Belitung to North Bangka

Sat 29 Oct 2016 02:54
001:30.57S 105:52.75E

Belitung was to be a Visa Extension  stop for people following the Rally schedule to the end,  after a lot of deliberation we had decided not to extend our Visas for what was effectively an extra week.  So with another 300 miles to sail to Batam the clearance port for Malaysia and Singapore it was time to get going.
We took a taxi into the City of Tanjun Kelayang 20 kms away and were impressed by a clean, modern City which had the best traditional market we have found.  We stocked up with excellent veg, fruit and even meat.  So with diesel sorted and a fridge full of veg we headed off on Friday, 14th October.
The wind was blowing from South West and we set off on a nice reach, prepared for anything.   We started to cross the main shipping lane and were picking up several large vessels on AIS, one was on a potential collision course and as it got closer Syd altered course, suddenly we veered off course as auto helm did not work and was preventing us hand steering  – there was a bit of a panic as each time Syd tried to re-set the auto helm it veered off and at one point did a full 360 as we headed straight towards the large container ship carry potential hazardous cargo and seemed oblivious to our crazy manoeuvres!  Syd had a brainwave and tried using the auto helm via the remote control and very thankfully it worked.  We managed to sail for most of the day then the wind dropped so we left the mainsail up and turned the motor on.  Syd drifted off to sleep and all was well for a few hours,  luckily it was a full moon so I could make out that we were headed into very black clouds – this was not looking good.  I shut all the hatches and by that time Syd had woken up just as the wind started to pick up.  In a few seconds the wind speed shot from 6 knots to 30 knots and we were being battered by torrential rain and as the boat was seriously heeling a reef had gto go in the mainsail, luckily the genoa was not out.  We carrered on through the blackness and gradually the wind started to ease, the rain carried on throughout the night and the next morning we were motoring again.
We could see the Island of Bangka and headed up to the Northern most point where we anchored in a large deserted bay and rested.  Sunday was forecasted as no wind so we spent another day and night enjoying the peace and swimming.