Anchorages – Phuket, Thailand to Saumlaki, Indonesia
Popeye 1 is a Beneteau First 47.7 with the deep draft keel of 2.85m. We sailed from Phuket, Thailand to Darwin, Australia and onto The Whitsundays from March-August 2017.
Published 5 years ago, updated 4 years ago
A PDF of this article with Google Earth slides of the majority of anchorages can be downloaded here.
We used a combination of Noonsite info (a great, big thanks to Susan Bright from SY Yindee Plus and her fabulous detailed anchorages – particularly after we sailed off the edge of the guidebooks!), Cruising Guide to SE Asia Vol II, Southeast Asia Pilot, 101 Anchorages of the Indonesian Archipelago and The Cruising Guide to Indonesia (2017).
All the books are written for east to the west passage so we had to use them backwards. We also had to be a little careful with the descriptions of entering the anchorages as they were often described as approached from the E/SE.
We left Phuket Yacht Haven on 23 February and arrived in Hamilton Island on 27 July 2017.
Formalities in Indonesia:
Things get a little confusing when trying to figure out the new rules. Even the 2017 edition of The Cruising Guide to Indonesia has not been fully revised and still references visits to the harbour master. Basically, it is all very simple. Check in when you first enter Indonesia and check out when you leave. There is no need to check in at each port.
We renewed our visas in Lovina, Bali. This is the best office in Bali to do it as it is quiet. You will need a new letter from your sponsor requesting the extension (Raymond from Sail2Indonesia will know exactly what you need) and it must be addressed to the right immigration office. It will take three visits over about a week.
- Pick up, fill out and submit the forms. Be sure to have your passport, a copy of the photo page, a copy of the visa page, your sponsor letter and a copy of their ID. We also had our port clearance documentation. We did get ‘interviewed’ but it was mostly being interested in what we were doing. All took about an hour. They will tell you when to return.
- Have photos and fingerprints taken? Took all of 10 minutes. They will tell you when to return.
- Pick up the passport. Took about 5 minutes!
You may be told it is illegal to rock up to the service station and fill your jerry cans with diesel. It is not, but as foreigners, we are unable to buy the subsidized diesel and must buy ‘solar non-subsidy’. Diesel prices across Indonesia are standardized and non-subsidy solar was Rp7300/litre. We did pay more when we had others fill our jerry cans – we were happy to pay for the convenience. Not all service stations have non-subsidy solar so we have noted the locations of the places we purchased it in the anchorage notes. Some places charged us Rp5000 per jerry can fill them.
We kept our receipts to show we had purchased non-subsidy fuel but were never challenged.
We filtered all fuel through a Baja filter prior to putting it in our tank. We did not have any of the issues with fuel that had been reported by some cruisers. When we filled directly from the Pertamina service station, the fuel was always clean. In Kumai and Belitung when we had it brought to the boat, the quality was not as good. Also, be aware of ‘Indolitres’. Quantities purchased from the service station were more ‘accurate’ than those brought to the boat.
‘But what about pirates?” was the most asked question we received. In recent years, piracy against cruising sailors has reduced significantly – particularly in the Malacca Strait and through Indonesia. There are still hotspots, we wouldn’t choose to sail in the Sulu Sea just now but we know of people who have.
We did not have any issues with pirates, petty left or uninvited boardings. We did have large fishing boats change course and come charging towards us waving. All they wanted was to say hello and take a photo. It was disconcerting the first time but after that, to their mirth, we would take photos of them too.
Light skin to an Indonesian indicates that the individual does not work outside so has a higher social standing than someone who is tanned and dark. Therefore a lot of labourers and fisherman wear balaclavas to stop tanning (and burning). A boatload of balaclava-ed men gestating wildly can be misinterpreted as threatening when it is simply a group of curious fisherman coming over to say hello.
That said the due caution you would take in any foreign environment is wise. We had the outboard and fuel locked into the dinghy, we would lock the dinghy to the boat overnight, we locked the boat when we left, the dinghy when onshore and we never carried great wads of cash. We did not have a single issue.
Yongkasem Bay, Ko Phi Phi 07°44’44”N 98°45’48”E
Monkey Beach, one of our favourites away from the craziness that is Phi Phi. There are three orange Parks moorings you can pick up in about 16m of water. We have also anchored in ~10m on the east side of the bay just off the white snorkelling bouys. Make sure you tuck in behind the headland enough so you do not have to listen to the doof of parties from the resorts across the bay.
