5th September 2014.
I blew it with this post, hit publish instead of draft, dickhead Rod, now we have some photos, sorry about that.
Happy birthday Christopher.
Left Lugu Bay and headed North for Pulau Simeulue Cut, pronounced choot, I remember the harbormaster making a point of it. Not much happening, the breeze is in the SW so a bit rolly but a few beers fixed that. Had an awesome feast on bug tails with salad for lunch and bug tails and cheese toasted sangers for tea, pretty bloody good.
Up early and heading for Pulau Lekon, calm to balmy conditions had us motoring all the way and then it was decision time, pull in at Pulau Lekon or keep going to Pulau Tepi, another 15nm.
Skipped the entry through the channel at the south end and went around the outside of the island to give me more time to decide on our couple of night anchorage as tomorrow is Friday and we are not leaving anywhere on a Friday. The sky all around was black as and there was lightning out to sea, all looked pretty horror. The boys from Beachhouse were a bit vague on where to anchor at Tepi and we knew the anchorage at Lekon so in we went and anchored up out the front of the same bay as our last visit, about three months ago.
Got the anchor down and set, we could see it from the bow, crystal clear water, just in time for the heavens to open up, then 20knots from the west which swung to the NW at 25knots but we were safe as houses. 80 metres of chain out in sand with a few boondys chucked in, we ain’t going nowhere.
Had our last rubbish bom fire on the beach, set up a box, and three bags of rubbish and piled anything I could find on the beach TeePee style, doused it in diesel and left it to soak in. Went back to the boat, it pissed down, so got an excellent snooze and a couple of chapters of Tim Winton’s Eyrie, christ he describes every last detail of everything that’s for sure, pretty good so far. He used one of Ted Baker’s sayings, “About as useful as a hip pocket in a singlet”. Absolute pearler, cracked me up, parts of the book kind of reminds me of Willagee in the bad old days. The next suburb to ours.
With the cooler bag loaded with beers and camera we headed in and set all the rubbish and sticks alight, it went off, bloody hot and a bit dodgy as three empty gas cans for the portable cooker had been shoved in the bags, as I was stoking it one went off big time, scared the shit out of me then the next which went ting first, so I bolted in time, reckoned that was it and started back at stoking little bits and baaaang, Jesus wept, it just about shifted the fire off the rubbish. Not a single burn so shouldn’t winge too much. Quite a success story really, especially in bare feet.
We went back to the boat and cracked the bottle of Moet, no equator crossings this time so may as well knock it on the head, it went down a treat, probably the slowest drunk bottle of Moet ever, sipped it to the last drop in the good old cabernet glasses, still in tact from our Port Geographe marina days.
Watched a couple of movies, Last stand and Dead in Tombstone, a couple beauts. Arnie at his best and some eltroppo looking Mexican dude going hard. Also a few Black Books episodes, always good.
It blew its arse off all night out of the west so not to rolly, just up and down which makes for a broken sleep but it was comfortable enough.
It has been blowing hard since we got up, had a few jobs I wanted to do but stuff that, drank shandy’s and watched movies instead, all pretty crap not even worth talking about.
There are quite a lot of fishermen cruising around now it is night but have pretty good moon so can keep an eye on them, haven’t been a problem so far but who knows. The wind has buggered off and what there is is from the SSW which is a pain as we are rolling with the swells coming round the point, glad we are on a cat it would be horror on a mono. Our end of the anchor chain must have also shifted a bit as it is rubbing on a boondy down below, pretty haunting noise, Jen reckons it is all a bit spooky. Off early tomorrow, perhaps straight to Banda Aceh or we might go looking for Pulau Tepi, good fun surf and the swell arrives tomorrow, that would be the best option, for me anyway, still cant get a bottle of red and a pie out of me head even though we had shepherds pie for tea with the last of the mince from Sailors Meat Supply in Langkawi. Went the big pig and still couldn’t finish it all.
Woke to a bumpy sea and very little wind, upped anchor and on our way by 0800 and heading around the top of Simeulue, seas from all directions but very little actual swell so the decision is easy, lets go home, Langkawi it is.
