Anchorages and MARINAS from Singapore to Phuket

IMG_1178Here is another post for boats following in our footsteps, where we document our stops on this 500 mile stretch of water in Malaysia and Thailand. Please note that this is the first time I am doing one of these waypoint blog posts where I include information on multiple marinas where we stopped. Yes, marinas. We’re not in Tonga any more.

Before we left Singapore, we were told that boats were fleeing Phuket to avoid the rainy, windy season known as the “southwest monsoon.”  The best time to head north to Thailand was during the “northeast monsoon” between November and March, when the weather is drier, the water is clearer, and a gentle wind blows from the land.

Now that we are up in Phuket, people here are telling us that the concept of a summertime southwest monsoon — aka the bad, rainy season — has become increasingly irrelevant. Perhaps it is a result of global warming. Our weather has been sunny, the water is clear, and the winds are quite gentle. For us, this has been a great time to begin exploring Thailand. And we recommend all of the anchorages and stops in this post to boats following us, with the exception of the anchorage in Telaga if the weather is squally.

Pulau Pisang
01.28.817N, 103.14.721E
We anchored behind this island on our first stop in Malaysia. It’s about 40 miles up the Malacca Strait from Singapore. It was nice to be on the hook again after a month of city life in a marina. Good holding in 20 feet of water. It was calm enough for me to scrape Singapore barnacles off our hull and props.

Pulau Besar
02.06.603N, 102.20.629E
This was another anchorage 70 miles up the strait from Pisang. We wound up anchoring on the south side of the island because it was getting dark when we arrived. It was little rolly.

Port Dickson
Admiral Marina
02.28.573N, 101.50.704E
marinaWe stayed at this marina for almost a week, using it as our home base for Sophie during our three day visit to Kuala Lumpur. The marina is clean and the staff was helpful. Their fuel dock was broken, but they brought 800 liters of diesel in jerrycans to Sophie’s dock. Once again, I got to pour them into our tanks. It was character building. The marina has a pool and an air conditioned bar with WiFi. That’s about it. We took a cab for the ten minute ride into town to clear into Malaysia Immigration/Customs/Harbormaster. It was a straightforward and friendly process. TripAdvisor claims that the best restaurant in Port Dickson is a pizza place by the beach. Do not eat there. In hindsight, we regret not making the effort to visit Melaka on a day trip, which is supposed to be beautiful and historic. But after our time in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, we wanted to get back into cruising mode.

Port Klang
Royal Selangor Yacht Club (RSYC)
03.00.322N, 101.23.413E
MLYS1999This was our next stop up the coast, and we docked in front of a beautiful facility on the river that connects Kuala Lumpur with the Indian Ocean. There was a strong current in the river, and Sophie strained against the floating dock. The RSYC has a reciprocal relationship with the Seattle Yacht Club, and during our visit we met the RSYC commodore and exchanged burgees with him. They had a big restaurant, a good bar, and a nice pool. We stayed two nights.

Pangkor Marina (Marina Island)
Pangkor
04.12.685N, 100.36.074E
MLYS2012Our next stop was 40 miles up the coast from Klang, and our arrival here was a little stressful. The sun was setting, we were hit by a squall, the marina entrance was not clearly marked on our charts, and we had to motor 3 miles past the marina to avoid a big reef that runs north-south through the channel. Other than that, it was great. The marina looks like it will be an awesome facility when construction is completed in 3 years. They have a boatyard with a haulout that is big enough to lift Sophie. And we met Jack and Jackie on Barbara Ann, who have subsequently become our friends.

Straits Quay Marina
Penang
05.27.539N, 100.19.094E
IMG_1012We loved loved loved Penang. It was a 90 mile run up the coast from Pangkor, a longer trip for Sophie than for most boats, because our mast cannot fit under the two bridges that connect Pulau Penang with the mainland. For our first night we anchored outside of the marina, but it was rolly. For the next 6 days we had a dock at this friendly and inexpensive marina with a promenade featuring 10 restaurants. Nearby access to two supermarkets for provisioning. Easy access into town. Great culture. Monkeys who steal beer. Penang has it all.

