Saturday, July 16, 2016

Waisai and the End of the Rally

June 17-21 (yes, I am way behind!)

The last official stop on our Sail Samal 2 Raja Ampat Rally was Waisai. Waisai is a small tourist town on the south coast of Waigeo Island. It is the recently-constructed capital of Raja Ampat Regency. Every year as cruisers visit Waisai they find more infrastructure to support their booming dive/snorkel tourism business. One feature we were amazed to find, was a small marina that had been built for visiting yachts. It has a long floating pier with slips designed to accommodate big catamarans. The local tour boats and small island ferry boats also use it as the departure point for their tours and ferry trips. We were amazed that they could find room to fit 6 boats--5 cats over 40 feet, and a monohull, on their dock.

Our Little Rally Group at the Waisai Marina

We had been corresponding for a couple of weeks with the Waisai Tourism Office. Our contacts were two young Indonesian ladies named Husna and Sherly. They were both standing on the dock waiting for us, as our 5 boats converged on the marina. Because the marina is a little exposed to the SE winds, and the finger piers are a little short, Mike on Sirius advised us to Med-moor in our slip...approach the slip, do a 180 turn just outside the slip, drop an anchor off the bow, and back in to the slip. We have only Med-moored once or twice in our 9 years of cruising, and never in this boat.

When Dave and I were discussing who was going to do what, he was surprised to find that I wanted to drive the boat rather than drop the anchor (I wouldn't have wanted to drive with the old Soggy Paws). Dave is much better at judging distances and angles than I am, so I felt he would be best on the bow deciding when to drop the anchor. With the maneuverability of the twin engines, I felt confident I could back her into the slip without problems. We were fortunate to have almost no wind, and we performed our pirouette, drop, and back flawlessly. I got compliments from the other cruisers, especially when they found out this was the first time I had ever docked the boat!!

By the time we finished tying everyone up, Sirius had already organized a dinner in town for that evening. We had also organized a "rental car" with Husna, to take us into town for money, groceries, and cell phone top-ups.

The next day, the Waisai Tourism Department organized a boat trip for the crew of all 6 boats (in 2 of the local tourist boats). The weather turned out great--sunny and not too windy.

One of the Two Boats for our Day Trip

It took us about 2 hours to get to Fam Islands, where we went into a lagoon area similar to Wayag. Here, they had built a small tourist facility with a nice set of stairs leading to a viewpoint on the top of the hill. In 10 minutes of huffing and puffing, we were at the top. It was beautiful. And we could see a turtle swimming in the lagoon below.

Souveniers at the Penemu Dock

Local Fisherman--Note Twin Engines

The View from the Viewpoint

The 2016 Sail Samal 2 Raja Ampat Gang

From Fam and Penemu, we went to Arborek, a small island with a very nice village. We'd been told by other cruisers to make sure we took our snorkel gear, because the snorkeling off the pier at Arborek was supposed to be great. (It was!). We had lunch and a snorkel and a nice (short) walk around town. I went looking for the bathroom and ended up in an outhouse with a squat toilet. But better than going in the bushes! (Someday I'll blog about my Indonesian and Malaysian toilet experiences).

The Pretty Little Village of Arborek

A Typical Raja Ampat Waterfront Homestay

After lunch we loaded up in the boats again and stopped at the Manta Ray place (Manta Sandy). But alas, no mantas present (not the right time of year, we were told). Then we headed off along the north coast of Mansuar Island. When we got to the break between Mansuar and Kri, the guys poled the boats across the shallow area, and took us to a pier off a village on the east end of Mansuar. Our boat driver told us to go drift in whatever direction the current was going, and he'd pick us up. The current wasn't going, but we found a spectacular reef very lively with fish and turtles, etc. We all enjoyed that snorkel so much that we vowed we'd come back and do a dive there some time.

Finally they rounded all the snorkelers up and we headed back to Waisai. We had a beautiful time.

We had time for a nap and a bit of socializing before we were again rounded up to go to the official "Welcome Dinner". This was held at a nice local resort and included a couple of short speeches, some local entertainment, and a buffet dinner. At our Welcome Dinner in Morotai, they expected us to sing karaoke (which we did after some prodding). Fortunately, karaoke isn't a "thing" in Waisai, so we were able to avoid that. But we did want to reciprocate with a little entertainment (it's customary). Greg on Verite is pretty good on the guitar and had picked out a song he thought we could sing as a group, and even made song sheets for all of us. We did a credible job of "I Am Sailing" by Rod Stewart, and our efforts were much appreciated by the Indonesians.

A Musical Serenade by Local Musicians

Me in my Dress-Up Clothes at the Rally Dinner

Our Last Group Picture!

We had a great time, and enjoyed mixing a little bit with all the people (local dignitaries and English-speakers) who had been invited to the dinner. Again, all this was gratis, courtesy of the Waisai Tourism Department. THAT is the major benefit of doing these rallies in Indonesia. Tons of fun stuff, easily organized, and usually free or very reasonable cost.

This dinner officially concluded the rally entertainments. We stayed another day on the dock to finish our shopping and looking around town, and then we took off again to explore more of Raja Ampat.
At 6/19/2016 2:49 AM (utc) our position was 00°26.00'S 130°48.41'E

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