August 2016 - Anambas Islands

1 August 2016   Padang Melang, Anambas
We left “Amulet” in the anchorage and went off to explore the (“pirate”) islands to the north of Jermaja.  On the way, we popped into a couple of anchorages on the northern tip of Jemaja that we thought might be suitable for an overnight stay. 

The first small bay (Jemaja North 2) at 03°02.87N 105°43.96E was okay, but we would have to anchor in 15-18 metres between fringing reefs.  The second bay (Jemaja North 1) at 03°02.10N 105°43.30E was better protected, but again the anchorage is in 17 metres between reefs.  Neither of these anchorages seemed special to us.

Pulau Impul Kecil

A few days ago, I’d been told by a Reef Survey Team that there was an underwater cave at the east point of Pulau Impul, so we headed a few miles north to that island, where there’s a bay containing a small island (Pulau Impul Kecil) and a large village ashore.  After exploring the bay, we found two possible anchorages - one in 20 metres of water in the middle of the bay and the other on a shallower sandy patch to the east of Pulau Impul Kecil.  Both are very exposed to the south winds that we have at the moment.

I was keen to find the underwater cave, so we anchored on the sandy patch at 03°04.83N 105°43.73E in 7 metres on sand.  It’s great holding and, even with 20 knot south winds, it’s a good day anchorage. 

We hopped into the dinghy and found the Cave at 03°05.10N 105°44.10E.   Feeling all excited, we donned our snorkelling gear and swam into the cave.  It was a huge disappointment.  The cave was only 40 metres long and fizzled out with no underwater passages - just a load of garbage floating on the water.  While we were there, we spent 15 minutes snorkelling around the rocky reef outside the cave which was average.

On our way back to the boat, we snorkelled next to a big rock awash on the rocky reef to the south of Pulau Impul Kecil, which was interesting - there’s some huge plate coral structures and plenty of large fish.  Glenys spotted a Blacktip Reef Shark and I found some interesting Pelagic Trunicates, which are like transparent sponges.  These creatures join together and form ribbon like colonies, which swims around as water is siphoned through the middle of their bodies.  Being translucent they are very hard to photograph.

Star Puffer

By this time, it was around noon.  We were hoping to head west to an anchorage at Pulau Anak, but the clouds were building and the south wind was picking up, so we decided to give up on our exploration and head back to the rock-solid anchorage at Padang Melang.  

On the way, we stopped for lunch at an anchorage next to a beach in Kembung Bay at 03°02.32N 105°44.10E in 12 metres of water on sand.  It was very close to the reef, but you could anchor further out in 18 metres.  It’s a very pretty place to anchor, but is exposed for south-east and south winds.

Back at Padang Melang, we chilled out for the rest of the afternoon and invited Rick and Marianne from “Going Easy Too” over for a beer in the evening.

2 August 2016   Padang Melang to Tukan Bay, Anambas
The wind blew hard last night and we woke to a pleasant day, but strong 20-25 knot winds from the south.  We were planning to head towards Letung, on the west coast of Jemaja, but we would be pounding into the south wind and the anchorages are exposed, so we decided to wait until the winds drops.  

Over the past three years, when we’re in remote places, we’ve been relying on getting GRIB files via our satellite phone, but I’ve let the call-plan on our satellite phone expire for this year and have been relying on 3G internet access.  The only place in the Anambas with internet access is Tarempa, so we’ve not had a weather forecast for the last 5 days, which is very frustrating.  Fortunately, “Going Easy To” has a recent forecast stretching to Friday, which indicates that the winds will drop later in the week. 

For a change of scenery, we upped anchor and had a lovely sail a few miles east to Tukan Bay, where we anchored in 7 metres of water at 02°58.49N 105°46.94E.  It’s a nice looking bay with a white sand beach fringed by coconut palms.  

Bashing into a 40 knot squall

In the afternoon, we went snorkelling at a couple of spots, which were above average.  We especially liked the reef on the west side of the bay, which was very healthy.  Glenys come across a turtle which swam around here once before disappearing off - she thinks it was a Hawksbill Turtle.

In the evening, we went over to “Easy Going Too” for a few beers - they only had a couple of weeks here and are heading back to Nongsa tomorrow.

3 August 2016   Tukan Bay to Letung, Anambas
We woke to a lovely morning, a little overcast, but the wind was below 15 knots, so we planned to head west to check out Pulau Anak and then, in the afternoon, continue down to Letung on the west coast of Jemaja.  

It took us a couple of hours to reach the north-west tip of Jemaja, by which time ominous black clouds had built in the south-west sky, so we abandoned going to Pulau Anak and decided to head straight for Letung.  We rounded the corner with only five miles to go, but ten minutes later, a squall line hit us with 40 knot south-west winds and lashing rain.  There was nothing that we could do apart from motor straight into the wind and building waves.

“Amulet” was an hour ahead of us and they headed for Djutan Bay, anchoring at 03°00.64N 105°41.27E in 22 metres of water.  We had twenty minutes of bashing into 40 knot winds and lashing rain, but by the time that we arrived next to “Amulet”, the wind had abated to less than 25 knots and the rain had reduced considerably, so we decided to carry on to Letung, just a couple of miles around the corner.

It was tough getting through the gap between the mainland and a small island called Pulau Ipan because we had a south setting current with a strong 25 knot wind from the south.  The wind against tide plus the wind waves that had built up in the storm left some spectacular standing waves in the passage.  We took a few corkers with the bow being buried deep beneath the waves, but managed to power our way through the 15 metre deep channel without any real dramas.

Local cargo boat dumping plastic rubbish into the water

We anchored off the small island next to the town of Letung at 03°00.64N 105°41.28E in 20 metres of water.  It seems to be good holding sand - I hope so, this weather still looks unsettled and we might get another 40 knot squall go through like this morning.

The island next to the anchorage is attractive and there looks to be a rocky outcrop on the rather steep hill, which might be a photo opportunity, but the anchorage was so bouncy with waves coming from all directions, that we couldn’t be bothered to get off our backsides.  We just lurked on the boat and sulked all afternoon.

Just before we were going to open a cold beer, a local coastal cargo ship left the nearby ferry dock and anchored too close to us.  He was about 100 foot long and anchored on a length of rope, so I was worried that they were going to swing differently to us with our chain.  After staring at them for fifteen minutes, we cracked up and moved.  As always seems to happen when we re-anchor, we got it wrong the first time and ended up too close to “Amulet”, but on the second attempt, we were miles away from both of them.  Hopefully, I’ll get some sleep tonight.