Kuah, Langkawi
06.18.733N, 099.50.801E
This was our first stop in Langkawi, and we stayed here for one night. There was excellent holding for our anchor, and we could easily check in to Immigration and the Harbormaster. The marina at Kuah was under construction, which made it off-limits for us. The city itself reminded us of Indonesian cities like Ambon or Sorong, full of small businesses but not easily walkable, so we moved on.

Telaga, Langkawi
06.21.764N, 099.40.677E
telagaWe spent over two weeks here, first in the anchorage and then in the marina. It is a great spot, and we will return here later this year. The holding in the anchorage was terrible, and multiple boats (including Sophie) dragged their anchors during squalls. The marina was much more protected and featured several excellent, inexpensive restaurants. They also had a machine that used an electric motor to pump diesel fuel directly into your boat. This was a first for us in almost 10 months. It is easy to rent a car for a day to head into town. Langkawi is a duty free port, which means there are no taxes paid for alcohol or for boat parts you ship in from the United States.

Pulau Singa Besar, Langkawi
06.13.598N, 099.44.800E
MLYS2857We left Telaga for 5 days with our friends Misti and Abi to enjoy watersports in this anchorage 9 miles south of Telaga. We swam, paddleboarded, barbecued, drank, and played a lot of board games. We were back in Sophie Adventure Cruises mode, and it was a lot of fun. We were told that a local cruiser organizes impromptu bonfire singalongs on the beach here every Saturday night, but he had to cancel the week we were there.

Ko Lipe, Thailand
06.29.651N, 099.17.774E
IMG20150722183737We finally left Malaysia and spent two nights anchored on the north side of Ko Lipe. We never went to shore and instead spent our time padleboarding, swimming, and conducting Sophie School. The Ko Lipe area is part of a National Park, and we used a park service mooring even though we were warned to not trust any moorings in Thailand. After we tied up to the mooring, we ran both engines in reverse at 2000 RPMs, and nothing broke. Ko Lipe becomes much more crowded with the beginning of the high season in November, and we will return.

Ko Tarutao
06.42.456N, 099.40.072E
THAI3030After Ko Lipe we motored 25 miles east to visit another Thai National Park at Ko Turatao. Initially we anchored on the northwest tip of the island (06.41.764N, 099.38.249E) in order to visit “Crocodile Cave”, a spot where you pull yourself a couple of hundred meters along a rope on a raft to check out stalagmites and bats. But as we motored a mile up the mangrove in our dingy to reach the cave entrance, we saw a massive thunderboomer cloud approaching from the east. Our dingy motor has been a little tenuous lately, and Sophie was anchored in a very exposed area. So we punted on the idea of the cave (for now), got back to the boat, and motored around the corner to a much more sheltered anchorage. We anchored in 40 feet of water and marveled at the hundreds of basketball-sized jellyfish slowly bouncing around the bay. We did not swim.

Ko Rok Nok, Ko Rok Nai
07.12.815N, 099.04.156E
THAI3018Our next stop was another Thai national park, and we picked up a mooring in the channel between these two small islands. Our first week of “monsoon” weather in Thailand was perfect, the water was crystal clear, and there were thousands of reef fish swimming under Sophie. We enjoyed a grand afternoon cavorting in the water. The next morning a bit of a squall showed up, and we were directly exposed to a southerly wind that would have pushed us onto a reef in about 5 seconds if our mooring line broke. We decided to leave that morning, knowing full well that we will return.

Ko Phi Phi Don, Ton Sai Bay
07.44.051N, 098.46.304E
WP_20150727_002Phi Phi Don is a backpacker tourist island and is very, very cool. We anchored in the main harbor, slightly to the west of the route that the ferries, speedboats, and longtails use. Next time we’ll anchor to the west, away from the traffic and closer to the wall. The village reminded us of a bigger version of Gili Air, with 10 blocks of walking streets filled with backpacker bars, dive shops, tattoo parlors, and foot massage stands. Wandering these streets were Russian girls in bikinis and Australian bros with bad tats and hats, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. We stayed two nights and enjoyed some great people watching. We also caught up with our friends on Garuça Cat, whom we hadn’t seen since Bali. We will definitely be taking our nephews Steven and Dan here when they visit in the next few months.

