Mar

1

Navigational Hazard

We were advised to travel in groups from Sri Lanka, and then the official grouping was to commence from Salalah,  Oman to Djibouti.

There were three groups of six yachts leaving Mumbai, India.  The first group left a day and half before us, with the second group following the next day, then our group.  This was to ensure that the smaller vessels arrived in Salalah Port, Oman, at around the time the larger vessels arrived. 

Oil Rig

Sailing with another five rally boats we left Mumbai, and decided we would sail in formation.  It was a 3 x 2 formation with the slower yachts in the first row and the faster yachts in the second row.  The middle front boat was the leader, they advised the speed over ground as well as the course to take.  They also made the decisions for quick action if and when required.  The communication boat was in the second row.   They were the communication boat for our group and twice a day the group position was sent via email to several military liaisons, being UKMTO (UK Maritime Trade Operations), who were located in Dubai.  UKMTO is the primary contact for merchant vessels and liaise with the military.  The second point of contact was MARLO (Maritime Liaison Office).  MARLO is an US group situated in Bahrain who communicates with the US Navy.  The communication boat also sent our positions to rally HQ.  Our communications boat was vigilant in contacting and keeping communications open with MARLO and UKMTO via satellite phone twice a day to ensure there were no Pirate Action groups near our group of 6 yachts.  Anything that looked out of the ordinary via line of sight or on our radars, a call was put through immediately to UKMTO, whilst all the yachts would prepare for possible attack.  UKMTO would stay on the phone until the target was confirmed non threatening. 

Sailing under a full moon

The first night out we were ducking and diving oil rigs, unlit buoys/markers and fishing boats.  The fishing boats are a major hazard as they carry no navigation lights and you cannot determine which direction they are going or how close they are or indeed if they are pirates.

Oil Rig and Fishing Boats

The second day, we managed to do a little sailing, with a beam reach averaging around 7-7.5 kts.   We have altered our course after a piracy incident was bought to our attention, not confirmed but too close to our course to ignore it, (it was later confirmed by the Spanish military as a merchant vessel pirated).  We have predominantly been motoring sailing;  a) to keep moving at our nominated speed and b) so the slower yachts can keep the momentum going for the faster yachts.

Motor Sailing in formation

Its evening and a large vessel with lights, now has none, the radar and AIS have shown this to be a registered commercial tanker.  We are very concerned.  All our nav lights are instantly turned off with communications via the SSB to ensure talking amongst ourselves hasn’t been scanned.  We close our formation and alter our course with the maximum of speed for our yachts.  We are unsure whether this ship is charading as a pirate vessel or whether is a legitimate vessel just as afraid of us, as we are of it.  It is only 2 NM away traveling at 20kts and no navigation lights at all.  Our comms boat has called UKMTO giving all the details, UKMTO have contacted the vessel and have notified us that this is a safe target.  We breathe a huge sigh of relief.  All navigation lights are turned back on, and formation back to normal.

Flying overhead

Saturday 19th February

Today we have had two large planes fly overhead of us.   It gives us little comfort to know that we are being watched over.  We identified one as being from Pakistan.  You see them before you hear them and it’s quite startling to know how close they come.

We have been notified by UKMTO that one of the rally’s boats SV Quest has been pirated.  One of our worst nightmares. 

 We are now on extremely high alert.  A yacht has not been pirated in these waters for over a year.  The yacht Quest was several hundred miles away from us.  They had been traveling alone since leaving Mumbai, with four crew on board and they were not on the recommended rally route.

 Sunday 20th February

Another fabulous moonlit night with no incidents. We are still motor sailing.

Monday 21st February

 We are getting closer to Port Salalah, Oman now, with the spectacular display of phosphorescence glistening on the hulls of the yachts and a bonus with dolphins playing alongside.  What a spectacular sight at night to see. 

Phosphorescent Slick

We are still motor sailing and the sun is out.  The evenings tend to get very cool so we are wearing our thermals to keep warm.

At 2300 hours we have caught up with one of the other groups sooner than anticipated, one of the yachts has got caught in fishing nets as they were leaving their anchorage.  The rest of their group were standing-by until morning and then they were going to assist them and cut them free.

Our group have stopped to give assistance, we have launched our dinghy and three divers, Gavin, Brian and Paul are helping to free Natibou so that we can all be on our way. 