Whenever, we go to a beach in the Anambas, there's always a huge pile of plastic garbage.  To our dismay, a guy on the cargo boat dumped a huge bag of garbage overboard which then floated past us.  They just don't understand that it takes thousands of years to break down the plastic.  

4 August 2016   Letung to Padang Melang, Anambas
It was an unsettled night, a little windy at times, but mostly very bouncy and rolly - I had to get up at 02:00 to stop some torches rolling about in a drawer - clunk, clunk…..clunk.  The alarm went off at 06:00 and, with a deep sigh, we crawled out of bed to go to the local market.

Letung Main Road

The dinghy route into the town is 1.2 miles long and rather convoluted having to avoid numerous shallow reefs with the sun in our sleep-bleary eyes…

We parked the dinghy at a dock next to a restaurant at 02°59.25N 105°42.28E.  There was a large coastal cargo boat tied up, but more than enough room for our dinghy.  The dock has horizontal wooden planks, thankfully without any sharp nails, and we were easily able to scramble up to dry land.

The market street was much busier than when we visited last week and we were able to buy a frozen chicken, some squid and various vegetables that will keep us going for a couple of weeks until we get back to Tarempa.

We were back at the boat by 07:30 and, after a quick bowl of cereal, we were soon on our way.  I’m sure that this would be a good anchorage in settled weather, but it’s unpleasant in this south-west swell.  

As we went past Pulau Ipan, we had two Bottle-nosed Dolphins join us for ten minutes - they looked like a mother and youngster and were enjoying the standing waves as we crashed through the passage.  On the way north, we had a look at three more possible anchorages, but didn’t stop because they were affected by swell.  (See my Cruising Notes for more information).  

It was a great relief to drop our anchor in 5 metres of water in the lovely Padang Melang anchorage.  We spent the afternoon chilling out and catching up on some sleep.  

5 August 2016   Padang Melang, Anambas
It was a fabulously calm night and we woke refreshed.  Glenys was feeling dynamic, so she did a load of washing and then baked some bread.  Meanwhile I caught up on my blog and editing photographs, while I ran the water maker.

Snorkelling near Padang Melang

Later in the morning, we zipped off to some isolated rocks which are 1¼ miles to the north-east of the anchorage.  It was above average snorkelling, with fairly clear water and interesting rocky terrain, especially on the deeper eastern side of the largest rocks.  Not many big fish, but I found a Sky Blue Phyllidia nudibranch and Glenys came across a large lobster carcass - so there are some lobsters around - we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled from now on …

We chilled out for the afternoon and then had “Amulet” over for a beer.

6 August 2016   Padang Melang, Anambas
The weather looked nice and settled this morning, so we decided that we’d have a third attempt to go out to Pulau Anak, with the intention of staying the night.  However, the God of Weather had a different idea and by the time that we’d got to the north-west corner of Jemaja, there were thick black clouds gathering on the horizon.

Remembering the hammering that we had three days ago, we spun around 180 degrees and headed back to Padang Melang.  Within 15 minutes, the wind was up to 20 knots and, 35 minutes later, we were getting gusts of 35 knots as we rounded Pulau Mingga and into the shelter of Telok Mampo Bay.  Thirty minutes later, we were anchoring back where we started in torrential rain - at least I had a nice cooling shower.

The speed that this weather changes is incredible.  “Amulet” have managed to download a 7 day GRIB weather forecast, but it doesn’t show these localised squalls that just seem to bubble up.  However, there is a kind of pattern with the systems approaching from the south-west and the strong winds coming from the south to south-west.  Also, at least the heavy weather only lasts for a couple of hours.

Pesky Weevils

This is the third time this week that we’ve attempted to get out to Pulau Anak, so it’s obvious that some Deity doesn’t want us to go there.  We’ve decided to give up and we’re going to start heading east tomorrow, back towards Tarempa. We chilled out for the afternoon, hiding from the persistent rain.  

Later, while Glenys was making dinner, she discovered that her precious Basmati Rice is now loaded with Weevils.  The worrying thing is how long have we been eating “extra protein”? 

7 August 2016   Padang Melang to Pulau Telaga, Anambas
It was a lovely day, so we headed 10 miles east to Pulau Telaga and had a lovely sail.  We anchored at 03°05.55N 105°58.01E in 18 metres on sand.  Even though the wind was blowing at 15-20 knots from the south, the anchorage was settled and it’s a pretty place.

After lunch, I filled our dive tanks and we went for a scuba dive.  The wind was quite strong, so we took the dinghy across the channel and anchored in the shelter of a small headland at 03°05.71N 105°57.80E.  We descended to 22 metres and turned south following the bottom of the reef.  There was a lot of sediment and small jellyfish in the water, but the hard and soft corals were in very good condition.  

When our tanks were down to 100 bar we headed up to 12 metres and returned to the dinghy.  We spotted a couple of nudibranchs and some fabulous Soft Coral, which gave me an opportunity to work on my macro photography.  It was a surprisingly good dive.  I suspect that the other side of the channel at 03°05.72N 105°58.05E would be as good. 

8 August 2016   Pulau Telaga to Tarempa, Anambas
A strong squall passed through at one o’clock in the morning and forced us out of bed to check that we hadn’t dragged our anchor in the 30+ knot winds.  Fortunately, it only lasted for ten minutes and we were able to collapse back in to bed.  We were then woken at dawn by persistent rolling, but we adopted the first-aid “Recovery Position” and clung onto the bed until seven o’clock.

The rolling was caused by a 2-3 foot swell coming from the west, which was hooking around the northern tip of the island.  We had breakfast and then decided that the 15 degree rolling was too much, so we upped anchor and ran away.

Chinese Temple, Tarempa

We stopped off at Genting Unjut, but the rather tight anchorage was a bit choppy with the south wind against the slight swell hooking around the corner.  It was only 10 miles further to Tarempa Town, so we carried on and anchored in 11 metres, going as far into the corner as we dared - much better than being in 22 metres in dodgy holding.

After lunch, we wandered into town and called into the Tourist Office to see if they had a list of the events planned for Independence Day on the 17th August.  Typically, they seemed mystified why we wanted this information and then said that the PR department were organising it all.  We thanked them and walked back to the other end of town where we found the PR department (“Humas” department).

The PR department have organised three days of events from the 14th -16th August called the “Festival Lestari Anambas”.  There was considerable chaos when we asked for a list of the events, as six employees scrabbled to find a document, but eventually we were given two copies of the precious schedule.  There’s some kind of event happening on the 17th starting at 07:00 or 08:00 depending on who you talk to.  We’ll make sure that we’re back in Tarempa on the 13th August.