Ko Phi Phi Le, Maya Bay
07.40.815N, 098.45.847E
pp1This day stop was literally spectacular, meaning “of or like a spectacle; marked by or given to an impressive, large-scale display.” Phi Phi Le is where the Leo DiCaprio movie “The Beach” was filmed, and it is apparently a required stop for every tourist who visits Phuket, which is 20 miles away. We arrived at 7:00 AM to grab one of the few mooring balls there, and by noon we counted over 50 high speed (500-1000+ hp outboards) tourist boats in the little bay. They would roar in, wait for their landing instructions from the BTC (Beach Traffic Controller), drop a sand hook off their bow, back 150 feet up to the beach, unload 20 tourists, then roar away. We counted a couple dozen of these boats lined up on the beach at one time, and later heard that during high season there are 2,000 boat trips a day to this little bay. Thankfully there is buoyed off swim area on the beach, and we simply sat in the water and marveled at the spectacle of thousands of tourists doing spinning panorama shots of themselves with their GoPros on selfie sticks. 

pplRemember, we’ve had most tropical beaches to ourselves for the last year, and this was a little more crowded. Phi Phi Le is a National Park, and we had to pay a beach landing fee of $40 for the family to enjoy the scene. It was worth every penny.

Ko Phi Phi Don, Laem Thong
07.46.744N, 098.45.956EWP_20150728_001
After the spectacle, we motored back up to Phi Phi Don and dropped the hook off of the sea gypsy village on the northeast coast of the island. It has a beautiful beach, nice coral, and wasn’t very crowded. There is a beach bar there named Jasmin, and we enjoyed a seven hour meal there, swapping stories with Peter, the Scot who’s married to Jasmin and serves as the restaurant’s official greeter and beer pourer. IMG20150728174023He’s quite a character, telling stories about Leo DiCaprio, Amy Winehouse, and his dark past in London. We will definitely be back.

Chalong, Phuket
07.48.965N, 098.21.574E
chalongWe could have stayed in the Phi Phi for a month (the kiddies never get tired of the fact that the islands’ name is pronounced “pee pee”), but we needed to officially check into Thailand so we motored over to Chalong harbor on the southern end of Phuket. On our way we caught our first tuna since November, thanks to advice we got from Peter. Apparently tuna and whale sharks are running through the islands here for the next few months, so we’ve got our lines back out after months of the fish nothingness that is otherwise known as Indonesia. Chalong has a one stop check-in center (Immigration, Customs, Harbormaster) all located in a single building at the end of a big pier that juts into the crowded harbor. Better yet, these different agencies use computers to share your information across their offices, so we only had to fill out a form one time, and that was on a computer! Amazing. We only spent one night here and anchored out from the main fleet. There are plenty of bars and tourist restaurants in the area, but we only stayed one night.

I continue to write on this blog that things on our little adventure keep getting better and better, and at some point you might begin to think that I am guilty of exaggeration. How could this be possible?

Come to Thailand, and you’ll understand.

Anchorages from Bali to Singapore

opnHere is another one for boats following in our footsteps, where we provide waypoints and advice on the different places where we have stopped over the last few months.

Before we entered Indonesia, we knew very little about this leg of our trip. Would we have run-ins with pirates? Would we encounter massive standing waves and rip tides that would send us sideways? Would the predominately Muslim population present problems for a boat full of Americans?