Armed with underwater torches and dive gear, the three of them managed to cut him free, but it was by no means easy and required all three of them, so had we sailed on by, Hans would have had no chance by himself in the morning. It took around 3 hours to cut them free and then navigate their way back out through the nets to where we were standing by. We were all exhausted, yet another night without sleep except this time it’s for very different reasons.

Three hours later we have now been informed that Natibou are now free and are negotiating their way through the rest of the nets inshore.  Gavin, Brian and Paul are on their way back in the dinghy.

Our group was not comfortable sailing on by and not helping.  This is not a place you wish to wait and hang around in, especially when the owner of the fishing net turns up in the morning.  We are all keeping well away from the shore to avoid the fishing nets.  Just to give you an idea, these fishing nets can range up to a mile in length.  The do not have any lights to advise they are there.  Using binoculars at night can sometimes assist with seeing maybe a float in the water.

22nd February

We now have an extra yacht in our group.  Jacque off Jackobel has terrible toothache and wants to get to Salalah, Oman as soon as possible.  The rally have arranged a dental appointment for Jacque as soon as we arrive.

Fuel is getting low, were able to collect fuel from the group we just left, who managed to get fuel for our group, but not all our yachts collected what was needed, however we will rally around our six yachts and share out the diesel amongst us if needed, so we are motoring faster now to enable the diesel to run at optimum and economically to achieve the speed from the lowest fuel consumption. 

It is great to see small dolphins playing on the bow, it lightens the load a little to see such beauty in the sea, but still knowing what danger lurks amongst it. 

We have sailed past another rally today, the Vasco de Gamma.  Its comforting to know we are not alone.

Vasco de Gamma Rally

Its 2200 hours, we have had the most devastating news ever.  UKMTO called our comms boat to advise that all four passengers on SV Quest had been killed.  This was relayed via the SSB to us all.  Not a word was said.  Many tears have been shed with this news.   I just want to get off the boat and go home, but we can’t, we have another days sailing ahead.  This is like being in your worst nightmare and more!!  You can never judge a situation like this until you have been involved.  Your heart drops to the pit of your stomach, everything feels like its closing in on you, it seems your heartbeat is racing out of control and a nauseous feeling just sits waiting.  But we have another 5 yachts we have to get safely into port then we can decide what to do.  Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends at this time.

If there’s any consolation at all we only have 200 miles to go. 

A skiff which pirates use, these guys were going out fishing thank goodness!!

Thursday 24th February

We are only 15 miles away.  Safety is near.  We are all still very much on high alert.  It is so easy to become complacent out here, but truth is, it’s not worth your life now……we still have to be vigilant especially just before sunrise and just after sunset, these are the danger hours for the Somalian pirates to attack.

 After eight long days and 5 extremely longer hours we have made it safely into Salalah port and moored alongside another catamaran from the rally who came via the Maldives.  Just to keep us on our toes the morse cable snapped on the starboard engine, just as we were entering into the harbour.  We had to have three dinghies to maneuver us into place.  Oh well another job to do, but we’re alive and safe, we are just waiting for a few more yachts to arrive in. 

Entering Salalah Port

A huge sigh of relief and tears just streaming down my face.  We’re safe……..

Now a time of reflection and to celebrate the lives of the people who had their lives taken so tragically, it seemed so unnecessary. 

If you are thinking about traversing these waters DONT!!!!!  Y0ur life and crews lives are not worth it.  The Somalian pirates need to be  held accountable for their actions, and unfortunately with such a unstable country and no known government leadership the pirating of all the Indian Ocean will carry on.

Jul

11

Hi All

A few pics of Mumbai India for you to enjoy.  The people are wonderful, polite and very sincere. The cuisine, mouth watering, and a very colourful place to visit.  The history is mind blowing.  They are very hard workers.  Poverty stricken areas and rich areas are each others neighbours.  They are happy within.  The want to survive is greater the want of material wealth here.  This place is definately worth visiting and exploring…

Eggs anyone?

Eggs anyone?

The Gateway to India and the Taj Mahal Hotel

Housing

A peek into where Slumdog Millionaire was filmed

Housing again

Busy Street

Carved in Stone

Jeans anyone?