We’re planning to go sailing for the next five days, so we did some provisioning.  I was totally mortified that all the shops in the town have run out of beer.  With only five cans of beer left on “Alba”, this is a crisis of mammoth proportions.  It sounds like there’s a shipment on the way, so hopefully, we will be able to buy beer when we come back on the 13th and I’ll only have to go “cold turkey” for four days.

Scuba Dive at Pulau Durai

Later in the afternoon, we heard marching songs and watched several groups of people marching along the causeway, obviously practising for the Independence Day celebrations.  I guess that there will be some kind of parade on the 17th August, but neither the PR department nor the Tourist office has mentioned this.

9 August 2016   Tarempa to Pulau Semut, Anambas
The weather forecast was very good for today, so we jumped out of bed early and headed 12 miles north-west to Pulau Durai.  This island is a nesting site for hundreds of turtles.  Until recently, the turtle eggs were harvested for human consumption, but the island is now a marine park and the turtles are being actively protected.

It’s a challenge to find an anchorage because the island is rather small and the reef is deep.  After looking at a few places, we opted to drop our anchor at 03°20.42N 106°02.76E in 28 metres - this is on the north side of the island, giving us a little protection from the prevailing south winds.  I snorkelled down to check the anchor and we’re anchored in coral rubble and sand, just outside the main fringing reef.  

I rushed to fill our dive tanks and by ten o’clock we were in our dinghy going for a scuba dive.  We anchored our dinghy at 03°20.40N 106°02.66E in 10 metres to the east of a large rock awash.  The area where we were anchored is a huge plain of coral stretching for hundreds of metres.  The water is very clear and the coral is very pretty and healthy.

We headed north-east for 100 metres and then descended a coral covered slope to 24 metres, where the sea bed was coral rubble and sand.  (At this point, we could see Alba above us.)  We stayed in the deeper water for ten minutes, but apart from a huge shoal of Golden Spadefish, it wasn’t as interesting as the coral at 10 metres. We took our time returning to the dinghy, poking about the coral plain.  It was a nice dive, but no sightings of turtles.  

The reality of Indonesian beaches

After getting our dive gear packed away, we took the dinghy around to the east side of the island and landed on a big white sand beach.  There were dozens of tracks of large turtles coming out of the sea to lay their eggs and hundreds of smaller tracks made by the baby turtles returning to the sea.  

It’s a pretty beach apart from the tonnes of plastic rubbish that litters the sand.  There’s so much that I guess that it’s a struggle for newly hatched baby turtles to push their way through it.

We walked to the south end of the beach, where we found a track leading up over rocks through the trees.  This path led us down to another beach on the south of the island, which also has lots of turtle tracks and more plastic.  There’s a small settlement of a few houses at the edge of this beach, where I believe people live who are helping to protect the turtles.  There was nobody around, but we saw a small hatchery protected by chicken wire.

Back at the boat, we decided not to stay the night because the anchorage is deep and not very well protected, so we upped anchor and sailed 15 miles to Pulau Semut, which is a lovely, well protected anchorage in 12-14 metres of water - one of our favourites in the Anambas.

We were tired after our manic day, so we drank our last two beers and had an early night.  

Tomato Anemonefish

10 August 2016   Pulau Semut, Anambas
It was lovely first thing this morning - the sun was shining while we were sat in the cockpit having breakfast.  An hour later, Glenys noticed a long, black squall line approaching from the south-west.  Action stations - we took down our big awning, closed the hatches and zipped on our side flaps.  The squall wasn’t too bad, it just gave us 25 knot gusts for five minutes and then light persistent rain for a couple of hours before clearing to a nice, sunny afternoon.

I put on a scuba tank and went to take photos of some Tomato Anenomefish that I’d spotted yesterday on a reef close to us.  These fish are localised to the Malay Peninsula and are interesting that the female is much larger than the male.  The female is also mostly black whereas the male is red.  Unfortunately, there was loads of sediment in the water, so my photos are full of white spots where the flash has reflected back on the sediment.

I still had loads of air in the tank, so I spent over an hour scrubbing the bottom of the boat.  We last applied antifoul paint in March, so it’s been on six months.  We had a healthy crop of Gooseneck Barnacles on the bottom of the keel and the rudder, probably because we sat in mud for two weeks in Straits Quay Marina.  The rest of the hull was covered in a thin layer of green slime, so the International Interswift 5800 antifoul paint has done a reasonable job, but not brilliant. 

I scraped off the barnacles and scrubbed the hull all over with a slightly abrasive scrubbing pad to energise the ablative paint and we’re looking good, although I suspect that I ought to haul out in December and give the hull another coat of antifoul before we cross the Indian Ocean next year.

By late afternoon, we had a dozen or so fishing boats surrounding us in the anchorage, all coming in to get shelter overnight.

11 August 2016   Pulau Semut, Anambas
There were four fishing boats rafted up near to us with very long radio antennae, so after breakfast, I went over to have a chat to them.  At first they were very shy and no one admitted to speaking any English, so I persevered with my broken Indonesian (although one young man could speak a bit of English which helped.)  I’d already prepared a list of questions for them and took along our 8” tablet to be able to show them charts and photographs.

Fishing boats with long antennae

These guys go out 50 miles from the Anambas Islands in their small 30 foot wooden boats and stay out at sea for five days.  They are quite sophisticated with GPS, Fish Finders, VHF and SSB radio - hence the long antennae.  There are two guys on each boat and they tend to fish together in a group.

They store their fish in large four foot square, ice chests and let me choose a nice big Snapper for 10,000 rupiah (£0.50).  Interestingly, they told me that Dorado are toxic, but Snappers, Wahoo and Grouper are good - we always believed that pelagic fish like Dorado are safe.  The fishermen had come in last night for shelter from some forecast bad weather, but left to go back out to sea shortly after I returned to Alba, so tonight must be looking good.   

I filled our two scuba tanks and we went for a dive on the reef to the south of the anchorage.  We went a little further east than last time (I guess at around 03°23.09N 106°17.54E), just off a small headland.  It’s about 10 metres deep for a long way, so we found the edge of the reef and anchored on the nearest coral pinnacle.  

We headed north to the drop off and descended to 22 metres following the edge of the reef east.  After a while, we ascended to 12metres, retraced our steps and then played around on the 10 metre reef which is pretty.  The visibility was very good, but there were lots and lots of long particles in the water.  The shallower reef is more interesting than the deeper.  We saw a small Common Lionfish - the first we’ve seen in the Anambas.

Mubur NE

The afternoon was very sunny and hot, so we hid out of the sun and pottered about on the boat.  Glenys baked a loaf of bread and a pizza base, so we had peperoni pizza for dinner while watching a movie - no beer unfortunately.

