From Sorong to Ambon

Sorong

Check in preparation in Doom

Arriving in Sorong we have 15 to 20 knots winds from the south so we happily duck behind Doom Island, a place recommended within the sailing community.
Doom island kids
Friendly kids on Doom island…
Doom Sorong
… Village road in Doom…
Tahu and Tempeh
…and we buy our first fried Tahu (Tofu) and Tempeh (Tofu with whole soy beans) – really tasty and for sure healthy too!!
Jhons house
In front of Jhon’s house

Until a few years ago the check in process in Sorong was known for long waiting times and bribing was common but we read that this has changed completely nowadays.

After talking to three other cruisers who were both happy using Jhon from Doom Island as a translator we go over to talk to Jhon.

Having figured out the distances between the different offices we don’t understand why we would need to take a rental car for RUP 100’000.- (USD 7.-) an hour, so after a bit of discussion we agree with Jhon that he comes with us, but we go by local transport.

The following morning we leave with the IDR 5000.- (USD 0.35)/person taxi boat from Doom to Sorong, walk up to the main road, take a yellow taxi for IDR 5000,-/person to Quarantine and once finished we take another yellow cab to Immigration.

The friendly young lady at immigration tells us we need to show her a paper from customs, that means we should have gone to customs first. Jhon calling himself a “Local Agent” should know about that. At that point it is 10.10 am, we leave immigration heading towards the road to get another yellow taxi, when Jhon tells us that he has ordered the rental car.

This was not agreed with us and not necessary in our opinion, so we are both pretty upset because of course we are aware that we have to pay that thing. But apparently he does know some people from immigration that are sitting around right there, so we keep our discontent mostly to ourselves.

With the not wanted car we go back towards the West of town to customs. There Jhon does a call to someone telling us it was the boss of immigration (which we doubt) and that we could finish the immigration part on the boat.

So together with the two nice officers from customs we drive to the Doom island ferry/taxi boat dock, wait there for immigration and go over to our boat all together.
Boarding party Sorong
Customs and immigration in Sorong, all super friendly, efficient and professional

There customs has a short look to see our engine numbers and into some cupboards and immigration fills our their papers and stamps our passports.

On the boat trip back to Sorong Jhon tells me that he needs IDR 200’000.- for immigration. I am surprised and ask him for what and he finally answers “for cigarettes”. I tell him that if they do want something they have to ask me directly… It is possible that he did promise money to someone at immigration in order to save us the trip back there, but first it is not ok (there are posters hanging everywhere that you should not pay bribes to anyone…) and if yes it is the second time he didn’t ask us before spending money that we have to pay.

We arrive back at Customs at 12.15, but then the waiting time is a bit longer (it is also due to lunch/prayer time we assume). I tell Jhon to bring back the car and that we don’t need him any more, pay him IDR 600’000.- (USD 42.-): IDR 100´000.- for the boat (normal price is IDR 50’000.- I think), IDR 300’000.- for the car for 3 hours and IDR 200’000.- for his „assistance“. He complains that this all will go to immigration, so to have our peace I give him another IDR 100’000.- and he is content.

We are really upset with his behaviour, but sitting with our boat in front of his house and using his dock to tie up our dinghy, we feel that it is not worth to get into a huge discussion…We will rather give him the feedback later on per WhatsApp.

All officers speak well enough English, so no translator is needed for the process of checking in.
You need Jhon only if you want the luxury of a driver and a car, otherwise it can be easily done by yellow cabs.

Once on our own again we feel relieved, walk to the supermarket, have lunch and then visit the harbour master. There another officer is super friendly and speaks also excellent English.

Running cruiser’s errands in Sorong

Fresh produce market Sorong
On the second booth in the market road the veggies are super fresh, the owners super friendly and I fill my first big bag with goodies for a total of USD 10!!!…
Fresh produce market Sorong
…and all smiles are genuine and from the heart…

The following two days we are busy with the „normal things“ cruisers have to do when in town. We check out the avaiable engine spare part stores, check through the supermarkets, get our laundry done (washed clean for a change to the hand washing on board) and visit again the quaranteene and the harbour master for checking out from the port of Sorong.