Town and around

Markets

Washing the baby

Top Heavy

Drying the washing

Red Kumara for sale

Living in the Slums

More Housing

High Rise

High Rise

The Toll Bridge

Jammed Packed

Oil Rig plus a navigation Hazard

We’d like to thank the people who we met in Mumbai and made it possible to reprovision the boat plus arrange a dentist for Gavin, and restock us with fuel.  They know who they are.   Mumbai was an emergency stop for us, to enable us to travel with our group up the coast of India to travel safely in numbers.   We did not have visas to go ashore as we had been misinformed regarding the NZ passport allowances.  As a NZ’er you can gain entry visas only on arrival into India via International Airports NOT by seaport.   This made things very challenging for us not to say the least.  Although is there is no difference in the stamps that go in our passports from ones that are entered into via an airport, the Indian authorities are not at all interested in making allowances.    Little did we know how treacherous the next part of our journey to Salalah Oman would be.

Apr

27

Dear Friends, Family and Followers

Apologies for not updating our blog.  As one of our rally boats were pirated and murdered by Solmalian Pirates, just off the coast of Oman, of which the Solmalian pirates then captured another yacht with a family of 3 children and 4 adults (they are still being held captive with an unknown outcome at this stage), I will not be updating our blog until our yacht has safely arrived to it’s destination.   The process has been a very long one, of which the girls are in one country and dad is with the boat in another country, until such time we can meet up with him.  Sorry for being so vague but pirates can also peruse the internet and they may have our details from the first pirated vessel they took ruthlessly and murdered.  We are safe and that is all that matters.  So please be patient and until it is the right time we will then start updating our blog again.

Feb

5

Hi everyone,

Yes we have made it into Cochin India.  What a terrific place to be.  The people are friendly, it’s warm and muggy, but when the sun goes down out comes the mozzie battalion with full vengeance!  Walking down the main street is like a looking at a technicolor coat with all the beautiful saris, and yes Shae and I have invested in one.   As this place is predominately muslin, we are not allowed out without covering our shoulders and wearing dresses/skirts/shorts past our knees, so as to not offend the local people.  We have managed to look around at a place called Fort Cochin, Jew town and do a little shopping in what they call Broadway.  We have really enjoyed our time here and wish we were able to stay a little longer but this is not the case.  Unfortunately the information that we have been given by the Blue Water Rally directors (this is why we joined the BWR and paid for the information and support to be correct) had been incorrect regarding NZ’ers getting visas on arrival.  This was only if you flew in to 4 nominated international airports that you can receive a visa in this manner.  So Gavin and I had to fight tooth and nail with the Indian Immigration with the wonderful help of The New Zealand High Commission, to obtain an emergency visa.  The NZ High Commission have been absolutely fabulous.  As we had been waiting for our prop to arrived from Belgium via NZ, NEVER EVER EVER use DHL!!  They are a very incompetent company internationally and do not understand that when a product is under warranty as it is faulty that there is no charge, yet the incompetency and the understanding of the basics of english does not register in their intellectual ability.  So waiting for an urgent propeller to be delivered before our departure and requesting a commercial invoice to the value of the product, even though it’s a nil charge, they cannot compute.  Then to find out after all this time that they had the original invoice stating value of product.  This has now put us in a compromising position, we now have to collect the prop from Mumbai under emergency visa status again with the assistance of the NZ High Commission.  DHL India’s lack of customer service in abhorrent.  Basically 4 days of pissing around waiting for them to organise themselves in DHL India undermining the credibility of a NZ company stating that there is something not right about this shipments nil value (even though it states quite clearly on the invoice WARRANTY REPLACEMENT OF FAULTY PRODUCT NIL VALUE) is not acceptable.   Our shipment was held to ransom, in plain DHL India english, you don’t supply the invoice you don’t get your shipment.  Then on top of that we paid for an express delivery, what an absolute joke.  Anyway enough of that enjoy the photos…