12 August 2016   Pulau Semut, Anambas
After breakfast, we motored around the corner with the intention of stopping at Pulau Tenggiling to try out a likely looking dive site.  Unfortunately, there was a 15-20 knot wind from the south making the anchorage a lee-shore, so we carried on to Pulau Mubur, where we dropped the anchor in 22 metres at  03°20.79N 106°13.59E.  The anchor was dragging slowly when we tried to back it in, so suspecting soft sand or mud, we let the anchor settle in for ½ hour, after which the anchor held fine.

We’re a long way from the head of the bay, but further in the sea bed slopes upwards very steeply and the reef narrow quickly making it challenging. The last time we were here, we anchored in 8 metres, but were too close to the fringing reefs for comfort.

After lunch, we went to the beach at the head of the bay, which is very, very soft sand - hence our slight dragging of the anchor.  We found a faint path at the east end of the beach, which led through a coconut grove and then started up the hill.  Wearing only swimming gear, we felt a little under-dressed for a hike, so we’re going to come back tomorrow morning and go exploring. 

Long-tailed Macaques foraging on the reef

We tried snorkelling in three different places in the bay and, although the reef drops very steeply, it is badly storm or explosive damaged and not very interesting.  The fringing reef sticks out from the shoreline for over 50 metres and is so shallow that it dries at low tide.  In the evening, we watched a troop of Long-tailed Macaques foraging on the dry reef. 

13 August 2016   Pulau Mubur NE to Tarempa, Anambas
After an early breakfast, we jumped in the dinghy and went ashore, leaving the dinghy on the eastern side of the beach and followed a faint path.  The path meandered its way up the eastern side of the valley in pleasantly cool sub-tropical vegetation.   At times the path almost disappeared, but mostly it was clear and well-used.

We soon came across cultivated crops, such as chilli peppers, taro and papaya.  There were also hundreds of coconut palms, banana trees and even a few Durian trees.  As we climbed the steep path, we met some locals carrying baskets up to their farmland and passed a few small buildings that act as temporary shelters.

After an hour’s climb, we reached the top of the valley, turned right and walked along a ridge where we could see down to a village below.  A few hundred metres later, the path started to descend quickly, so I assume that it goes down to the village at sea level.  We turned around and went back down.

I had a massive fright when I nearly stood on a 3 foot long snake, which was lying on the path, cunningly disguised as a 1½ inch thick root.  It immediately reared up, struck at my thighs and disappeared into the bush.  Fortunately, it didn’t bite me, but it did scare me.  I tried to persuade Glenys that it was her wifely duty to walk ahead of me for the rest of the way, but for some reason she wasn’t that keen.

Picking Chillies

A little later, we came across the dwelling belonging to the farmers who we’d met earlier and the two ladies invited us onto their front porch, where they gave us a couple of green coconuts to drink.  We shared the two small packets of biscuits that we’d brought and we had a good chat.  They said that they come from the nearby village by boat and would stay for the day, returning to their village in the evening.

Back at the boat, we had a rest for half an hour and set off to Tarempa Town.  Our route took us between the large islands of Mubur and Matak.  The channel is only 400 metres wide and with the tall islands, feels a bit like a fiord.  The tide was falling, so the current was coming from the north, directly into the strong south wind, so the wind against tide brought up some steep-sided three foot waves, making it a bouncy ride.

It took us a couple of hours to get to Tarempa Town, where we anchored in the corner in front of “Amulet” who have stayed here for the last five days.  We then went into town to drop off some laundry (which should be ready in a couple of days) and bought a few provisions.  I was very pleased to be able to buy a case of Tiger beer.

14 August 2016   Tarempa, Anambas
We were up early to go to the opening event for the “Festival Lestari Anambas”.  At the dinghy dock, there was a gaggle of local fishing boats waiting to go out on a fishing competition - we were invited to go out with them.  Hmmm, eight hours watching a fishing line, I don’t think so….  

We carried onto the tennis courts where the opening ceremony was taking place.  It was a typical Indonesian event, with boring speeches and not much else.  Once the ceremony was over, we wandered around a while, fending off people who wanted their photos taken with the “Orang Bule”.

Our little guides

By half past nine, we’d had enough and went for a walk.  We went up the right hand side of the Tarempa Beach hotel and followed a rather rough, single-lane concrete track up the side of the hill.  This must have been the main road to the north of the island before the causeway was built.  It’s a very pleasant walk that climbs up and gives some nice views over the bay.

We stopped to chat to some guys who were trimming the bushes and also burning rubbish at the side of the road.  As often happens in Indonesia, a gang of cute little kids latched onto us and accompanied us half way along the one mile road.  It was very hot, so when we arrived back at the main road, we gave up exploring and walked back along the causeway.

Back on the boat, I put on my snorkelling gear and went for a swim.  Our anchor is buried to the hilt in firm sand, which is good because we’re right in the corner of the bay and a little close to hard land.  The water is a little murky with a visibility of five metres, but it was interesting poking around the coral reef next to the causeway and doing a bit of Muck Diving around the pillars and debris under the causeway.  I saw quite a few 4” long Jewelled Blennies and some Razorfish, which are odd because they hang vertically with their heads down and swim around in little shoals.

Later in the afternoon, Bryan from “Amazing Anambas” called by as he was returning from a day of windsurfing and we agreed to meet him at the Sakura Inn in the early evening.  When we arrived, he was sat in the restaurant (which was closed) with Axel and his father, Eng-Lie, who owns the Sakura Inn.  They explained that Sunday was their day off, but then proceeded to make a Mee Goreng for us and brought out some nice cold beers.  We had a great evening chatting and working out the meaning of life.

15 August 2016   Tarempa, Anambas
Day 2 of the “Festival Lestari Anambas” got off to a slow start.  A cooking competition was supposed to start at 09:30 with a demonstration of cooking fish by a professional chef from Batam, but he didn’t get started until about 10:30.  When he finally got going, he produced a big pan of stock with coconut milk and chilies and then just dropped in big chunks of raw Snapper.  The fish stew was boiled for 5-10 minutes, which is enough to cook the fish and it was delicious. 

Eight teams of ladies from different regions of the Anambas, then competed - all producing fish dishes.  We hung about for an hour chatting to people and were rewarded by being able to eat some of the food for lunch.  Our favourite was a kind of fish curry called Ikan Masak Pauh, which was very spicy with coconut milk.  We took a photo of the recipe and I hope that it will be added into Glenys’s cook book. 

Cooking Competition

There was nothing else going on, so we picked up our laundry and spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out on the boat.

