Sad to be leaving the lovely people of East Belitung, it is a short day trip across to the other side of the island for the next rally stop. As we approach the anchorage, we are being chased down by another storm. We know now we are really getting into the storm season and it will only get worse for the next month or so. We don't mind so much being at anchor when they hit - we don't like being out to sea. Finally anchored with the storm going around us, it was a pretty spot with huge granite boulders along the shoreline and crops of them off the beach. The locals have illuminated them with floodlights and in the evening they are quite a spectacle. Rusty's is the place ashore for the best meals and the man himself who organises water, fuel, transport and anything else you may require. It was also the spot for sundowners each evening. Up the beach were containers of baby turtles where for $5 you could catch one and release it into the ocean to fend for itself - they were so cute. A bus trip into town to the local markets for the final supplies before Singapore. The mid afternoon downpour had the market owners rushing for plastic covers and tarps only to pull them off 30mins later and back to business. They must get so used to doing this.
Due to the storm activity, we have decided to do day hops only for the last 150nms to the end. Day 2 saw us watching the latitude count down to 00*00.00 at the equator. We had planned to stop and swim across, but the winds and the current were quite strong so instead as we crossed, we gave Neptune some coins and a nip of Bourbon to thank him for safe sailing in the Southern Hemisphere and ask the same for the top side. Our official equator party would happen that evening at Kentar Island, .3nm north. It was a great night with 14 of us on the back of Alleykat with a pot luck dinner. We did it is style with bottle of Veuve and Moët saved especially for the occasion. Off the next day and headed to the island of Bintan where we had our last rally stop and cleared out of Indonesia. Good strong winds pushed us all the way nearly to the top of the island, anchoring late afternoon near an oil refinery. The next day it was a short hop into Bintan where we anchored off the Nirwana Resort. First thing was to get papers in to Sam and start the clearing out procedure with Customs and Immigration. Then we could sit back and enjoy the pool and the amenities of the resort. Fresh water becomes such a novelty at time at sea. The gala dinner was fabulous, held in the grounds of the resort, the lay out similar to a wedding reception. The food and entertainment was amazing and a great night was had by all. However, it had to be an early evening as we were to be away by 5.00am if we wanted to make it across to Malaysia in one day. First light say many of us heading off towards the west, motoring past Nongsa Point marina and wondering where to cross the Singapore Strait. This is the part I had been dreading, hearing stories of AIS showing 800 - 900 targets at any one given time, some anchored but many underway With Tintin not far behind us, we watched with fascination the lines of ships - bulk cargo carriers, cruise liners, tankers, tug boats, patrol boats, navy craft, yachts, fishing boats and more making their way up or down the channels. And we have to cut across them all!!! We kept heading west until Pete decided it was time and could see a break in the lines, so we went for it. Slotting in behind one then pushing Kittani harder than she has ever gone before we powered on, eased off to fall in behind another liner then full throttle again, till we were finally across the other side and into Singapore waters. Then hugging the coast line and dodging tankers at anchor, we headed up the Straits of Johor making good time and arriving into Danga Bay marina mid afternoon, our home for the next 3 weeks. So that was it and what a day. Safely crossing the Singapore Strait and the end of Sail Indonesia. About 40 rally yachts are continuing on with us to do Sail Malaysia, others we may see some time next year as many of them will stay around this SE Asia corner for a few years. Such is the life of a cruiser. To sum up the last 3 months, it has been all and more than we expected. Travelling through a 3rd world country has its issues but being patient and smiling goes a long way. Some cruisers have found this difficult, expecting everything to run like clockwork and when it doesn't, they grumble. For those who keep an open mind, Indonesia has been a remarkable experience and we will definitely return again. The beauty of these islands has made us want to see more. The Indonesian people, who often had so little have given us so much and treated us like rock stars, memories we will never forget. Also the friends we have made on this trip have made the rally for us. The sundowners on the back of boats, the times of emergencies when we've needed help, the yacht lights in the darkness on those night sails - knowing there has been someone there has been peace of mind for me - the reluctant sailor. To me that's what joining a rally is all about.