We left Penuba in the Riau Island group of Indonesia heading for the major port of Tanjung Pinang.
Our first overnight stop was at Tanjung Kelit on Pulau Lingga, just round the corner from the little cove where in 2015 a lot of the rally boats had thrown an excellent Equator Party. (https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/crossing-the-equator-aargh-jim-lad/)
The anchorage was serene and peaceful but we had an unnerving experience going into the anchorage as the depth of the water plummeted alarmingly quickly and then shot up, only to plummet wildly again.
We eventually settled in a channel that had reasonable and consistent depth – just level with the headland (Tanjung) and a structure on the end of it that we thought was a Chinese temple.
We had a very comfortable night there and only found out the so called “temple” was in fact an Equator monument. Had we known we would have lowered our dinghy to take a look!
We left the anchorage like a cork out of a bottle due to an unusually strong current. There were whirlpools and currents all around us but there was nothing to cause us any problems.
We retraced our steps from 2015 through the beautiful, deserted and rather haunting Lingga Archipelago. According to the Indonesian Cruising Guide it is one of the least visited areas of Indonesia, probably because there is no land transportation on any of these sparsely populated islands.
We arrived at Benan Island, one of our favourite rally stops and went ashore for a walk. Unfortunately I forgot my camera so was unable to capture the lovely village, the friendly people, the white sand beaches, the palm trees swaying in the wind and the delightful group of girls who followed us on our walk, singing to us and making us rings out of palm fronds. (To see photos of Benan Island go to https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/crossing-the-equator-aargh-jim-lad/)
We met up with Jonny who we had first met in 2015 and asked him about BJ (Big Jogger) – the restaurant owner and chef who had fed the rally participants so well. He called BJ for us and we had a great chat during which BJ ascertained what we wanted for dinner and translated it to Jonny who then set it up with one of the eating places on the pier.
BJ’s restaurant at the end of the pier was having work done on the roof – probably in preparation for the 2017 rally. If you’re in the Riau Islands don’t miss out Benan Island we have visited three times now and really love the place and its people.