Cruising notes on indonesia and singapore

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[STST] We next sailed to the island of Buru, which until three years ago was closed to foreign vessels because it was a penal colony. Charts are still marked "Closed Area" We found out that we are permitted to go there from a local teacher in Ambon, and confirmed this at Customs when we were departing Ambon. Our first call-in was a beautiful large bay on the eastern coast, Teluk Kayali, where we anchored in sand, 20 feet, off the southern village of Malahela. Beware an extremely shallow reef that arises abruptly from 180 feet to about 6 feet, on the way in (03 21 17S, 127 07 58E.) It is not well shown on Admiralty Chart 3241 . The villagers were pleased to have us there and very friendly. They took us to an ancient fort, they said it was Portuguese, but it had an inscription naming the Dutch governor of the 1700's who had it built. (It may have been built upon the older foundations of a Portuguese fort, which would date it back to the 1400's!)

We next sailed along the north coast in good breezes and flat seas, and spent a night off the village of Wapori, (03 04S, 126 41E). There are two possible anchorages here; we chose the westernmost for better shelter. Twenty feet deep sand bottom and a light onshore breeze in the afternoon which died at dark. There are shops in the small village, and outboard fuel was available. The next day the wind switched around into the west, heading us, and we found ourselves in a very big tide rip with up to 3 knots against us at the maximum. Buru has very high mountains and seems to generate its own weather and winds. We made our way to the north western corner where we found an absolutely delightful anchorage behind two small islands under the cliffs of a 7000 foot mountain. Numerous tiny villages nestle in this bay, We elected to anchor slightly away from them on a shelf on the east side of little Pulau Tengah at 03' 13 34S, 126' 00 23E. Sand bottom, 20 to 30 feet deep. The channels in to this bay have extensive reef formation and it is an eyeball navigation exercise to enter, but quite safe with care. We had many dugout canoe visitors, some with exotic small parrots to sell, but no one was intrusive, just very interested in us. Snorkeling was excellent here, Every afternoon the mountain generated a big rain cloud and we were inundated in the afternoon, filling all our water tanks, with extra for laundry. Veggies, fruit, and fish are all available in the villages.

[ARJ] From Ambon we did an overnight to the Tukang Besi Islands (SE of SE Sulawesi) to do some diving on the reefs--an area which Coustau gives top marks. We found Koka Reef to be too windy to dive the outside--but should be fantastic during calm periods. Fish life generally poor in all areas; coral good: Dynamiting is illegal but is still done regularly using salvaged WWII ammo from the deep which is turned into a bottle bomb, placed inside a papaya and thrown out onto the reef. Think twice about diving if local boats are close by we've been told!

Koka Reef Entrance 6(03.1 S 124( 23.55 E. Anchorage 6( 04.08 S 124( 23.49 E. Poor protection in 25 K winds. 80 foot sloping ledge Sand.

Kaledoeþa Reef 5( 52.56S 123( 47.98 E Good Protection. 35 ft. Sand. Good dive on outside wall to south of entrance. Lots of sponges & color in morning sun. 3 ft parrot fish!

Kapotta Reef 5( 27.44 S 122( 36.98 E. No Protection. 10-15 ft. Coral Rubble. Great dive on wall to west. Some caves. Reasonable fish life. Turtles. Spotted shark. Lots of sponges 8 color. Huge sea fans.


Centered around 05' 40 S, 124' 00 E

[CG2] This is an easy run from Ambon. The light on the N tip of Wangiwangi Island is easily seen from a distance, making this an easy landfall.
Eight mi to the SW of Wangiwangi is the semi- submerged atoll, Karang Kapota, and you can enter the lagoon with care from the NW. The swell can make the entrance trickly, but once inside you are protected from the swell. The water is crystal clear, ideal for diving and fishing. There are a number of fishermen's huts on stilts built on the reef. Care should be taken as there have been reports of the local fishermen attempting to steal a dinghy.
Kabaena 05' 20 S, 122' 00 E

Located on the west coast just south of Tanjung Malate is the town of Kabaena (or alternatively, Katuwa) which looks like another fishing village on stilts, but it is in fact the capital of the island. The mosque is very distinct, easily seen from a distance. Fish and a small selection of local vegetables are available at the market. The people here rarely see outsiders, and you will be a bit of a curiosity.

