Whose been to Banda Aceh?

9th June 2014.

We have and what a spin out. I was kind of thinking a flat barren area about the size of Kuah, I couldn’t have been more wrong, it is huge, something like Penang, awesome a few days of investigation is required.

Also something for consideration, THIS IS BLOG NUMBER 50!, Hope you enjoy, I reckon its time to bring on some pirates and another bottle of Laphroaig, my new nightcap. Although, we bought a few of bottles of Ferngrove Cabernet the other day in Langkawi, it is not to shabby either. Well done guys. One of the favourite clients when I used to work.IMG_0049

We started today like most others with a cup of tea, then got about getting ready to drop the mooring and head to Banda Aceh. It blew it’s arse off last night and as we approached the most western tip of Indonesia we were confronted with some heavy duty slop and 15kns on the nose. Our first attempt was aborted as the port engine room bilge alarm went off, just a short ping but enough to get you wondering especially as I thought I had vacuumed all the water and crap out of that bilge in particular. We ran the pump in manual and a litre or so came out then stopped, I was about to say stuff it and then, Ping, so it was run the pump again and about another litre came out. You wanker bilge alarm, the next five minutes is spent unloading the shed so I can get to the engine room hatch, this job is heaps more of a pain now as we have all the spare sails in bags stashed in there as well, due to the extra 40 metres of chain  we now have up front, poor old Boomerang was leaning forward so anything that could be shifted was. Add to this a tool box that is stupidly heavy, needs investigating, spare parts box which is purposely full, fishing tackle box, a bucket that weighs heaps as it is full of sinkers uncle Alf gave to me a couple of years ago in Dongara, socket set, buffer, cordless drill and an ice cream container full of diesel and oil with some tools in it soaking, which is now less full as it tipped over when a wave hit us, then once the cover was up there was not much water in there anyway, it certainly wasn’t obvious, wanker bilge alarm. I just left it all out, climbed over it and went back to giving orders. Wanker bilge alarm.IMG_0087

About 5 miles east of Pulau Weh you start to get some protection from the other islands a bit further south, which made for a pleasant little twenty mile jaunt. With five to go we even got the jib out and with the starboard engine at 2000RPM we were doing 7.8kns on really nice flat water sailing at 50 degrees to the wind. The next thing was where to park, everyone says they didn’t stop long, they just anchored out near the pass waiting for the right tide, which is a falling tide by the way, so we motored up to the shallows, it is blowing now, 15 to 20kns, anchor sets perfectly in 6 metres of water and I set about cleaning up the shed. I have climbed all the way back in and have got my head in the bilge when I hear, Hello, then Jen, get back up here some people want to meet you, spew, but up I come to find a small boat with 4 friendly looking dudes on board. Linda and her husband Adi, Bewan and Rizal, they had just stopped by for a chat, oh well why not. Glad they did as we were anchored right in the night time fishing zone so up anchor and move a mile or so, there is a foam buoy with a blue flasher on it, just east of that. A fair bit more protected but Windy is loving it, she is loving life at the moment lots of spinning and howling, I just look at her and think go baby, something for free on a boat. That is Windy the wind generator I am talking about.

Linda turns out to be a marine park advocate, I hope that is the right term Linda, one of the  good guys anyway, looking after the turtles, sharks and the reef and has set up funding for the area and is implementing her plans, nice person as is Adi and with Linda as translator this made conversing to easy. In no time we knew heaps of ins and outs for the area we found ourselves in,  I negotiated a motorbike from Adi and we are once again styling.  Bewan and Rizal both went through 2004, Rizal is the only remaining person in his family, makes you feel very sad. He is just coming to grips with going back into the water, luckily I didn’t give him a shove while I was mucking about with him on the back of Boomerang. We left our dinghy  tied to Bewan’s boat, safe as houses, he owns the warrang on the beach and has a lovely wife, Nora, and beautiful young daughter named Camelia. Linda and Camelia snorkelled out to the boat, not a bad effort, a couple of k’s no worries. We bought all of Bewan’s new coconuts off him for the trip.

