Romance and dirt in a spruced up Port 

We had a wonderful sail from Benan Island to Tanjung Penang cranking up to eight knots an hour in a perfect broad reach with 15 knots of wind under headsail only. So good after too much motoring!

Farewell to pretty Benan Island
The wind indicator showing a broad reach
Yay! Eight knots

As we approached Tanjung Penang the weather turned grey with a misty rain – not ideal circumstances for entering a busy little port. 
Nevertheless, we noticed that the waterfront a little spruced up compared with when we had visited with the rally in 2015, with several newly painted buildings and a couple of new structures. 

Newly painted buildings on the waterfront at Tanjung Pinang
The new tourist information Centre built in the shape of a Gong Gong (a shellfish only found around Batam Island)
Everything looked smarter than before

There is no doubt about it, Tanjung Penang is a dirty old port but we found the water in the main seaway and in our anchorage improved compared with 2015. As in other parts of Indonesia, efforts are being made. 

Tides out leaving a load of old rubbish!

There is something very romantic about a port – the hustle and bustle of loading and unloading, the boats steaming off to faraway isles, the characters that you see lurking offering wares and favours to please most tastes. 

The mighty prow of a present day cargo ship

Tanjung Penang is no different and we particularly loved walking along the waterside looking at the gorgeous high prow boats whose shape today is still reminiscent of those mighty sailing ships of old. 

Unloading by hand

We watched a pack of men unload a boat – throwing cartons and boxes by hand in a chain without missing a beat. As we walked by they upped the tempo a little without changing rhythm – enjoying the attention and showing off their prowess a little. 

From where we were sitting in a stevedore’s cafe on the dock we could see our yachts anchored over on the other side of the harbour and enjoyed the comings and goings of this busy hive of industry. 

Bali Hai over the other side of the Harbour

We wandered the streets, stopping at various hardware shops looking for some tubing needed for the toilet on Bali Hai. We couldn’t get the exact tubing we wanted but found a substitute that will do “for now “.

In yet another hardware store

As we strolled we found all sorts of interesting shops (including where to buy a certain Spanish Shiraz that we had “sampled” previously at the wonderful Alim’s seafood restaurant which is situated on the dockside near the small boat terminal and next to Hotel Melia.) 

Dried fish anyone?
The latest fashions in T. J. Pinang

Eventually we stumbled upon a supermarket that we had discovered first in 2015. While wandering around Capt’n Birdseye started chatting to a delightful young Indian woman called Windi. She was marketing manager of the supermarket and although Indian by birth was born and raised in Indonesia. 

Capt’n Birdseye and his new friend Windi

Windi was quite new to Tanjung Pinang herself but had already discovered a great spot to view the city and beyond and offered to drive us there in her car. So while we finished our shopping Windi went to fetch her car and then drove us over a new bridge to a huge tract of land that had recently been opened up for development. 

Windi’ supermarket

We drove up an enormous hill where there was a very grand mosque (even though there were no other buildings for miles around) and a commanding view of Tanjung Pinang!

The view over Tanjung Pinang

The new mosque on top of the hill
Later that day ate a fabulous meal at Alim’s. The seafood couldn’t have been fresher and the whole evening was excellent until it was time to go. While we were enjoying our food and drink the tide had been busily going out. As it was full moon it went out even more than usual! Our dinghy engines were stuck firmly in the mud!! 

Such wonderful food at Alim’s restaurant
After some energetic manipulation which provided wonderful entertainment for diners and staff alike, the dinghies finally popped out of the mud and were afloat again. 

Later that night we were treated to a spectacular fireworks display opposite our anchorage. Great to always have ringside seats on such occasions!

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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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