Saturday, 25 June 2016

Anambas - Indonesia

Just after dawn we made our way through the outer western islands of the Anambas group and found a large sheltered bay where we dropped the anchor. Our priority now was sleep as an overnight sail never allows for much of it. We had raced ahead of a storm front we could see fast approaching from the west and luckily we had managed to dodge it. Not so lucky was Tuppenny and Tiki an hour behind us as they felt the full force of the torrential downpour, strong winds. thunder and lightning. Drenched and exhausted, they soon arrived into the bay to anchor with us and it was time for sleep on all boats.

          Sunrise on our approach into the Anambas group of islands - back into Indonesia for a spell.

                                         Villages far and few between amid the islands.

Waking early afternoon, we were able to view our surroundings and appreciate the remoteness of this island group. In our bay, the dwellings were far and few between with only a dirt track linking them - no sign of vehicles of any sort and small canoes the only mode of transport between the houses. Last years rally was the first time these islands had been visited, so a yacht anchoring in the bay would be a novelty. As we hadn't officially checked in to Indonesia, we weren't able to go ashore so a leisurely afternoon was spent onboard getting the boat back in order after our night crossing.

Up anchoring early the following morning, we motored for a couple of hours across to Terempa - the main town of the Anambas group and our clearing in point. Hoisting our yellow quarantine flag, our three boats motored into the harbour and looked for a spot to drop the pick. We had read that anchoring can be challenging in this group of islands and this was to be our first experience of that. Two and three attempts on a rocky bottom before we all managed to get the anchors to lock securely. Not having to wait more than half an hour before we could see the immigration boat readying itself to come out and check us all in. We were the first boat to be boarded by what seemed a multitude of officials - Health and Quarantine to start, followed by Customs then finally Immigration. They had a good look downstairs, commented on our alcohol supply and advised that it was not to be taken ashore (as if we would), photographed a few things then told us we could put up our Indonesian flag and we were done. All in all about 30 mins, very friendly personnel, happy to have their photos taken with us all smiling - a good experience all round. As we were a few days ahead of the rally and the official rally activities, we up anchored and headed out to explore these beautiful remote islands.

                    Pete giving some of the local kids surfing lessons - the board being an esky lid.

            Tuppenny going through the entry process - Quarantine, Health, Customs & Immigration.

                  Pete grocery shopping Terempa style. Do you have any cereal.....lost in translation!

Waterfall Bay was our first stop. A large sheltered bay with a relatively large fishing community along the shore line. We met Herol, a local fellow who had arrived out in his speed boat to visit us. Arriving at Tiki first and finding they had a reasonable knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia , he stopped with them to practice his English. After a couple of hours of communicating as such, we headed ashore with him and walked up the waterfall. Being the dry season, there was minimal water but enough to have some small falls and lovely cool waterholes at the base in which to plunge and cool off. Harol was a trader in the village and sorted us out with fresh squid, fish and vegetables we were needing.Due to a lack of recent rains, the waterfall wasn't exactly fast flowing but enough to find a waterhole and have a cool refreshing plunge.

                                           Pete taking a refreshing shower under the waterfall.

Basic village dwellings

We next headed up to North of the island group - first night we named Fad Bay where we anchored near a FAD (fish attracting device). On sunset, it was towed out to the open water where it was lit up like a Xmas tree. Working all night and returning at daybreak the inhabitants then sleep till early afternoon when, on wakening, sounds of modern music drifted across the water. 

Time to move on and the next stop was a picturesque anchorage in water so clear that we could see the anchor sitting on the bottom in 6 mtrs of depth. Snorkeling here was another amazing experience and to top it all off, Pete speared a sweetlip which was succulent on the barbeque for dinner. I had been given a green coconut and after managing to peel the husk strip by strip with a screwdriver, we extracted milk and soft flesh in which we cooked our catch. Yum!! This anchorage we named Sweetlip Island.

                                                   Tiki and Gemini Lady at "Sweet Lip Island"

Back to Tarempa where all the fleet had arrived in our absence and a couple of days of rally activities. One of which was a day trip away to one of the outer islands for diving, snorkeling and a beach barbeque. With most of the cruisers attending the excursion, it was a great day of chatting and swapping stories and as most of them had just arrived, they wanted to hear about the anchorages we had found. Our hosts cooked fresh fish on a large grill over the flames, teamed with rice, potatoes in foil, salad and home made spicy sauces to match - it was a sumptuous feast. Whilst snorkeling, I could feel some 'bities' in the water, not an uncommon experience in these parts but I must have got a 'stinger' of sorts under my swim shirt which had a feast on my skin. By midnight my torso was covered in red angry bites screaming out to be scratched which then took 48 hours of regular cortisone cream and anti-histamine to get under control. I would almost think it was an allergic reaction to the initial sting. 48 hours I do not ever wish to go through again 😫😫.

Away from the harbour for the last time, we headed out towards the most easterly islands to give us a head start for our passage to Malaysia in a couple of days. We found a delightful spot, calm and sheltered close by an island with a lovely beach - just calling for the plough disc bbq to be brought out again. Another rally catamaran had joined us in the anchorage so we had 9 people around the barbeque that night, enjoying a beer and watching the sun set over an idyllic location.

                         Heading ashore for another beach barbeque - Tiki, Kittani and Psycho Puss

                             The girls scavenging for anything that will burn for the barbeque fire.

                       Our view from the beach as the sun slowly sets on another day in paradise.

Our last day started with the morning 'sight seeing underwater', then breakfast and readying the boat for a mid afternoon departure from the Anambas Islands. You could easily spend a month in this area hopping from bay to bay, so many we hadn't discovered but thoroughly enjoying the ones we did. We were pleased we had made the decision not to go north from Tioman with the rally, allowing us to spend more time here as many of the other boats felt they hadn't had enough time to explore the treasures Anambas has to offer. Tarempa has now just become a clearing in port for Indonesia making it more accessible for cruisers in the future. Though I don't think that will change things much in this pristine untouched part of the world, I would hope not anyway.

Can't help myself with sunsets!

JABS!! (Just Another Bl..dy Sunset)

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