they way from the marina to the Philippine / Indonesia border. The Philippine Navy ended up being very easy to work with, and we are ever grateful for their presence on our way out of Samal.

Then, about 2 weeks before we were to set off, one of the Rally participants said "I'm not going unless we also have an Indonesian escort from the border to Sangihe." Peter on s/v 2XS pointed out that, at the Philippine / Indonesia border, we were closer to Jolo and Basilan, the home islands of the kidnappers, than we were in Samal (where 4 yachties were kidnapped right out of the marina one Sunday night in September). If they could reach us in Samal, they could reach us on the border between Samal and Sangihe.

So Dave and Luc started pressuring the Indonesian side of the Rally organization to provide an Indonesian Navy escort from the border into Samal. Eventually, our Indonesian representative, Dr Aji, came through. And we were indeed met at the border by an Indonesian Navy frigate.

So after a really stressful and extremely busy April, we finally pulled out of Holiday Oceanview Marina on May 5. Embarrassingly enough, after all that work, we only ended up with 7 boats registered for the Rally, and one of those was coming from Malaysia. And the day we left, 2 boats were still trying to finish critical projects. So with 2 Philippine Navy boats escorting us, there were only 4 boats in the Rally!! :P And one of the 4 changed their mind and headed for Palau instead of Indonesia!! :P

The Indonesian Navy was really confused as to why they were there at the border, and only 3 boats showed up. They kept asking for 2XS, who had taken a left turn and headed for Palau. They hung out at the border for a whole extra day, to wait for the trailing two boats. Even though I thought we had clearly said "no escort required" for them.

Changing the Rally dates from early September to early May was definitely a good thing. The last time we went on the Rally (Sep 2014), we fought against strong southerlies all the way south. And the primary anchorage in the arrival port, Sangihe, was terrible in strong southerlies. One day the winds and seas were so high in the anchorage that the dinghy dock completely tore away from the seawall.

But in early May, we had light easterlies, and we were able to sail and motorsail quite easily from the marina to Sangihe, the first stop on they Rally. The conditions in Sangihe were much improved over the September conditions, and we really enjoyed our stay there.

After a week in Sangihe, being well looked-after by the Sangihe tourism contingent, we moved on to Morotai. We had an overnight sail that actually turned out to be quite pleasant. We sailed without the engine about half the way, and then had to turn on the engine when the wind went very light.

Only 3 boats stayed in Morotai (Evia Blue, Sapphire, and us). Verite and Sirius have family flying in to Sorong soon, and they skipped Morotai and went on ahead to Wayag. With only 3 boats--5 people--we still got a nice reception and were treated well. We tried to rent a car to do some touring around, but that got too complicated. Though the Morotai people REALLY REALLY want to establish tourism there, they have very little tourism infrastructure. They held a community forum while we were there, about tourism. They asked us to attend and give our thoughts. We spent 5 minutes talking, and then 3 hours listening, in Indonesian. Finally our primary contact, Rafik, suggested we could leave around 11pm. They kept at it until 2am!!

Instead of renting a car, Rafik borrowed his brother's car and spent the weekend showing us around the island. We saw their best beaches and their best waterfalls. We had a good time looking through the market, and stocking up on veggies.

I am studying Indonesian, but I'm a long way from being able to communicate. Several times during the week we were there, various tourism department (and English students) took the time to help us get around and get stuff done. But we were on our own in the market. It was pretty hilarious at times. It's complicated by the fact that the Indonesian money is 13,300 Rupiahs to the US Dollar. So even buying small stuff in the market, we are dealing with a lot of zeros. They would tell us "55" with hand signals. But we never knew whether that was 5,500, or 55,000. So far I'm only proficient in greetings and numbers up to 5. Beyond that, I'm over my head!! But we managed to buy 2 big bags of fruits and veggies, and some squid and fish.

We left Morotai yesterday for Wayag, 150 miles SE of Morotai. We will stay in Wayag for about 2 weeks (with no internet) and then move on to Waisai and then Sorong. We have to be in Sorong by around 1 July to renew our visa or check out for Palau.

We are posting position updates via Winlink. You can see them here:

No comments:

Post a Comment