23rd Mar 2012 - 20th May 2012
Sojourn in Sumatra
23 March - 20 May 2012
A 7 week trip to Sumatra's offshore islands was just the perfect way to kill some time.... even for non-surfers!
Our 280 nautical mile trip from Langkawi to Sabang, Sumatra was a mixed bag of sailing, motoring and motor-sailing and ship-dodging (particularly as we got nearer to that coastline, but AIS is a great help!). At one stage we were doing rather well... 7 knots SOG in 8 knots of wind @ approx 60 degrees, in fairly flat seas... oh what a pleasure, and she is no slouch that's for sure!
Upon arrival, we anchored just off the town in about 19 meters. Lytha (the lady in Jakarta with whom we'd organised our CAIT and Sponsor Letter) had forwarded the latest checking in costs and procedure. Her email address is: email@example.com. Anyway, so the whole procedure was not too traumatic - and all the officials were very friendly and helpful. Some yachties preferred to leave the boat at Pulau Rubiah, rent a scooter and make a day of it. Others bypassed Sabang and preferred to check in further down the coast.
Firstly let me just say that as seasoned yachties you should not rely on C-Maps in Sumatra!! Sometimes the shapes of islands are nothing like they are in reality.
Pulau Rubiah is heaven compared to Langkawi, beautiful clear water - nice enough coral and lots of fish - why anyone would want to stay in Langkawi when they can simply nip across to Rubiah is anyone's guess! Actually it's a good thing everyone stays put because there are only 4 mooring buoys and you cannot anchor there.
From there we hopped further south along the mainland, stopping to overnight at Seudu and Pulau Raya. We went ashore to stock up on fruit and veg at Calang. We anchored in the small bay just east of the long jetty. One can also get diesel here. Not much English is spoken - but, typical Indonesia, everyone is very friendly and full of smiles!!
From here we did an overnighter to Pulau Simeleu and anchored in about 14 m right in front of the village (as you enter, the village is on the right). There were some official looking people that came by in a trimaran craft, but we are not into having all and sundry clamber up onto the boat. They could not understand where we had come from or were going to so they eventually left... quite frankly they were more interested in taking photos of us!!
After a rather interesting night of squalls and torrential rain, we headed out to Pulau Lukon. What a lovely and peaceful spot this was! Only bothered by one fisherman wanting whiskey... sorry, no can do!
We headed off to Labuhanbajau the following day and it was quite a treat having an internet connection again! It was nice not being hassled. Friends were in Pulau Saranggantong so we headed off there the following morning. At about 4pm we noticed a strange shudder go through the boat... we were sailing, I was down below and thought it odd, the genoa does not make that kind of vibration even in light winds. Ken also noticed and watched to see if we'd gone over anything, but no - all was good. A little while later there was another shudder. We thought nothing of it until we received 15 emails in our inbox the following morning from family and enquiring if we were safe after a Tsunami warning was issued! Gosh we had no idea we were a mere 193 nautical miles from the earthquake. Anyway, that anchorage was fantastic and very well protected. The only thing that bothered us were the mozzies!
After a few days we moved on to P. Goso Baohi (Lahewa). This is a good anchorage offering good protection. It's very peaceful too and the only people that came by were wanting to practice their English. Again, we enjoyed the good internet connection. We went ashore here in search of bananas... one is able to buy the very basics here - and I'm assuming that diesel would be available here too. No harm in trying!
From here we went around Hulo Wunga... this anchorage is a little exposed to anything coming from the N/NE, but otherwise it's beautiful - lovely clear water - a very pretty lagoon... and my personal favourite: lots of shells! Another beautiful anchorage close by is Pulau Asu.
Leaving P. Asu it was quite a stretch around to Teluk Dalam. It was tricky finding good holding in a rocky bottom (where's all that glorious mud when you want it?), but after the third attempt we were satisfied... just off to the right of the pier/ferry terminal jetty (left hand side when you enter bay). Landing the dinghy here is very tricky too as there are no beaches to drag it up onto, no docks or walls to tie up to either. What we ended up doing was clambering up a paved embankment at the ferry jetty, and then leaving the dinghy out with a stern anchor. It was well worth it because the market was amazing! We had to check in here as it was on our Sabang paperwork, but we did not pay any bribes - Ken flatly refused (as we'd already paid all our dues in Sabang)... and so they said fine, and we could go.
Heading further south, Sipika was our next anchorage (S00.08.19 E098.20.72)... the most stunning anchorage. Our favourite in Sumatra! Lovely beach to walk on and no hassles from the locals either.
We picked 2 anchorages heading down the east coast of Pulau Siberut before arriving at the first islands of the famous Mentawai's. It's very remote here - not even a cell phone signal. No shops. Nada. Aside from popping over to Topejat Harbour for some provisions, we'd decided that since we were not surfers, that "the playgrounds" was as far south as we were going to go. A stunning anchorage in fair weather is S01.53.87 E099.18.33.
The only "sour" incident happened at S00.31.76 E098.29.83 - we pulled in here to get out of the swell that was running. There was another catamaran anchored further up right in front of the village. At around 8pm a local rows over and hands us a book, (I knew what was coming as I'd read about this), anyway he was demanding 160,000 Rupiah's to anchor for the night, 10 GBP is way too much... we didn't even pay this in the US Virgin Islands!! What is this, let's see how stupid this gringo is? Well it turns out that this is what the people on the catamaran paid!! Crazy! So we told him no, we'd move thank you. He was astounded, thinking it's dark, we'll have no choice... ha we are not ones for getting ripped off! So we upped anchor at 9pm and moved about a mile away! It was a far better spot actually since we didn't have to listen to the squealing pigs locked up in small wooden "cages" on the waters' edge.
We pretty much followed our route back to P. Saranggantong, and then did an overnighter to Calang, hopped up the coast again and spent a few more glorious days at P. Rubiah, before doing the 268nm leg back to Langkawi. So if you want to get away from it all - Sumatra is the place to be! Apart from meeting up with our friends, we had every anchorage to ourselves. All in all it was a good 7 week sojourn!