Farewell to Indonesia. Nongsa Point Marina - 01:11.8N, 104:05.8E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Mon 6 Nov 2023 13:49

We were keen to get away from the thunderstorms on Kalimantan, so decided to do an overnight passage directly to our next stop on Belitung.   As has become the norm, as we get closer to the equator, we found ourselves motoring for the majority of the trip and we dropped anchor at Belitung just before a thunderstorm hit.

Our route from Kumai on Kalimantan to: 1.  Belitung; 2. Benan; 3. Pulau Tanjungahan;   4. Tanjung Pinang; and finally Nongsa Point marina on Batam Island

Belitung is a very pretty place with massive granite boulders dotted around and beautifully clear water. We stayed here four nights, long enough for a welcome breakfast, a trip to town to re-register our  phones which were about to stop working, to have dinner on board Serenity with Allison and Brian (Ozone) and Karina and Yorgo (Filizi) and to go to the rally dinner.

These girls performed the welcome dance at our breakfast.  Its interesting how this dance has changed slightly as we have moved through the islands.  Some elements have stayed the same, but these girls were more lively than the first dancers we saw

Massive granite boulders surround our anchorage


This boatyard, beside the sea, was producing traditional craft to a very high standard.  The majority of the fishing boats and some of the coasters we have seen have been made in wood and to traditional designs

Dinner at a beach restaurant

We were now on the final stages of the rally, but still had about 320 miles to go to our exit point and had the final rally dinner to attend on the way.  We decided to break the back of the trip with a 220 mile passage to Pulau Benan, meaning two nights at sea.  The moon was full for the passage making night sailing much more pleasant, but there was little wind.  On one evening the sea was so calm that, before the moon came up, you could see the stars reflected in the water.  We motored until the final 20 miles then we had a pleasant 5 hours sailing to our destination.  During this passage we crossed the equator.  As with our crossing from north to south it happened in the middle of the night, so we poured Neptune a generous serving of wine, said thanks for our safe passage and Sarah went back to bed.

We had left Belitung at the same time as Sabbatical II and they were already anchored when we arrived.  Filizi arrived in the early hours as their engine had been overheating and they had been using reduced revs.  We are also having engine over heating problems but by regularly checking and topping up the cooling water we have kept going.

Belitung is a small, quiet island with a warung (local restaurant) on the jetty and a nice beach on the north side.  The next day the crews of the 3 boats had lunch in the warung then walked to the beach and found the fruit and veg market on the way back.  Day 2 was much the same except that, having seen how nice the beach was, we went there for a swim before lunch.

The warung on the jetty

The menu.  Soft drinks at the top and food underneath – there is no more choice!

The north side beach.  In contrast to Kalimantan, with its tropical jungle, and Belitung with the granite, this was more like a Pacific coral island with coconut palms fringing a sandy beach

A fairly typical small grocery store

The village market – it was only open the first day we were there

We covered the 30 miles to Tanjung Pinang in two easy day hops, having a quiet night at little Pulau Tanjungahan on the way - no local boats with noisy engines and the only mosque on the far side of the island so we could only just hear the call to prayer.  Tanjung Pinang is a big city and we anchored across the river from it.  On this side of the river there is a stilt village and local boats run a taxi service across to the city.  We can flag one down and get a lift ashore for the equivalent of 50p per person! Sadly, the river is filthy and noisy: not the sort of place we would normally chose to stay.

It is very hot and sweaty now with the temperature rarely falling below 30 and while we were in Tanjung Pinang there were several thunderstorms with ear splitting thunder and torrential rain, so we were able to fill our tanks with rainwater – very helpful given we couldn’t run our watermaker in such dirty water.

Our side of the river


How to transport your purchases (better than the back of your moped)

Dried fish for sale.  The smell is something else!

The farewell dinner was in a local seafood restaurant and followed the normal format of a prayer from the Imam, speeches from the Head of Tourism and the Mayor, then one from a representative of the rally, dance performances and a band playing western music.

Our dinner companions:  Brian and Allison from Ozone and Janet and David from Sabbatical II

The dance performance was a traditional Malay dance performed by High School pupils

We were back on board Serenity just after 10pm and got up at 4am for the final 30 miles to Nongsa Point marina where we are within sight of Singapore and its skyscrapers. We have handed in our paperwork and hope to be checked out tomorrow afternoon (the 7th November) ready to leave for the 50 mile trip to Puteri, in Malaysia, on the 8th.  In the meantime we are enjoying being attached to mains power and water (except there’s a leak so its off at the moment), with free self service laundry, showers and a swimming pool.  Luxuries we haven’t had since leaving Cairns at the start of July.

So our time in Indonesia is nearly over.  It had been recommended to us as a great place to visit, but far exceeded our expectations.  It has been wonderful to see the subtle changes in culture as you move between island groups, to experience the diversity of  the country from Volcanos to coral atolls, from jungle to coconut palms and white sand beaches.  We’ve been privileged to visit places most tourists don’t go and, due to the rally, have experienced elements of the culture we would not otherwise have seen (such as buffalo racing!).  We have come to love the spicy Indonesian food (at #2 per person for a meal in a warung we have eaten out a  lot) and even to like the local Bintang beer! Underlying it all has been the wonderful, welcoming Indonesian people.  Wherever we have gone we have been greeted with ‘Hello Mister, where do you come from’, shortly followed by a request for a selfie.  This is such a huge country that we have only scratched the surface: we would love to come back for more.