16 August 2016   Tarempa, Anambas
It was another slow day - we’re starting to get cabin fever.  We want to stay in Tarempa in case something interesting happens, but unfortunately, nothing much is going on.  In desperation, we went for a walk along the streets heading east out of town past the Big Mosque.  It’s a narrow road, busy with motorbikes and weaves its way along the shoreline.

To seaward there are hundreds of houses and buildings built on stilts over the water.  The land consists of a strip of level ground, which soon climbs steeply with huge boulders and rocky outcrops.  Many of the houses are built between and on top of these boulders, making it a building regulation nightmare, but interesting to look at.

We walked past the Chinese Temple and turned left heading up the hill, but the concrete path petered out just after a long set of steps leading up to some graves.  On our return, we walked back along the long concrete causeway that serves as the main road for the section of town built over the sea.

In the evening, we went out to the Sakura Inn to have dinner and meet up with Axel and Bryan from Amazing Anambas.  I had Ikan Asam Pedas (Fish in Hot Sauce).  I asked them to make it with less chilli, but when it came it was so hot that my throat threatened to seize up.  

Glenys and friends watch the Independence Parade

We met up with some scuba divers that have just returned from a 3 day dive trip - they had invited us along a week ago, but the timing was not good.  They had come out on a trip from Jakarta to see if the region was a good dive destination.

They were able to dive in more remote places than we have attempted, including Durai, Pahat, Tokong Berlayar and Penjalin.  They said that the diving was okay with pretty, hard corals, but not many fish.  That’s similar what we have found in the places that we have dived, so we’re not missing out on anything.

17 August 2016   Tarempa, Anambas
Today was Indonesia’s Independence Day, so we went ashore at 08:00 to see what was going on.  At the football pitch, we found a huge crowd of people gathering for the ceremony to raise the flag.  Gazebos and comfy chairs were set out for the dignitaries along one side of the field, while big groups of people were lined up along the opposite side, including the Navy, Police, Coast Guard and other government workers.

We sat behind the school band, who were milling about waiting for everything to start.  The event took two hours and involved lots of speeches and sergeant majors shouting instructions to the various squads of people.  The school band was dressed in heavy uniforms and we felt sorry for them as they stood in the beating sun for the whole event - one girl fainted and two others had to go to sit in the shade.

Eventually, with a long drawn out ceremony, the flag was raised and everyone rushed into the shade.   We spent the afternoon resting and tidying up ready to leave tomorrow.

18 August 2016   Tarempa to Moonrock Lagoon, Sagudampar
I woke up at four o’clock with a very bad case of diarrhoea, so the rest of my day was a misery, constantly running to the toilet.  

Filling up with diesel at Anambas Lodge

Glenys left me suffering on the boat, while she went to the market and stocked up on fresh provisions.  By eight o’clock, we had pulled up the anchor and were on our way around to the Anambas Lodge, where we went alongside their rough wooden dock.  We put down our little fenders, but they weren’t particularly effective, so we relied on their huge tyres to prevent damage to our top sides. (We had lots of big black rubber streaks to clean off later.)

I’d previously been in touch with the owners of the Lodge by email and they had 200 litres of diesel ready for us in 35 litre containers.  Two guys lugged the containers onto our boat and then poured it into our tank via my filter funnel.  They were very careful, but by the time that they’d poured the six containers, we still had a large area of our lovely teak deck covered in diesel.

They charged us 7,500 Rupiah (£0.40) per litre.  It looked a little darker than I’m used to but hopefully it’s clean enough to not block my filters.

Ninety minutes later, we were threading our way through the reefs heading west to Air Asuk then onto the Eastern Islands.  Just after midday, we entered the stunning anchorage called Moonrock Lagoon on the island of Sagudampar.  The entrance was a little nerve-wracking, because we had to weave our way between reefs, but the anchorage soon opens out and we dropped our anchor at 03°14.90N 106°26.713E in 13 metres of water over sand.

Moonrock Lagoon

The anchorage is lovely, surrounded on three sides by islands with white sand beaches and coconut palms.  The main island has a very impressive rock slab overlooking the anchorage which gives the Lagoon its name.  It's totally deserted apart from a couple of small fishing boats.

I was still dying, so after lunch, I went to bed for most of the afternoon, while Glenys did a few chores.  There was no sign of my illness abating and a second dose of Immodium had no effect, so I took some Lacteol Fort tablets, which contain Lactobascillus bacteria.  These are “good” bacteria and are supposed to displace the “bad” bacteria that are causing my tummy upset - we’ll see…  I had an early night.

19 August 2016   Moonrock Lagoon, Sagudampar
My trips to the toilet reduced during the night and by the morning, I was feeling a bit more chipper.  I took some more Lacteol Fort tablets and hopefully the “good” bacteria are doing their job.  

Glenys put the dinghy in the water and started to clean the tyre marks from the hull.  Within minutes, two fishermen had come over in dugout canoes and hung around for an hour, staring at the boat and watching what we were doing.  We’ve seen these guys paddling about over the reefs with diving masks on looking for fish.  When they find fish, they use a simple line and hook to attempt to catch them.

Friendly Fishermen

The weather has been very settled for the past four days, but just after lunch a huge thunderstorm passed over giving us strong winds and heavy rain.  We spent the afternoon on-board.

20 August 2016   Moonrock Lagoon, Sagudampar
My tummy’s now feeling back to normal, but I’ve had some tenderness in my left ear for the past week, which seems to be getting worse.  I guess that my body’s immune system has been weak while I’ve been down with the stomach bug because I think that I have an infection in my outer-ear canal.  I should really be using Antibiotic eardrops to sort it out, but we don’t have any, so I’ve started a 7 day course of Amoxicillin antibiotic tablets.  

Chris on “Amulet” told me that he’s prone to ear infections, so he always uses an equal mixture of vinegar and alcohol after he has been swimming to clear his ears.  I also read in one of our medical manuals about using an equal mixture of boiled water and vinegar to clear outer-ear infections, so I gave it a go and put 3-5 drops of vinegar and alcohol into both ears.  It stings like hell in the infected ear, but doesn’t hurt the other ear.  I later tried vinegar and water and it doesn’t sting as much, so I’m going to use that 3 times a day.   

After breakfast, we went ashore to climb to the top of Moonrock Bluff.  We landed the dinghy on a tiny little patch of sand directly underneath the bluff; then headed east for 25 metres and then up a rocky gully.  There isn’t really a path, so we climbed more or less straight up the hill, chopping down small branches with my machete and skirting around the numerous fallen trees.  We reached the bottom of the bluff and followed the eastern edge of it until we came to the top after 25 minutes.

What a view.  You can see for miles - the anchorage looks stunning and the colours are gorgeous.  It’s well worth the strenuous climb.  We stared and stared for half an hour then worked our way back down to the dinghy.