Sigori (or Sogori)

About 2 mi SW of Kabeana is this small island, on the northern side of a large crescent shaped reef, with a small fishing village on stilts. The Lagoon is very sheltered and easily entered from the E side, minimum depth 6 m. Clarity of the water depends on the state of the tide. Here is good diving and fishing and a chance to get away from it all.

Telaga Islands

Located S of Kabeana. The northern one, Telaga Kecil, has greater population with shops and a jetty, while Telaga Besar has a good anchorage on its north side away from the crowds.


[REN] From Ambon we sailed over to the Buton Straits, out of the rain and into lovely scenery. I think this is what Ambon would have looked like had we been able to see more than 10' above the shore. The straits are narrow, edged with steep sided mountains almost joined by a sharp edged ridge, and thickly covered with shimmering rainforest. White sand beaches and the occasional sand islet accented the rich plant green and sea blue. It was generally very deep water right up to the edges and full of gorgeous local sailing craft. Brown and thatch villages gathered at a harbor or built out on stilts over the water added quaintness. Almost all the hovels were clustered around a small shiny mosque with silver plated dome and fresh paint from which blasted a recording of the call to prayer 6 times a day. It seemed like more.

We zipped through the Buton Straits, moving each day, but it really was a lovely place, well protected, and friendly. At the narrows north and south as one had to pay close attention to current because the 200' or so gap in the cliffs funnels the water, but elsewhere the sailing was beautiful. the sea was always calm and the wind, though fluky, was enough to sail.
[SS] The following are some of our favorite anchorages as we made our way through the Buton Straits toward Flores and Bali.


Buton Straits

Labuan Blanda 04' 25 50S 122' 56.05E

Raha 04' 49.62S 122' 44.80E

Buton Island, South Side

Sampolawa 05' 35.6S 122' 15.6E

[STST] From Buru, we did an overnighter to the Sulawesi Group, entering the north east mouth of Buton Strait (04 20 OS, 123 00 OE). We anchored at the village of Pulau Labuan Blanda, where there is a delightful anchorage behind a small islet and reef (04' 26.40 S. 122' 56.25E). Sand bottom 20 to 30 feet deep, strong currents in the anchorage make yachts active at anchor. Children in this village were very demanding, though they did not board the yachts without permission. It is a problem of too many yachts inundating one tiny village all at once. In August there is a sudden flood of yachts through here from Ambon (in 1994, 77 yachts entered the Race/Rally.) l'd suggest that perhaps a choice of a slightly less obvious anchorage might be better. One yacht had a major theft while anchored at the village. They felt they were set up by a villager who offered to walk them to the local waterfall, then excused himself along the way. When they returned, they were short camera gear and $600 AUS and they realiy felt that it was probably their "guide" who had questioned them closely about the boat and the time they would be away. He was probably the only one who could speak any English in this poor village. With the help of the police chief they did get their camera back, but not the cash. Nice snorkeling in this anchorage.

[CG2] This must qualify as one of the most beautiful spots anywhere. There are 2 small fishing villages on the mainland half a mile apart. A pleasant 10 min walk from the southern village of Wamorapa is a fresh water stream where you can swim and also take on water. Also the village has a small market on Sundays at 0700 where you can buy local fruit, veggies & fish.
Further south you come to Kaholipana Island, which offers a good anchorage on the SW side. Watch out for regular evening katabatic winds off the hills as they can be quite strong for about an hour every evening.

[STST] It is important to note the tides and currents in Buton Strait as the flow can be up to 5 knots at maximum. The Northern Narrows floods south, while the Southern Narrows (very constricted) floods north, so calculations can be confusing but necessary. We experienced winds on the nose in the 40 knot range on our transit down the North Narrows. It was not pleasant! We anchored off the west side of Pulau Lebutan, tucked into a sand tongue between the arms of the coral reef, 17 feet deep, at 04 56 05S, 122 47 46E. The second islet shown here on Chart US 73261 only uncovers at low water. Shelling was excellent here, with some unusual specimens not seen before. A nearby island, Pulau Puning, has a village on stilts at its northern end, this would make an interesting anchorage destination. We traveled behind the island to do some photos and found it 15 to 20 feet deep near the village, but with many fish traps standing in the shallows. We next stopped at Pulau Pegate (05 17 OS, 122 41 0E) for the night to get the tides right through the South Narrows. Some plate coral below and several tries to get the anchor set in about 40 feet—shallower had plate coral. We transited the South Narrows about one hour after high water and experienced about 3 ½ knots in our favor, some whirlpools but not dangerous. Very scenic through here. There is a village with a good market on the left as you exit.

