As soon as we arrive on the beach with our dinghy children appear from everywhere, interested and curious, but still most of them too shy to try out their school English. Since our Visaya is still 0 we are grateful that Roy and his wife Rannen Lin join them, both speaking English very well.
We agree to come by later and explore the town first. One street behind the beach everything is full with little shops, a market, money changers, gas station, and the people are enormously friendly to foreigners. The town seems a bit bigger than Babak on Samal, but probably a lot less visited by tourists/white people.
Then we visit the Fuentes family. They live in quite a big house, but the entrance from the beach is somewhat special. Up some stairs we first pass through the laundry washing area, then the pig barn, then past a few chicken cages through one sleeping room into a huge room with the kitchen and a large wooden table. We find out that the mother of the four daughters has to repeat the test for the Englisch teacher exam and that the grandfather who was a school principal just has had a soft stroke recently and also has a city house in Davao. The area here is called Governador Generoso and is mainly catholic.
Overnight to Talaud
The next morning we lift our anchor at 5.15 and engine towards Cape San Agustin and exactly as predicted there the winds sets in at 9 am. It comes a bit more from the north – in our favor- but this advantage is destroyed by the current going to the southwest instead of the south, so in the sum we are happy to just be able to sail in the right direction. At 3 am we are at the hight of the island of Karakelong and a few hours later our anchor drops in front of the villages of Lobbo.
Lobbo Satu in Karakelong, Talaud
Welcome and visit to school
It doesn’t take long and we get our first visitor Jack in his bangka. After my first few words Indonesian he tells us that he comes back and fifteen minutes later he brings his nice Eti who is English teacher in the local junior high.
Also here we are surrounded by a large group of adults and kids once we arrive on the beach and everyone owning a telephone wants to have a photo together with us.
Eti and her colleague Vera show us their school and with the help of a globe we show our itinerary from the beginning to a group of teachers.
In the afternoon they celebrate the graduation of the 9th grade and we are invited as guests of honour.
After 2 hours of speeches, some singing and a lot of pictures (of course also with us) we join the buffet dinner, which is absolutely amazing.
All the parents have done their best and we have a hard time to chose between the endless amount of vegetable, fish, rice, noodles and meat dishes, all with a nice slight spice taste, just perfect.
The next day is Ascencion day, we follow Eti to the church service.
Already on the way we are pleasantly surprised by the well kept houses and the clean environment of the village, but the church itself is the top. The tiles are shiny, the furniture is brand new, there are 2 beamers showing the texts of the songs, the air condition is running and the church is full with people.
And that knowing that Lobbo Satu (1) ist with 300 families only one of the two villages Lobbo and Lobbo Satu, which together show only a main an two side roads on on google maps.
Visit to the village chief
A bit later we visit the kepala desa, the village chief of Lobbo because our She San is standing in his part of the bay.
He speaks some Spanish but obviously hasn’t expected to find me speaking spanisch a lot better than him, and apparently he is not completely sober any more. It does take us a while to understand that he wants to get some alcohol from us. We go back to the boat and pack a small “care packet” and agree with Eti to make sure that we tell our cruiser friends to anchor in the village area of Lobbo 1…
From Talaud to Rau, Morotai
In the morning at 6. 30 we get a last update of the weather forecast and say goodbye to Eti.
There are some Easterly winds forecasted, we want to use them to cross over the strait between Talaud and Morotai/ Halmahera. An additional challenge this time is the current, that is supposed to take us East/Northeast with 1.8 knots. We even draw a vector diagram and simulate if this can work out for us.
And indeed the wind arrives and we sail slowly but nevertheless. In the afternoon we pass the southernmost island and are happy that the current is still with us, but also the wind stay pretty weak.
After 24 hours we have to decide to use one or engines to make it to the other side until the last sunlight or to spend another night outside. We decide for not motoring and are able to “sail” everything apart from the last 20 miles.