Dinghy access to the beach is straight forward but going to the main Phi Phi resort area gets very shallow at low tide.
We have anchored/moored there half a dozen times and not once asked to pay the Park’s fee (400baht/person/day and 100baht for the boat)
Page 67 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Ko Rok 07°13’40”N 99°04’28”E
We picked up a Park’s mooring on the south end of the bay. This is preferable over anchoring due to the coral. Snorkelling was superb. The Rangers did come by and collect the fee, although they did not charge us for the boat as were had checked out of Thailand. One of our favourite anchorages…
Page 94 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Datai Bay 06°18’11”N 99°40’10”E
Great holding in 10m on very muddy mud! We weathered a short but vicious squall with 35kn winds and lightning strikes way too close for comfort. Despite some crazy swinging, we did not move an inch. We brought up great chunks of mud with the anchor and rued our lack of an anchor wash!
Page 134 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Royal Langkawi Yacht Club 06°18’11”N 99°51’00”E
We have not used any of the other marinas around Langkawi because we are usually racing the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta so we returned to what we know. A slightly tricky current can run through the marina and there can be a little ferry wash in some pens but it is handy to check in/out at the Kuah ferry terminal and has all the amenities.
Paul from Nautical Bits is very helpful. We had to replace our house batteries so he assisted us with that. He also sat down with a chart and imparted his wisdom and experience on anchorages down the Malacca Straits.
Page 133 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Hole In the Wall 06°25’13”N 99°52’06”E
Whoops, weren’t we supposed to head south?
We had never been into Hole in the Wall so decided to circumnavigate Langkawi before heading south. The charts are completely off here! We cut through the islands following a series of sounding someone had kindly shared on Navionics. We found these very accurate. We were rarely in less than 15m of water despite the charts showing under 2m.
Once through the “Hole”, we tiptoed up the river but lost our nerve, returned and anchored in about 6m of water near the mouth. Then the tide went out! We found ourselves in the river channel with a healthy 1m under the keel but a mere two boat lengths from the mud flats! We spent a couple of nights, exploring by dinghy and watching the monkeys hunt for crabs at low tide.
Page 135 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Pulau Borau 06°21’35”N 99°39’55”E
We chose this shallow bay for its proximity to the cable car! We had to anchor a distance out in around 6m on the sand. It was very handy to the cable car, particularly as the resort shuttle gave us a free ride. (The 3D Art Gallery is kitschy but a hoot!)
Page 135 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Telak Dayang Bunting 06°11’40”N 99°46’45”E
We anchored in 8m on sand a little way out due to our draft. We took the dinghy in to explore Princess Lake careful not to dip our toes in the fertile waters and explored the small beaches around the coastline.
Page 137 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Penang 05°27’35”N 100°18’55”E
Due to our draft, we had to anchor almost a nautical mile off the Straits Quay Marina. We know this anchorage well as it is a stop on the Raja Muda Regatta. Good holding on the sand in about 6m but exposed to the N/NW so we had a fairly bumpy time of it. There is a major reclamation project going on to the south so we were entertained with the comings and goings of barges.
An easy dinghy ride into the marina and transport available to head to Georgetown and explore this great place. Sam’s Grocery is handy in the marina complex and there is a Tesco about a kilometre up the road to the north. Everything is available!
There is a 2kn current that runs between the island and the mainland so timing is everything! Tide floods from N to S. so the tidal stream is south flowing. We checked out of Malaysia here as we had advice it was easier than in Malacca or Port Dickson.
Page 131 Southeast Asia Pilot.
Pulau Kendi 05° 14’ 07” N 100° 10’ 55” E
A handy stop that cuts a few hours off the passage to Pangkor and allows you to time the tides. Surprisingly well protected from all directions and a lot of fishing boats resting. We anchored in about 10m on the sand and had a very restful night’s sleep.
Pangkor 04°14’07”N 100°32’58”E
Due to the westerly wind chopping up the anchorage at the north of the bay, we tucked into this little cove off the resort, at slack tide… We were securely anchored but spent the night swinging around and around and around on a little eddy that developed as the tide came in and out. Perfect anchorage at slack tide!
Our anchor took a bit of getting up next morning and we assumed it was due to being twisted until we discovered a second anchor and half a fishing net attached!
Pulau Sembilan 04° 00’ 30” N 100° 32’ 55” E
We chose to anchor here to cut some time off the passage to Port Klang, so we could day sail and arrive in daylight. We have experienced entering Klang at night and chose not to repeat it!