Carefully descending from the top of Moonrock Bluff

In the afternoon, we went for a snorkel and I was pleased to discover that I can still clear my ears while diving down.  I suppose that I shouldn’t be swimming with an infected ear, but how can I not snorkel in paradise?  We checked out a spot which looks like a good place to do a scuba dive and we’ll give it a go tomorrow as long as the wind is light and my ear’s okay.  

21 August 2016   Moonrock Lagoon, Sagudampar
I’m beginning to sound like an old-age pensioner, always talking about my ailments, but my ear was badly swollen when I woke up, so we abandoned the idea of going for a scuba dive.  A squall came through before nine o’clock, so that put paid to our plan B of going exploring other anchorages.  Plan C was to hunker down and make bread.

We pottered around for the morning, while grey clouds scudded overhead and rain showers came through, with thunder rumbling in the distance.  After lunch, I went for a nap and, when I woke at 15:30, I found that my ear was throbbing badly and very painful to touch.  We’re 20 miles from Tarempa, so there was no way that we could get through the tricky channels before dark, so I’m unable to consult a doctor.  

I’m not sure if the vinegar and water solution is helping or hindering, so I’m going to stop using it and I washed my ear out with boiled water.  I then took some Ibuprofen to try to reduce the swelling and ease the throbbing pain.  All I can do is hope that the antibiotic tablets will do their job and see how it goes for the next few days.  To make matters worse, I can’t drink alcohol while I’m taking the antibiotics, so I’m a miserable bear.

22 August 2016   Moonrock Lagoon to Pulau Pengedung, Anambas
My ear was a little less swollen than yesterday and the throbbing has reduced, so I guess that the antibiotic and Ibuprofen tablets are doing their job.  It’s going to be a frustrating week, waiting for the infection to clear and it’s especially infuriating being unable to go snorkelling or diving.  My ear felt tender about a week ago and I’m kicking myself for not having it looked at before we left Tarempa. 

First thing in the morning, the weather was overcast and didn’t look too good, so we lurked around for hours waiting to see if it would improve.  Finally at eleven o’clock, we cracked up and decided to go out exploring some other islands.  

Snorkelling in the shallows

We motored around the north end of Sagudampar and then motor-sailed into wind to Pulau Selai where we dropped anchor in 17 metres on a sand patch at 03°12.20N 106°29.30E.  It’s a pleasant bay with good protection from the south, but there’s no pretty sand beaches to stare at.  We had lunch and moved on. 

After negotiating the narrow, but deep passage between Pulau Selai and Pulau Penilan, we headed south west and anchored off an island called Pulau Pengedung at 03°09.37N 106°23.934E in 13 metres over sand.   This is another well protected anchorage off a rocky coast line, but not particularly impressive - I think that we’ve been spoiled by Moonrock Lagoon.

23 August 2016   Pulau Pengedung to Pulau Pedjaul, Anambas
It was windy at times last night, but this is a very well sheltered anchorage and we slept well.  We woke to a beautiful morning and even better, my ear seems to be on the mend.  Only another four days of antibiotic tablets to go. 

After breakfast, we dinghied ½ mile over to Pencil Dot Island - Warren Blake gave it this name because the island is so small that it appears as a pencil dot on paper charts.  Despite being only 200 metres long, it’s a perfect uninhabited tropical island - a white sand beach; coconut palms swaying in the breeze; rocks to scramble on; and surrounding corals reefs.  

Sat Staring on Pencil Dot Island

We spent a pleasurable hour there, checking the beach for shells and scrambling up the surprisingly steep rocks on the south-west side.  Glenys went for a snorkel, while I kept my ears dry and read a book on top of the rocks.  Unfortunately, the reef was nothing to write home about.

It was such a nice sunny day, that we decided to go over to Sandspit Island - another anchorage recommended by Warren Blake.  We anchored at 03°09.53N 106°25.61E in a depth of 9 metres on good holding sand.  It’s a little bit close to the fringing reef and the anchorage is exposed to the prevailing south winds, but for settled conditions or a quick lunch stop it’s very nice. There’s a long sand spit that joins the main island to a small island.  

A small fishing boat anchored nearby, so we went over and had a chat.  They were planning to go out to sea tomorrow, so unfortunately, they didn’t have any fish for sale.  We carried on ashore and walked along the sand spit looking for shells, but couldn’t find anything worth having.  As usual on Indonesian beaches, the high water line was covered with plastic rubbish.  However, there are lots of coconuts lying on the ground at the far end of the beach, so I grabbed a sprouting one and a brown one.

Back on the boat, we upped anchor, headed back past last night’s anchorage and carried on ½ mile further to a more protected bay at Pulau Pedjaul .  We anchored at 03°09.24N 106°23.45E in 15 metres.  It felt like soft sand when we backed the anchor in, but it held well.  The anchorage is surrounded on three sides by land and fringing reefs, so we’re a long way from land, but it’s pretty enough.

Squall In Pulau Pedjaul

24 August 2016   Pulau Pedjaul, Anambas
A cracking squall came through at seven o’clock and gave such a strong gusts that it ripped our big awning and had us running about to tame the beast.   We decided to stay put and Glenys spent most of the day dominating the saloon, repairing the awning and strengthening the seams.  I had a day of leisure, keeping out of the way, playing my guitar and reading.

25 August 2016   Pulau Pedjaul, Anambas
We We didn’t have a particularly restful night because of katabatic gusts shrieking down into the anchorage, making us veer around.  It was still very windy in the morning, but at least it was sunny, so we went out exploring the bay.  

Yesterday, three floating fishing platforms arrived at the end of the bay and anchored together.  They are like a large raft about 15 metres square topped with a wooden structure that looks a little like a roof frame.  We went over to say hello and they invited us on-board.  

The fishermen call their vessel a “Bagan” which translates to “Frame”.  Underneath the raft, there is a large wooden frame, which holds a very large fine net.  The fishermen anchor their Bagan out at sea, then at night, lower the net frame and turn on powerful lights that illuminate the sea.  Small Whitebait fish are attracted by the light and gather underneath the Bagan.  The fishermen then raise the net frame and scoop up all the Whitebait. 

There are five guys to each Bagan and a Pom-pong (30 foot wooden boat) as a support vessel which tows the Bagan around.  They work on the Bagan for one month and then have five days off.  It’s a tough life, but they have a sturdy hut on the platform which has a TV, radio and some creature comforts.

Three Bagans and two Pom-pongs

After 30 minutes chatting with the fishermen, we went ashore to Palau Pedjaul.  Someone is building a resort on the island, but there was no work going on, so I guess that they’ve run out of money.  They’ve dug out a rough road system, which meanders around the island and there are two half built buildings that look like they are going to be staff quarters.

