Category Archives: Sail Indonesia

Kumai Borneo

We wanted to cross over to Borneo so we could go and see the Orang-utan rehabilitation centres so we set off for Borneo on the 6th October for the 2 day crossing. The crossing was straight forward apart from the dodgey Indonesian fishing vessels which lacked lights and direction. We headed for the port of Kumai which is near the Tanjung Puting National Park.

We had already booked a 3 day tour which took us up a couple of rivers into the protected areas where the Orang-utans lived in the wild. On the way up the river we saw groups of monkeys hanging and jumping from trees, a few crocodiles, flying hornbills, colourful Kingfishers and all sorts.

We travelled up the Sekonyer river to the first feeding station and had a small walk into the forest, there was a small platform that was fenced off and Orang-utans had already started to congregate. These were Orang-utans that had been saved from the forest when their habitat had been destroyed, they were mostly wild but had got use to being feed at the same time everyday. They slowly but surely came out of the forest and swung from tree to tree working their way down to the feeding station. It was amazing how they moved between the trees, their hands and feet working together and always having a very powerful grip on anything they were holding. Everybody just sat in silence and watched these amazing creatures as they scoffed lots of fruits and vegetables.

We went back to the boat and went further up the river before stopping for some lunch. The boat was a traditional wooden boat with an upstairs for passengers and a lower deck for the crew. There was one chef called Norma who somehow managed to produce about 10 different dishes of food for us all when she only had a couple of hobs to cook on. We travelled further up the river seeing groups of ibiscous monkeys living in the trees on the other side of the national park, clearly groups of Orang-utans and monkeys don’t like to mix.

We stopped for the night where we met our second boat and a great meal was again put on for us. The crew then laid out the mattresses on top of both boats and hung up the mosquito nets, this was a must in this part of the world !. The sound of the forest at night was quite deafening at nights, thousands of insects all screeching together. Breakfast was served at the crack of dawn and what a fabulous place to have it, a small mist over the river and the sound of monkeys just waking up jumping from tree to tree.

We went further up the river to feeding station number two but only a handful of Orang-utans appeared at this one, it was a nice walk through the jungle though further than we had been before. Later that day we headed down river to where a large group of monkeys lived, theses monkeys were different as the had large soft noses, the males having the biggest ones. Theses groups mostly only had one male with up to twenty female partners and their off spring. As it was approaching dusk the monkeys had already found their place in the tree and were ready to settle down for the night, nearly all of them having their back to us, maybe they had had enough of the tourists staring in on them before bedtime. Before heading back we went to see an amazing colony of firefly’s that were only living in one particular tree. It basically looked like a Christmas tree that was alive, hundreds of flys swarming everywhere with very bright tails., why they stuck to just one tree was very strange. On the third day we went up to Camp Leaky which is where the study and rehabilitation of orang-utans originally started in the late 70’s. The orang-utans here were ones that had previously been kept as pets and had been handed over to the camp. Sadly it looked like these could never be fully rehabilitated but could at least live in a secure forest area in the trees and could be feed and looked after. You could see how some had picked up traits having been held captive, when we were there there was a huge burst of rain, one of the orang-utans came down from his tree and went straight over to the door of one of the buildings and demanded to be let in by banging on the door and trying the door handle, he sat outside for a while most annoyed as the rain came down on top of him. The other orang-utans however would hide up in the trees and make umbrellas out of the branches. One of the biggest problems that faces the orang-utans is not just the fact that their forest is being cut down but the fact that as they can only reproduce once in every eight years. The young will stay with them until five or six years hold, the mother still carrying them around on her back. This she can do without problem as females are four times stronger than humans and males eight times stronger. If a mother does lose a youngster she will reproduce again within a year or so. It came to the end of the tour and we heading back down the river for our three hour trip back to Kumai. We all agreed it had been one of the best trips we had been so far and were sorry to be leaving the forest. On the way back we spotted some more monkeys, hornbills, and best of all a huge King Cobra that swam out in front of us crossing the river, a rare sight. This is Percy, he seemed to cause trouble by stealing things off the boats as they came in, mainly cutlery.






Big guy !!

Nobody messed with this guy !!

Jepara Indonesia

We arrived in Jepara Indonesia after a 3 day and 2 night sail, the last night of sailing was very stressful due to the amount of fishing boats out on the water, some with lights some without, the ones who did have lights had very poor ones and not the right colours !!

We arrived into a bay that was just outside of town, we needed a quiet bay as the boats were going to be left for 3 days as we were going on a tour down to the temples Borobudur and Prambanan. Helmut the German and Paul the South African were going to keep an eye on 4 boats and generate when needed to. Helmut was a nice guy who was 62 but had already been cruising the South Pacific Islands for 14 years, he would spend the summer around Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and when the cyclone season started around December he would head south to New Zealand until March before heading north again for the summer. Not a bad life eh?