A safe anchorage in any season said the chart. What it failed to mention was the 3kn current that raged between the islands and the karaoke that went on all night from shore! We anchored in about 10m on the sand, very solid anchorage but only 50m or so off the shore. This allowed us to fully enjoy the karaoke until we left at 4 am bound for Klang.
Port Klang 02° 52’ 48” N 101° 17’ 20” E
This is a gem of an anchorage. In the past, we have been into Royal Selangor Yacht Club with its vicious river current and need to negotiate through the port. To enter this anchorage, we could scoot around outside the Angsa Banks, missing much of the shipping traffic and pop into the river mouth having crossed just one well-defined shipping channel.
The anchorage was calm with a mild tidal current. We were in about 8m in mud off the mangroves. The river was devoid of all the rubbish that comes down the Klang River and lines the mudbanks around the Yacht Club. The only traffic was the pilot boats coming in and out, they would toot and wave if they saw us on deck.
Water Islands 02° 06’ 12” N 102° 19’ 51” E
With our draft, we were unable to tuck in too close and suffered a bit of wind chop. Once the wind died down, it was magically calm and we watched the procession of ships chugging up and (in the far distance) down the Straits. We were anchored in about 6m on the sand.
Pulau Pisang 01°27’32”N 103°15’21” E
Similar to the Water Islands, we couldn’t tuck in out of the wind. We anchored in about 10m. The wind died down after sunset and we had a very comfortable night.
Tanjung Piai 01° 15’ 51” N 103° 31’ 22” E
Great for its proximity to Singapore – we checked in at Sisters. We had a very comfortable night protected by the new breakwater in the west. With all the reclamation work going on, we think our anchorage will be on dry land very soon!
Singapore now required the use of an agent. We used Craft Docket LLP (email: [email protected]). They sent us all the documents for check-in via email and told us exactly what to print. They met us at the marina and handled everything. Two days before we checked out, they came with our document package so all we had to do was hand it over to CQI at Sisters. Very straight-forward and easy.
The crew of the customs boat amused themselves by singing “Popeye, the sailor man” over their loudspeaker and asked if they could photograph the boat.
Marina at Keppel Bay 01°15’53”N 103°48’47”E
Initially, we were a bit terrified at the prospect of negotiating into Singapore through all those ships. Friends gave us tips on coming in…
Plan to anchor off Tanjung Piai for the night and then fresh start into Singapore on Saturday. Start early and motor through the anchorages. Watch for ships into and out of Tanjong Pelepas. Then proceed across Sinki Fairway and behind Pulau Bukom straight to Sisters Island. Call Western Immigration on channel 74 and they will check you in. Then proceed to Marina at Keppel Bay. Ch 77 VHF.
We will have streamers and cold champagne on the dock.
A piece of cake! We had to dodge a couple of ships but otherwise had a straightforward passage to Sisters, cleared customs then onto MKB and the promised champagne!
We selected Keppel Bay Marina because we have friends who live there on their 60ft Cooper. It is also very handy to Sisters to check in and out. The marina itself is great for the yacht but lacks amenities for the crew! They do not have a pool, which in Singapore is a travesty. Their laundry service is at hotel prices ($4 for a shirt, $2 for knickers….) and their restaurant is on the pricey side, even with the discount.
It is, however, awfully convenient to the sights and sounds of Singapore so we had a blast.
Nongsa Point Marina 01°11’50”N 104°05’51”E
Expensive but had all the amenities. Prakash and his team were fabulous and arranged all our paperwork to check into Indonesia. (If you stay at Nongsa Point Marina, it is mandatory that they do this, for a fee of $100.) We lazed in the pool while they zipped off to immigration and returned with our passports duly stamped.
Coming into the marina, be sure you are in the left-hand ‘marina’ channel and not the right-hand ‘ferry’ channel. There are signs on the channel marks.
Page 236 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Sempulang 00°52’14”N 104°15’07”E
Good holding 6-10m in the sand. We had strong favourable currents (3kn) all the way from Nongsa and sailed most of the way.
Page 235 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Mesanak 00°26’00”N 104°31’30”E
Good holding in ~8m. Quite a long way out from the beach due to our draft. A local came out and offered us a ride into the beach. No English so we found our phrasebook very useful. A fair current through the anchorage but very calm. A squall came through about 4 am. 25-30kn wind but little rain. Lasted about half an hour.
