Hello the rest of the world- we are at last anchored in our Wharram Tiki
38 Jigal, in a mangrove creek in Tua Pujet on the island of Sipura about
60 nautical miles off the west coast of Sumatra. The last few days have
been a frenzy of boat survey, purchase and preparation. Our new sails have
arrived and we leave for our inaugural sail with our new best friends,
and previous owners of Jigal (formerly Imajica), Kwab and Ciaran who
have spent the last few years sailing and surfing their way through
Indonesia. Kwab is, as Joel described, the completely Zen English
immigrant son of a Ghanian chief and Ciaran the happy go lucky Welsh
surfy/comedian who has entertained us for hours with his take on the
Tua Pujet is the capital of the Mentawai Islands. It is a sea side
village where rickety timber houses are perched over the water,
occupied by fisherman quietly shaping timber for their boats. We
periodically hear the call to prayer which echos through the town but
doesn't seem to alter anyone's activities. Occasionally an American
surfer frustrated by 'rubber time' will wander past- the Mentawais
are famous around the world for their surf with breaks called 'ebay'
and other incongruous western names.
The Mentawais is another world. Islands rise from the seas and
disappear. Beautiful dugout canoes powered either by paddles or
whipper-snipper motors ply the waters loaded with sandbags, old women
and umbrellas with only a few impossible centimeters of freeboard. We
have watched sunken boats lying on their side emerge from the waters,
bailed by fishermen who replace a few timbers then float them
ready for another days work.
Negotiating the language barrier and the loose Indonesian
administration has been the most difficult part of our preparation. We
have spent as much time waiting for fuel to arrive and drinking coffee
susu, as we have with grumpy harbourmasters perplexed by these
tourists waiving official permits gained from Jakarta, a world away.
The heat here is intense, with only the aircon of our accommodation
some relief. Now that we are on the water the breeze cools us as we
ready ourselves for adventure.
Our journey to Tua Pujet has been exhausting after early starts in
Perth , KL and Padang. We spent an evening dodging bed bugs in run
down hostels in KL with a bit of time to look around the city. We
spent a great day with our ride Elvis in Padang. After arguments with
customs officials about spearguns and the relevance of 'duty', we ate
a sumptuous Padang style feast- multiple amazing dishes, you pay for
what you eat. Elvis took us to his house where we drank coffee Luwak
made from the excrement of the cat-like Civet that have selectively
semi digested the finest beans changing peptides apparently resulting
in the finest coffee in the world. At $300 per kilo we aren't bringing
any home! Evidence of the recent earthquake was everywhere but this is
a beautiful town perched between mountains and sea surrounded by
rainforest, with lanes of fascinating shops and a friendly feel.
Then there was the ferry ride from hell from Padang to Tua Puget. Our
'VIP' tickets saw us spend a sweltering and largely sleepless night
crammed in a room more like the hold of a seventeenth century slave ship.
The air conditioning was turned on and off to torture us and when we eventually got to sleep we were woken by the morning call to prayer followed by the insane galactic screechings of a cheap toy ray gun in the hands of a murderous toddler.
We are all exhausted but holding up well. Sonny hasn't brushed his
teeth for days and is surviving on a diet of mie goreng from our local
restaurant. He is aghast at the squat toilets and the lack of
consideration given to expiry dates on food products by locals. These
memories will last him a lifetime. We eat Padang style every day with
delicious eggplant and whitebait, coconut fish curries and beef
rendang. Mike has dispensed with Western Customs and has abandoned the
use of cutlery replaced by his right hand, the rest of us can't let go of the
fork just yet.
We haven't looked in a mirror for days and lather with a napalm
mixture of deet and sunscreen to ward of the multitude of tropical
fevers and ailments present here. But we are surrounded by jungle clad
hills leading to white beaches and incredible coral reefs. The ocean
beckons and light but favourable winds are forecast tomorrow, perfect
for the start of our trip back to Australia.
Internet is very slow and we will have limited access but we will keep
you up to date.
Post script= for some reason the email didn't send yesterday, we have
motored out to an anchorage near Tua Pujet to fine tune Jigal and
prepare for a gentle warm-up cruise to an anchorage about 25 miles
down the coast of the island Sipura. We will have no contact until we
reach Sikkakap the following day. We managed to squeeze in some
snorkeling- scorpion fish close encounters and amazing coloured reef
Oh, and Sonny has brushed his teeth.