[PJ] In Selat Butung (Butung Strait) we anchored off the village of Labuantobela and attended a fascinating local market to which most shoppers come by sailing canoe. At the next village only a mile further into the strait, we were able to wash clothes and enjoy a lovely refreshing shower under a waterfall. We'd been warned about aggressive small boys in the narrows north of Butung town and sure enough several canoe loads tried to board. One boy succeeded and we disposed of him only by prying him away from the rail and throwing him into the sea.

[SAR] Sulawesi/Butung Strait: We anchored at Libyan Blonde, the first little village just inside the strait and were given a tour by some of the local boys. The military base was a small structure on stilts, about five feet above ground level, with a wide porch on two sides. The porch was filled with men squatting in unmistakable Indo fashion (which would destroy any Westerner's legs and back) playing cards and dominoes. The houses were similar, but usually without the porch. The home we were privileged to visit had a main front room and one or two bedrooms beyond a curtained doorway, from behind which peered a couple of young women. Most of our contact was with men and boys. The women and girls were very curious, but almost painfully shy. The highlight of the tour was a visit to the elementary school. All classes were stopped when we arrived and the teachers and children came out to see us. The English teacher talked with us while the children giggled and stared. The girls seemed fascinated by the First Mate's clothes, hair and sun visor. We gave them a few books and some balloons and wish we had brought more. The people here are virtually starved for simple beginner books in English (they love to practice on you), but most adults speak no English at all. As for the baIloons, we were not sure they had ever seen one before. One of the boys jumped a foot when one of them popped! There is a striking difference between the local boats of Ambon and those in the Butung Straits. Most wonderful were the two-story water taxis with a group of tiny windows lining the sides. Whenever we passed one they always went out of their way to come near for a better look at us and the little windows were always jammed with waving arms and smiling faces. It is easy to anchor almost anywhere along the west side of Pulau Butung. Come dinner time we simply selected a spot, motored in to 20-30 feet and dropped the anchor in a sandy bottom with good holding. Then began the gradual migration of nearby fishermen to our spot. By morning we were generally surrounded by small fishing boats, sometimes nonchalantly fishing a few feet away and coming over only when they saw us come into the cockpit. Sometimes they actively knocked on the boat while calling out, "Hey mister, hey mister!" No one ever came on board uninvited, but many are the times little faces peered into our portholes while we were at anchor. It is a good idea not to run about naked inside your boat in Indo! The people have no conception of privacy or personal space in the sense that we are accustomed to. Eventually I taped paper over some of our more critical portholes.

[AL] Buton Strait was a charm, especially the people at the first anchorage at the north end, Labuan Belanda. At night the whole straits are one sea of lights: fishing again, canoes this time. There were several other nice anchorages in the Buton Straits, but we bypassed the major town, Bau Bau, as it was said to have hasseled yachts in the past.
[REN] At the end of the straits is the capital town of Bau Bau. As in all big villages or river mouths (usually both) the place was filthy and the smell near the river (and market) foul. Bau Bau means stink in Butonese. There are a hoard of "English students" hanging out by the harbor master and police where one must check in who will guide you around town simply to practice their English. Some of those I met really were there simply to practice English, others wanted a "guide fee" at the end or to be hired for some job or other. I said "No, sorry," to these latter with no hassles. All wanted to come out to the boat, it is a status thing, but be very careful if you do. The only boat that did, SUNFLOWER, was robbed the next day. Worse yet the robbers broke in using a machete the SUNFLOWERs had left in the cockpit, hacking the heck out of their companionway. They took mostly non-essential but pleasurable electronics - TV, portable radio, video machine, videos, walkman, the kids' electronic games, CD player and CD's, hand held VHF, none of the stuff was recovered.

The police and harbor master were extremely upset, however. I don't think they were concerned so much for the victims aS they were worried they would loose out on the annual yacht migration and the money it brings. At that point in the trip none of us knew the correct prices for things, how the system worked, or how to bargain well, so we were all being massively ripped off. At an exchange rate of 1.00USD:2,200 Rupiah it wasn't a great loss to us but was a great gain to them. Plus they get very few true tourists in Bau Bau so our habits of reprovisioning and touring were financial godsends. They wanted the yachts to come, they wanted the yachts to stay. They understood the power of SSB as they use it a lot. When we arrived 2 days later knowing all the details and behaving in a cautionary way they knew they had some reputation repairing to do.