Page 233 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Kongka Besar 00°04’43”S 104°51’40”E
We crossed the Equator in glorious sunshine and under sail, sacrificing some of our precious Mount Gay Rum to King Neptune.
Lovely anchorage tucked in near the stilted village. Excellent holding in 5-8m. Locals waved as they passed in their boats but no one approached us. Another early morning squall, short but lashed by rain.
Page 230 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Tanjung Kalayang, Belitung 02°33’35”S 107°40’12”E
Paradise found! We followed the waypoints as described in the Cruising Guide to Indonesia and anchored on the sand in about 8m of water. We could see the reefs through the clear water and they are everywhere! Quite a long dinghy ride to the beach. There is no public transport on the island but a car and driver can be hired for Rp500,000 per day.
We highly recommend Evan whose café is at the base of the pier. He arranged laundry, beer, diesel (solar), gasoline (bensin) for our dinghy and acted as tour guide. Our clothes came back perfectly clean, dry, ironed and smelling fabulous. The best laundry service we have experienced to date. Fuel was conveniently brought to the boat. We did filter it and it wasn’t the cleanest but we did not have any issues with it after filtering. And the food at the café was cheap and delicious. We arranged for a few meals to take away for ease on our long passage to Kumai.
Agree with SY Yindee Plus that the market prices were on the high side but most things we needed were available.
Evan took us in a fabulous tour which included Danau Kaolin, the Tarsier monkey sanctuary, the Belitung museum and we chanced upon a Bird Singing competition.
The snorkelling around Bird’s Head Rock was amongst the best we have done. The climb to the top of the Lengkuas Lighthouse is well worth the effort and look out for turtles, they pop up all over. A beautiful location, we stayed a week and loved every moment.
Page 225 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Kumai River, Kalimantan 02°44’21’S 111°43’25”E
The 300nm crossing from Belitung was uneventful. There were surprisingly few fishing boats and consequently, few nets/pots. Conditions were fairly calm so we managed only about 10 hours of sailing. We were also fortunate to dodge most of the squalls and ran through the ‘boat wash’ only once.
With nerves of steel, we followed the waypoints given in the Cruising Guide to Indonesia into Kumai River. Timing would have us both coming and going on the bottom half of the tide. We comfortably slipped over the bar with a full half metre under our 2.85m keel! The charts are way off and had us happily cruising across the land. We anchored in the river across from the Tanjung Putting Jetty in 6-8m of water. Fair current in the river.
Liesa from CV Satria Majid Tour meets us in her speed boat. By the time she left, we had arranged a 3 day/2 night tour in the National Park, diesel, laundry and they provided a shuttle service to and from the boat at all to save us inflating the dingy. She and her husband Majid can provide all sorts of boat services – they helped out an Aussie family with some engine spares while we were there. They were fabulous and we would recommend their service. We paid Rp 10k/litre for diesel, a premium but they picked up our jerries from the boat and returned them filled. Not lugging, hefting or thinking required on our part so we were happy to pay for the convenience. The fuel was a little dark but once through our filters, it caused no issues.
The tour was absolutely amazing. We saw all the major critters, the food was outstanding and plentiful and the cold beer on return from activities very welcome! Part of the service was to put a boat boy on Popeye to ensure nobody boarded her or she ended up in the mangroves 10nm downriver. Great peace of mind.
Our crew had jumped ship and stayed onshore so we joined them for a night after the tour. We booked into Liesa’s hotel for the princely sum of $30 with breakfast. Air conditioning – a rare and welcome treat! June – August gets very busy in the National Park and there can be over 100 klotoks making the stops very crowded. It seems we inadvertently landed on great timing with April being fairly quiet with only about 15 klotoks – most of them with only two people aboard.
Page 221 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Bawean – North Anchorage 05°43’47”N 112°40’14”E
The reef to the east is marked with a white flag. Be cautious as the reef does extend a little further than you would imagine, keep to the middle of the bay. We had an unfortunate incident, ending up on the reef, all turned out well but scared the bejesus out of us! There are a couple of soft drink bottles tied to a coral head in the middle of the bay. Steer clear of that too!
A great anchorage on the sand in 4-8m water. We did have a very uncomfortable night the first night when a swell came in from the NW and we rocked and rolled all night but the anchor was sound. Once this died out, it was dead calm. Beautiful scenery with the ubiquitous mosque call-to-prayer and cock calls in the pre-dawn.
Head to the beach at the top of the bay, the reef extends along both sides. It is about a kilometre to walk into the town. You will likely be offered a ride. Everyone is very friendly, you will be treated like a celebrity and you are asked for a ‘selfie’ at every turn!