Also I really enjoy the fresh produce market, the prices are good and the produce is really super fresh.

Sorong Laundry
At the laudry Senha and Novi teach me the Bahasa Indonesia alphabet…
Then it is time to organize 7 jerry cans of diesel, we go for a second time to ask at the Pertamina close to the Bintang Marina dinghy dock and are super surprised that they now have the Dexlite, the better quality diesel themselves. We return with our jerry cans and are lead into the backyard, there the barrels with the Dexlite are stored in the grass.
Pertamina Sorong
…and in the Pertamina station I get to know Muzda and her mother Rosmiaty while it is pouring down outside
Pertamina Sorong
…the next morning the rest of the jerry cans are filled, this time with a manuel pump at least!!!
Sorong harbour
Fishing vessels in Sorong

With a big hose and suction with the mouth the diesel runs first into an intermediate open barrel from where it is scooped with a 5 liter bucket into our pre-filter.

When it starts to rain we first continue (while I try to cover the open barrel) but then luckily everyone agrees that it is getting too wet to continue. We wait for quite a storm to calm down a bit before heading the 1.7 miles back to She San in big waves and happy to have only 2 instead o 7 filled jerry cans in the dinghy.

The next day the sun is shining, the sea is calm, we fill the other 5 jerry cans without any problem and this time they even have organized a manual pump.

Red Birds of Paradise in Friwin

40 easy downwind miles bring us back up north to Friwin, the target is to do some more diving in the area. But the wind is strong, the waves are big and the weather everything else than settled, so we go snorkeling instead.

Red bird of paradise
The dance of the red bird of Paradise..
Red bird of paradise
…impresses the ladies, who seem to queue up..
Friz Friwin
…our guide Friz is happy after a super sweet coffee and a pack of ginger nuts

After 3 visits to our boat we also agree to have a look at the famous birds of paradise, Friz picks us up at 4.50, takes us up the river on the other side and 20 minutes hike bring us up to the top of a hill where we wait while Friz makes some bird sounds.

And it doesn’t take long the first birds show up and the men make their dances to impress the ladies.

Back on She San we invite Friz to have a coffee and I generously put two teaspoons of sugar in his cup. It’s still not sweet enough for him, so I am quite surprised to see that he puts another 4 teaspoons into his cup while eating a packet of sweet ginger nuts at the same time…

Diving in Yanggelo, Raja Ampat

With the birds done we go anchor up and sail the 17 miles West to Yangello, there we know the diving is possible in every condition.
Back in the water we enjoy the small coral “umbrellas”…
underwater
…corals…
…in all colours and forms…
…fish that pretend not to be there…
…Clown anemon fish…
…our first nudibranches Phylidia, Pylidiella…
…and this is then a flatworm?…
…Clown Triggerfish…
…Lionfish…
..with a Blue Triggerfish in the front..
…and all togehter…
… two six banded Angelfish…
…a small lobster…
bumphead parrot fish
…mother and child Bumphead Parrotfish…
and this strange guy in the middle of the picture!!
…and once again the small ones…
…the left one hides, the right one looks at me…
barracudas
and a school of at least 100 Barrakudas
But also the birds are numerous

And we are super lucky, the visibility is good and we enjoy 3 beautiful dives in the pass, every one different but sensational. Of course the big highlights are the school of around 100 barracudas, the bump head parrot fish and the grey, white and black tip reef sharks but the thousands of small creatures are even more fascinating.

Upwind to Fam, Kofiau, Boano and Ambon

From Yanggelo we sail 13 miles to the island of Fam, a quite anchorage with a nice beach. We finally start to clean She San below the waterline as there are no currents, no mangroves and therefore less possibility of crocs as well as clean water.