A lot of official visits were paid to SUNFLOWER but I got the feeling that finding the items, useless here as they are 110 volt, was very secondary to saving face. Much more effort was spent trying to reassure the yachts that this would never happen again and taking us on free tours of the area. Mr. Rochman, and English teacher who actually spoke wonderful English, was appointed the government representative and tour guide. Every day he took a van load of tourists to see the old Portuguese fort and Sultan's palace (really a house) and out to a village that hand weaves saris and the beaches, with a stop at Mr. Rochmann's house at the end of each day where his wife made everyone tea and fried bananas. All the while he pleaded for us to stay longer and to pass on the offer of tours to incoming yachts. It partially worked. We all had a good time but we still took turns guarding the boats. Had they caught the thieves and punished them things might have been different.

[ARJ] Bau Bau has been a sultanate for several centuries enticing us on a tour up to the fortress and palace. An interesting town but one of the yachts was broken into using their own machete which was lying in the cockpit so take care. Later we heard that a second one was broken into also--with bolt cutters. Best to anchor just to the south of the main pier which happens to be in front of the police station--they can keep an eye on you there-but it's next to the noisy mosque! Each boat with problems was anchored by themselves. We felt safety in numbers so anchored with several others to the north of the pier, at 5( 27.44 S 122( 36.98 E. 30-50 ft. Mud. The local English teacher--Rahman (pronounced Rrrrock-man)--is a good find to take you on a tour of the highlights including hand weaving of traditional Buton cloth. (You can ask tor Rahman at the harbor master's office. Most people know the local English teacher!) Two markets in town. The best is south of town about 2 Ks on the beach called Pesar Meo Meo (or something similar!).

[PJ] At the south end of Selat Butung most yachts anchored precariously in front of Butung town on coral swept clean of sand by strong currents. We found good anchorage in sand, in a bay called Teluk Nambo, about three miles northwest of Butung. There was good anchorage in 35 feet, protected from seas and wind at the west end of Selat Emilia, with the light bearing 200(T.
[CG2] Bau Bau: The town, on the SW coast of Butung is the main trading town in the area, where provisions are available from the shops & market. When you arrive, see the Harbor Master, near the Ferry Terminal at the eastern end of town. The commercial area is around the river mouth where you can take a becak to the markets, called Pasar Sentral. The town is small enough to walk around and has a number of restaurants complete with Kareoke systems and the old palace "Wolio Kraton" is just a short walk and worth a visit. Money can be difficult to change here. Take care, the current is very strong in this area and there are piles cut off at the high water height in the middle of the mooring basin.

[STST] The small city of Bau Bau (or Buton) was the next stop, where we reported to the harbormaster (2 copies of everything!). Local English students, who are teenagers, adopt each crew and are extremely helpful with all aspects of your visit here. It is their only chance to speak English and they do not expect payment, however, we gave a delightful 20 year old young lady gifts of makeup, hats and magazines. There is a Sultan's Palace here, and a fortified wall built in 1590 that can be seen by bemo. Meals along the quayside and in the little Bir Bunting restaurant by the sea wall were delicious and very cheap (as little as $2 to $5 US for two people). Seafood, especially squid (chumi chumi), is a local specialty. August 17th is Independence Day and a good time to visit here as they have several days of parades and festivities. Almost everything can be found in this small city, with perseverance.

Pulau Suimru's west facing bay is extremely deep, over 400 feet, but anchorge can be had on a sand shelf extending from the reef in front of the only village (05 40 24S, 122 28 14E). We spent an afternoon here before a night crossing to the Tiger Islands. The locals here, unfortunately, are dynamiting the reef to catch tiny fish. Not only was it startling for us, but a dreadful mis-management of their fishery.
[CG2] As you head south from Bau Bau, the islands Pulau Kadatang and Pulau Siampu are worth a visit, as they are unspoiled and pretty as a postcard.

[AL] Progressing along the bottom end of Sulawesi we had a nice anchorage at Telaga Besar (N side), and a less nice one at Saleier (W side). Next anchorage was right smack in the midde of a bay full of fishtraps, in Laikang Bay. There was just no other place to anchor.