Digging a trench by hand

Shae on the Ferry

Busy Street

Vege Fruit Vendors

Indian Sunset

Fishing boat

Net Fishing

Local Taxi

Local Fishing Boats

Fort Cochin Local village

Shae arms with henna

Fort Cochin

tuk tuk

Main Street

The Sari

Bolgharty Marina by nightfall

The butchers

Street Vendor

all in a hard days work

Fish Market

Gavin and Paul up Enchantrass Mast

Fresh Juice crusher

Main Street Broadway

Installing Powerlines notice the OSH Regulation of bare feet

Cochin Harbour

Bolghaty Marina Cochin

22Kt gold

Feb

3

Hi there, here are some more photos of the high country enjoy

Gav and Shae

Taking the cows for a walk

A local chewing local tobacco

Eliya Gap and Mountain views

more scenery

Tea plantation

Eliya Coffe House Info

Bananas anyone? A roadside fruit & vege vendor

Another tea plantation

The Exclusive Hill Club Nuwara Eliya

Dining at the Hill Club

The Hill Club

Tea Factory

Tea plants - Recipe: add water, milk and a little sweet kiwi for taste

The sign says it all

me, Mark, Shae and Chrissie from the UK

A nice cuppa T

a pic from the bus

Kandy Town

The Golden Temple

Working Elephant

Tourist Rides on working Elephant Dambulla

Sigiriya Rock

from the top of Sigiriya Rock

Gav and Shae at the top of Sigiriya Rock

Cobra Snake Charmer at the top of Sigiriya Rock

Bathtime for the Pinnawela Orphan Elephants

Watching from a safe location

Feeding a naughty elephant hence the chains

Pinnawela Orphanage

Feb

3

Hi All

Here are some pics of our road trip up the the high country in Sri Lanka.  Tea plantations, waterfalls, elephant orphanage, safari trip and many many temples. Enjoy…

The bus and tour guide

A bucket and well

Inside of the temple

Shae and the famous Buddha

Rice Fields

The blowhole that didnt blow only 1000 Rupees

The Safari Trip

Safari Transport

Let the wildlife tour begin....

Never smile at a crocodile

Water Buffalo

a lonely turtle

Monitor Lizard

Tame Boars

The rules of entry

Hmm Bambi or Venison on a plate (Spotted Deer) YUM......

Wolves

Green Breasted Bird

Can you see him?

Our first siting of an Elephant

My what big teeth you have.......

A fine Specimen for a plate......

Water Buffalo just lazing around....

Ohh just nosing around

Doing what an elephant does

Just a few jeeps

A Mongoose

A well earned stop after a 3 hour stint

A seaside village within the Safari Park

Locals

Bike Training Sri Lankan Style

Heading Up into the high country, our first waterfall of many

Jan

22

Hi all, there are more photos to come, but we are leaving for cochin India today a 3 day passage will post more photos once we arrive if internet is good.

Sol Maria

Jan

22

Hi All, after a 9 day 8 night passage we finally made it into Galle.  The last 300NM was on the nose, 20kt-25kts, with moderate sea.  Unfortunately we were also battling a 4 knot tidal current along with the rest of the fleet.  Then with our starboard engine flashing a oil pressure light, we turned that off until we were able to contact the Yanmar Agents in NZ on Monday 10th when everyone went back to work, to find out that it was only a faulty switch, so on went the engine.  We were traveling from speeds of 1.8 kts up to 4.5kts which was very frustrating at times, but we finally made it and have been enjoying the sites, culture and cuisine of Sri Lanka.  So enjoy our pics, we also went on a landbase tour for 4 nights and 5 days.  Visiting, temples, tea plantations, waterfalls, Ranwali Spice herbal gardens in Kawdupelella, Matale, the prestigious Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya, founded in 1876 for men only, the Ruhunu (Yala) National wildlife safari park with elephants, crocodiles, mongoose, pelicans, jungle fowls to name a few. We also visited a elephant orphanage, where they nurse the elephants back to health if they can and then try to reintegrate them back into their natural habitat.  There are some villages that still use the elephants for moving large objects around or tourist attractions.  The boxing day tsunami in 2004 also affected the Sri Lankans, but had not had as much publicity as the Thailand tsunami.  Many lives were lost with the wave traveling into land 1.5kilometres.  A large memorial statue stands in the place where over 200 people who had been traveling in a train perished with the tsunami waves.  We attended the celebration of Historiacal Duruthu Perahara of Pilana Sri Maha Viharaya 110th Term which started with 7 villages presenting their cultural dances and buddhas, this only happens on the night of a full moon and is a very big occasion, we started at 10pm and finished at 4am, colourful, exciting but very tiring.  We were the guests of honor sitting in seats only for foreign visitors.  So now for the pics enjoy…

