After a good rest overnight in the great anchorage at Pulau Genting in the Pelapis group of islands we felt ready for the final leg of our trip to Ketapang to catch up with the Wonderful West Kalimantan Rally.
We were a week behind the rally fleet as Bali Hai’s gearbox had failed and we had to replace it before we could get going again.
We headed out of the anchorage and while still in the sheltered waters hoisted the main sail but much to our dismay the wind was heading straight out of Ketapang at twenty knots plus. It was miserable! We were making less than four knots per hour even with the engine on and falling off massive waves which made the whole boat shudder and judder.
After much consideration and conferring with our buddy boat S/V Yantara we decided that it would be foolish to try and keep going.
Despite the early start, at the rate we were going we wouldn’t arrive in Ketapang until after dark which was untenable. The Ketapang River is hard enough to negotiate at the best of times due to shoals and shallows but in the dark it would be downright dangerous.
So with some reluctance and feeling terrible for not arriving for the end of the rally, we turned back. We were very sorry to be missing out on all the festivities in Ketapang as on our previous visit during the Sail to Wonderful Indonesia 2015, we had an amazing and brilliant time. It was very disappointing for our hosts and for Raymond Lesmana who had put so much energy into organising a wonderful programme of events, plus we were sorry not to be spending more time with our fellow rally participants.
Of course with the stiff wind behind us we had a rollicking good sail back to the anchorage so that definitely cheered us up.
We reanchored close to where we had been before and hadn’t been there too long before the first group of visitors arrived. In the space of an hour a half we played host to three groups of different ages and genders. All of them speaking no or very little English. Our Indonesian is also very limited but its amazing how despite that we had some great conversations.
After our guests left it was time for a swim. There was a huge current running but undaunted, our daughter jumped in at the bow of the boat and allowed the current to carry her down to the stern where we had a rope for her to grab. The dinghy was at the ready to go and retrieve her if she missed!
The following day was Sunday so we decided to take the dinghies over to the nearest settlement up from the beach. And what a welcome we received. There were lots of people just enjoying their day off and as soon as we arrived we were welcomed warmly and of course, many photos were taken.
It appeared from all the attention we were given that that they hadn’t received many visitors from other countries. Those that had come had apparently had arrived by yacht and then only very few had passed through over recent years.
We met one of the school teachers and a government administrator who were both there on rotation, and who could speak good English. We asked if there was anywhere we could buy a few fruit and vegetables but they didn’t think there were any for sale anywhere.
They offered to show us round the little village and showed us the new school building (with so little in the way of materials, books etc), the administration building and medical centre and homes of different sizes and styles, some very modern and others made out of traditional materials.
We were taken to the house of “the village chief” (like a mayor we gathered) and to our surprise the position was held by a young woman with a sweet little baby. I asked our friend the administrator how the Chief was appointed. She said that to be considered you have to have completed Year 12 at school and been awarded a leaving certificate.
We were invited in to her family house and sat on the floor of their front room (amongst bowls and sacks of dried fish) while her husband shinned up a coconut palm to fetch us fresh coconut water to drink watched eagerly from the door way by lots of curious children.
We signed our names in a big ledger which appeared to contain all the births that had recently occurred plus other figures that must have been civic business.
After more photo taking and gifts of coconuts and bananas from the Chief’s family, we wound our way back to the beach where we had left the dinghies, meeting friendly villagers as we walked.
It had been a fantastic and enlightening morning and although we were sorry to be missing the rally festivities in Ketapang, we were so glad we had been given the opportunity to meet the lovely people of the Pelapis Islands.