Turn around, flip flop, did a one eighty!

We departed Belitung soon after sunrise,  heading for the Kumai River where we were meeting our friends from Sydney, Australia, who with our cruising mates on Yantara, were joining us in hiring a traditional boat (a Klotok) to travel upstream to see Orangutans and other creatures in the wilds of Borneo. 

The night before we left for Kumai

We were travelling East across the northern tip of Belitung and were hoping for South East winds (given that it was the South East monsoon) but we were out of luck – the lovely strong wind was blowing directly from the East. 

Early morning start

After two and a half hours of bashing into it we began to wonder if we were going to make it to Kumai in time, given the rate of our progress. It was an uncomfortable passage and we were definitely not looking forward to the continued slog – especially given we were on a tight time frame. 

Then Captain Yantara came on the radio with a perfect solution. As we were going to have our boats looked after by a couple of local guys in Kumai (who we didn’t know from a bar of soap) while we were on the Orangutan tour, how about we leave them in Belitung with our friend on shore, Ringgo, supervising? 

This would mean that instead of bashing into the wind for days, shaking the boat and us to pieces, we could simply hop on a plane and leave the yachts in Ringgo’s capable hands. 

Flying to the Kumai River suddenly felt like a much better idea.

Fortunately Belitung has very good Internet connection and even though we were quite far from land we were able to get straight on to Skyscanner to see if we could get airline tickets for the required dates. Fortunately we were able to buy tickets for all five of us (our daughter was with us too) at a very good price – and so it was decided. 
We turned round and had a fast sail back to Belitung as the wind was directly behind us. 
When we reanchored in Belitung we went straight way to talk to Ringgo to see if he would be able to source a couple of guys to “boat sit” while we were away. To our delight he offered to do this with his brother Jack. 
Having sorted that out we took time out to look at the boat that his family was having built nearby to their restaurant. We marvelled at the craftsmanship and how the builder appeared to do so much by eye and with such basic tools. 

Such a beautiful bow shape and all done virtually by eye
The tools are very basic
Capt’n Birdseye is in love!

That evening we returned to the lovely restaurant we had found in the next cove round from Kelayang Beach. Called Crabby Hut, it provides a beautiful venue and delicious food for a very reasonable price. 

Crabby Hut and our dinner table

We had another memorable meal and felt very happy that we were enjoying this lovely restaurant again rather than bashing on against the wind for two nights and three days! 

Sitting there we felt we had gone the right thing!

Somehow turning back felt like a very good decision although I’m sure there are purists out there who would disagree. 

The best place in Belitung to have dinner.

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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.

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