Dolphins in transit from Thailand to Galle Sri Lanka

More dolphins in transit

Stern via anchor at Port Galle

Roadside Stall ...fish anyone

The Fort, Galle

View of Galle city from the Fort

The Fort established by the Dutch

The Fort

Shae and Charlie at the Fort with a local Hawker in the background

Free spirited goats in main street Galle

The Fort Wall

Main Street , The Fort

Back street Galle

Local Transport Galle

Our Tuk Tuk Driver Asela

Turtle Sanctuary egg nursery

Shae with a new friend

A 4 yr old turtle

Escaping .......looking for Nemo

Fishing the old way

Gav trying to fish with the locals

Local Fishing

Street Stalls

Local Cows free lancing

old fashioned transport still being used

Main Street Galle

Blue Sapphire and Amythest Gems

Local Fishing boats

Oven in local house

Pilana Sri Maha Viharaya 110th Term Temple

Full Moon Festivities

Shae and Charlie at the Temple

Shae, Annie and Charlie with the locals at the temple

How many can you fit on a motorbike?

Buckets anyone?

Full Moon

Foreigners Seating

Monks in training

Whip crackers

Locals at the Full Moon Celebrations

Full Moon Parade

More Dancers

Working Elephant

More Dancers

More dancing

Fire Dancers

The Buddha

Another Buddha

Dec

31

Hi All

We are in Patong Thailand and we are preparing for the New Years celebration.  Here’s a few more pics from us.

A beached Buddha

A quiet get away from Patong NOT!

Paragliding assistance no harness

A Cruise ship in Port, we're so small!

Patong Beach

Powerlines Patong Beach - for Clint

Seafood anyone? Restaurant Hawking

Karate Kid?

Chinese Lantern for good luck

Up she goes

letters to the heavens

Oops

VW Combi Style cocktails

Tuk Tuks

Dec

30

Hi All

A few more pics for viewing.   Enjoy

Koh Rok Nok Diving

More of Koh Rok Nok

Rolly Taskers Sail Loft

Dinner at Phi Phi Don

The Big Hong

Inside the Big Hong

Sea Eggs

Under the sea

Moray Eel

More Fish

Diving Again

Drink Anyone Mix your own Phi Phi Island

Tsunami Safe House Phi Phi Don

Phi Phi Don from the Top

Power Lines Phi Phi Island

Ton Sai and Phi Phi Don

Dec

29

Hi All

Well Xmas has been and gone, we have since been traveling around Thailand and enjoying the humidity, sun, and torrential downpours when they come.   A spot of diving here and there and visiting Phi Phi Don where in 2004 a tsunami hit the island with devastating affects on many families losing the lives of loved ones, some were recovered others not.   The water has been inviting as we can actually see the sea floor in most places, with tropical lagoons, and “Hongs” which are opened roofed caves with an entrance either via a cave or an opening that you can get a dinghy in to.  We have my cousin Rongoa, Sandra and Kaleb with us for Xmas and New Years before we depart for Sri Lanka on 2nd January.   This passage will be around 7 days, and that’s all dependent upon wind.  We have motor sailed more than we have sailed and are chewing through the diesel.  Getting repairs for the boat here has been very reasonable, a lot cheaper than NZ and some of the workmanship even better than Australia and NZ put together.  The people here live to work and they know that it’s word of mouth and this keeps the money and food on the table in order for them to survive.  The cuisine has been a real treat, it really puts going out to Thai for dinner in perspective as the food is so full of tastes that would really wet any connoisseur’s appetite.  We are all well and miss everyone over the celebrations ahead.  Here’s to another New Years resolution, mine is to enjoy life and be happy.  So keep safe everyone, enjoy the up and coming 2011 we will be thinking of you all.  We will be in Patong, along with the rest of Thailand, enjoying the fireworks display, watching from a very safe distance on the boat.  Vicky, there’s a photo here for you, so everyone enjoy all our pics.

Until later, Gav, Lica and Shae

Fishing Stakes ... Watch out

Rock Art

Hong Entrance

Floating Village

Floating Village Again

Floating Village Hospital

Floating Village Eagles with Gav and Shae

Birds in Cages - Local Alarms for Danger

Walkway Floating Village

Sea water under the floating Village

Thai Garaging

Who gives way? Phi Phi Don

Rock Structures Phi Phi Don

Typical Charter Yacht Ignorance!!! Very Close Call

Smoko for Rongoa

Hong Entrance

Hong Entrance

Rock Structures from a Hong

Rock Climbing Anyone?