Got the lines off the back with a pretty quick result, a wahoo took the small lure and gave me a good bit of action getting it aboard, bled it and filleted it up straight away, looks like fish is on the menu for this passage. Beautiful looking fish, the blue down its back was so vibrant, a bit like a maui maui but much darker, good looking flesh and I love filleting them, start at the top and follow the bone, to easy. Already our decision is looking good.Jen had it served up as fish larb on one of her pawpaw and long bean salads in less than an hour, bloody beautiful.
We tried just sailing with the heady then out came the big guns, the main even had a musty smell to it as we raised her, we had 11kns from the SE and now sitting on 6 to 7 still with the starboard engine tonking along at 2000RPM. Good to see the mainsail up again, we have only thought about it twice in almost 4 months, but our joy was short lived as the breeze just sat around 8 to 11kns and with the lumpy seas it becomes a pain in the arse, banging and carrying on. Before we dropped it I shut down the engine and went for a burn up into the breeze, 7.6kns in a 13knot gust, had me hooting, old Boomerang still gets up and boogies. So next the spinnaker, Jens favourite, not, set perfectly, Jen trimmed it perfectly and away we go, straight up to 7kns consistently with no motors for pretty much the rest of the day.
We dropped it at around 1700 and back to jib and starboard engine for the night, Jen jumped as she heard the reel go off but it stopped so we just kicked back, then the reel went again and stopped once more, bummer, but we had enough fish anyway. Had a BBQ with Wahoo Kebabs, not to shabby, then I hit the sack and Jen took over. When I woke up I was coming into the saloon and Jen was on the phone texting and completely oblivious to me being there so I slid under the table and grabbed her foot, horror, don’t think I will do that again, poor Jen, just about gave her a heart attack, must have thought it was pirates or something.
She had a great sail, then I took over for the wee hours, consistently doing 7kns with a very consistent 12 knot south easterly, tried no engine but with the current against us lost too much speed so back on and sit back. Reading a pretty good book, White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, has kept me awake for ages, its about a little Indian bloke, pretty good. The Tim Winton book Eyrie was good but I didn’t understand the end, read it over and over but buggered if I get it.
By 0500 I was getting pretty rooted so was doing the 15 minute snooze then up for a look then back for another 15, works for me, nothing around anyway.
Next thing the suns up and so is Jen, got a good hour unbroken sleep in, then back to the same old thing, sitting here looking at things that don’t really change that much, occasionally hit the +1 on the autopilot to go a bees dick to starboard or a -1 to go to port, that’s about it.
Just as I was going for another nap I looked out the back and what do you know, we have caught a fish, it is bouncing along the top of the water so scull dragged it in, it was stuffed in fact it’s last couple of breaths were pretty much its last then it just died, we looked at each other, couldn’t be or could it, same rod that made the noise yesterday arvo and this Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel is exhausted, reckon we just dragged it for about a 150nm’s, probably nice and tender. Bled and filleted it and in the freezer, geez we are going home with more stuff in the freezer than we had when we left. I would prefer a Sailors pie though and a bottle of red.
Made really good time heading up to the top of the Sumatran West coast, bit to good in fact, made it to the pass 2 hours early, calculated our speed over the distance to get to the Aroih Cut at low tide so it was either wait around or give it a shot, hang on a ship is bearing down on us, catastrophe averted now where were we, so we thought may as well give it a go and it worked out just fine. At one stage we had 3 knots of current against us but gave the old Yanmah’s a bit of stick and we crawled through at just on 4 knots. Fishermen everywhere, all in the HR Puffinstuff boats of the Acehnese, up this end anyway. All smiling, all waving to us, great people up here.
Came through the cut and made our way around to the anchorage at Lampageue and anchored up. Met by a boat full of kids wanting beers, told him yes please we have none left, but he was a quick little bugger pointing at the can on the table, gave them the tail end of the fillets and went ashore to see Rizal who was waiting for us.
Went for a walk to Linda’s place and had a look around, met all the team that are protecting the reef, making platforms for the reef and squid hatching contraptions. Great lot of young people, they all came to say goodbye. It was a short and sharp visit, gave Rizal a bag full of the best fillets from the Spanish mackerel, walked back out to the dinghy and off.
Oh yeah almost forgot, we topped up with the last of the fuel we got from Ranu from Lugu Bay, it would have to be the worst quality diesel, sola as it is known here, we have ever purchased, bloody expensive too, need to get your act together Ranu. Just lucky we have a good filter funnel and left a couple of litres in the bottom of the jerry cans. I was going to change our fuel filters on the engines but might just wait and see how they go as we are down to only 4 left, by the look of this muck we will more than likely be needing them.