Deer
Approaching Deer village…
Deer
…the anchor not even settled we are surrounded by kids in canoes…
Deer
and Kelvin and Filip from the Conservation Office visit us on board…
Deer
…I want to buy some coconuts, a few minutes later 13 nuts are being prepared for easy opening…
Deer
…and everyone is curious to see us leaving again.
Kofiau
…the neighboring village with even more blue roofs..

The next 40 miles to Kofiau the weather forecast cheats us once again, we are expecting almost too much wind but the sky is full of clouds, it is rainy and squally and hardly any wind.

In Kofiau we get greeted by a few canoes with kids and shortly after by Filip and Kelvin who are with the local department of conservation and want to see our Raja Ampat Pins.

FAD
Closer to shore there are numerous FADs, this time with tiny houses on…

The next day the weather is better, we move to the south of Kofiau where we get ready to do the overnight hop over to Seram. Behind the Seram mountains there is normally a large area with no wind, therefore we chose the day with the most wind where this area is smallest. This time our plan works out, we are pretty lucky and get through with only very few engine hours. The disadvantage is that the rest of the time we sail with the 2nd reef in, as close to the wind as possible and it is bumpy like hardly ever before.

Boano SW
She San relaxing in Boano…
Boano SW
A family comes by and invites us to visit the village
Boano SW
…Toko – village shop…
Boano SW
…Cassava grinder…

Approaching Boano from the north we experience gusts up to 25 knots and we have to travel all the way to the southwest corner in order to find a protected spot on a patch of sand. We are tired and a bit sick, so we welcome that the weather forecast recommends us to take a days break.

This gives us the time to hike over to the village on the other side, explore the beautiful coals around our sand patch and also relax a bit.

Better so, because the following morning we start at 5 am to do the next 44 miles against the wind (which then sums up to quite a bit more…).

We cross over and through the channel between Seram and Babi and enjoy some wave protected sailing towards south. Then we are reminded that sailing between mountains is tricky, in a gust we hear a huge bang and the boom is banging around, back and forth. I rush outside and only follow Reto’s orders „Take the genua in“, „Steer in the wind, main sail down“… Then we look what had happened – a block broke at its stainless steel mounting, just corroded through (well, after 16 years, but still…).

Reto just gets a piece of Dyneema and the block is on the boom again, we put an additional reef in and continue with our knees a bit shaky knees and our respect renewed. We duck into the large open bay Lai in the northwest of Ambon island, protected from the wind but a bit rolly.

Ambon NW
…last anchorage before Ambon already on the Northwest of Ambon island
Ambon NW
…visit on board…

Too tired we skip the visit to the village and stay on board, but we still we get our doses of socializing and smalltalk.

Man, Hermann, Is, Suriari and Idrus come and visit us on board, but it almost feels like being boarded, as we didn‘t really invite them and hop, we have them all on board wandering around and inspecting everything curiously. They are really nice and we assume that not so many yachts have anchored here yet but nevertheless we lock our stuff away before going to bed.

Only 18 miles left to Ambon, no problem we think in the morning. But at the height of the southwestern tip of Ambon the wind picks up again, the waves feel like 4 meters high with short interval (Reto says rather 2 meters) and we count every single mile. Then – after 3 long hours – the wind and the seas calm down, we sail into Ambon through a series of fishing FADs and find ourselves a nice mooring in front of the Amahusu beach. It rains once again, we relax in the cosy saloon…

Amahusu Ukulele Kids welcome us in Ambon

Ambon Amahusu Ukulele kids
Only 5 minutes after setting the foot on land Reto is playing Ukulele with the Amahusu Ukulele Kids…

Only at 4 pm we manage to launch the dinghy and go exploring the village, but what is this? The beach is full with kids each holding an Ukulele…?

Fife minutes later Reto stands in the middle of the group of kids playing „I have a dream“ from ABBA and we get to know Nicho, the leader of the group. Nicho has started to teach kids how to play the Ukulele in order to get them away from the phones/tablets and within a few months the group has grown from 7 to over 70 today!!

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