Any Crayfish???

Long Tail Boat.....chilling out

This beats Mercury Engines....Long Tail Boat Engine

A photo for Vic

Outdoor Toilet - Phi Phi Island

Night Life Phi Phi Island

Fire Dancer Phi Phi Island

Fire Dancer Phi Phi Island

Peacock

Posing Peacock

Rubber Gum Collecting

Khai Tourism

Charter Boat Parking Khai

Who wants to go to Khai Island

Ko Hai Bridge

Ko Hai Scenery

Long Tail Boat Ko Hai

Crusing along Ko Hai Beach

Ko Hai Ranger Hut

Ko Muk Island

Entrance into Ko Muk Island

Ko Muk Island Point

Dec

3

We are now in Penang.  What with the challenge coming into the main harbour dodging fishing boats, fishing nets, fishing pots then having to go under the Penang Bridge to get to the marina.  Also the construction of the new Penang bridge it is massive…..

Existing Penang Bridge

Going under the bridge

Pulling up their catch

Dec

3

After leaving Pt Kalang we traveled to Pankor Island.  We did a quick trip in a taxi to go around the island which took 1 hour 20 mins. So we got the pics and the t-shirts enjoy them…

Local Fishing Boat Pankor Island

In the taxi

Local Fishing Village

Monitor Lizard

Whats left of the Dutch Fortress

Dec

3

Hi we have left Singapore and are now in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  The food is great, the marina is different.  You tie up to a floating pontoon and then a water taxi picks you up and ferries you back and forth as you require.  We caught a train into the main city.  What a neat place……

Petronus Towers

Shae and Amy visiting the local Muslim temple

Shae and Amy visiting the local Muslim temple

Petronus Towers again

Muslim Temple

China Town Markets

Dec

3

Hi All, we re now in Singapore at Keppel Bay Marina.  We left Kumai river and the Orangatans which such a highlight of our trip.  We had an overnight stop at Ngonsa Point Indonesia to clear out then we went straight across to Singapore.  You ain’t seen nothing yet until you have sailed across one of the biggest and most busiest shipping channels in the world.  What an experience of excitement, near crapping yourself and huge relief once you have made it across.  We did a couple of things like visit the night zoo and Shae and Gav spent the day at Universal Studios.

Keppel Bay Marina

How high do they go Singapore Buildings

Universal Studios Shae taking up driving?

Orchard Road Singapore Xmas Decorations

Dec

3

In deepest dark jungle of Borneo we discovered some wild animals.  Here are the pics of our 3 day and 2 night houseboat experience.  The water was muddy in colour where the sea meets the river.  Mining is the main cause of the discolouration in the water plus the pollution that floats in it.   Illegal logging of the local wood is a huge problem with the effects of the local animals.  There is not alot for them the eat as also they export palm oil from the rainforests.  It is a very huge concern.  But on a happy note check this out…

All in a days work a local in the Kumai River

I only have eyes for you Gav

Our first local

Percy welcomes us

Reflections

Meet Mr Gibbon

Tom Cruise King of the Jungle

Dec

3

Leaving Bali Marina was a huge relief.  We traveled overnight to a place called Raas Island.  This has the oldest temple in existence which dates back to the 1400 century.  We also met up with another family from the BWR and their daughter Charlie traveled with us from Raas Island to Tunjung National Park Kalimantan.  We hit a large storm whilst we traveled of rain, thunder, lightening and 40 kt winds.  Thankfully the sea was moderate and comfortable and it only lasted for two hours. You will be delighted with these pictures…….