Upped anchor and got underway at 1700 headed for home, once round the corner and into the Andaman Sea Jen took over and was sitting there pushing those two buttons when I got up at 0100, bargain sleep. She hit the sack, I set about cooking up the Cauliflower in white sauce, coli boong, that we bought off the guys on Elwin and Bailey’s floating surf camp, used half the last of the parmesan cheese we have left then shoved it in the oven. About an hour later the smells coming out of the boat were deluxe, it smelt like it tasted, even said to Jen it was almost as good as hers when she got up for a look around.
The ships have been coming and going, only one that we had to slow down and let past, should have just kept going in the end as we waited a few minutes for it to pass us by 212 feet, big bugger so you wouldn’t want to muck with it.
Suns up, finished White Tiger, excellent, cloud everywhere, swell with us but starting to think that the current in the Melaka Strait only goes one way, not much relief going west to east, not yet anyway.
Now we are cranking we now have about a knot of current with us, patience Rodney, wonder who used to say that, no wind but that is coming tonight big time, Buoyweather says 17kns WNW, which is pretty well up our arse, so add a bit as you have to and we could be in Langkawi in the morning,
Pies and red wine for lunch, yeah bring it on.
Once again to optimistic, back to 5.5 to 5.7kns, time for a nap. Jens in charge, gave her a run down on the AIS, if a boat comes within 10 minutes of a collision it sets the icon with an outline of red. After three hours we got one, a bloody tuna boat, they seemed to follow us and all of a sudden there were people coming up to the bow, looked dodgy, tried calling them on the VHF, no response, checked them out again and they are on a course to come along side so checked out the closest ship, Callotta, gave them a call and just let them know we were being approached, the guy checked us out and came back to me, right at that moment the fishing boat changed course and passed astern of us. Bit of a spin out but most likely no real menace at all. Thanked the guy on Callotta for staying with us and we moved on.
Well last blog I mentioned the Adams Family, we just finished watching Malaveta, Jen fell asleep, I reckon they are the modern day Adams’s, good show, the last couple of movies have been crap so excellent to get a good one, Larry off Matrix gave us a pile to watch, I like your style mate. Dead in Tombstone was a ripper.
We are now over halfway with estimated arrival 1300 tomorrow, we are once again struggling against a current, should get Jen back in charge but she is in bed, she gets us up to 6+kns every time. Nothing out here but salt water, heaps of ships and flying fish. Oh the serenity of it all.
The sun is shining, no wind to speak of, a bit of swell, shit I hope it is not the calm before the storm. This has just been the dream trip back, it took us nearly two weeks to do what we have in hopefully three and a half days, got to take the weather windows when there is only two of us, much too much like work otherwise. Stuffed if I know how you would do it on your own, 15 minutes on 15 minutes off I guess. I forgot to ask Quentin off Bonnie how he does it, you just would not want to go to sleep for too long in the Melaka Strait, sure as eggs eventually one of them will get you.
We had the last of the coli boong and cheese, a bowl of cucumber each and it is bedtime for me. Conditions have actually got better and we are cruising along at 7kns with the wind 9kns at 90 degrees with the port engine running at 2100RPM.
Jen had a good run of 5 hours and I find myself with some time on my hands. We are surrounded by little storms, at present more rain than wind, what wind we have is out of the WNW, bummer as we have slowed down to 5.5kns, but if what is expected to hit us comes, we will be back in the 7’s in no time. Off Passage weather it should now be 13 to 18kns, buoyweather has it up to 19kns which is a worry going from their predictions in the Banyaks we should be looking at 25 to 30kns. Very conservative is Buoyweather.
This has been the best holiday I have ever had, an absolute ripper, right from the beginning we planned well, the boat was spot on, needs some major tender loving care now, we provisioned well, although more wine and spirits next year, would you believe we ate the last of the Sailors mince, Blue Costello cheese and parmesan cheese in the last couple of days, all bought from Langkawi before we left.
We have come across people who have just had a bad run and others that I reckon are a bad run, but you try to help anyone out out there if you can. Some of the local people you meet open your eyes and mind up once you see the adversity they have gone through and how they exist.
