Return to Indonesia

All provisioned and checked out of Malaysia we set course for the border town of Tarakan. Our agent, Raymond, who had been so helpful with last year’s Indonesian visit had gotten us through the labyrinth of paper work and arranged for help at the check in. Indonesia has vastly improved its procedure for visiting yachts but it is still tricky. In past years the sheer horror of Indonesian visits had kept many a cruising boat from enjoying its splendor. The amazing success of the Sail Indonesian Rally and the economic and social impact the rally had on the small towns it visited prompted the government to take steps to lure boaters.

We anchored in the busy port of Tarakan amongst the shipping fleet and I ventured ashore to find the agent and procure needed telecommunications and local currency. I pulled the little dinghy up to a huge pier that had a weathered “welcome” sign on it. Ah back in Indonesia for sure, a large crowd of guys just hanging out all raced to my aid and helped find a place for the dinghy. On the pier I was warmly greeted and offered a scooter ride which took me to a cab stand, the scooter guy then jumped in a late model van and became my driver. With limited shared language we found the ATM, where I got five million rp, (about 500bucks) and a local sim card for the phone and internet. Unlimited 30 high speed(ok not so high speed) internet for $7.50usd. As things turned out the driver knew the friend of the agent, Mr. Wawan and he came to the internet café to meet us and then came two ladies from the tourism council.

As the sun was setting on this very Muslim community, my new friends asked if they could take in some food.They had fasted all day. Of course I agreed and we went to a small café where they broke the fast with a sweet coconut and fruit mix, I joined them for thetasty treat. Next it was prayer time; they took me to a small prayer room but asked me to stay in the car. The fast broken and properly prayed they now wanted real food. I as a gasp when they asked me if I wanted to join them at KFC, somehow the Colonel did not fit into the deeply spiritual and sacred Ramadan protocol. I had left the girls on the boat with no idea of a return time and wanted to get back so I passed on the chicken. By the time I returned the tide had come up and the walkway to the dingy under water. I did not relish the idea of crawling into the murky water and trying to stay on the walkway in chest deep water. No worries, five bucks easily got a young man to fetch the dinghy for me all with participation of the crowd at the pier. Much handshaking and smiling and back to the boat I went.

The next morning, after several changes in plan, the customs boat arrived at Furthur. A group of smiling young customs agents boarded and politely removed their shoes.The process was fun and painless, ending in a mutual photo shoot. Next I had to go to shore to pick up the quarantine boys, again allot of stamping and signing and we lowered the “Q” flag. Last was Immigration and Laurie, the tourist gal,handled that leg of the check in. This took the most of the day but was easy and with no problems.

Checked in,Indonesian flag once again flying from Furthur and the promise of new places and great diving we set out on the 3 day passage to Manado. We pulled out of the harbor dodging fish net sand some traffic and as the sun set we left the sight of land.

A one knot adverse current held us down to six knots as we enjoyed calm seas and a spectacular star lit night. On my midnight to three watch the half-moon rose illuminating the seas. I sat on the bridge, playing the guitar under the moonlight and reveling in the pure joy of being at sea in perfect conditions. This was the first long passage in a while, I had forgotten how splendid a calm and moon lit night can be. It was also the first passage, actually first boating a tall for the newest crew, Sion, a spunky Aussie gal we picked up in Tawau.

This was tobe a three day passage, great weather forecast for a power boat ride, no wind over ten knots and mostly calm. The first days passed under blue skies per day and moon lit nights. The adverse current dropped on the second day and we again chugged along at 7 knots. As we are getting very near the equator the squalls became more frequent, never having any effect other than giving Furthur’s decks a good washing. An hour of rain was always followed by warm sun.

The three day passage almost over and only a few hours to go to Manado I look back at another near perfect crossing. As with any passage it was great but we are glad to see land in the distance. Three days of nearly perfect weather and the constant hum of the engine gives a soul time to reflect. I am deeply appreciative of the small things in life, much more that I was in the “real world”. The moon rising, stars glowing, phosphorous illuminating the bow wavelike a magician’s wand, these are the things that bring joy to the soul.