Other than that, it’s a nice little island with a lovely windward beach with stunning water colours and swaying palm trees.  After half an hour, we dinghied over to the other side of the bay to a small beach, but couldn’t find any paths across the island. 

One of the things we’ve noticed all over the Anambas Islands is the number and variety of butterflies.  We came across a very boring looking tree, which was swarming with butterflies all intent on sipping the nectar out of small white flowers.  Then we saw what looked like a tiny 40mm long hummingbird, hovering next to a flower and then flashing across to the next flower.  I managed to get a photograph of it and it’s not a Hummingbird, but some kind of moth - a HummingBug?

It was still very windy when we got back to the boat, so we decided to stay for the day - the next island is 9 miles directly south and we don’t fancy pounding for 1½ hours directly into a 25 knot wind and big waves.

26 August 2016   Pulau Pedjaul to Pulau Akar, Anambas
The wind lightened up overnight, so after breakfast, we decided to head south.   When we turned the corner out of the anchorage we had 15-20 knots against us and a 1 knot current with us, making the seas steeper than usual.  The wind was from slightly west of south, so we were able to motor sail with the mainsail on a 30 degree wind angle, but it was a bit of a bash for 1½ hours.

Windward side of Pulau Pedjaul

The visibility was down to about 4 miles caused by a thick haze.  We can smell that it’s obviously smoke and we think that it must be coming from clearance burning in the palm oil plantations in Borneo.  We encountered thick smoke last year on our way up through Indonesia, which seemed to start in September, so it’s a little depressing to think that we might have this for the next three months.

The anchorage at Pulau Akar (03°01.95N  106°24.28E) is a little awkward because the fringing reef system narrows the further that you go into the bay and we’ve eventually had to anchor in 20 metres of water about ½ mile from the head of the bay.  The anchor dragged slowly on our first attempt, ploughing through what we think is very soft sand.  On our second attempt, we straightened the chain; let the anchor start to plough; and then left it for 30 minutes to “settle” into the sea bed.  We then backed it in as normal and it held well.

Thankfully, the smoke cleared away in the afternoon and we went for a look around in the dinghy.  The inner part of the bay is edged by rocks and mangrove trees and we couldn’t find anything of interest ashore, so we soon returned to the boat and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.  

The skies were grey and overcast, so Glenys didn’t feel the urge to go snorkelling and I can’t go in the water because I’m still taking antibiotics for my ear.  However, the good news is that the pain and swelling have disappeared, so I’ll be back in the water soon. 

Picturesque Semut South

27 August 2016   Pulau Akar to Pulau Bajau NE, Anambas
We had a very peaceful night and woke to an overcast sky with light winds.  There wasn’t much to keep us in Pulau Akar, so we meandered our way through the small group of islands to Pulau Semut South.  This is a very picturesque anchorage next to a long sand spit sticking out from a small island.

It took us three attempts to anchor to the north of the sand spit.  Our first attempt was rumbling on coral.  The second attempt dug into sand, but when I snorkelled down I could see that we were right on the eastern edge of a large sand patch and our chain was lying on coral.  Our third attempt was in the middle of a sand patch at 03°02.465N 106°22.611E at a depth of 14 metres - I put out 60 metres of chain.   

When I snorkelled down to check the anchor, the anchor and most of the chain was on sand, but there were some coral heads just below our boat.  I felt that there was a chance that our chain might snag on a coral head, so I clipped two fenders onto our chain at 45 metres to lift the chain off the sea bed.  "Amulet" arrived shortly after us and eventually found another sandy patch at about 03°02.437N 106°22.624E, but it was much closer to the reef.  

Now that my ear is better, we went for a snorkel and found that the reef fringing the island was colourful and healthy.  As we were snorkelling, we could see dark clouds building up to the north and, by the time that we’d got back to the boat, there was a 15 knot wind from the east.  This is very unusual for this area - the wind is usually from the south or south west.

The clouds continued to build and darken and the wind increased to 20 knots from the east.  Suddenly, the wind backed to the north and within a couple of minutes, we had 35 knot winds from the North.  This was not good - the nice picturesque sand spit and reef had now become a lee-shore with a seven mile fetch to the nearest island to the north.  

A gale three hours later

The seas very quickly built up to 3-4 foot and started to break, causing the boat to pitch violently.  Then torrential rain arrived.  The reef was only 30 metres behind us, so we started the engine to be ready to motor forward if the anchor dragged.  “Amulet” were 30 metres behind us and right over the reef with only a depth of 5 metres of water, so they were in a worse predicament.  There was nothing that we could do, but sit in the cockpit and wait for the wind to abate.  

After thirty minutes of pounding, the gale decreased and the skies brightened and an hour after it all started, the wind was down to 20 knots from the north.  We debated whether to stay at Pulau Akar - the wind was likely to continue backing and return to the south as the weather system moved away.  After a quick discussion with “Amulet”, we decided that we’d get the hell out of there because we’d spend the rest of the day and night worrying about another north wind.

Our initial plan was to head west and then up through sheltered channels to the Temburun Waterfall, but by the time that we’d got our anchors up, the wind had backed to 20 knots form the west and it didn’t make sense to bash directly into such a strong wind.  We turned north and headed for an anchorage at the north end of Pulau Bajau, which looked okay from our Google Earth images - we had no other information about the bay because the charts have no depth soundings.

When we arrived in the large bay of Pulau Bajau NE, the skies were still overcast and we had slight rain, so we spent ten minutes motoring around the edge of the reef to figure out the size of the anchorage, which is about 200 metres in diameter.  

We dropped the anchor in 17 metres and it held okay when we backed it in, but I could hear the chain dragging across coral/rubble.  “Amulet” anchored a little further north in 20 metres and said that they thought that they were in soft sand.  The best place to anchor is 03°08.86N 106°19.89E. The bay is very large and there’s a small fishing village at the end of the bay.  

We dried out the cockpit and collapsed with a nice cold beer - my first for seven days and it tasted great.

28 August 2016   Pulau Bajau NE to Temburun Waterfall, Anambas
We had a lovely peaceful night and woke to a very calm day with a bit of sunshine.  The wind is forecast to be light for the next few days, so we’re keen to start heading south towards Bawah, where we’ll wait for a favourable weather window to sail back to Nongsa Point Marina.  Our new main sail should be waiting for us to pick up.

Temburun Waterfall

After breakfast we upped anchor and motored around to Temburun Waterfall.  On the way, we spotted some kind of small factory with lots of fishing boats moored alongside a dock.  There was even some kind of conveyor system from a large building to the dock.  At first I thought it was a fish processing plant, but then I saw big white blocks sliding down the conveyor to the fishing boats - an ice factory. 