Hartono (who runs the warung on the left, just before the bridge in town – if you pass the police station, you have gone too far) helped us with diesel, on-shore accommodations for crew and arranged a tour of the island hitting all the high points. His buddy with the car, car-owning buddy’s best mate, Hartono himself, his two kids and Grandpa all accompanied us on this tour! It made for great fun.
Despite its source, the diesel was cleaner than what we purchased in Kumai and we paid Rp7000/litre.
Page 204 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Banya Wedang Bay (Bali) 08°08’12”N 114°33’51”E
Beautiful, well-protected bay. It is an easy entry despite the narrow entrance with the reefs being very obvious. We anchored off the Menjangan Dynasty Resort in about 16m. Big anchorage with plenty of room for us and the five other yachts anchored when we arrived. It could hold many more.
The Resort was very welcoming and allowed us to use their facilities for Rp 200k which we could then use towards food and drinks. Prices a tad on the high side (for Indonesia) but a beautiful location. We could get their wifi from the boat but it was very slow so we found it better to sit at the bar! Kama Gede, the F&B Manager was fabulous – we took him as crew to Lovina – most photographed leg of our trip!
The location was a little inconvenient but we loved the security of the anchorage and it was very peaceful when compared to even Lovina and a far cry from the chaos of Kuta. It took about an hour to get to Lovina and the immigration office by road. We used Nyoman (balidriverhire.com) whom we rented by the day for about USD50. He ferried us to and from the immigration office, supermarket, local market and toured us around the island. He was punctual, his English adequate, his driving skills excellent, his vehicle was clean and in good repair and, importantly, all his seatbelts worked. He helped us purchase non-subsidy diesel (solar) and arranged laundry. This was the best and cheapest (US$3/10kg) laundry we had done in Indonesia. It was perfectly dry, beautifully folded and smelt wonderful. We would highly recommend him (and feel free to use our name).
We paid Rp7300/litre plus Rp5000/jerry can to fill. Nyoman drove us to the service station where we could purchase it – it seems there is only one in Singaraja. (Pertamina Service station is at 8°07.614’S 115°04.757’E) We had a receipt showing it was non-subsidy but no receipt for the jerry can charge. The diesel was very clean. Refuelling from Lovina is more convenient.
We left our dinghy at the eastern end of the bay on the concrete jetty. The tide does rise and fall a couple of metres here so beware when tying up your dinghy. We locked it securely the first day only to come back and find that it had been moved and retired as the tide had fallen. After that, we just left it tied up – it was always there when we came back, but sometimes had been moved!
Page 195 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Lovina, Bali 08°09’44”S 115°01’24”E
Big anchorage open to the N/NW. Bit rolly. A boat came and met us and showed us where to anchor. They offered to arrange diesel etc, we assume they are involved with Sail2Indonesia. We gave them a packet of cigarettes for their help (they were delighted) by we had already arranged with Nyoman (balidriverhire.com – see Banya Wedang notes) to meet us for fuel and laundry.
We topped up with clean diesel, knowing the quality was likely to fall off as we progressed east and Nyoman dropped off our laundry – we had given him our sheets and towels when we left Banya Wedang Bay
There are lots of tourists and so good amenities onshore. We could even purchase hamburgers and buns for a rare Canadian-style BBQ!
Banya Wedang is a better anchorage if you intend to stay in Bali for a while although not as convenient. Suggest refuelling and provisioning in Lovina and anchoring in Banya Wedang for rest and relaxation!
Page 194 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Amed, Bali 08°20’30”S 115°38’49”E
We had about 20kn of wind through the anchorage all night but the water was calm. The bottom rises quickly so we anchored in about 20m and streamed back to about 7m when the wind swung around. Good holding. The main hazards where kites – kids love to fly their kites as high as they can and sometimes they crash into the water. They use fishing line… We pulled up one with our anchor.
Stunning views over the majestic Agung volcano. Worth anchoring here just to watch the sunset.
Page 193 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Gili Air (Lombok) 08°21’42”S 116°05’04”E
We picked up a mooring as suggested in The Cruising Guide to Indonesia. It was very windy through the day (20-25kn) but the wind died out in the early evening. About 10 pm, a tour boat came in and asked us to move as we were on their mooring (It was unmarked and completely indistinguishable from the other unmarked black moorings in the bay). They were really helpful and sent their tender to find us another one and help us pick it up. They also came by the next morning to make sure we were okay and invited us to their boat.
