|Mon 31 Aug 98
0430hrs: Someone hailing the boat from a small boat nearby. Martin’s firm voice booms out brooking no argument tells him to go away … or similar words to that effect..Dawn: The village seems to have partied most of the night. Possibly to do with all the baptisms. It’s now awake with all sorts of noises; music, chainsaws, chooks you name it.0830hrs: Boat slowly wakes up. Lambert turns up 1½ hrs before his 10am appointment. Have breakfast and coffees. Settle on a price with Lambert. He wants Rp30000 plus Rp10000 (total A$6.56) for his son who will come along to help with the boat. The price is all inclusive but we agree privately amongst ourselves to give him more at the end of the day.
1000hrs: Everyone climbs into Lambert’s boat and we start heading over to Nuyanat Is. Uneventful 10 min trip. Tide’s in but the water is shallow along the beach. A bit of exploration is in order so we walk along the beach around the circumference of the island. This takes a couple of hours beachcombing along the way.
At the western end Lambert shows us a gravesite nicely laid out and framed with stones. It’s well kept with sea shells at its head. He tells us this is the grave of 3 Australian soldiers from WW2. He doesn’t know how they died. The grave is located next to the shore in the middle of a small camp regularly used by local fishermen as an overnight stop. Quite a well established and well used place. Beautiful spot. It’s touching to think that the locals have maintained this grave after all this time.
1300hrs: Feeling hungry so sitting under a small palm frond roofed shelter we have a picnic of damper, salsa, rice crackers, tinned tuna, fresh fruit and lollies. Lambert and his son join in.
1400hrs: Feeling sleepy but the fleas and the ants chewing on the remains of someone’s past fish meals persuade us to leave our little hut and sit under a tree on the beach. Everyone to their own devices but mostly reading and snoozing.
1630hrs: The tide has gone right out and not much water to swim in. The troops grab some shampoo and wash their hair while sitting in what water is available in little tide pools. Everyone is freezing cold when they get out.
Left: A standard tiga-rowa used in the Tanimbars. These have a different design to other areas in Indonesia. Note the raised section on the hull. The material for the sails is pretty much used everywhere. It’s the sort of plastic stuff that shopping bags and carry bags are made out of.
1700hrs: Back on Lowana IV Lambert is offered Rp50000 (an extra Rp10000). He promptly reneges on his original price wanting an extra Rp30000 for the boat as well. Great care had been taken this morning to ensure the boat and everything was included. It’s annoying, not for the money but for the principle of it so we give him Rp60000 (A$10.00) and refuse to give him any more. He then starts asking for apples and lollies. He’s firmly shown off the yacht. The frick!
A youngish man comes out offering to sell us some weaving’s. He asks a ridiculous Rp500,000 which is refused under the normal conventions of bartering. A counter offer of Rp90000 is made which he in turn refuses. He returns to shore.
1800hrs: Now we have another visitor who wants to exchange an Australian 20c coin for Rupiah. No one is much interested but Martin gives him Rp1000 anyway to get rid of him.
He then proceeds to stick around the boat as persistent as a bush fly. That in itself isn’t a problem but the sharp points on his outriggers are butting with the waves against the fibreglass dingy and Lowana IV’s hull, and it’s causing me some concern. He can’t be persuaded to leave by words, gestures or grimaces. At least not until a certain skipper directs a couple of choice and well known Indonesian words at him, at a volume sufficient to ensure he would hear if he were deaf. He then paddles away with feigned dignity and doesn’t look back. Today seems to be smarty pants day!
1840hrs: Martin washes our impressive collections of sea shells. Have some quite large clam shells amongst others. Each of the girls has almost collected enough shells to make an entire dinner set. Girls are cooking tea. No fish bought today so we’re having a dried meat dish instead. Looking forward to it.
Evening: Some sundowners. A little less enthusiastic tonight. Lovely dinner of mince and pasta. The girls experiment with a damper made of bicarb soda, capsicum and olives. Ahh … no comment …
2200hrs: Listen to forecast. No messages for us. Variable SE winds up to 10 knots for our region.
Tue 1 Sep 98
0900hrs: The chap with the weavings yesterday returns. He’s obviously been consulting the actual weaver ashore since he’s now happy to sell both pieces for Rp90000 (A$14.75). These weaving’s are original hand woven material made of cotton which they spin and dye from natural colourings. While not expensive by our standards it’s actually quite a handy sum by theirs.
Can’t blame them from trying. You will often be quoted a price in Indonesia which on the face of it, by western standards sometimes seems quite reasonable. One must always keep in mind the average wage here, what constitutes a fair price and what the local cost of living actually is.
When looked at in this light some of the initial bids can be quite outrageous. Our crew was mindful that if westerners simply pay out the first or even second price asked, even if they think they are getting a reasonable deal they will spoil it for those who follow. And the prices forever will be seriously inflated whenever a new visitor appears.
1000hrs: Breakfasting. Check charts and pilot books for navigation and anchorage details. Today we intend to head off to Olendir Harbour on the northern side of this island. Reasonable length sail. Just a gentle breeze at the moment. Glorious day. Seas calm. Quick swimmies beside the boat. Some local boats sail past. Looks like they are having a race.
1030hrs: Square everything away. Turn key to start the motor and it coughs. Oh no! Shades of Cullen Bay again!