The entrance to the anchorage is a little tortuous, but it’s easy to see the shallow reefs in good light.  We anchored at  03°10.63N  106 16.77E in 13 metres of water.  The anchorage is a little way out from the big village ashore, but we’ve got a nice view of the big waterfall.

Once we were settled, I started to work at my laptop and heard a strange vibration.  I switched off our fresh water pump and the noise stopped.   I looked at the water gauge and our tanks were empty.  I’d left a tap running slowly this morning and have dumped about 400 litres of fresh water over board - bummer!  We ran the water maker for two hours to half fill our tanks.

After lunch, we went ashore, tying our dinghy up to a rough concrete dock.  We strolled along the road to the Temburun Waterfall and found a wide path about 100 metres to the south side of the waterfall.  This leads up some steep concrete steps to a point half way up the falls, where there are various gazebos and a pool deep enough to swim in.  The water was brown and scummy and didn’t look very inviting.  It’s a grind up the steps, but the top half of the waterfall is worth seeing.

“Amulet” came over for sundowners.

29 August 2016   Teburun Waterfall to Tarempa, Anambas
Our plan is to start heading south tomorrow, so we upped anchor early and set off to Tarempa Town arriving at about ten o’clock.  Fifteen minutes later, we were strolling down the high street, anxious to get to the fish and vegetable markets before they start shutting down for lunch.  

We did quite well and by noon, we had bought everything that we wanted (apart from potatoes which are not available until the next ship comes in.)  Sadly, there were a number of market stalls selling turtle eggs, so I guess that someone has managed to raid some nests in the area.

Turtle Eggs for sale in the market

My ear has started to trouble me again, with some tenderness and it feels like the ear canal is blocked, so I went to the hospital.  There’s no reception in the tiny hospital and it took me fifteen minutes to get someone to even try to find a doctor for me.   No one spoke English, so all I could do was repeat “Doctor. Saya masala” - “Doctor. I (have) problem” and point to my ear.

Eventually, I was shown into a room, where a nurse took my blood pressure and sat me down in front of a doctor, who could speak a little English.  I had written out all the various drugs that I’d used over the past week and I could tell that she wasn’t impressed by the vinegar in alcohol solution.  She had a look in my ear, (using a flashlight app on her iPhone) and said that I have an abscess in the ear canal.

The doctor prescribed Clindamycin 300g antibiotic tablets, Dexamethasone 0.75 anti-inflammatory tablets and some Cloramphenicol antibiotic ear drops.  She’s even given me some NSAID painkillers that are stronger than Ibuprofen.  I’ve got to take these drugs for at least five days and she’s said that I can’t swim for 1-2 weeks.  I’m feeling suicidal - we’re just going to spend the next week in the best places to go diving and snorkelling in the Anambas.

I did some research into my “Swimmer’s Ear” (posh name is “Otitis Externa”) and found that it’s a bacterial infection caused by water retained in the ears.  I’m obviously keen to ensure that this doesn’t happen again and, despite the doctor’s disdain of Vinegar and Alcohol, it’s a well-known preventative measure.   The alcohol helps to dry the ears and the vinegar stops bacterial and fungal growth.  Once the infection is cured, I’ll definitely be using the mixture to keep my ears healthy.

30 August 2016   Tarempa to Airabu South, Anambas
I was up at four o’clock, just as the mosques started their morning call to prayer.  The internet connection yesterday and last night was terrible and I couldn’t do anything, so I had to get up early to get a long range weather forecast and do some administration.  Glenys got up just after six o’clock and we left half an hour later. 

Pulau Airabu South

The wind seemed to be light (as forecast) so we turned west out of Tarempa and headed south on a rhumb line to Airabu.  Thankfully the wind stayed below 10 knots and was 30 degrees off our port bow, so the waves were small and we could just motor-sail with the mainsail.  It was a pleasant five hour trip and we even caught a nice 2kg Tuna.

We anchored in Airabu South, which is a lovely anchorage with a big sandy patch only eight metres deep.  After a lunch of pan-fried squid sandwiches, I had a two hour nap to catch up on my early morning start and Glenys pottered about on board - she couldn’t be bothered to go snorkelling even though the water is lovely and clear.

The weather forecast for the next week is for 10-15 knot winds and there doesn’t seem to be much rain about.  When we leave the Anambas Islands for Nongsa Point Marina (a 140 mile passage) our rhumb-line course will be 230°.  We can just hold a 45° degree wind angle when we’re beating, so adding 15° for leeway and a north setting current, we need a wind direction of less than 170° to sail the rhumb line.  If the wind direction is greater then we’ll be forced further north towards Malaysia.

The forecast wind direction varies between 170° and 220°.  On the 5th and 6th September, the forecast is for 9 knots at 168°, so it looks like we’ll be leaving the Anambas on the 5th September - just enough time to spend a few nights in Ritan and Bawah.

31 August 2016   Airabu South, Anambas
It was very hot today - we had 35 degrees in the saloon just after breakfast, so goodness knows what it was out in the open.  Despite the blistering heat, I persuaded Glenys to come out for a “short” hike up to some Rocky Bluffs to the north of the anchorage.

Struggling through the bush

Most of the shoreline around the anchorage is defended by Mangrove trees, but we found a place where a rocky slab reached down to the water.  My target was the highest bluff, which was north-west of where we landed the dinghy.  The terrain was very thick undergrowth up a steep hill, but armed with my machete, we set off.  

Unfortunately, I forgot my compass.  I tried to follow the slope of the hill and mistakenly followed a gully up the hillside, which led us north-east (instead of north-west) and half an hour later, we popped out of the jungle onto a rocky bluff on the other side of the hill - duuhhh!  We then had to head west and 45 minutes later, we stumbled upon the target bluff, high above the anchorage.

It was a fabulous view and well worth the effort.  Our descent was a little more precise and we made it back to the dinghy in 30 minutes.  Altogether, it was a 2½ hour epic and we were dehydrated and starving by the time we staggered back to the boat.

After lunch, we went out in the dinghy to explore the pass to the north of the anchorage.  We were hoping that it would be a good snorkelling or diving spot, but the coral wasn’t that good.  We headed back towards the anchorage, stopping at a shallow colourful reef.  Glenys went snorkelling, while I went for a walk on the beach - I’ll be glad when my ear is better.

There were thunderstorms flashing around us as we went to bed.  We had a bit of rain and the wind picked up at one point, so we had a restless night worrying if we would get clobbered, but fortunately, nothing came close to us.