You have the Beachhouse boys, great fellas, always good for some fun and a laugh, still piss myself when I think of them sinking the dinghy at Treasures, then Jimmy free dives 20 metres to save the day, Jai who showed me where to sit to pick of all the waves everyone was missing, he has also changed the way I cook fish. Aaron who is a typical Aaron, the pleasure has been ours, they even befriended a kook like me, thanks guys we had a ball, I wish I was 23 again and doing exactly what you are doing, can’t really say that about anyone else, I suppose the Matrix mob sorta when I am 50ish. Nah, four blokes I am much better off with Jen, who would clean up? I didn’t get down to the six four or for that matter the six six, next year, can’t believe I am riding a six eight anyway. Bloody good six eight by Nathan Rose Surfboards in Margaret River, the colour of the fruit on a tomato bush I grew last year at home.
One night Jonny appeared out of the dark in Sibolga, it ended up being another big one with the Beachhouse boys. We had the pleasure of sitting out at the right in the Bay of Plenty by ourselves taking it in turns day after day, as Jonny reckoned not to many places left you can do that. It was a bit of a shame that the swell dropped while he was aboard but that only kept the charter boats at Treasures. He has got me hooked on killing things that swim, I am in the market for a new spear gun, a nice big wood one. Thanks for everything mate.
The Matrix mob, older version of the Beachhouse boys, god when they get going you can’t get a word in, they have got it sussed, don’t know about two wives thing though Brett. Crazy man. Larry’s onto it. Good blokes to surf with, no hassling and fun in the water. That bloody genet kept me awake at night thinking how to fix it and Leo was almost right at the beginning, if you see a burnt wire replace it, I felt like a doctor not an electrician. Mick, thanks for the fish and the fun.
The Sandy’s, likeminded people on a mission to get the best fun out of life and as many waves, Fay knocked the socks off Jen with her G&T’s, something that doesn’t happen that often and I surfed some of the best waves of my life with Dave.
Kevin, Johans, Jens, Jans off a fishing boat set up with mossie nets and board bags for beds were also good value, good surfing partners, good blokes out in the water and taking it in turns always helps.You would out the water onto their boat, have a cofi and a ciggy for smoko and back out you go, closest thing like going to work in the Banyaks.
The Bonnies, always good to see these guys, they have just started another three months, Lou Lou and Shaun off Black Billy, who have made it to the other side of the Indian Ocean, inspirational, might have a couple of years surfing before we make that passage, but we will. The Surfmachine guys, interested in what you have to say and vice versa, wish I had the parasail right now Keith, we would be doing nines not sevens. Onya Matty, living the life.
You have Dave, Matt and Tai from Simeulue who we had a ball with both in and out of the water, a big thanks for the best pineapples possibly in the world from the guys who live next to the power station on Simeulue.
Bailey and Elwin at the floating surf camp, great fun and so energised out in the surf just helps you get to another level. Mick, Coco, Raja and Suzuki off Seriti, it was great to meet you, Matt was right about you Mick, you love a beer.
Des off of Pulse, now here is a good bloke, always good to yack and surf with. Met the other owners of Pulse, Marcus and Miles, they seem like good blokes as well. These charter boat and surf camp lot have got the best jobs in the world.
Last but nowhere the least, we have the guys off Lara Pinta, I had met Rosie on Rebak at the marina, she talked about Freddy and the new yacht with me one day waiting for the ferry. Once I met Frederick it was like I already knew him. They are both hard at it, well prepared and lots of fun, good value all round. Rick has a job for life working on the old mans boat, putting up fences in Langkawi, you have got a pretty hard task master mate, reminds me a bit of me and my dad and more than likely Mo and I. You are a bargain. Thanks for the rum and cokes guys and the fun we had.
The locals, where do you start? Riza and his boys, Hadi from Quarantine, Rudi the harbor master all looked after us on Pulau Weh, thanks for everything. Rudi taught me, nongneenong, which is girl in Acehnese, I have found this word or phrase to be a brilliant starting point when things are looking a bit dodgy or stuck, just point at Jen and go nongneenong and everyone laughs, shakes your hand and it is all cool. You also had Jeffri at Pulau Rubiah, very reliable person.
Rizal from Banda Aceh, you are a beauty, cheers mate. Linda also thanks for the car and the driver, we now know Banda Aceh, joking of course, it is too big to know.
