Massacre avoided and bats in the belfry

Our trip from Belitung to the quiet village of Penuba on the island of Selayar in the Lingga Group was memorable for a number of reasons.

The distance we had to travel was a tricky one – too short to take two full days and nights and too far to set off early one morning and hope to be there late the following evening. 

Anchoring in the dark in a strange place is something we try and avoid at all costs!

So we set off for Penuba late in the afternoon in the company of four or five other boats from the fleet and enjoyed a sail for about an hour – and then the wind died! It died and hasn’t really come back since!

Such a shame about the lack of wind as thanks to the Skipper and crew of Champagne Charlie we had finally got our main sail to go up and down easily (and as it should do!) Thanks Shayne, Lisa and Cynthia (who went up the mast to spray the runners).


Cynthia, crew from Champagne Charlie up Bali Hai’ s mast!

After a night of motoring we were rewarded with a large pod of pilot whales, quietly swimming around the boat – not carefree and exuberant like dolphins – but thoughtful, shy and just a little curious. It is moments like these that make ocean sailing so worthwhile.

We had some further encounters with the natural world the following night. The sea was like glass – an eerie, unnatural calm. 

An unnatural calm….

An hour or two into my watch I saw a large brown bird trying to land on the mast, on the spreaders and even on the canvas Bimini. I later learned that this was a hawk or other bird of prey but at the time I had no idea what it was as it was so dark I just couldn’t make out any more than a vague flapping shape. 

Later on, on Jonathan’s watch, the clouds burst and it absolutely poured with rain. Beautiful fire quenching, drought breaking, life-giving rain. At once the smoky polluted atmosphere changed and the air was fresh and clear.

Rain glorious rain!

It was such a welcome event for us but I think for the swifts caught out at sea it was an exhausting shock. Struggling against the rain squalls they became weak and frightened and a number of them found shelter on the boat where they quivered under any cover they could find. 


A swift shelters on Bali Hai
Later we found that the other boats had experienced the same thing but on some the hawks had more success at landing and had picked off and killed (and messily eaten) a number of the little swifts.

We were very glad that we had avoided that kind of massacre! 

Another little visitor who saught shelter was a very wet bat who rested for a while and then flew off into the dawn light.


Poor bedraggled and exhausted bat!

Penuba was a delightful little town with a small restaurant near the wharf that sold beer and good food.


Welcome party with restaurant in background

We were given a delightful but low key welcome and two boys performed a cross between a martial arts fight and a dance – unique to this part of Indonesia and with a Malay influence.


Rally participants enjoying the welcome


A lot of the village came out to watch

After the official proceedings we were given a walking tour of the island. In some ways it reminded us of Banda with the smell of cloves and other spices in the air, the narrow concrete streets where the occasional motorbike was the only traffic, and the neat houses with a little garden out the front.

The concrete roads reminiscent of Banda
This monkey adored the kitten and wouldnt let it leave her!


This lady rescues monkeys – this little lost its mum to drowning!
We also took a trip in a local “puk puk” boat (felt extremely precarious) to the neighbouring  island of Singkep to look at some of the colonial buildings built by the Dutch. 

Our puk puk

The Dutch Club on Singkep
Some old Dutch graves, the bottom one was for a little girl and the remains of a doll still sit by the grave

While on Singkep we were taken to an enchanting beach which had the sweetest accommodation built by a local entrepreneur. We would love to stay there one day! 



The highlight of the stay for many of the remaining rally participants was the Australia versus New Zealand Rugby Union Grand Final. The restaurant strung up a screen over the water so everyone could get a good view of the game.

Our stay at Penuba was low key but the welcome so warm and everyone agreed that it had been an excellent rally stop.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Massacre avoided and bats in the belfry”

    1. Aww thanks Lea! It’s been so good sharing our adventures with friends and family and writing it down has helped me process a lot of the things we have seen and done! It’s been such an amazing trip but can’t wait to catch up with you and Rob when we get back xxx


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