Shae and Charlie enjoying the rainstorm

Raas Island 1400 Century Temple

Dec

3

Bali was a huge disappointment from a mariners perspective.   I would NOT recommend this as a stopover for any vessel.  This marina was so polluted a number of the rally yachts were continuously removing plastic bags, paper, polystyrene, and whatever other rubbish was floating in the marina from their water intakes.  It was disgusting.  The fuel was charged out at RP7,200 per litre and at the local pump it was only RP4,500 per litre.  There was also a huge amount of  backhanders, and corruption going on with the local police and within the marina itself.  Any westerner that drove past the police patrol house got stung for RP350,000 just because of so called breaking the law, if you didn’t pay the fine then you would end up in jail, paying the fine then ensured that you would not be hit up for another fine again and the police put the money in their back pocket.  It really put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.  Shae went on a ride called the flying fish with some friends from the BWR out at Benoa Beach and then Gav and Shae surfed on Kuda Beach.  We had a cultural experience by traveling out to  a place called Ubud which is about 1 1/2 hour drive from Bali.  Gavin braved the elements and drove us up there.  Really to drive in Bali traffic you need a good strong heart and maybe incontinence pants because everywhere you turn there is either a bike, car or truck sitting on either side of you.  You start with one lane and can end up with 4 lanes.  Work that out huh?   Ubud has all the rice paddie fields up there plus fabulous local cuisine.  We only went up for the day.  Meanwhile a local King had passed away and a huge ceremony was celebrated in the city by a very large and colourful tour for the body which then gets put up in a very high tower and cremated.   The place was packed.  We then  headed back  to the boat.  A few more pics for  you to view….

Shae and Amy Flying Fish Benoa

Shae and Amy Flying Fish Benoa

Rice Paddy Field Ubud

Nov

29

Lombok Rice Paddy Fields

We traveled from Komodo Village National Park to Gili Air an overnighter (sailing overnight to run with the tides).  Gili Air is a lovely island frequented by alot of Australians and is away from the main village of Lombok.  We organised a day trip to Lombok from Gili Air with a few people from the BWR.   The local monkeys are quite the tourist attraction, they are somewhat regarded as sacred to the Indonesians.  They can be very friendly but also very very naughty.   There are many temples which when we go in we have to have long skirts and wear a special ribbon around our waist, the boys have to have wear shorts that go past their knees and wear a ribbon around their waste.  We have seen so many temples this is the only one which has stuck out as it is along the shoreline with magnificent views. Getting gravel from the water is a very big task.  The men collect the rocks whilst the women are on land with a hammer breaking by hand the gravel into various sizes which they grade and then sell.  The ages of these women were well into their 70′s.  It was quite an eye opener.  S0 more pictures for you to view….

Lombok Residents

Lombok Temple

Squeeze in Lombok Transport

Collecting Gravel

More Lombok Transport

Nov

26

Komodo Dragons, diving need I say more check out the pics……One bite from these guys and you die a very slow painful death, that’s how they kill their prey which is normally deer, wild boar or the odd monkey….

And who's footprints are these?

Up close with the Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon Rinca Island - Run fast!!

Komodo Dragon Sunbathing

Komodo Dragons Rinca

Rinca Island Diving

Rinca Island Dive

Rinca Island Underwater Scenery

Shae Buddy Diving with Gavin

Komodo Village Housing

Komodo Village Street

Komodo Village Foreshore

Nov

25

Hi There

After a very frustrating few days of motor sailing, with no wind at all, flat seas, polluted riddled sea with nets, fishing boats with no lights, garbage floating everywhere which is absolutely disgusting we finally arrived into Kupang Indonesia.  This is definately not a place for those who wish to receive five star treatment or who are not too good on standing smells you cannot even recognise.  Generally this place is a rubbish dump.  There is rubbish everywhere!  On the beach, in the streets, in the sea water, you would never really believe it until you are here, but take that all away from the equation the people make up for it.  They are a very happy culture and quick to rip you off if your a westerner.  They do this with such finesse in order to make some sort of living to get ahead.  The food is great, if you don’t look at the health standards of which the food is prepared.  The traffic is a nightmare, they have their own set of rules which certainly works well for them, but for us we would crap ourselves trying to play dodgems of missing the motorcyclist.  They predominantly move around on motorcycles, horse and cart, and Bemo’s which is the local taxi and some privately owned vehicles. You have to barter alot to get a resonable price for purchasing goods, this is the fun of the day and more fun for the vendor who laughs at you as you walk away as he has made a very fine profit from your purchase.  We are now in Bali, but we have stopped at a place called Rinca Island (Nusa Kode), Komodo Island, and then Gili  Air to do a land trip around Lombok.   We have also traveled up to Ubud in Bali to check out the rice fields.  Mind blowing!  The Komodo Dragons were out of this world so to has the snorkeling.   Shae and Gav also had the privilege of swimming with a mantaray for about an hour.  Awesome!  We leave Bali this evening to go pass Java and make our way to Ngonsa Point Batam.  We will be stopping off at Kalamatan to spend time with the Orangatangs.  So here are more photos…..

