29 August 2009

Manado and Bunaken

The day after the Sailpass we take the dinghy into Manado to visit the postoffice, the museum and the market. In the afternoon we leave the city behind and sail back to Wori Bay. There we can join a dive boat to Bunaken island and we make a few dives op the drop-off full with corals and we see three big turtles!

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.

Slideshow Bunaken

20 August 2009

Sail Bunaken

During the sail race from Bitung to Bunaken we have three Indonesian crew on board: Michael, Fonda and Belgis. Tuesday August 18th we start in the afternoon with a short race in Lembeh Strait where there are several navy vessels anchored at the moment. There is 20 knots of wind and it's a tough job for the crew to tighten or to release the right ropes at the right time! The finish of the first race is the start for the overnight passage to the north side of Sulawesi. Again a new experience for the crew, but during the evening the wind is getting less and every now and then we have to start the engine. In the dark we cross the finish near Bunaken Island and sail into Wori Bay to anchor. Well done!

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.

Slideshow Sail Bunaken sailpass

16 August 2009

Bitung on north-east Sulawesi

Sunday August 9th after a perfect overnight sailing trip we reach the Rally Bunaken/Sail Indonesia anchorage in Lembeh Strait near the small town of Bitung. On the shore we are welcomed by a lot of flying flags and it's fascinating to see around 40 yachts all close-by anchored in the bay. Holiday has just started and there are musical parades of the different schools with colourfull costumes. These attrack a lot of the people from Bitung and beyond and they all enjoy the spectacle.

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!

Slideshow Bitung

3 August 2009

Ollong family in Hila

On invitation we visit the Ollong family in Hila village on the north shore of Ambon island. First we are met by mr. and mrs. Ollong, who are both born in or near Hila and moved to the Netherlands after the independence of Indonesia. Their youngest son is Riad, born and educated in the Netherlands and since three years living in Hila. He has set up a nutmeg processing business. Farmers from the area of Ambon and from Banda bring their nutmegs to the big sheds behind the house in Hila. There are several wooden dryers to get the wet out of the fruits. The nutmeg fruit contains one hard nut, covered with a red thin layer of the 'flower'. The red parts are processed for the foelie, the nuts itself will be grinded sooner or later for the nutmeg. The foelie has to be checked very intensely and every day 20-30 ladies are working on that.

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.

Slideshow Hila