Finally Relaxing, Beyond Sorong

Sophie has traveled over 3,500 miles in the last 3 months, but it finally feels like we have stopped and are beginning to relax. Our boat is currently tied off in a mangrove in the pass between Yanggelo and Gam islands in the Raja Ampat area of Indonesia. We’ve been here 2 nights now in our own little coral reef nature preserve. Per Ardua is with us along with some new Ozzie friends in the aluminum cat Nalukai. Among the three boats we have 8 children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Heaven. 00.30.719 South, 130.27.321 East.

Getting here was a bit of an adventure. Two days ago, Per Ardua left Sorong at 2:00 AM in order to make it out here in a day. We stayed behind to run a few last minute errands, including mailing some packages at the post office (opened up at 8:00 AM instead of 7:00 AM); procuring some extra data for our mobile phones (which involved being driven on the back of a motorcycle by a hotel security guard in search of a cell phone store open so early in the morning); and checking out of the Sorong Harbormaster office (which involved spending an hour participating with the entire Harbormaster staff in their Friday morning parking lot team dancercise session.) This last item for me was one of the most surreal moments of the entire Sophie Adventure Cruise, and afterwards the Harbormaster said he was very happy that I was the first foreigner to ever join them in the class. He signed my papers on the sport, telling his staff to fill in the details after the fact.

And if you are ever on a cruising boat and visit Sorong, by all means PLEASE CONTACT Victor Saputra (0812 4833 831, His family is from Singapore and has run a heavy equipment supply business in Sorong for the last 40 years. Victor is helping them get into the yacht business, and he helped us source diesel, LPG, spare parts, and run paperwork. He speaks perfect English and is the best local support person we’ve met in the last 2 years. Call him!

Anyway, we had our anchor up by 10:00 AM and motored the 60 miles to Yanggelo with ease. Our goal was to pass Per Ardua before we got to the anchorage, but they beat us by 30 minutes. That 30 minutes made a huge difference, because a fairly fierce squall hit us right as arrived. Nalukai was already here with a cat named Ocelot (sailed by John and Susan from Seattle), and the tenders from the 2 boats had helped tie off Per Ardua with 4 long lines to a pocket in the mangrove. By the time they raced over to help us, the wind was blowing 25 knots. I actually saw a whirlpool form in the middle of the anchorage and for a nanosecond was scared a waterspout was going to form. And technically, this is too deep to be called an anchorage, it’s a place where boats tie off to trees.

So I told the two tenders to go back to their boats and wait for the squall to pass. We held Sophie steady in the middle of the mangrove while we prepared 3 long mooring lines. These included one of our spare anchor lines, our two 100 foot dock lines tied together, and our 200 meter yellow floating stern tie line we initially purchased for mooring up in Desolation Sound. This last line is rolled on a spool located in the bottom of our port forward locker, lovingly known as the “Pit of Despair” for the difficulty you encounter whenever you need to find something useful in it because we store SO MUCH STUFF THERE. So Jenna manned the wheel and held Sophie steady while I emptied half of the contents of the locker in order to get the spool out. This all took place in the hammering rain as the sun was going down.

But the boys came back, we successfully tied Sophie off, and the relaxing finally began.

We awoke yesterday to a bright, sunshine-filled day. For the first time in months, we had no schedule. We emptied out the rest of the port locker and cleaned it out. We also cleaned and organized all of its contents. We inflated the Relaxation Station and our kayaks. When the crew of Nalukai saw all of this, they declared a school holiday and their three girls paddled over in their three matching pink kayaks. The Per Arduans soon joined them.

While the kids played, I grabbed my speargun and hunted for some dinner. I got a small trevally the moment I jumped out of the dinghy, but then had no luck for the next 2 hours.

At 4:00 in the afternoon, we all dinghied around to the west side of the island for a sunset beach barbecue. The trevally was delicious. The company was excellent. The kids roasted bread dough over the open fire using sticks Leo sharpened with his pocket knife. It was one of those “this is why we are out here” moments.

Ocelot left this morning, and the crew from the three remaining boats went on a 2 hour drift snorkel through the pass. We saw thousands and thousands of fish and hundred of different types of coral. Best of all, there is no one else here. It’s like we have our own private island and coral reef. This afternoon the kids will all head over to Per Ardua for art projects, and we will do another beach barbecue for dinner.
We have no internet access here, so it may be a while before you get any pictures. But you will.

At some point in the next week we will likely wander north to Wayag, the island where most Rajat Ampat boat photos are taken. We might be able to grab some Internet from the town of Waisai along the way. We’ll spend Christmas around here, pick up our friend Steve, and then head south to Misool, Ambon, and the Banda Islands.

But that is all just a general intention. We’re enjoying being relaxed and being back in cruising mode. And realizing how lucky we are.

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