Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Caframo Sirocco fans

After multiple emails to the HO of Caframo Fans, thought it appropriate to mention in our blog in the hope that others will read before making a purchase, or make a more educated purchase.
Story so far....

We purchased 3 Sirocco 807, 24v model in late 2013. These were expensive - some $AUD 120 each,  but after seeing them in action in Australia - quiet and low current draw - made the purchase.

Fans were used from Jan 2013 through to May 2014. This was a trip from Australia to Thailand via Indonesia and Malaysia...ie hot locations.. They worked well.

Boat was put on the hard for 2 years. All electricity was disconnected , In fact ,fans were removed and stored following a refit. Reconnected in 

Back on board in February 2016
First fan started switching itself off , sometimes after 1 hour, gradually getting to the stage of every 3 minutes. OK...still had two to go. Removed the circuit board, added a switch and dc/dc 24 to 12 v converter and fan works ok albeit high speed.  No issues so far.

Couple of months later, second fan started doing the same thing.

Wrote to Caframo to see if they could supply new circuit boards...no dice. Tempted me with advising that their marketing dept was looking for testers for a new product...will advise. Shortly there after...no deal they have stopped.
Yesterday, 3rd fan started switching itself off.

Now have a 100% failure rate for 3 very expensive fans with platitudes from Caframo. Why they can't supply replacement circuit boards is beyond me.

If you buy them....good luck.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Sail Karimata Rally and Kumai

So it's back to Indonesia and our first stop is Tarakan where we must clear in to the country. In the past with Indonesia, the process of doing this has always been long and arduous and this time lived up to expectation. Arriving in just after lunch, there were already 6 rally boats anchored and had been waiting since arriving the previous afternoon for CIQP (Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Port authority). The officials finally decided 4.00pm was as good a time of day as any to start the process so obviously those arrived first were processed first, and they barely got through the 6 before knock off time. We could do nothing but wait onboard and hope that they start at their reported 0900 in the morning. Alas, it wasn't to be.
It was after 10.30am when the first official boat commenced work the next day and it was FRIDAY which means prayer day for 2 hours in the afternoon. We passed with quarantine before the lunch break, customs by mid afternoon and by that time they were advising that we could go ashore and complete the process there. So off we trot with all our paperwork and by 6.00pm we were done - and nearly at the end of our patience too. With a storm looming, we opted to miss the welcome dinner instead having dinner onboard and an early night. So we never even got to see the small town of Tarakan, we were out of there first thing the following morning and out to the Derawan archipelago.

This was one of those islands where you just want to pinch yourself to make sure it is real. With Persephone and us ahead of the fleet, we dropped our anchors just off a large sand spit with clear turquoise water around us, friendly turtles poking their heads above to wonder what was intruding their peaceful domain and Derawan island nearby. Soon a few other boats arrived and we all headed ashore to explore, finding dirt roads reminding us of Koh Lipe in Thailand, small warungs and numerous dive centres. This place lists in the top 100 dive spots of the world, the main attractions being mantas and whale sharks (seasonal) but we were currently the only visitors. We finally found a cafe that sold 'Bintang' beer and sat down to enjoy a catchup, exhausting the cafes entire supply of beverage in one round. Sadly the locals here didn't seem all that friendly with the only acknowledgement maybe a slight incline of the head and a mumble of words.

                                     Heading ashore in the dinghy at Derawan island.

                                        One of the locals boys playing with his catch.

                                      A view from the beach looking back along the jetty

                          The sand spit - out setting where we held sundowners each afternoon

             Solitude - our dinghy ashore on the sand spit and a nice walk from one end to the other

The following morning, 7 of us up anchored and motored 10 miles back to the mainland to the village of Batu Berau where we were welcomed with friendly smiles to the rally dinner and the obligatory karaoke. After the meal and a solid rendition of the Beatles classic 'Let it Be' from us cruisers, it was a short walk back to the jetty and our awaiting dinghies for the trip back to the boat. An enjoyable evening with the locals who had gone to a lot of trouble on our behalf and once again the friendliness that we had expected from Indonesians. 

Up at sparrows the following morning and a 1.5hrs fast speed boat ride to Pulau Kakaban with a short 10mins walk in to the world natural heritage area of Kakaban Lake famous for its non-stinger jellyfish. 4 species of them thrive in this jellyfish kingdom and we swam amongst them, trying to avoid contact which was impossible given the sheer numbers of the creatures. A unique experience apparently found in only 4 places in the world. Before returning home, we had a snorkel off the islands jetty and it was one of the best snorkels we have had to date. A sheer wall of colourful corals, fish and turtles to finish our day trip. Back in time to up anchor and backtrack to Derawan island for one more night. The sand spit was the ideal place for sundowners, though as the tide was high, we were reduced  to only about 1/4 of its total space but enough to enjoy our piece of paradise.