Despite the wind, we were very secure on the mooring. We rented bikes and headed to the other side of the island, away from the wind and had a lovely time snorkelling.
Busy, touristy and very beautiful.
Page 173 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Gili Lawang (Lombok) 08°19’57”S 116°41’27”E
This was not one of our favourite anchorages as we wound our way through the gap in the reef with our 2.85m keel too close to the bottom for our liking! Once inside, it was good holding on mud in about 5m. Not much room so we were glad to be the only boat there. Very calm but not a lot of wind protection.
Beautiful sunset and thousands of bats flew over to the mainland as the sun went down. It was wonderfully quiet with only a few fishing boats passing by and a blanket of sparkling stars overhead.
Page 171 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Potopaddu (Sumbawa) 08°22’52”S 117°10’19”E
We wiggled in following the directions in The Cruising Guide to Indonesia and anchored in about 10m. Lots of small fishing boats work the bay. They were all very friendly and came over to visit. Then half the village came by asking for pencils, sunglasses, cigarettes and t-shirts. We were trying to mend a sail so it was a little annoying. We did buy some fish and had a very tasty BBQ for dinner.
Page 163 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Kananga (Sumbawa) 08°14’06”S 117°44’02”E
Big wide open bay. The anchorage is south of the village. Good holding in about 12m.
Page 159 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Were Bay, Sumbawa 08°17’32”S 118°55’52”E
Nice protected bay with a looming volcano in the background. The bay is quite busy with local boats so we anchored a little further out in 16m.
Page 156 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Loh Serau, Komodo 08°26’46”S 119°27’03”E
Absolutely stunning. We tried to anchor in the sand patch at 10m but cannot guarantee we avoided all the coral. We had a dive phinisi as a neighbour one night but otherwise, we were all alone. No mobile coverage which was actually rather lovely.
We snorkelled and explored the beach but were cautious of running across a Komodo dragon! We saw deer and pigs on the beach in the mornings and evenings.
The water was filled with phosphorescence so it sparkled as much as the sky. We slept on deck under the dazzling stars, enjoying the cool breeze and spotting satellites and planes.
Page 150 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Loh Buaya, Rinca 08°39’11”S 119·42’47” E
Lovely, calm anchorage. We anchored in 15m around ‘B’ in The Cruising Guide to Indonesia. We went into the ranger station and organized a hike for early next morning. Komodo Dragons are HUGE! We saw buffalo, pigs, long-tailed macaques, deer and of course, a dragon or two!
No swimming here as crocodiles lurk in the mangroves. We were a little disconcerted to watch a Komodo dragon swim past the boat. The swim platform stayed firmly up after that!
It was noisy when a live-aboard dive boat anchored then partied all night.
Page 140 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Labaun Bajo, Flores 08° 30’15”S 119°52’46”E
We initially intended to anchor off the Eco Lodge but being reasonably shallow, we were a long way off the beach. The La Prima anchorage worked well. We landed the dinghy on the beach and walked through the hotel and down the road into town. We did take the dinghy into town one day but it was hard to tie up and the water is very dirty and rubbish filled.
The town is quite surprising. It is the hop off to Komodo National Park so caters well to western tourists. There are many Italians living there and as a consequence, several Italian restaurants. Our favourite was La Cucina. We sat on the balcony from which we could see the yacht and ate fabulous pizza. And the coffee was sensational.
The Roxy ‘supermarket’ across the road had a great stock of pasta and pestos. It was one of the few places outside Bali that we were able to buy fresh dairy. The street food was very cheap and wonderfully tasty.
We rented a bemo and bought non-subsidy solar at the Pertamina roughly behind the Eco Lodge anchorage. (Service station is at 08°31’27”S 119°52’21”E) We booked into the hotel for a couple of nights so they had no issues with us walking through the lobby with jerry cans of fuel! We even borrowed the luggage trolleys.
Page 126 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Gili Bodo, Flores 08°22’15”S 120°00’55”E
This was a delightful anchorage tucked into a gap in the reef. We anchored in around 15m of gloriously clear, turquoise water on sand. The reef was clearly visible and we tip-toed in without concern.
We were pleasantly surprised to find another yacht there and spent a fabulous evening with Eric and Birgitta from Ariel IV. They are on their second circumnavigation but this time, instead of the ‘Coconut Route’ they came from Sweden via Greenland, the North West Passage and The Aleutians!
