Thursday, April 5, 2012


We left Kumai with the idea of a nice sail to Bali with maybe rest stops at Bawean and Kangean before tackling the currents in the strait.     The Indian Ocean floods into the Java Sea through just a few small openings between the Islands in the Indonesian archipelago.    The currents are intense and they can stop your boat dead in its tracks, even sending it backwards if you sail against the flood. Planning is required.  

Before we even had to face that, a cyclone had formed in the Indian Ocean, drawing the winds in the Java Sea into it.   The first of many daily squalls hit us just after leaving the Kumai river delta.    The squalls were vicious, whipping the sea up and making life a little bit miserable.    As we continued south, it got worse.    On the third day the seas were up over 4 meters and the winds were hitting 40+ in the gusts.    No fun at all.

We had to get out of it so we pulled in on the morning of the 4th day into the lee of Kangean Island.  Soon we were joined by several local fishing boats and behind us, farther out, were two tugs and their barges seeking shelter from the high seas.   We would be stuck there for 6 days waiting for a good weather window to get the rest of the way to Bali.  In the meantime, we watched the local activity as the weather improved, including these guys sailing across the bay using leafy branches as sails.   Never saw this before.  And we read a lot and baked.   Something about fresh cinnamon rolls when  you're holed up........

Against our better judgement we pulled out of Kangean in the morning to sail to Bali, which would make a night arrival off the coast of the island.     Besides missing the absolutely awesome view of the volcanoes from the sea,  we had to deal with UFO's (Unidentified floating objects) in the pitch dark.   At one point we missed by a centimetre a large, rickety platform used by the fishermen.    Then as the wee hours of the morning approached, hundreds (no exaggeration)   of small fishing outriggers left the shore in the dark under sail, no sound, we could only see them from a few feet off and they made little attempt to avoid our boat.    It was like being in a pong game.    We had a little fun calling out Selamat pagee (good morning) to them as they passed.   Sometimes we would get a "yo" back.   Wish I had a picture of them.

We attempted to get all the way to Bali Marina in Benoa at the bottom of the island but we hit the current about 20 miles short of our goal and went down to .3  miles per hour.    So we turned back to a small bay behind us, now making 10 knots with the current.    It took us 20 minutes to go back over the ground we had sailed in 2 hours.    We anchored next to a workboat off a resort and just enjoyed watching tourists on their snorkeling excursions.    In the morning we tried it again, this time going farther offshore, towards Nusa Lembongan, but still hit nearly a wall with the current.   The rips were everywhere and we were pretty sure we were in the right spot as there were local vessels also heading south with us.

Eventually we made it in to Benoa and headed for the Bali Marina.   This is a poorly maintained, small marina but the only game in town, and as we wanted to make a couple of trips off the boat, we had no choice but to go in here (Jim won't leave the boat unattended at anchor).    We were looking forward to a meal out and some ice cream when the dock hands informed us that the next day we could go nowhere, only stay on the boat and be quiet.   It was the celebration of Nyepi, a Hindu practice for their New Year and involves a day of meditation without the influences of the outside world.    Bali is the only place in Indonesia that actually practices this to such an extent that everything shuts down for the day and usually starts the day before.   ATM machines were even unplugged, no cars operated, no stores, restaurants, businesses were open, electricity was to be used only sparingly so most of the lights were turned off.   Even the airlines were forbidden to operate in Bali on this day.   Believe me it was very quiet here.

We arranged then to take a car up to Kintimani to view the volcano and its crater lake.   Then we took a boat ride across the lake to the village of Terunyon and a burial site where the bodies are placed in baskets above ground in a crude cemetery.   The bones are later stacked up nearby.    The boat ride was ridiculously expensive.   It was an obviously corrupt business as the rates were clearly posted at the ticket window, but a tout waylaid us and wanted $75 to make the 20 minute journey.   I'm sure the ticket taker would get a cut out of this deal as well.   We balked and then I pointed to the window and the rates, so he finally came back and halved the rate.   Still way too expensive but we wanted to go.

Then we stopped in Ubud for a couple of days.    Ubud is known for its arts, yoga, and local culture.    Besides that it is a real touristy town with a million shops and restaurants.    It has a nice feel, though.   We stayed at the Pradha homestay which was a very nice spot across from the Lotus Pond temple.

 There are temples, statues, carvings everywhere in Ubud.    And lots of souvenirs to buy if you have a mind for that (or the pocket).

We took in a dance performance at the Lotus Pond Temple.   The performers were mostly young girls and the gamelan orchestra was made up of seasoned musicians.  Jim thinks the gamelan music sounds like a bunch of wind chimes.  I like it.

All throughout the day, the Balinese would make offerings at their little temples, which were everywhere.  Some of the private homes or businesses have several temples on the property.    And as you walk along the street, you avoid the small leaf trays containing flower petals which are laid in front of doorways.

And, as usual, we made some new friends.    These girls wanted to approach us, but were kind of shy about it, so we made the initial contact.


  1. Your photographs truly brought out the color of the baskets.

  2. You guys are amazing. Still doing it and still enjoying it. Good for you. Makes living in Mexico seem tame by comparison.