                         Swimming in the lake with thousands and thousands of sting less jellyfish

Off in the morning and heading due East to the tip of Pulau Maratua then down the far side into a lagoon. With an outgoing tide and very strong currents racing through reef either side, the entrance looked more like a white water rafting course and with 4 knots against us, it was slow going. But once through, it opened up into a lagoon of idyllic conditions. With white sand bottom, the colours were a multitude of blue/greens with every shade in between. A snorkel that afternoon caught us a sweet lip which gave us lovely dinner that evening. Our wake up call the following morning at 7.00am was a local selling freshly caught cooked mud crabs which was dinner that night. What a lifestyle.

                                  The milky turquoise water of Maratua with the incoming tide.

                                Sunset in Maratua with 8 or so rally boats enjoying the lagoon

After an overnight passage, sunrise saw the coastline of Sulewasi rise out of the clouds and a rather spectacular vista of (relatively) high mountains with villages nestled at their base. The rally stop village  was Toli Toli and we had been told by fellow cruisers not to miss this place. On our approach, we could see a few of rally boats already anchored in the bay, and were advised that we were arriving just in time to join in the festivities planned for the day. Quickly anchored, we went ashore where we were greeted with such enthusiasm and allocated 2 'guides' for the duration of our stay. These were Uni students studying tourism, so keen to show off their village and practice their English at the same time - Valdy and Irma and they couldn't do enough for us. 

Into waiting buses and off for a welcome ceremony and lunch at one of the nearby beaches. The skippers off each boat were presented with headdress and sash as a welcome gift, a few speeches, a nice lunch then time to sit and chat with the locals as best we could with the help of our guides interpreting. The event for day 2 was a visit to a traditional villages where growing and processing of cloves are the main source of income. Their houses are built with roofs that open to allow the sun in to dry the cloves, and can be closed at a moments notice if the weather turns bad. We were treated as honoured guests with the entire village turning out to welcome us. Following lunch at the regents house, an exhibition of martial art then a show of how easy it is to climb the coconut palms and cut down the fruit.

Our last day started with an early morning ride on the back of our guides motorcycle to the markets for fresh fruit and vegetables, the local mini mart for some provisions and finally the laundry to collect our washing. After this, the bus took us on a visit to locals school starting with the kindergarten, then elementary (junior)  school and finally the vocational (high) school. The welcome at all schools was overwhelming and once again more like the feeling of being a celebrity amongst fans. The final evening ashore all the rally boats met up for dinner and again farewells for we were splitting the group. Many were continuing east on the rally towards Raja Ampat. Kittani, along with Persephone, Windkist and Carrie were following the Sulewasi coast south then crossing back to Borneo and eventually back to Malaysia. So once again, the inevitable goodbyes to our fellow cruises and the hopes of maybe meeting up again somewhere, someday - maybe not. The saddest farewells were to our guides that we had become so close to in such a short period of time. Gifts of home made biscuits that their mums had baked fresh that morning, hugs and tears and promises that we would tell all our friends to make sure they come to Toli Toli.

                          The skippers of each boat being presented with their head piece and sash.

                One of the dreaded local 'spider boats' which always anchor toooo close to yachts !

                 Climbing up into the roof space of the houses where they dry the cloves in the sun

                      A dip in the refreshing river water.                 A local scaling the coconut tree

                   Up the front of Kittani with Valdy and Irma - our 2 local guides (tourism students)

                             Such a warm welcome from the students from the secondary school

So our smaller fleet of 4 set sail south along the Sulewasi coast and spent the next week sailing against the backdrop of mountains and managing to find some very pretty bays as anchorages for the night. We were having some issues with slight engine overheating so were glad to finally reach Mamuju where we were able to stop for a couple of days and try to rectify the problem. Mamuju was our stepping off point to cross back to Borneo so we really needed to fix the problem before starting that passage. Being a larger town we had reasonable internet coverage, so spent many hours in discussion with Chris back home as to what the issue might be. After many hours deep in the bowels of the boat trying this and that, checking all sections of the engine were clear, stripping the water pump and flushing it out, reassembling everything back together, draining and refilling with new coolant we were ready to go. We had done all we could considering our options of where we were and what was available.

                          One of our lovely anchorages down the Sulewasi coast - Pete and Sandy

                     Enjoying sundowners on the island with Persephone, Carrie and Windkist

              The drinks are empty, the sun has gone down, time to think of dinner back on Kittani

Half way down the Sulewasi coast we crossed the equator, for us it was the second time. So as per one of the sailors rituals, a drink of alcohol and some money to be given to Neptune in return for safe sailing on his oceans. Another ritual is to strip off and swim across the line, it was quicker and easier to offer the drink and coins. One more crossing to go on the way north towards Malaysia.

                                    The latitude showing 00*00.000 as  we crossed the line.