Page 124 in Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Damo Bay, Flores 08°23’30”S 12°57’26”E
This anchorage was beautiful. We wiggled around behind the island until we almost popped out the other side! The directions in the Cruising Guide were very good. The anchorage was calm and quiet. We anchored in about 6m on mud. There was a couple of fisherman in the bay and we could hear the sounds of the village but mostly we had the bay to ourselves and the glorious stars
Page 120 in Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Batu Boga, Flores 08°28’18”S 121°57’26”E
This was another glorious anchorage. We anchored behind the in 15m on the sand. It was calm and quiet. We had a couple of locals paddle out for a chat but were unable to buy fish as they had not caught any! We would have loved to stay and do some walking on the hills.
As with a number of anchorages, we were glad not to be competing for space. During rallies, you would not want to be the last yacht to enter as space is tight and anchorage options in the ‘shallower’ water are limited.
Page 115 in Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Tanjung Gedong, Flores 08°04’38”S 122°50’43”E
As we came level with the headland, we were still in 200m of water. This anchorage is very deep! The mudmap in the Cruising Guide to Indonesia is a little deceptive in its depth contours. There is a shallower section at the southern end of the bay; which will accommodate only one yacht – and there was a yacht in it when we arrived. We headed to the NE of the bay as described in the Cruising Guide and found we could anchor in <20m or >8m, there didn’t seem to be much in between. We opted to anchor a little deeper, further from the reef. It took two attempts to catch the anchor solidly. Despite some rain, the anchorage was calm and well protected.
Children wanting to sell papaya and green coconuts immediately inundated us. We traded notebooks and pencils for a few coconuts.
We spent a fabulous evening with the crew of ‘Cool Runnings’, an American family doing a circumnavigation. We were quite sad to head off in different directions. (We were even sadder when Cool Runnings emailed us to say they had met up with Eric and Brigitta on Ariel IV and were timing their departure for Africa together!)
Page 108 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Lewoleba, Lembata 08°22’24”S 123°24’45”E
We bashed our way into a big swell and entered to Boling Strait, our first real taste of the Indonesian Throughflow. We found ourselves screaming down at 10.5kn, which meant we were helped along by at least 4kn of current. And this strait is one of the mild ones! Tucking inside Awalolong Reef, we anchored in about 8m of water on sand. Excellent holding. The wind picked up during the day but died out at sunset so the evenings were very still. We were anchored under two smoking volcanoes. One in the east to complement our sunrises and one to the west for the sunset!
We tied up the dinghy near the ferry wharf where it was a little deeper and less impacted by drying at low tide. The dinghy dock has a very disconcerting lean to it! We had to be careful with the tides as the shallows dried a considerable distance out and it would be a long way to drag the dinghy!
There were limited provisions available but we were able to find everything we needed. The market has a wide variety of fresh produce but it is closed on Sundays. Again, we rented a bemo and went directly to the Pertamina. (Service station is at 08°21’46”S 123°26’56”E) We paid Rp 7300/l but no certain we actually received non-subsidy!
Unfortunately, the tourist office was closed so we did not do the hike up the volcano. We did have the opportunity to visit the whaling village of Lamalera but decided we didn’t need to see a whale being slaughtered. We took the dinghy over to Awalolong Reef at low tide and chatted with families digging for shellfish. The view across to Gunung Ile Ape was stunning.
We ate in the warungs near the harbour which were excellent.
Page 102 of Cruising Guide to Indonesia.
Kokar, Alor 08°09’53”S 124°26’34”E
We anchored in about 18m water, opposite the church, in the steeply shelving bay. The conditions were dead calm. Children called to us from the beach but we had deflated the dinghy so did not go ashore. The usual noise – bikes/car without mufflers, roosters crowing, call-to-prayer…
About 10 pm a big swell came into the bay crashing surf on the beach. On the rising tide, we were getting shallower – were we dragging or were we just swinging?? In the dark conditions, all we could see was the white surf on the beach. After a couple of hours seeing 14m then 7m, we lost our nerve, pulled up anchor at midnight and headed outbound for Wetar.
Tanjung Tutundiruru, Wetar 07°51’12”S 125°49’31”E
What a magical anchorage! White sandy beaches, palm trees and best of all, a ‘flat’ bay. For a change, we didn’t feel like we were bivouacked, clinging to the edge of a cliff with our fingers crossed. We dropped anchor in 10m and, other than the tide, we saw a little deviation from this.
The water was calm but we had 25kn katabatic bullets coming over the hills.