[ ARJ] Telaga Island So of Kabaena Island was an overnight stop--no village--5( 30.33 S 122( 01.37 E 45 ft. Sand. Sounds of regular dynamiting of the reef were evident. An illegal practice but it still occurs.
[PJ] Sogori Atoll at 5' 24 S, 121' 46 E, looked interesting on the chart but there was no shelter in the lagoon and only precarious anchorage on the edge of the reef north of the island. The island was strikingly beautiful and swimming was excellent in warm shallow water over white sand, but we did not like the anchorage so sailed on towards Sulawesi. Another yacht who elected to remain there drifted on the reef in the night when the wind came around to the north.

[CG2] Liukan Island (sp?) 05' 35 E, 120' 26 S

As you approach this island from Ambon heading west, it is best to pass on the north side and keep out of the east going current that runs during the SE monsoon.

Tana Biru This is the center of the prau building industry in Sulawesi, and boats in various stages of construction stretch for almost a kilometre along the foreshore. The town offers a number of hotels & restaurants. Caution should be exercised sailing within 5 mi of shore, especially at night due to the hundreds of fishing nets and unlit fish traps that use these waters: to avoid any problems, keep 10 mi offshore.
[ ARJ] Tanah Beru a most interesting stay where 100-200 boats were under construction on the beach. The only cold beer in town is at Anda Home Stay on the main road north of where we anchored. There is an open market in town which we didn't visit. Took a bemo for 500 rupiah each to Biro on the east coast about 30 minute ride to see the really large pinisi boats under construction. Our anchorage: 5( 32.06 S; 120( 21.38 E. 45 ft Sand. Locals returned a discarded board which we'd left on the beach!

[PJ] The Pilot correctly forecast lighter winds and calmer seas west of Selat Salayar at the southeast end of Sulawesi and we found a quiet and fascinating anchorage off the village of Tanah Beru, not marked on the chart but lying 10' east-northeast of charted Bulukumba. On the village beach, 141 traditional sailing vessels measuring up to 20 metres in length could be counted under construction. They were made entirely of teak. The planks, usually about two inches thick, were sawn by hand in saw pits using long two-handled saws, then drilled edge to edge by hand and eye, and fastened with wooden trennels. As the sides rose they were held by chains tightened or loosened to form the shape of the hull, and when it was to the shipwright's liking, massive frames were cut and fastened inside. The lines, particularly forward, were sweeping and graceful. We were fortunate, during dinner in the vilIage restaurant, to talk to a shipwright who spoke English well. He would build a boat in teak 17 metres in length for $US 35,000 exclusive of motor, ballast and bowsprit but including sails handmade in the village.

The Pilot warned of strong winds at the southwest tip of Sulawesi and as usual it was right. Soon after leaving Tanah Beru, we were reaching at seven knots under headsail alone and were hard put even with our engine to enter Teluk Malasoro. The views of that bay in the Pilot were not helpful and the entrance was obstructed by fish traps. A large local vessel entered close northwest of the traps and we did likewise on a course of 220(T. with a least depth of 30 feet until past the traps. We then turned southeast to a comfortable depth. The wind continued to blow inside at upward of 40 knots, but holding was excellent in 12 feet. There was no sea and we spent a comfortable night.

[ARJ] Ujung Pandang anchorage 5( 08.4 S 119( 24.0 E. 15 ft Sandy mud, in front of Makassar Golden Hotel. 6th largest city. Great city!! Join Makassar Regatta on Indonesian Independence Day 17 August. We sailed with the Sandeq fleet among us--local racing trimarans with skinny hulls and massive sail plans-look like giant water spiders! There were cash prizes and a box lunch, tea & rolls at the Makassar Golden, entertainment at the governor's mansion, and a trip to the waterfalls--all included for free! Last year's regatta was the 6th and a biggie because of the 50th independence celebrations. Negotiate with Arif (Arif's Marine & Yacht Services) to do clearance into U. P. for 20,000 rp. He at first asked US$50! He calls himself The Problem Solver and was able to get a 3 month extension for one yacht's personal visas from their initial 5 weeks. Will also do CAITs for 300,000rp we heard! Plus escort you all around town getting boat repairs facilitated. (Arifuddin Hamid, JL. Gelora Massa No. 48, Ujung Pandang, Indonesia. Bus Ph: 0411-447401 ; Res Ph: 0411-444118. Calling from outside Indonesia change the 0411 to 62-411 .) When you arrive he comes out to the boat in fairly short order if he's not off chasing something.

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