                                                      Pete giving some Galiano to Neptune

                                 A FAD on sunset, seen throughout Indonesia and Malaysia

The 30 hour passage went well with relatively benign weather conditions. Back into Borneo and an easy short day following a channel south between the mainland and an island followed by a good nights sleep and we were feeling revived enough to tackle a 2 night passage round the south coast and up into Kumai - home of the orangutan. I am yet to meet anyone who enjoys night passages but sometimes they are just a necessary evil in order to knock down the miles and ge to places. Timing it to get past all the local FADS (Fish Attracting Devices) in daylight, we set off at 1500. With them finally behind us, our next main concern were the tug boats pulling enormous loads of coal from the mainland out to the container ships at anchor waiting to be loaded. Thankfully we were travelling under full moon with mostly clear skies so plenty of light to assist in watching out for these vessels. Exactly 48 hrs later, we dropped the anchor in Kumai bay at the mouth of the river and waited for the others to catch up - only a couple of hours behind us. How good did bed feel that night, and to sleep uninterrupted for nearly 10 hours.

A couple of hours journey up the river the next morning as we were anchoring off Kumai town, much larger than what we were expecting. We had to carefully choose our place amongst large barges and container ships - something else we hadn't expected to encounter here. No sooner had we dropped anchor, we we approached by a few small outboards asking if we were interested in booking a tour to see the orangutans. We had been told to expect this with numerous 'klotoks' all vying for your business. Armed with some knowledge from previous cruisers and info from the Lonely Planet Guide, we negotiated a 2 night 3 day tour for a boat of 10 people - our 4 boats plus another NZ boat that arrived into the anchorage soon after us. 

                                               Unorthodox transportation....when in Rome....

So next morning we we collected from our boats at 1000 and transferred to our klotok - home for the next 48 hours. Our klotok was 3 levels, downstairs being the kitchen, bathroom, engine and storage room. The middle level was our sleeping area where come evening double mattresses were laid out under mosquito nets. The top level was our dining area with table and chairs and generally where we spent most of the day with eyes peeled at the tree tops for signs of wildlife. With our gear stored onboard, we settled into chairs on the top deck to begin our leisurely cruise down the river deep into the jungle of Borneo. The tributary that we followed was quite narrow in places with the Neepa palm fronds either side reaching the height of the klotok. Soon enough we were spotting trees full of proboscis monkeys and macaques.

                                                           Mother and baby macaque

After lunch, we visited the first of the 3 scheduled orangutan camps and arriving well in advance of 'feeding time', we sat in silence deep in the jungle while the guides proceeded to call them in. The suspense was palatable, only quiet whispers among ourselves, waiting to see if any appear. Then suddenly there was movement in the trees, branches snapping and foliage shaking before the first one appeared. Slowly another, then another would come for a feed of bananas that had been laid out on a platform and we sat in awe of these orangutans and their human like movements. Many of the females were carrying young, which they do for many years, and it wasn't until our second feeding visit on day 2 that we saw some of the larger male orangutans. The sheer imposing size of these animals made me hold my breath as they climbed on to the platform and surveyed their audience for a moment. Then we were dismissed for a meal of bananas, and ignored as if we weren't even there.

As well as seeing them in the feeding areas, we also spotted them ambling along the waters edge, and in the trees above where the Klotoks moored. To the point where one snuck onto an unattended Klotok, stole a water container and proceeded to play with it until it was broken. Another was at the jetty when we stopped to visit a village. This particular one didn't seem all that happy to see us and made some quite aggressive sounds as we approached the boat for boarding.

                             A wild mother with baby on its back on the opposite side of the river.

                                                  Moored for the evening on our Klotok

        This was the grumpy one at the village jetty - seemed to think we were invading his territory.


                                    A mother and baby on one of the paths to a feeding camp

                            Sitting around the dining table on the top floor of the Klotok ......

                                   ........ and relaxing with the binoculars looking for wild life.

            Heading off in a smaller canoe to a feeding camp - our Klotok moored in the background.

Kumai had surpassed all expectations - a truly amazing experience with the orangutans. To see them in the wild was a much better experience than the sanctuaries we had visited earlier where we had been no closer than 10 meters. The 2 night trip was definitely worth it and we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the boat. We ate well. slept well at night under mosquito nets and relaxed in between camp visits as we meandered up and down the river. Borneo has been a fascinating country and well worth the visit.

After Kumai, we made a decision to get back up into Indonesia quickly aiming for Belitung in Indonesia as our clearing in point. So it started with a double overnight, which was relatively easy. A couple of days rest there and then some long days heading north again towards Singapore. The weather at this point seemed to be against us as each day we had wind directly on the nose, quite strong at times and numerous rain squalls to contend with. We knew we were getting into the stormy season so it was to be expected and only occasionally did we manage to avoid them. The strong winds whipped up very lumpy seas and punching in to the big waves wasn't much fun, so when we crossed the equator for the 3rd time, we refused to give any money or drink as we felt Neptune was grumpy with us anyway. Finally we crossed the Singapore straits rather easily without much traffic at all and made a bee-line up to Port Dickson marina where we rested and chilled out around their lovely infinity pool for a week.

               A sight in one of our overnight anchorages heading north - a Beneteau come to grief'

                                                 The colonial yacht club at Port Dickson marina