Water Frontage Kupang

Chicken for Dinner Kupang Market

The Toilet Kupang Style

Motorbikers Western Style Kupang

The Local Bowser

Nov

7

Hi All

We have been so busy, traveling and doing land base activities.  Coastwatch is a big thing here, you get buzzed by the authorities up to twice a day as they have so many illegal vessels trying to get into Australia.  It’s a lot like big brother.  The Australians generally don’t like it as they see it as a breach of their privacy.  But really someone has to do it.  We have traveled via Albany Passage in Arnheim Land, Hole in the Rock.  Stopped off at Gove for an overnighter, a one stop shop and only caters for the men who work at the mine.  They mine bauxite here.  This has been the longest haul to date, traveling across the Gulf of Carpenteria to Darwin.  We arrived in Darwin and parked the boat in The Duckpond which caters for all the large charter vessels as well as fishing / prawn boats.   Not five star but close to town and amenities.  We then did a 2 day land trip to Kakadu National Park, Catherine Gorge and then Litchfield to see the wetlands, aborginal culture/art and the many famous falls.  The architecture of the rocks is very mind blowing.  So here are a few photos enjoy……

Australian Coastwatch

The Cod Reef Cod

Morris Island Resident

Gove

Hole in the wall

Coral Spawn

Albany Passage Cape York

The Lock Entrance to the Duck Pond Darwin

The Sol in the Duck Pond Marina Darwin

Aboriginal Artwork

Edith Falls

Swimming at Edith Falls...

Buley Holes

Croc Catcher Katherine Gorge

Florence Falls

Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge

Termite City

Ubir

Wetlands Resident

Road Train Kakadu National Park

Speed Sign Kakadu National Park

Nov

4

We have arrived at Morris Island, where we unbeknown disturbed the local croc of which no sighting of crocs had been seen here since 2001 ha ha ha!!! (Never believe anything you read).  This island is very remote and the only thing on it is a couple of palm trees, a small makeshift graveyard, and heaps of debris and rubbish scattered around from the mainland and various shipping containers.   This island was commonly used by people who had been shipwrecked.  So coconut trees and goats were left on the island to ensure that some sort of food was available if in the event you were shipwrecked.  We left Morris island early this morning and are now traveling via the Albany passage (Cape York area).

Oct

19

We had a snake come aboard the Sol in Cooktown which was very blood pressure raising.  Poor Shae nearly went through the glass door with terror and whacked her teeth into her mouth, blood everywhere, but nothing a spoon full of sugar couldn’t fix as this congeals the blood.  Shae went out the back of the boat for a shower at night and nearly stood on the snake.  All we heard was screaming and crashing and a bang into the door (as we closed the door to stop the mozzies from coming in) from her yelling snake snake in hysterical screams.  The snake did a bee line for the back of the boat and hid up in the surf boards.  We called coastguard to see if they could get some assistance to remove this thing, but at that time of night no wildlife removers were around.  We then asked for assistance from any vessels in the Cooktown Harbour.

Shae holding the intruder

We had these 3 burly ozzie blokes come to our aid.  They were as full as ticks and iron bravado, it was quite humorous.  One of the guys (Roady) had handled many snakes, just went up to the surf boards had a quick peak, put his hand up to the boards and pulled it out.  It was a brown tree snake, thank fully not poisonous. After Shae had calmed down, Roady got her to hold it, we do have photos so we’ll pop them on the net when we get internet coverage.  We think it came aboard via our dinghy as we had gone ashore and tied our dinghy up near some trees, so rule is now, check dinghy, stay away from trees and take a bloody torch!!!

Oct

17

View from top of Lizard Island

Just let you know we left Lizard Island 1 day ago, we did a day trip out to Cod Reef with friends we have made via the Blue Water Rally (all bloody pohmes absolutely terrific old chap), a stunning place and the water was clear and gorgeous.  The pohmes dived in their scuba gear and Shae and Gav free dived down to the Scuba divers.  They couldn’t believe that Shae and Gav were in 9 metres depth patting a potato cod free diving.  The fish life was out of this world.  This island has the best Marine Research Station located here.  It is very well renown to all students and professors studying marine life.  Gav went for a walk to the top of the island and came across a lizard.  There are plenty of these on the island.  The seawater here is like having a bath it is so warm.