The 25th of August we start our way back to the south. Coming from Maluku we've had the current and winds with us, but now they are both against us and it takes us five full days to sail to the Wakatobi marine national park on the southeast tip of Sulawesi. On the way south we are surprised by whales, probably pilot whales. One is surfacing next to 'Alexandra' and with intervals we see the spouts of small groups of whales.
29 August 2009
20 August 2009
Next morning after a few hours of sleep and a breakfast we visit with the dinghy the village in Wori Bay and back on board we prepare 'Alexandra' and ourselves to be part of the big Bunaken Sail pass with the Fleet admiral: the president of Indonesia. Leading the fleet is the USS aircraft carrier 'George Washington' with some planes and helicopters landing on. Next is an extended convoy of warships from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. After the warships follow the Indonesian governmental ships (customs, fisheries, quarantine, coast guard, etc). Then follow a few 'tall ships' under full sails and next to these a colourful fleet of small motorboats of all types and sizes from Manado town opposite the Bunaken area. All boats are full with laughing and singing people. And at the end of the Sail pass is our group of (international) yachts side to side, and also we wave enthusiastic to the in red and white covered tribune of the president. By surprise several aircraft's and jet fighters fly in formation over the crowds and make spectacular loops in the air.
On the quays we see hundreds and hundreds of people and every spot along the waterside has been taken. Later we hear that there has been hardly any traffic in downtown anymore, and that's an exception because it is always busy in a town like Manado. The only bit of bad luck during the Sail pass has been the dark, almost black clouds from where there has been a downpour for more than half an hour. No problem for the participants and spectators, but the pictures and videos could have been more colourful.
16 August 2009
We make a tour to the 'Minahasa highlands' where the cooler climate and the fertile vulcano soil are good conditions for growing fruit and vegetables on the special made terraces. On our way we visit one of the caves that the Japanese dug out in the war to protect themselves and their stores and weapons. We pass several monuments and enjoy beautifull views. Later in the week we visit the Tangkoko National Park and make an interesting bush walk.
Friday August 14th there is a welcome dinner for all participants of the Rally. It's a very pleasant evening with local dances and music, a few words and good food of course!
7 August 2009
The welcome ceremony is quite a spectacle with officials of the Moluccan province, dance, music and a big BBQ annex buffet. We all got a 'Sail Bunaken' T-shirt and cap.
Public transport is done mostly by 'bemos' (small buses for 10-12 persons) and 'ojeks' (betjaks or bike taxis). There is a lot of traffic in Kota Ambon and we are stuck in a traffic jam! You can't miss the Pattimura Memorial devoted to the famous rebellion against the Dutch. The Siwa Lima museum is very informative with local and colonial history.
Friday morgning at 10 o'clock is the start of the sailrace Ambon - Bitung (on the NE tip of Sulawesi). There ia favourable wind and it must have been an impressive sight to see the whole fleet leave the Ambon harbour. The first night we have big waves from behind, but after midnight the sea settles down, there is still a following wind and with 2 knots of current with us, we fly ahead. A very pleasant sail!
3 August 2009
At 4 o'clock working time is over and because one of the nieces of Riad celebrates her birthday, the ladies can't resist the music for the children's party and start dancing in the garden behind the family house. Also Mariet has to show her talents.
With Riad we visit the Fortress Amsterdam, a fysic remnant of the Dutch occupation of Ambon in the time of the spice trade. It is interesting how a young Dutch entrepreneur with Moluccan roots is working now in the spice trade himself.
Another five minutes' ride with the 'ojek' (betjak) and we arrive at a still older monument: a small mosque, originally build in 1414 en removed in 1664 to the new location. It has a beautifully thatched roof (with leaves of the sagopalm) and all natural building materials. Except for the loudspeaker (and cassette-tape) that have replaced, as in many mosques, the muezzin who calls five times a day the moslims to prayer.