The thousand miles we covered from Bali to Singapore proved to be uneventful, with little wind during this transition period between the monsoon seasons. The people we met were uniformly kind, the fishermen all smiled and waved, and we experienced some of the best wildlife and snorkeling of our entire journey during this leg. We’ll come back here again some day.

seranganPulau Serangan, Bali
08.43.100S 115.14.823E
This was our home while we visited Bali for over a month. Serangan is the main mooring and fishing boat anchorage on Bali’s west coast, and although the harbor is filled with hundreds of mooring buoys that you can rent, we anchored in 30 feet of mud on the eastern side of the harbor with 5 other sailboats. It was a secure spot, and we never dragged even during a 50 knot squall. The location is a short dinghy ride to the beaches of Sanur, but a huge mud flat appears in front of Sanur at low tide. I broke one of our dinghy wheels crossing it. A neighboring boat would frequently leave their dinghy at the park at Sanur, but they were often hassled and at one point even found sand poured into their gasoline tank. Instead, we would leave our dinghy on the inside of the ferry dock in the middle of Serangan harbor. We never had a problem, even at night, but it meant we had to take Blue Bird taxis to get anywhere in Bali. They have an app you can download to your phone, so at least they are reliable. We could buy diesel and gasoline in Serangan. Overall it was a quiet anchorage with pleasant people. We never wanted to swim here, however.

lbnPulau Lembongan
08.40.675 S, 115.26.293E
This is a resort anchorage used mostly by day trippers coming over from Bali. A large reef provides shelter from northerlies. We stayed here on two separate occasions, and on both visits we grabbed a mooring near the tour boats in 20 feet of water. No one came by to collect money. We loved swimming in the clear water after a month of Serangan’s mud. The harbor gets loud during the day but quiets down after 3:00 PM when the tourists leave. Note that Selat Lombok can have a 5 knot south-setting current, so when heading north it’s best to hug the Bali coast before turning right for Lembongan. You need REALLY to do this if heading north to the Gili Islands or you run the risk of having the current deposit you in Darwin.

gili2Gili Air
08.21.948 S, 116.04.932 E
We visited Gili Air twice, once on our way into Bali and once on our way out. The anchorage is protected by reefs, and we picked up a mooring on each visit. We were only charged during our first visit. Gili is a laid back tourist spot with no cars and a sand path that circles the island. Little horse carts are used to haul food and luggage to the hotels. There is supposed to be excellent snorkeling nearby. We wound up leaving our dinghy tied to the inside of the ferry dock. It was safe there, but little school kids enjoyed swimming off it. There are no stores or diesel available at Gili, but we ate in the beachfront restaurants every night. The kiddies didn’t complain too much.

Pulau Kangean
06.51.511S, 115.13.943E
After Gili we did a 110 mile overnight run to Kangean. It was a beautiful and sheltered harbor, and we anchored in 50 feet of mud a little east of the navigation marker. We enjoyed the sun and the fact we were out in a quiet anchorage for the first time in over a month. There were a couple of small fishing villages onshore and a nice-looking beach that was crowded with fishing boats, but we opted to hang out and rest.

post giliPulau Bawean
05.43.796S 112.40.200E
We sailed another 160 northwest from Kangean to Pulau Bawean, another sheltered stopover on our way to Kumai. This island was bigger and more developed than Kangean, and we shared our anchorage with several fishing boats. It’s important to note that fishing boats are now ubiquitous, and we have to pay careful attention to avoid their nets. We anchored here in the first big bay on the north side of the island and had another quiet and sheltered stopover.

kumaiKumai, Kalimantan, Borneo
02.44.372S, 111.44.002E
From Bawean we traveled another 200 miles north to Kumai, where we anchored in the river for a few days as we visited the orangutans on a tour boat. We successfully navigated the river using the waypoints published on Harry’s Yacht Services website. Kumai is a commercial port on a tidal river with wharves on one side and mangroves on the other. Dozens of shallow draft freighters navigate the river every day. You also have to be on the watch for “floating islands,” which are large chunks of mangrove being carried by the current out to sea. As we approached Kumai, we were met by a guy in a speedboat who we wound up hiring to arrange our orangutan tour, watch our boat (from the cockpit) while we were gone, and supply us with diesel. The most interesting thing about Kumai itself were the dozens of 5 story warehouses scattered throughout the town. They were swallows nest factories. Kumai itself was not very interesting, but the orangutan tour was a major highlight of our entire trip. Once the tour was over and our diesel tanks were topped of, we left.

