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