This is when our next new acquaintances come to play, I had instructions to just follow the road, over the bridge and turn left to town. Luckily Deddie and Eddie, both survivors who also lost all their family, were at the warrang when we were leaving, I as usual was shaking hands with everyone and these guys indicated they were going to town and we should follow, next I had them taking us to Telkomsel and then a practice run to the airport for tomorrows big adventure, pick up Mo. After about half an hour we pulled up at the service station and I asked how much further, another 15 minutes, there was no way I was going to be able to find where we were now never mind another 15 or 20ks away, there are no signs with big planes on them, nothing but packed roads with bikes and trucks and cars, the usual rules are apparent, if light goes red, keep going until you can’t, all the lights are countdown lights which is handy for some reason and if you stuff up just say sorry and you will be excused and let in. Banda Aceh I love you. We bought the boys a late lunch, Nasi goreng and a carrot juice to wash it down, then back on the bike to get back to the boat before dark, which only just happened. They were superb young blokes and they never stopped smiling, Thanks guys if you ever read this, LOST is the word if it wasn’t for you.IMG_0063

Today I went to shore once again, this time to top up our internet, get fruit and veges, a couple of soccer balls and eventually pick up Mo from Banda Seafood in Ule elheue, which I had been advised is a place most taxis would know. When I got to shore, Rizal was there and helped me tie the boat up. We then piled into Linda’s car and off to the airport we headed, I can’t start to tell you how happy I felt, no worrying about Mo and taxi’s, just be there and pick her up and away, thank you Linda and Adi for your generosity, you are absolute legends. Their website is: lamjabatfoundation.or.id if you have a spare truck full of cash.

There is another story here, Mo’s trip from Langkawi to Banda Aceh. I think she might have been suffering a bit right from the start, drinks at the Pier then on to Raffi’s with the gang can get a bit messy. Anyway she has made it to the ferry 0900 and off it goes to Penang, then half way it breaks down so back to Kuah on one engine and onto another ferry, this one makes it. At least the wait in Penang was cut back a few hours, then board a plane to Medan, arrive there and no bus to pick her up, was organised I promise, so off she goes to get phone card and some Rupiah then back to airport then calls me, using a taxi drivers phone, then gets a cab to the hotel I booked for her, two and a half hours later with her own sim card now, taxi cost 250000rupiah and gets there after midnight, not too bad, I must admit I was wondering how this was going to play out by this stage, stayed in a nice room until 0500 then the hotel take her out to airport, this time only 40000rupiah, and a bit of a wait, 3 hours, then onto the plane and arrive in Banda Aceh an hour late, then a tour of BA, a dinghy trip back to the boat and she has nearly travelled about 350 nautical miles in 30 hours. We took 44 hours to do the same journey direct, 270nm in the boat. It was a great effort with an excellent ending, you have got to be happy with that. Father like daughter you might say.IMG_1276

Rizal gave us the full tour of BA today, showing us where the Tsunami hit, where he and his family ran to and where his house used to be, both Mo an I were just about balling, it is too sad and I found it very hard to take any photo’s. Very easy to give him a hug instead and say how sorry we feel for him and his fellow people, not sure how to say it. Rizal wanted me to take a photo of what remains of his old house. It is just about centre of this photo. He now lives in a district that was donated by Taiwan.IMG_1280

It is hard to believe it is 10 years ago, and I can’t imagine how it must be. Thank god for people like Linda.                          We had a Boomerang shirt handing out today, these are very much for the special people we meet, we are saving one for Sofea at the Adina Motel in Cenang, Rizal and Camelia are both worthy recipients. I taught them the best thank you I know, “Cheers Mate.” So if there is a young girl at Lampageue wearing a purple Boomerang T-Shirt you know what to say, I bet her eyes light up.IMG_0064

Woke up this morning to 25kns on the nose, not real flash to be heading out to sea.  So we wait, Mo has been shivering and aching, first on left side now all over, googled it, I reckon dehydration, but I am a dickhead. We had a storm come over the hills today 35kns, it was amazing, anchor held well. Wish the wind would blow the fly’s away, shocking, apparently from a chook farm, another reason to not eat it.

11/6/2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                              We received some bad news today, my mums sister Aunty Elsie passed away this morning, our thoughts are with all the Sweetman and Whitehead clans. Auntie Elsie was a beauty.

This could be the last  post for a bit, we possibly head around the top of Sumatra tomorrow, if this wind buggers off, had 36kns on the wind indicator and Windy is going off. We Will then head South  and a bit of east to get to wherever the boys on Beachouse are, watch out I reckon they might be hanging for a beer. As soon as we get to a place with Telkomsel we will be sure to get the wifi happening and fill you in on whats been going on.

Seeya,

Captain Rod and Crew.

2 thoughts on “Whose been to Banda Aceh?

  1. Good blog Rod i spent seven and a half years in Banda before the disaster did you see the LNG plant.Regards John Frazer keep up the blog

    • Hey Mr Frazer welcome aboard, hows it going mate. I am sitting out here getting bored, we are so close to getting down the coast but getting flogged by 25kn constant wind. Jen and Mo have gone shopping in town with Rizal, hopefully for the last time, this is a bit like being anchored up behind Dirk Hartog in the Freo Bali race. It is beer oclock though, good to hear from you.

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