sembliPulau Sembilan (off Pulau Nangka)
02.31.040S, 108.31.779E
After Kumai, we sailed (sailed!) 200 miles west to Pulau Nangka, our first stopover on our way to Singapore. The anchorage in Nangka was rolly and exposed to the north, so we pulled up and moved another 2 miles to the south side of Sembilan where we anchored in 50 feet of sand, right off of coral reefs. This place was beautiful, and we stayed four nights.  We would have stayed longer but were running low on food. Sembilan is deserted and ringed by a sand beach, which in turn was ringed by a coral reef. It was like we were back in the South Pacific. It felt great to swim all day. Some local fisherman camped out on the beach at night, but they left us alone. Great stop.

mesanakPulau Mesanak
00.24.270N, 104.33.551E
From Sembilan we made a 300 mile run northwest to Mesanak. Our original pan was to break this leg up into two trips with a stopover on Pulau Bangka, but we were well rested, had plenty of fuel, and the seas were flat, so we kept pushing. Mesanak was another quiet, sheltered harbor with a lot of fishermen. It had 20 huge fish trap houses on stilts throughout the harbor. This whole part of Indonesia – the Riau, Bangka, and Lingga islands – is where boats based in Singapore and Thailand go cruising. We could easily have spent a month exploring this beautiful area, but we are not sure we want to deal with the bureaucracy required to re-enter Indonesia. This was another great stop.

nonsaNongsa Point Marina, Nongsa Point, Pulau Batam
01.11.780N, 104.05.777E
This is an actual, real, modern marina with shore power and attendants with radios who run out and help you dock your boat! It is part of a hotel complex with a pool, restaurant, golf course, and a bike trail. I learned later on in Singapore that the marina has an excellent boat detailing service and that many boats in Singapore head over to Nongsa to get their boats waxed and polished. Sophie is looking a little dull these days, and the equatorial heat deadens any ambition I have to wax the boat right now. So detailing will have to wait until Thailand. The people from Nongsa handled our Indonesia immigration and customs clearance for us. That in and of itself made this an excellent stop.

rsycThe Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, Singapore
01.17.666N, 103.45.696E
Our current home is a marina on the southwest coast of Singapore. We didn’t realize it a month ago, but the presence of the Singapore Yacht Show last week made it very difficult to find a berth in this country due to all of the boats coming down from Thailand and Malaysia. We were lucky to get a berth here. The facility at the yacht club is excellent: hotel, restaurant, bar, huge swimming pool, gym, steam room, kids room, gambling room, mahjong room, karaoke club, concierge, and 7×24 security. It’s adjacent to a huge park with bike trails and one of Singapore’s best playgrounds. There is also easy access to public transportation. The only downside? It’s rolly here. Rolly, rolly, rolly. The marina docks are located right next to the immigration dock where service boats pick up and drop of crews for all of the commercial vessels anchored off Singapore. These service boats are all 50 foot twin diesel pilot boats, and their skippers fishtail them into the dock like toddlers driving bumper cars at the “No Parents” night at the amusement park. They kick up a lot of wake, which isn’t a problem for cats like Sophie, but the monohulls swing like pendulums. The staff all seem surprised when we tell them we love the dock. This is a great place for cats, with an excellent and friendly staff.

 

Bali Belly

IMG_20150325_165611We left Bali a week ago and have made overnight stops at Lembongan, Gili Air (above), Kangean, and Bawean. We are heading north to Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) to hang out with orangutans. It is our next big adventure.

I would love to be able to tell you that we successfully made it out of Bali without encountering any problems, but I cannot. Unfortunately, one of us came down with “Bali Belly,” a local disease involving water-born parasites that can get inside your system and ruin your vacation. But it wasn’t me that picked up the hitchhikers, or Jenna, or Leo, or Hazel.

It was Sophie.

Our first sign of trouble occurred last Monday afternoon when we started up the engines and pulled the anchor in order to leave Bali and make the 12 mile trip over to Lembongan. The propellers felt like they were covered in seaweed or plastic and were not working well. Our anchor chain and anchor bridle, the 10 meter length of 1″ nylon rope we use to attach the point of each hull to the anchor chain, were covered in barnacles. And when I say covered, I mean COVERED.