Paul was a South African who was 72 and was sailing with his wife Maureen who was originally from America. They left SA over 9 years ago and have been sailing the world ever since.

When we arrived I realised that I would have 4 nights on board the boat before the tour and the sea shore looked very quiet. As it was Saturday night I thought I’d chance my luck and Brian gave me a lift ashore. I soon realised that it was a bay occupied only by locals and not a shop/bar/hotel in sight. I bribed a local man with a motorbike to give me a lift to the next town by waving some Indonesian Rupiah in front of him.

The next bay had some hotels in it and I found one at a reasonable rate for the night. They were setting up a stage on the beach so I knew something was happening that night. After having a rest i went back outside to the bar where there was some music and dancing already in full swing. Looking about there was quite a few white faces amongst the Indonesians. There was a guy wandering around taking photos so i asked him what was going on, he told me it was a leaving party for an Aussie who had been living there for a while. He asked me what i was doing there and i told him i had only been there for about 3 hours having around on a sailing boat. He soon set about introducing me to everybody and i soon realised there was a big ex-pat community here. Where we had parked the boat up was right outside a Welshmans house by the name of Rob, he was 62 and worked at the nearby power plant. When i said we were here for a few days and going on a trip down to the temples at Borobudur he soon arranged for everybody there to look out for the boats whilst we were away, look after all our boating needs, diesel,water,food,etc, organise any local tours for us, all our worries would be taken care of.. What a result to find all these people happy to help , i could have so easily stayed on the boat and never met them.

Most of the ex-pats were in the furniture business as Jepara was the center for furniture making in Indonesia. I met Jim from Denver, Edwin from Holland, Peter from Germany, Joost from Holland, big Steve from Belgium, a few Aussies and lots of others i can’t remember. The Bintang was flowing and they all took an interest in what i was doing. Most of them were also members of the Jepara Sailing Club which explained their interest in the sailing boats anchored nearby. The sailing club was very small but fairly new, it was built by a Swedish guy who was also a big part of the ex-pat community. Rob came up with a plan to take us out the next day which was a sunday, this was the sailing clubs day where they mostly got wet, had a few beers and gathered together for the day. Peter the German said he would pick me up from my resort at 9.45 a.m.

I didn’t know whether any of what had been said would happen as many beers had been consumed and it all happened so quickly. True to his word Peter turned up and took me down to the yacht club, Rob soon turned up and other ex-pats too. We jumped in a speed boat which Rob and Peter were manufacturing locally and shot around to the other bay where the yachts were anchored. We picked up Paraic, Myra and Brian and went off to another bay where was a resort to have a drink and lunch. Paraic my skipper wasn’t a fan of speed, in fact he wasn’t a fan of water because he couldn’t even swim !! The speed boat had two 200 horsepower engines on the back and we were shooting around the bays at speeds up to 80 knots, very fast !! I think we were a bit of a novelty to be honest, the sailing club had never had so many visitors and the ex-pats had a load of new faces to talk to. Joost the commodore of the club was desperately trying to find the guest book so we could all sign it but then realised that they probably didn’t have one as he hadn’t ever seen it.

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One of the boats the boys are building

We had many Bintangs, meals and barbecues with these guys throughout our week here, we met Dutch, German, Welsh, South African, Finnish, Flemish, Swedish, American, Australian and New Zealanders. The person i got to know the best was Peter, originally from Germany but left there in his early 20’s as he didn’t like it. He travelled the world buying and selling what ever he could lay his hands on. He had spent many years in the States, in Mexico, parts of Asia, didn’t seem to be many places he hadn’t visited. He had now settled in Indonesia and been in Jepara for 6 years, he had designed and built his own house over looking the bay and lived there with his wife and son Ben who was 5. He had a furniture making business making chairs/tables/stools designer furniture mainly for the American market. He gave us a tour around his factory one day, he had about 200 workers there, each worker only got about 5-7 dollars a day, the average wage in Indonesia.

Peter the Germans furniture making factory –

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There were literally hundreds of these carpenters lining the streetsĀ around Jepara –

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Jepara Carpenters

I stayed at his house for a few nights, it was great to have a break from the boat, have a double bed and have a swimming pool right outside the front door !! I stayed in a chalet in the grounds of his house, it had air conditioning, a fridge full of Bintang, shower and your own space. I had smoked salmon, cheese, meat and hot French rolls for breakfast, it was a pleasant change from the boat !!