November 7th: Panuba is a very different anchorage! It reminds us of Vietnam or Cambodia, it has a very Asian appearance. Old timber and rusty iron houses and shacks on stilts over the water. We are between two islands, and there is 4 knots of current swirling through around us. It is very picturesque. The smaller island has only a few shacks on it. They used to be “Sea Gypsies” living on their boats, and the Government made them move off their boats into the shacks.
We had a welcome ceremony from 9am to 11am. Wow, the locals certainly made us welcome! They were all dressed in traditional costume and it seemed the whole town had come to meet us. We had some young boys perform a traditional welcome/fight for us, while a young lady threw coloured rice over us, and then the local dignitaries all shook our hands and then we had to make our way through the middle of two lines of locals, shaking hands and greeting them as we went. We walked to a stage area outside of the town Mosque where they had seating arranged for us. There were some speeches, a band and music. Don, from Solstice (USA Yacht) did a speech on behalf of the rally participants, and he did it very well I might add. Robbie, got picked to get up and dance, begrudgingly! Then they asked all of us ladies to get up and dance with them. It was fun but man it was so hot! They had supplied some traditional food which was the very popular green cake, a savoury roll, more cake and a fresh coconut to drink, and waters. The waters come in a plastic cup with a plastic coating over the top that you pierce with a very thin straw. We are not fans of these, we have seen too many of them in the water, or just thrown anywhere on the ground!
The people, and particularly the children are so friendly, welcoming and just want to talk to you and have their photo taken with you. I smiled so much that my mouth was hurting – more than it was on my wedding day! The kids are just gorgeous, there was one shy little boy that just followed us from a distance all morning, smiling at us but too shy to come too close.
We had a walk through the town which reminded us of something out of the Wild West. The buildings were all timber, 2 storey with tiny verandas and rusty iron rooves. We found a little eating place and had a nice lunch of fried chicken and rice.
November 8th: There was a school visit scheduled this morning but we skipped it and we are grateful that we did. 1.5 hours of speeches, all in Indonesian. No one was very impressed. We organised to hire motorbikes with Peter and Heidi and we set off at 11am, no helmets which I wasn’t overly happy about but it was so hot and we only went real slowly. Beautiful country, very narrow road though but there are no cars here. We have only seen one vehicle and it was a very small truck. Oh, and a motorbike with a truck base attached! The road was just red dirt and mud in parts but was through beautiful bush and trees. We got waved down by a local to come and see something, we weren’t sure what it was we were seeing but it was seedlings of some sort and we couldn’t understand what he was saying they were. He lit a bit of wood and it had a lovely smell, but still we didn’t get it. Finally Heidi rang Raymond (our rally contact) and he spoke to the guy and it was Sandalwood! We continued on and then got stopped again by a guy on a motorbike with a few teenagers. He was the local English teacher in the elementary school. He took us to a remote beach, and wow! It was stunningly beautiful! Aqua blue clear water, white sand and a very pretty spot. There was no one there, but gradually more and more locals turned up. We had a swim and the water was beautiful. As we were about to leave 2 more locals turned up and insisted we watch them catch some fish with their net. They did indeed catch some fish, about 4 Garfish, a tiny flathead and one other tiny fish. Robbie picked up the flathead and threw it back in, they would have kept it. It was only about 2.5inches long!
Off we went exploring again and came across a shack over the water that looked interesting. The guy came out and he spoke some English, come and have some crabs he said. We all went and had a look, they were processing crabs, gosh it stank so bad! Robbie took one look at how small the crabs were and left, as did I. Heidi and Peter tasted some of the crabs which they said were really nice. On the road again and started heading back, we had gone as far as we could. Of course, the sky is getting blacker and blacker, it is getting hotter and hotter and sure enough down comes the rain. We were able to find some shelter and sat it out for 15 minutes and then continued back to Penuba. We stopped at the eatery and had more fried chicken and Nasi Goreng. Everyone now calls it “Nasti Goreng” as we are all sick of eating it after 4 months, but there is often no other choice.
We carried on through the town and went as far as we could the other direction. They were building a narrow bridge across the water only wide enough for motorbikes, it was about 200 metres long. They were doing a good job too. I have seen so many things here that remind me of my childhood – e.g. the old blowtorch they were doing the boat repair with, an old wire bed base they were using to sieve sand and soil, an old hand planer, and kerosene lamps they used at the function last night.
Peter and Heidi came back for cards.
November 9th: Woke up with a bang in the night – we were hit by another Yacht! We had a storm come through with wind and rain and between the wind from the storm and the extreme current in the anchorage caused the boat to hit us. We both got up and Robbie immediately started the engine in case we were dragging, which thank goodness we weren’t. Our anchor alarm clearly showed that we were still in our anchor zone. Also the anchor alarm had not gone off or we would have woken from that as it is so loud. We spoke to Honeybee on the VHF radio and determined that as the boats had returned to a safe distance apart neither of us would move. The water was calm again. We turned the engine off and as it was pitch black still we could not determine how much damage was caused. We went back to bed. Unfortuantely, in the daylight, there is damage to our hull on the port side, on our stern, near the gunnel line – which is towards the top of the side, not near the waterline thank goodness. Honeybee’s anchor roller or bow sprit had hit us. We did not have any fibreglass on board but thank goodness Gypsea Rover had a fibreglass repair kit they have given us, we will replace it once we get to Singapore. It’s something we should have had on board, we have that many spares and repair items, but not that! We will from now on.
Luckily, the damage is not too bad, it has pierced the fibreglass and will need to be repaired properly in Singapore. Peter from Stormvogel came over to help with the temporary repairs but it is too humid today to make the temporary repair. (Something to do with the fibreglass not going off) so they covered the wound with duck tape, which will suffice until we get a dry day.
We then set off for our next anchorage which is only 13 miles away, one of our shortest passages! It was a quick 2 hours and very calm trip in shallow water. We arrived at Pulau Mepar, which is just off the bigger island of Pulau Lingga. The water is very green and muddy, no clarity at all and there is so much moisture in the air, we cannot see any blue sky, and there is a very hazy, misty atmosphere. Feels rather weird. No official events today thank goodness so we had a bit of a cleaning session. The banana’s that came from Saya Island that we had left on the cockpit floor for a couple of days (they were very green) until we distributed them to the other boats, had stained the gel coat. It took Robbie a lot of cleaning products and elbow grease to get it back to a clean state again.
Quiet night in order tonight.