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We had been anchored in Bali’s Serangan Harbor for three weeks, and the harbor has a reputation for fostering marine growth, but I had never seen our anchor chain encrusted with so many barnacles. We quickly raised the rest of the chain, and after alternating each engine in forward and reverse gear a few times, the propellers seemed to be working again. I assumed we had successfully knocked off whatever was hanging from them. I had no desire to dive under the boat in that harbor, whose muddy water flows from Bali’s primary landfill. Lembongan has much cleaner water, and I figured we could explore the problem when we got there.

I did so two hours later, and I was shocked with what I had found. The entire metal surface of both propellers and their saildrives (the device that looks like the bottom half of an outboard motor and connects the propellers to Sophie’s engines) were completely encrusted with barnacles. Each hull had over 1,000 barnacles growing on it as well, with one located about every 3-5 inches along the entire length our catamaran.

We had visited Lembongan three weeks earlier, and when I checked the boat at the time I saw that the propellers, saildrives, and hulls were completely free and clear of marine growth and barnacles. This didn’t surprise me, because we had hauled Sophie out of the water a year ago in New Zealand and had painted her hull with antifouling paint and her propellers and saildrives with PropSpeed, all with the goal of retarding this type of growth.

What happened during the three weeks in Serangan was a complete and catastrophic failure of our boat’s chemically-derived underwater immune system. Sophie had Boat Bali Belly, and she had it bad. It was time to go to work.

I grabbed my mask, snorkel, fins, and a plastic scraper, and then went to work on the propellers. I normally like to use plastic scrapers underwater in order to avoid damaging the hull or the antifouling, but I immediately broke the plastic scraper on the metal propeller while simultaneously cutting my hand on the saildrive barnacles while trying to steady myself. The barnacles clearly won Round 1.

I then had Jenna get me my Kevlar gloves (which I used to wear back in the days when we cruised in waters where people could actually catch fish)  along with a metal putty knife we had down in our bilge stores. The combination of these two tools worked much better, and after 2 hours of underwater aerobics I succeeded in getting both propellers and their saildrives completely clear of banacles. Round 2 went to me.

The next morning we fired up the engines, dropped our mooring line, and headed northeast to Gili Air, which is 50 miles away. Unfortunately, that 50 miles is through the Selat Lombok, the strait between Bali and Lombok that connects the Indian Ocean with the Java Sea. During this time of year it can have a 5-8 knot current flowing south, and we were initially making 2 knots of boat speed with both engines running at 2600 RPM against the current. We were following a course recommended by a local ferry captain that was published in the Noonsite cruising website, but that strategy clearly wasn’t succeeding, so we turned back to Bali and crept north along a countercurrent flowing right next to her eastern shore. We made it to Gili Air by late afternoon and picked up a mooring right off the beach. Hazel jumped into the water and continued to practice standing up on Leo’s surfboard – she has become obsessed – while I attacked the barnacles on the hulls with my 10 inch plastic scraper.

Fortunately, these barnacles would come off with a single scrape. I assume they had a difficult time establishing a strong purchase on Sophie’s antifouling paint. Unfortunately, Sophie has a lot of underwater surface to cover, and I spent another two hours clearing off the port hull. Also, I wasn’t wearing a shirt, and I realized later that night that every time I leaned my forearm against the hull, the barnacles would scratch my arm. The next morning I woke up to find red, cat-like scratches covering my arms and shoulders, scratches created by landfill-fueled super barnacles that had attacked our boat. Round 3 went to them as I bathed myself in Neosporin.

The next morning Hazel went back out for surfboard practice, and I went back out to finish the job. This time I was wearing Kevlar gloves AND a long-sleeved shirt. It took another three hours but I removed all of the barnacles from the starboard hull and even used a large screwdriver to auger out all of the throughhulls, the openings in Sophie’s hulls where seawater is pumped in and wastewater is pumped out. Sophie has a lot of throughhulls, but I go the job done. Hazel loved being on the surfboard when the high speed ferries carrying backpackers up from Bali passed right by us, throwing up a big wake with a nice break. I think Instagram has 100 new photos of a little elf in her stingray suit hanging 10 while tethered to a French-made mothership.

It was good to be back in the water.