A few minutes before midnight I take over my watch and send Reto to bed. It is my birthday, so I “celebrate” with a cup of nice herbal tea, the Milky Way and a whole sky full of stars above me, but I don not have much time to look to the sky as the soft and variable winds keep me busy adapting the sails position.
Posiposi in Southeast Rau
Around noon a dive boat delivers some people to the beach and afterwards comes alongside She San for a small chat with us. We understand that there is a dive resort on the beach and the dive master Janto who speaks a good English welcomes us most friendly.
When I mention that it is my birthday he invites us to join for Lunch, and again we savor the Indonesian cooking with a lot of veggies, chicken and a slight taste of spiciness.
On Monday morning we visit Posiposi and explore the whole village looking for the “Rumah Sakit”, the hospital. No worries, we are not sick, but it is the only internet in town… ;-).
We see some people, so I go and ask if I can buy some bananas.
Evi asks us to sit down and sends her son first to cut a banana, then up the coconuts to get us some drinking nuts. In the meantime we manage a conversation with my growing vocabulary and the help of google translator.
An hour later we have 3 nuts in our stomachs, another 4 green and 2 brown nuts and 4 bundles of bananas and she asks for only 20000 rupiah, that’s USD 1.40…
I ask her what else she would need and the next morning we bring back a pack of sugar and some clothes.
South to Galogalo and Dodola
12 miles further south we squeeze through between some reefs and fish farms into a lagoon east of Galo Galo. It is the end of Ramadan and we feel the holiday traffic passing right and left of us on the way to Galogalo.
Also Fahrudi is passing by together with his eldest son who studies English in Ternate. They invite us to their home, but as it is getting dark we postpone to the next day. Then his son has already left, so the communication is up to my Bahasa Indonesia again ;-).
We get to know the family, are invited to cake and sprite and have to take home everything that we didn’t eat immediately and of course get our pictures taken ;-).
Back on the boat the sight is great, so we exit the reef system passing super close bye some boomies and anchor relaxed next to Dodola’s famous sand beach. Since it is the end of Ramadan holidays the beach is packed with local tourists.
All few minutes boats bring more people, the banana boats and water shooters turn around She San. Only in the evening it calms down and we dare to go on land and enjoy the beautiful beach as well.
Daruba and Zum Zum
With the first light we head over to Daruba, Morotai and afterwards anchor in front of Zum Zum island, where we enjoy the internet and have some calls to home. Then we sail 30 miles southeast to Bololo on Halmahera and are happy about some wind, at the end we even have to reef.
Bololo, Halmahera East
On approach to the village we see that anchoring is deep until way close to the shore, we see a big mooring with two jerry cans, so we go close to the pier to ask politely if we can tie to that mooring. I don’t get any answer but see a man leaving the pier to somewhere in the village, so we wait. A few minutes later another man get into his canoe together with two boys, I ask him the same question again and understand that it is ok. His name is Sias. He doesn’t seem very talkative, but he wants to make sure that we come on shore. We tell him that we follow with our dinghy in a few minutes.
The man who showed us in is Jofer Pipa, the Kepala Desa (village chief) of Bololo, he asks us to sit down.
We exchange information and do smalltalk in Indonesian, we understand that he works on a Navy boat and that the mooring outside also sometimes is used by his Navy boat, so for sure will be strong enough for She san ;-). His wife serves coffee and crackers and the best fresh Pisang Goreng (fried bananas) we have tasted ever and their younger kids rush in and out of the room to grab some crackers for themselves and their friends.
Before we say goodbye he tells us that he wants to visit us out on the boat around 7 pm. We clean up and get prepared for a few guests, but of course there is no one in sight at 7 pm, 8 pm, so we take a shower, have dinner and finally go to bed at 9 pm.
I am already in a deep sleep when I hear Reto talking to some men, uuf, I realize that our visitors finally did arrive.
