Passage to Jayapura

Wed 12 Oct 2016 08:31

02:36.67S 140:46.24E

The Southern Islets in Humboldt Bay, the boat between them will give you the scale.

By midnight we were approaching Jayapura so, rather than negotiate our way into the port in the dark, we ducked into Humboldt Bay and dropped the anchor for the night between the islets. It was a bit rolly but it had been a long day with not much sleep for the couple of nights before so we had no difficulty sleeping like logs. 

Maritime Police checking us out.

We were just breakfasting next morning when an open boat came alongside with three Maritime Police, wondering who we were and where we’d come from. They were in marine camouflage and had machine guns, big knives and American style police batons, one of which was holding down some cardboard in the bottom of the boat under which silvery tails could be seen peeping - they’d been fishing. Phil asked them if they wanted to come aboard, expecting them to want to inspect the boat, they seem surprised and clambered up to sit in the cockpit. I made them coffee and they sat and chatted for a while, taking many selfies on their phones, mostly with me in. I hadn’t yet come to realise how rare white hair and blue eyes was in this neck of the woods. They were very friendly and offered us some of their fish. After half an hour or so Phil noticed that their boat, with it’s cargo of automatic weapons, had untied itself and was drifting away behind us. “No worry, no worry” they all said, which surprised me as I’d have been quite worried in their place. Quite embarrassing to cadge a lift into the port having to explain they’d lost their boat and guns. We started the engine, lifted the anchor and rescued the escaping boat. The chaps clambered in, not before kindly leaving us mobile phone numbers in case we needed any help or wanted a lift to the markets whilst we were in Jayapura. We’d been warmly welcomed into Indonesia!

A FAD, close up and in situ.

The night before we’d seen a number of big very well lit what looked like boats all around the bay - with maybe thirty lights on each. As we passed them in the morning light we saw they were some sort of fishing platforms with huge outriggers, all covered in nets, that don’t actually go anywhere. Phil says they are some sort of FAD (fish attraction device) and that they are all over Indonesia. It seems in Indonesia most floating things have two large outriggers, from canoes, through dinghies with outboards, to fishing boats and FADs. None of this only being safe to lean one way that the Polynesians do, why have one stabiliser when there’s two sides to a boat?

Sailing into Jayapura port was astounding. We were only 18 miles or so from PNG, on the same island, same landscape, yet we seemed to be suddenly slap bang in the middle of Asia. We passed whole villages built out on piles over the water and entered a port full of high bowed wooden trading boats. On shore bill boards and neon signs are cheek by jowl with conglomerations of wood and corrugated iron houses, the towers of mosques and churches peep up all around and mopeds, motorbikes, minibuses and cars flow in never ending streams along the shore.


We dropped the anchor, grabbed a beer, sat on deck and gawped.