Gili Air is a cute tourist island that is a mile across and has a ban on gas-powered cars and motorcycles. Instead there is a fleet of pony-drawn carts that haul freight and tourists around the island, and it reminded the kids of their visit to Michigan’s Mackinaw island last summer. Just imagine Mackinaw filled with surfers, surrounded by coral reefs, and blanketed with beachfront bars serving 2-for-1 happy hour cocktails for $4 to Russian backpacker tourists in bikinis. In other words, it was just like Michigan.

The 2 nights in Gili Air marked the end of our 2 months in tourist country, the first tourist area we had visited since Fiji last August. It was nice being in a place where we could see couples from China posing for wedding photographs on the beach at sunset …

IMG_20150325_181435

… along with ridiculously-named boats that pulled tourists on inflatable toys.

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I could have spent at least another week in Gili Air, but we had to leave the next day if we wanted to get to Kalimantan to see the orangutans and then to Singapore before our Indonesia visas expire on April 18th.

But our departure from Gili sparked a bit of a soulsearching conversation between me and Jenna: are we going too fast?

It seems that with every country we visit, we seem to be falling in love with it just as we rush out the door and head for the next country. This is happening right now with us in Indonesia. We love this place, and we are leaving in three weeks. Why aren’t we slowing down?

I don’t know the right answer. It’s been 2 years this month since we left San Diego. In our first year abroad, we visited six countries: French Polynesia, The Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, and New Zealand, where we spent 6 months. In our second year of travel, we visited five countries: Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia, where we have stayed for five months. This year also included a 6 week visit for all of us back to the US. For our third year, we plan to visit four countries on Sophie (Singapore, Maylasia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka) along with four countries via land (Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.) We can envision doing five countries in the following year: Maldives, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa. So over a four year period, that is averaging around 6 countries a year. On paper, that seems slow. When your are in the middle of doing it, it seems way too fast.

There is, however, one area where I will plead completely guilty when it comes to going too fast, and that is when it comes to shopping for groceries. The morning we left Bali, I was responsible for going to the store and doing our provisioning. Jenna had recently taken a Balinese cooking class with the kids and carefully prepared a shopping list of ingredients she wanted from the store that she could use in preparing the new recipes she had just learned. I confused her list with a list of everything we needed for 10 days of passage making. So we are week into our current trip and have a great supply of things like tumeric root and fresh shallots, but we are out of things like bread, fruit, meat, and juice.

I’ve been going through our larder as a result and realized I have a mustard problem. I grab a jar every time I go to the store. We now have a year’s supply on board.

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Fortunately I also discovered (in Bali, of all places!) the perfect passage-making food for boats going offshore: jars of German sausages.

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I never knew that these existed! The kiddies look at them as if they were jars of crack cocaine and have even volunteered to clean toilets if I promise to open up a jar.

In addition to mustard and sausages, we still have 30 meals of frozen fish left on board along with lots of pasta and rice and some remaining greens. So we should be able to make it to Kalimantan in 2 days without starving. We will be staying there in the port of Kumai, where there is supposed to be a good market and some grocery stores. We should be all set from a food perspective.

From a weather perspective, we are definitely in the transition period between monsoons. That means very light air, and now that we are away from big islands it seems we haven’t seen a rain shower or squall for a week.

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Jenna took this picture of a small cargo vessel yesterday. It passed our stern as it slowly chugged north from Java to Kalimantan. As you can see, the seas are like a mirror and there is no wind. Clearly we would prefer a nice 15 knot tradewind blowing behind us, but we are not complaining about covering ground in these conditions, either. We are averaging 5 knots while running just one engine at a time at 2000 RPMs. It helps that Sophie has a clean belly. 🙂

We have another 180 miles to go before we see the orangutans. We hope we have enough fuel. We know we have enough mustard. The crew is in good spirits. Leo and Hazel are doing great in school and have even found the time to start memorizing lines from Gilligan’s Island. We know we are going too fast on our journey. We know there is so much more we want to see. We know we could (and increasingly think we will) spend a lifetime doing this. We know we are running out of time. And yes, we know how lucky we all are.