Captain Birdseye and I were crossing the Equator for the second time in Bali Hai but for our daughter it was her first crossing in a boat so in accordance with longstanding marine tradition she had to undergo an initiation ceremony, conducted by King Neptune.
Those sailors who have crossed the equator are referred to as Shellbacks and those who haven’t are called Pollywogs. The Pollywogs are put through some physical tests or forfeits to be initiated into the “ancient mysteries of the deep”!
As our daughter had recently travelled all the way from West Kalimantan in Borneo to Australia to pick up a gearbox and carried it back with her two days later, King Neptune wasn’t too hard on her.
He only required her to “Continue travelling the world bringing the love of music and drama to young people everywhere for ever. ” Being a freelance producer of school/young people’s musicals, our daughter accepted this readily thereby narrowly avoiding some dreaded forfeit such as an ocean dunking or a ritual shaving of the head.
After a small alcoholic offering to King Neptune and his consorts from the kingdom of the deep, we went on our way towards the mouth of the river at Tanjung Padang Tikar.
It was quite a long trip so by the time we arrived it was early evening. There was a lot of river traffic including large barges being pulled by colourful (and sometimes matching) tugs.
Most notably there were absolutely heaps of fishing huts on stilts in the water. They were literally all around us.
We hadn’t been anchored for long when a green and yellow motorboat arrived with three men in it – one dressed in fatigues and two others in civvies. They started to clamber aboard with not so much as a by your leave so the captain asked for identification. “Navy, navy” was the reply and a piece of paper flashed in our faces.
We were tired from our trip, just starting to cook dinner and were feeling a bit wary as we were quite a way from the nearest village. In the end we said we were about to eat dinner and they left. Strangely they made no attempt to board our companions on S/V Yantara so we are still not sure whether they were just curious or genuinely in the navy.
We were off early the next day – heading for Pulau Genting, part of the Pelapis group where we intended to spend just one night so we could catch up with the rally fleet in Ketapang.
The first thing that struck us as we headed towards the anchorage at Pulau Genting was what a sheltered anchorage it was. Surrounded by neighboring islands – all with substantial height – meant that yachts anchored there would be safe and comfortable whichever direction the wind was (except a northerly).
The second thing to strike you was that there were an amazing number of fishing huts rising out of the ocean like so many stick insects. Because there were so many we decided to anchor quite a way off shore.
Less than an hour after we arrived we could hear excited voices and glancing towards the beach we saw two dugout canoes full of young boys paddling with all their might towards us.
They were so excited to meet us and enthralled with everything on the boat – the electronic chart plotters, the radio, the water maker – it was all fascinating to them. We gave them each a notebook and pen and they enjoyed using Bali Hai’s engraved stamp and ink pad on the inside covers (and on themselves)!
Best of all they loved their ride in our dinghy. As it had taken them such a long time to get to the boat Capt’n Birdseye decided to take them back, towing the dugouts behind him.
It took well over an hour as it was a long way back and the dugouts kept flipping over so the boys had to dive in, right them and climb in the dinghy again.
He had no sooner arrived back and a second group of people (and then a third) arrived to say hello. We were about to have sundowners accompanied by cheese and biscuits.
It was interesting to see their reaction to cheese – it evidently tasted awful judging by their faces!
By the time the sun was going down our visitors departed with much shaking of hands and sad farewells as the following day we were off again on the final leg of our trip to Ketapang to catch up with the Sail to Wonderful West Kalimantan Rally.