Thursday, 28 July 2016

Stop 1 - Tual. July 20 - 25 2016

Matilda entering the channel between Kepulauan & Kecilkai Kecil Kei Islands bound for Tual.
The journey from Thursday Island to Tual, Indonesia in total covered 730 nautical miles, it took us 114 hours and we motored for 22.5 hours of those miles. Take note that the journey from the start of the channel to anchor took us approximately 6 hours and we arrived to begin the journey as the sun was setting anchoring at 0130hrs on the 6th day. We mainly had a SE winds in varying strengths averaging around 15 knots. Arriving at night was not an issue.

Points of interest to note:
  • Keep a 50nm clearance of Salah Point, New Guinea as other boats have been tangled up in fishing gear
  • As you approach the Aru Islands, keep a look out for squid/fishing boats. Easily seen during the day. At night, they will light up the horizon and are easily spotted. However, if the boats are moving and you have to navigate through the pack, they do not have navigation lights like we know them. If anything they have a yellow light amongst he mass of white lights as a bow light. They are timber so they dont show up on the radar. Their mass of white lights make them incredibly hard to view in the binoculars. Most of them are either at anchor or drifiting (these ones didnt pose a problem, but the ones moving (we encountered 2) are very difficult to get a fix on to work out if a collision is eminent. 
  • As you enter the channel towards Tual, keep left of centre. There are fishing huts (floating) that run fishing nets to the shallows on the bank. Do Not go between them. The men on the floating structure will shine a white light on you at night, unless of course all they have is a candle.
Breakdowns on fleet boats included:
  • fuel hose line split on one boat
  • fresh water hose to the galley tap blew out (on our boat)
  • hydraulic hose on steering blew on a boat
  • the drive plate on the gear box on one boat broke
  • HF radios not working very well
  • some VHF radios also not working very well
  • alternator belts worn (no charging for the batteries)
  • an auto pilot blew on a boat
  • main sail stitching came undone (on our boat)
  • a solenoid on the rear platform failed
  • a few toilets blocked
Our blown water hose. It successfully emptied 1 tank into the bilge before we realized we had an issue.

Deb repairing the stitching on the main sail prior to departure.

STOP ONE - Tual - Indonesia

Officials - Quarantine, Immigration and Customs. This is where your folder of all official documents with copies will make the process much easier and quicker. Our boat stamp was used extensively, and keeping a smile on your face is imperative. They all liked to take many photos and a cool drink of Coke was appreciated. You can not leave your vessel until you have all 3 clearances. Quarantine will give you the OK to take down your Q flag. It is a good idea to have your boat (and yourself) clean, tidy and well presented for the officials.

We arrived at 0130 in the morning, by 9am we had Quarantine on-board and the process was painless. They have a very good process in place. They did ask to view the first aid kit. They wanted to ensure that all items where within their use by date.

By 1030 we had Immigration onboard, again painless and a very good process in place.

Customs however, like to make you wait and they came 1830 the same day. They did look in most cupboards. The question was asked about how much alcohol was bought into Tual.

TUAL - July 20 to 25.

After six days we arrived at 0130 hrs on July 20th 2016. Anchored at: 05.36.81S & 132.44.43E in 15 meters. Official business took all day as the Customs didn't arrive until 1830. So the next day we were keen to step ashore to sort out a few things. 

Points to note:
  • Your welcoming station is the big blue shed with no walls building on top of the hill - everything happens here (you can see it from your anchorage)
  • Do not leave your tender where it can go under the dock at low tide because at high tide it will get squeezed under the jetty (the tides are huge)
  • Bins are provided on the dock for your rubbish
  • Laundry is to be dropped off at the hut at the end of the jetty
  • Diesel is available - take your jerry cans to the welcoming station (up on the hill). We got 80 litres of diesel here.
  • Drinking water is available to you. you will need to buy it in a sealed water bottle (same as those used for a drinking fountain). you then keep the container and swap at the next stop
  • SIM cards will be available to you via the two mobile units that will come to the welcoming station. Remember to get a data package.
  • Take note of Raymonds and Budhi's mobile numbers, they are both extremely helpful
  • At the welcoming station the people on the Help Desk speak very good English and will go out of their way to assist you
  • Markets for fruit & vegetables are easily to get to in your tender. just motor down to the next town and pull in. Once you walk through the car park the markets are there on both your right and left. If you want 'better' markets ask Raymond or Budhi for directions.
The welcoming ceremony - which took all day and all night was amazing. They clearly had been getting ready for the event for last 12 months since the fleet left last year. The day comprised of a spiritual welcoming complete with traditional dancers on the red carpet on the jetty at 0900. Then up to the welcoming station for a speeches and a lunch was provided. Our hosts took great pride in walking us around to a 'meeting house' on the freshly laid bitumen road - laid for our benefit. Then we all went on a buses for a city tour which comprised of some gardens, a local school visit and to a traditional house who's owners showed us how to cook a toxic plant and we had drinks here, then finished up back at the meeting station. Loads more speeches and a wonderful gala dinner was to complete the night with everyone drinking Bintang beer and dancing to the live music.

Traditional Dancing

Traditional dress

Meeting House

The fleet at the Meeting House


The school we visited with some of the fleet teaching the students how to say 'hello' in different languages

The kids love having their photo taken

A traditional root vegetable (which is toxic if not prepared properly).

The root vegetable being shredded to extract the toxic juice

Preparations for our Welcoming Dinner

Our view of the sun setting over the anchorage 

Members of the band

Traditionally dressed dancers

More dancing

And more dancing

A member of each nation was representative on stage to receive a welcoming sash.

More photos

Sun setting over the anchorage never ceased to take our breath away - spectacular

One of our days we went with friends Mary and Grant for a look around. We hired a car and driver and we went to a cave with the clearest water we had ever seen, then on to a natural spring, then lunch and before we came back we went to a department store. We had such fun.

The natural spring

The local village had 'dammed' the natural spring and use it for drinking & washing.

The dam. We didnt fancy a swim due to the large numbers of worms we could see

Our taxi out the front of the restaurant we stopped at for lunch. It looked like it had not long been built. It was very clean and tidy, and we where all made to feel most welcome.

Inside the view out the window was lovely

We accidentally ordered so much food they had to put two tables together.

Typical of construction in Asia. No doubt they had run out of money so they leave the work site and all the gear is just let to the elements.

We also enjoyed a day at the markets. It was very interesting to see all their wares outside for sale. Loads of scooters and horn tooting. Everyone was really happy and all of them wanted to be in a picture.

Mum and baby.

They love posing for a photo

Love the color.

Not a lot of WPHS going on!

Building a new mosque (like they need another one - they are everywhere)


Some the men from the fleet

Some of the ladies from the fleet & our 'tour' guide on the far left

Beautiful and fresh

Knife anyone?

Dingy dock for the markets

Please note that 12 boats tested positive for Malaria in Namrole. We all traced it back to our time in Tual. Malaria will develop from the time of biting up to 14 days. They all had very similar symptoms: shocking headache, full body aches and pains, very tired, sweating badly and basically feeling really unwell. Try to get yourself to a hospital for pathology testing as some of the malaria test kits are not accurate.

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