Iboh and her crew at Lugu Bay at Daves surf camp it has been a pleasure, should be more like you, Ranu from RAS Surf Camp also for all your help with fuel and provisioning and the car on Simeulue, cheers mate.
Pappa, Chen and Fungi from restaurant 88 as we know it, hope to see you in Penang for Chinese New Year, thanks for the free goodies they were tasty as, Just next door at the farmasi we had Libra, keep on smiling mate and we will do seafood next year, Eddy for driving us around Sibolga showing us the sights and where to buy this and that, cheers mate. Also not forgetting Mamma for the use of her jetty and house as a pick up and delivery point, cheers mate. Then you have Being Beng who will do your running around for you with anything to do with the authorities, cheers mate.
It is 0300 and we are right in the middle of a 25 knot squall, hope there isn’t anyone out here because we cant see anything, it is pissing down and we have fifty miles to go, down to ¾ jib and doing anything from 5 to 7kns, should shake out the rest of the jib but I will get drenched. This bloody storm is getting bigger, horror.
0400, Just got hit with 35kns+ and broached, got to the wheel a sec to late she was already on her way, poor old autopilot is working its arse off, the noise through the rigging was unbelievable, drenched now, thank god for the electric winch to furl the jib in as it and the sheets were going off the ricta. I had only suggested a few lines above that it might be a good time to shake it out, bugger that, engines going now and so are we. Don’t know if I have mentioned that it is pissing down, you can’t see the ocean from the steps, Time for a beer and some popcorn, horror.
Thirty four miles to go at 0700, still blowing its tits off but now doesn’t feel so on the edge, doing 6 to 8kns, the rain has almost stopped, checked the dinghy, chockers, so just been leaning from the step bailing it out, the drain hole was blocked with all sorts of shit, the peg bag and detergent tried in vain to be free and now that it is light I found the good torch. The radar screen shows this crap all the way to Langkawi and about another 20 miles back from where we just came, told you it was going to be a beauty, the last time I heard that much noise through the rigging was at Dirk Hartog in the Freo Bali race last year. We were anchored then and hiding behind a nice big rock.
0800, twenty five to go, the wind has moderated and sitting around 20kns right up the clacker, should put the jib out but cant see Jen jumping out of bed with glee to help me, probably be more pain than gain, I can almost see my pie and bottle of red, Jen wants white, it bloody better not be a holiday today.
1000, it is still crap outside but not as bad as before, sitting around inside dreaming of pies.
1230, we are back, safe and sound, we have arrived in Langkawi, at Telaga Harbour Marina, channel 69, right on the end of the storm, the breeze is not wind anymore and the rain has pissed off as well. It’s a bit like someone is up there going you can’t have it good all the time, have a bit of this crap to finish off, you lucky buggers.
I tried to undo this jib sheet disaster and just got confused, Jen sussed it in the end.
Things we broke or lost, my reading glasses fell in at Sibolga, the cowl on the dinghy got squashed under Matrix, the ugly stick tip snapped, so many lures I can’t remember, my brand new rashy, lasted one surf before going somewhere else, the outside shower hose but it was not long for this world anyway, couple of Tupperware containers, two towels, the lining of my bowel and half my pot belly during and after the Sibolga squirts and Jonny fed me bananas and things turned to shit for a bit.
Things that matter, I learned to surf again, I surfed Treasure Island, not very well it might be said, but it was one of my dreams put to bed, Mo lived without the internet for over a week and actually enjoyed herself, I told her she would. Jen drove the dinghy, she even started it, using the choke and everything, horror.
We travelled a total of 1596 nautical miles, stood at the top of Indonesia 0 kilometre, we caught one mangrove jack, three Spanish Mackerel, one Wahoo, two Coral Trout keepers, five Estuarine Cods and two Golden Trevally all with lures. Jonny shot heaps of stuff, the big Parrot Fish was the best, we also found 2 conch and tried it, good, we never left port on a Friday and no bananas made it onto the boat, some people just don’t understand. Tohatsu outboard motors are siiick.
What a place to go to, the West Coast of Sumatra is certainly the wilderness that Mark from Glava told me too expect. If there is just one crocodile left in Indonesia, I reckon it lives in the Banyak group. I hope it isn’t as big as legend has it but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Seeya, until the next adventure. Coming soon Thailand.