Decompress the cylinders then spin the motor which pumps out the best part of a cup or more of water out of the #1 cylinder via the air filter (unmentionables here from the skipper). This is the same new cylinder installed by our diesel mechanic before leaving Darwin.
Get all the water out of the cylinders and re-lubricate them. Start the motor as normal. Big gush of rusty water spews out of the exhaust (unmentionables once more …. ) Not good. The salt water has probably been sitting in the cylinder barrel for the last couple of days!
Test compression. No problem with either cylinder so at least we don’t seem to have any cracks in the block this time. The cause is either going to be a leaking gasket seal or the water has back-siphoned when the motor was last turned off. The seacock allowing cooling seawater for the motor had been left open so this is the most probable cause. The siphon-break system allowing air into the system must have failed although it seems to be functional.
Am highly reluctant to pull the motor down to have a look for two reasons:
Think it over. I’m fairly sure it will be okay to continue our journey with the motor. It seems to be happy enough but am not sure what, if any, long term damage is being done by continuing to run it. Would really appreciate a second opinion.
Have no radio transmit facility so cannot make a Radphone call to our mechanic back in Australia. Decide my best option is to return to Saumlaki, have a chat to the mechanic on the phone and decide options from there. If we actually do need a diesel mechanic we should be able to find one there as well.
Raise and secure the dinghy. During the process half the skippers fishing rod goes overboard into 15m of water. Gone … This is NOT a good day. At least the end with the reel manages to stay on board. Skipper is NOT happy today.
1105hrs: Anchor comes up clean. No mud. Turn the boat towards Saumlaki. Motor sailing at this time due to headwinds. Wind is ENE and travelling close hauled.
1430hrs: Drop the anchor off Saumlaki. Uneventful trip motor sailing the whole way. Motor seems to be working just fine with both cylinders functioning fully.
Distance Adaut-Saumlaki 14.6 nm. Total motor hours 531hrs to date.
1500hrs: Lower the dinghy and Martin and I motor over to the Harbour Masters Office. Closed. Office hours 0800-1300hrs. Good hours for that job! Head off to the Telephone Office. Unable to get through to the mechanics mobile phone number. Leave a message on his home answering machine that we will call back again tonight.
1700hrs: Leave Martin at the Harapan Indah hotel. Take a cold drink out to the girls and on climbing back aboard find they’d been busy. They’d bought 16 fish for Rp3000 (A$0.50, cleaned them and are now baking them.
1830hrs: Everyone ashore for a mandy, a drink and for me to make my phone call to the mechanic. Meet Martin at the hotel who decides he wants to stay ashore for the night. Talk to Ronnie. This is Mama’s daughter and runs the hotel. She speaks very good English and tells us there is a very good mechanic with a workshop nearby if we need him. She said he works on all the fishing boats and coastal trader boats and is considered to be quite good.
Dusk: Sit on the hotel boat deck admiring the sunset. Water is completely flat and still reflecting everything perfectly on the water. Picture postcard stuff. Lovely setting.
1930hrs: Ring our mechanics home number and speak to his wife. He’s in Perth. She gives me a couple of numbers to try. Manage to contact him in Perth. His opinion re-enforces mine that it’ll be okay to keep going, but adds I should keep an eye on the oil for any water. He suggests as an afterthought to re-torque (tighten) the cylinder head.
So we go on. We will need to watch the oil and compression and we will turn off the sea cock every time with the motor. And we must check the cylinder barrels for water each time prior to starting motor. We subsequently had no hint of problems or any sign of water in either cylinder.
2000hrs: Inform the crew at the hotel that we’ll be continuing the trip tomorrow instead of going home. They greet the news with enthusiasm. Delma and Ann want to do some shopping for a few things before we go.
2045hrs: The terrible duo return to the boat. Get the fish warmed up for dinner and watch the Indonesian news on the TV. Later we sit in the bright moonlight in the cockpit enjoying the lights reflecting on the still water of the harbour, drinking hot tea and chocolate before going to bed.
Wed 2 Sep 98
0800hrs: Almost completely still today. The sun has some bite already.
0900hrs: Hear a ‘cooee’ outside. Strange call for an Indonesian to use. Look outside a porthole and a young Aussie bloke named Anthony is sitting in a dugout with an Indonesian friend. Invite him and his mate aboard for coffee. He’d been in the Darwin to Ambon Race and has been island hopping on his way home.
His mate comes from a village on the Tanimbars west coast but Anthony had met him in Ambon. They’d only just arrived in Saumlaki last night on a coastal trader from the village. Seems a nice fellow and he really appreciates the coffee. Seems to have been living a little rough lately and looking for a trip back home to Australia. Of course we can’t help him.
We find out later he stayed for almost 3 weeks and left just 2 days before we got back here. The inter-island ferries and airplane services are not all that reliable here.
0930hrs: Girls take off to shore while I check the motor. No sign of any water in cylinders or in the oil. Starts good. Sounds good. Worries allayed somewhat. Everything looks fine motor wise.
1030hrs: Crew comes back with Martin. They’re carrying little cakes for the skipper for breakfast. Get a couple of small paint-brushes for Rp1500 each so that a small hole in the fibreglass dinghy can be repaired later on. Hoist the dinghy up. Stow away gear. Finish the washing up. All shipshape again.
1055hrs: Anchor clear of bottom. Start heading out of Saumlaki Harbour once more but this time heading for Olendir Harbour on the north side of Selaru Island.
MORE TO FOLLOW