We show them our itinerary, pictures with a lot of snow and mountains from Switzerland and after another drink Jeremias tells us politely “we are tired now, we have to go home”. I have to smile, since I am glad to be able to go to sleep, too. 😉
Overnight to Sayang, Raja Ampat
With the first light we untie the lines from the mooring, next target is Raja Ampat. The weather forecast promises some wind from the southwest for the afternoon and the night, the best chance in the next 10 days. But first we have to engine and just at the hight of the Cape of Northeast Halmahera Reto feels that the engine noise is strange and the water output only little. He bravely hops into his engine room clothes and changes the impeller. It looks alright, all the flaps are ok, should have easily lasted lasted another few hundret hours, but it seems to be sheared through in the shaft.
As he is almost finished the fishing line (of course the one where Reto is just sitting in the open engine room below) is rushing out like crazy, oh my god, it must be something really big. We both look behind and see a huge swordfish jumping out of the water, it must be 3 meters and only the dorsal fin is 50 cm high and a meter long. Luckily our fishing gear is not dimensioned for a fish like that, shortly after the hook breaks or bends, we take the rod in and recover even the lure, just without a hook.
24 hours later we arrive just before the island of Sayang, out first stop in Raja Ampat, there a huge squall comes over us, we drop the anchor on a plateau with 16 m. After the squall we move further in and feel like in a swimming pool in the turquoise calm water almost with out boomies. We have a good sleep, enjoy the endless sandy beach for jogging and the corals for snorkeling.
The only people around is a few fishermen, we visit them to ask if it is ok that we stay for a night. They are rather reserved, playing Domino, but two or three start to chat with us. Then we ask if we can take a picture and the atmosphere changes immediately, they encourage Reto, “make another one, make another one…”.
Wayag – the absolute Highlight in Raja Ampat
Only 12 miles further we sail to Wayag, one of the absolute top spots of the region. Why? The landscape is sensation, look for yourself:
Also the diving and snorkling is excellent, but on our first trial with the dinghy, the engine stops several times, we hurry up to get back into the reef and as a first priority Reto is cleaning the carburetor and fuel system.
There is a lot to do in Wayag: Two summits with perfect lookout points (good shoes needed), the snorkeling and diving, exploring the lagoon by dinghy or paddling, enjoying the sundowner with amazing views. Our SUP unfortunately completely dissolves, after two hours in the water I am lucky that the final big whole is not until the board is back on board.
South to Kawe and Batang Pele
Then the high tide is in the morning, which means the current is running south, so it is time for us to move. Even though we have 15 to 20 knots on the nose, we are able to sail a 45 degree angle. But when the tide/current goes the opposite direction we only move back and forth, no chance of getting anywhere!!!!
Like this we sail down to Kawe. On the way we catch a tuna, but it is bitten away by a shark. Another grey shark bites on the other line, it is big so we have to leave him with the pierced lip and a short piece of line. Then we catch a barracuda, but unsure if we can eat it we first ask the fishermen in the next bay. They say no problem, but later I ggolge that Ciguatera is rarely known, so would they know?
The second day we catch a Spanish mackerel and a tuna mackerel, I am happy, so we have enough fish for a while, when already the veggies are getting pretty scarce on board. After a hard day against the wind we find a nice protected place in the west of Batang Pele, deep in the north of a mangrove bay on 15 meters, no winds from the south funneling in.
Divers paradise Yanggelo
On the third day 8 miles before Yanggelo the wind dies, we engine the rest. There the anchor ground is deep and not holding well, but we find a cosy place to tie up to mangroves on both sides of the boat.
With a bit of precaution and two coils in the cockpit we are not even much bothered by mosquitoes.
Yangello is a famous spot for snorkeling and diving, the hard and soft corals are plenty and all alive, the reef fish are huge and some sharks and barracudas hang around as well in the current.
Also there is internet around the corner, so a short dinghy ride away from the anchorage we get our weather and write to the family.
Two more days sailing (of course with the wind on the nose again) bring us sown to Sorong. With more than 15 knots southerlies we pack our She San right behind the island of Doom and are happy to be here 😉