Onshore was a tiny village. Water buffalo and goats combed the beach and the sounds of children laughing floated across the water. The stars were brilliant with two solitary lights in the village (and our anchor light) being the only light pollution. And quiet. No karaoke, no mosque, no fishing boats buzzing past…
Tanjung Tutunteba, Wetar 07°37’50”S 126°25’24”E
This was another lovely anchorage. We anchored in 10m of dead calm water. Again, we had katabatic wind over the hills. The village is much further to the east, a few sparkling lights against the black hills. We had one fisherman come into the bay but otherwise, we had the bay and the star-studded skies all to ourselves.
Despite Wetar being a malarial hotspot and slathering ourselves in bug spray and sleeping under a net, we did see, hear or get bitten by a single mosquito.
Tepa, Babar 07°51’56”S 129°35’23”E
After a long, bouncy 210nm bash from Wetar, we were very happy to pull into the beautiful wide, gently shelving bay at Tepa. We anchored in about 10m, opposite the white church, some wind and swell snuck in but nothing significant. The head of the bay is coral-free but pebbly and rubbish-prone. We headed straight to the church to land the dinghy. There is a pebble beach and a narrow laneway to get to the main street. The Internet is very hit and miss and the electricity are only on at night.
Aristotle and the local minister, Andy, became our guides (both spoke excellent English). They came out to introduce themselves not long after we anchored, arranged tours, cultural experiences and organized for half the village to visit Popeye! They introduced us to the Harbour Master, Chief of Police, Chief of Army etc… as a courtesy only; checking in is no longer required under the new system. We did not need it but Aristotle can arrange fuel and water if required.
It was very full-on (and be careful when sampling the local tipple – home-distilled coconut gin!) but one of the army guys explained in perfect English. They see very few foreign visitors and due to currency and the requirement to prove you have adequate money prior to getting a visa to (say) Australia, it is highly improbable he will ever travel outside Indonesia. Spending time with the few foreigners that come through, gives an opportunity to practice English with native speakers and to learn first-hand about other parts of the world. This explanation helped us manage our frustration with constant attention.
Saumlaki, Yandema 07°58’31”S 131°17’10”E
Excellent holding in around 15m in a big open bay, exposed to the wind and some swell. Due to reefs and a big tidal range, you cannot get very close to shore and a bouncy, wet dinghy ride is required. The infrastructure is not well set up for the tidal range and it helps to have some rock climbing experience to clamber up the wharf at low tide. We used sail ties to extend the length of the dinghy painter. No issues with security, which was fortunate as there was nothing to which to lock the dinghy!
We took a bemo to the Pertamina for diesel. We were unable to get non-subsidy solar but they happily sold us subsidized diesel. A nice bonus for the fuel budget! (Service station is at 07°57’16”S 131°18’52”E). Fuel was very clean.
The market had a huge range of vegetables and beautiful fresh fish but very limited fruit. Papaya, bananas and some citrus were about it. At the warungs, you could buy a whole, freshly baked fish (why bother cooking it yourself) and the full range of tasty meals. Bakso (chicken balls with noodles in a broth) has become a big favourite with dinner costing a princely $3 for the two of us! The beer was readily available (as were fireworks if you need to top up your flares!).
Checking out was very slow. The process is Quarantine, Immigration than the Harbour Master. The Harbour Master is easy to find. Quarantine is just outside the harbour gate and across the road. Immigration – good luck with this one! The Harbour Master’s staff were very helpful. Alinda came with us to show us where Quarantine was. When we could not get any response, she took a bemo with us to the Saumlaki Immigration Post. (Tel: +62 811 478 9802 Email: [email protected] Location: 07°58’43”S 131°17’59”E) It is a 24-hour service but not manned 24 hours. She rang the Immigration number and when there was no response, she called a friend who called the Immigration Officer who arrived about half an hour later. Very friendly, not a lot of English but with Alinda’s help, we got it all sorted and the all-important chop, chop in our passports.
Quarantine proved a little more interesting. Alinda managed to wake up the officer who finally appeared in his singlet. He then popped on his uniform and all was very official. Apparently, we didn’t have the right paperwork, somewhat surprising since we had used an agent in Nongsa. He wanted to come aboard the boat, an exercise that would have taken a considerable amount of time so for the first time in three months, we resorted to Johnny Walker. Our paperwork was suddenly in perfect order and we went on our way. The Harbour Master was very professional and we were cleared out of Indonesia!
Page 84 Cruising Guide to Indonesia.