Bitung and Manado - 9th to 21st August

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Thu 3 Sep 2009 04:45

Bitung and Manado – 9th to 21st August


Once again, the Sail Indonesia rally lot had directed us to an anchorage at a fishing port in the middle of another city.  We anchored in 27 metres of water and watched a constant supply of plastic bags float past Astra (Welcome to Paradise!)  Once Babagnaff arrived, they invited us over for drinks to celebrate our arrival.  This was later followed by further drinks onboard Layaleeta until sunset.  That first evening, we asked to leave the compound, much to the annoyance of David, one of the Sail Indonesia organisers.  Due to the fact that we had not signed in to the region, we had a police escort follow us throughout the evening.  We took a trip to a night market with Layaleeta and sampled some seriously hot food!


We spent far too long moored in Bitung waiting for the events of the rally and it seemed that most nights were spent drinking with the crew from the two yachts of Layaleeta and Felicity.  On the 10th August, 10 of us went for dinner at a local dive resort to celebrate a birthday of one of the crew from Layaleeta (Damo).  On the 11th, Sally, Charlie, Ollie and Liam took a day trip to a very large lake in North Sulawesi where they had to drive two hours each way into the mountains just to reach the lake.  After a visit to some hot springs where the boys shared a bath, they had an amazing dinner looking over the lake.


On the 12th, Sally and Jeremy were invited for lunch at the Governors house.  The Sail Bunaken event was kicked off with yet more speeches and traditional dancing, something that everyone in the rally was now sick and tired of.  Loz, a crazy South African lady seemed to get herself lost on many occasions throughout our time here in Bitung.  One night in particular, we found her on one of the Indonesian Defence vessels. 


On the 13th, Sally and Jeremy along with Loz and Lachy (Felicity) and Les and Sky (Layaleeta) spent the day on a boat trip snorkelling and the evening on an island close to Bitung.  Oli, Charlie and Liam went to a National Park in search of monkeys along with most of the rally participants and during the evening, with the parents away, the boys entertained the young bunch from Layaleeta and got suitably drunk.


Friday the 14th was for the most part spent servicing the winches on the yacht (Oli and Jeremy) and polishing the stainless steel (Sally and Liam).  For the next few days Charlie was ill with a stomach bug and we didn’t see much of him.  During that evening, Sail Bunaken had organised a large event ashore for the rally participants and locals.  There was the usual amount of speeches and traditional dancing which was followed by a buffet and free beer throughout the evening.  It was a very entertaining evening and it seemed that everyone from the rally was up for a laugh.  Trent from Layaleeta was forced to play the didgeridoo on stage which went down very well with the hundreds there. 


Oli and Liam swapped traditional clothes with the locals and everyone got up on stage to dance.  After dancing the night away at the outside disco overlooking the bay, Sally, Loz and Lachy went for a ride in the tender to find the British Military ship.  They were soon ushered away by the local police much to their amusement.


Sunday the 16th was the day of the World Record dive attempt over in Manado.  After a very early morning bus ride from Bitung, we were greeted with absolute chaos in Manado.  Our bus along with everyone’s dive gear was not allowed within 1km of the dive site forcing everyone to jump off the bus before it headed back to Bitung.  After much confusion, we all managed to load our diving equipment into a pick up truck.  Again, at the dive site there was still much confusion as to where we were supposed to be.  However, it actually turned out that all of the Sail Bunaken participants were in the VIP section of the event.  We were all motored out in ribs to the dive site by the Indonesian Marines!


There was a great deal of excitement from all the Indonesian divers as they made their way out to the dive site a couple of hundred metres offshore.  There were around 2800 divers in the water with only 30 foreigners taking part in the dive.  Jeremy, Sally and Oli descended with all the divers to 14 metres and unfortunately Liam was unable to dive due to the lack of diving equipment.  However, much to his excitement, Paul from GiddyUp was unable to equalise and gave his equipment to Liam where he joined us in the VIP section in front of all the other 2800 divers.  After a 30 minute dive, everyone surfaced and started cheering and singing.  This was a spectacular site to see so many divers in the water at once and something that seemed pretty well organised (for once in Indonesia).  That afternoon, we made our way into Manado to a very pleasant beach side bar where we sat and ate lunch and drank beer.


The boys seemed to find a pretty decent spot for snorkelling during our time in Bitung as they went back to this spot several times with the crew from Layaleeta.  After a week of sitting idle in the dirty fishing port in Bitung, a skippers meeting was held on Astra between the three yachts (Astra, Felicity and Layaleeta) to decide the sailing schedule for the next few weeks.  As per usual, due to the influence of the other two yachts, this skippers meeting turned into a bit of a drinking session with not a lot decided!