Cruising – Karimata and Surrounding Islands
We discovered a paradise of sapphire blue seas, palm fringed islands and white sands as well as coral gardens over run by nemo and his mates. It was amazing and it quickly went to number one on our list of favourite places in Indonesia.
This tiny archipelago of little islands is a conservation area and although its hard to say exactly what that means in Indonesia the area has certainly benefited from it. The snorkelling was amazing; by far the best we have done in Indonesia so far. Hardly any dead coral, no rubbish to swim through and clownfish by the hundreds. On one snorkel I counted over 60 sea anemones with clownfish. [Kelly is not OCD]… thanks Dwayne!
The area is not densely populated and the only fishing we saw in this area was line fishing from canoes and other small fishing boats. We didn’t see any big fishing boats. We did however, see large fish, which is something you see little of in Indonesia when snorkelling. We saw our first shark as well. A small black-tip reef shark.
The people we met were friendly as always. At Pulau Karimata we were visited by Wewen and invited to the island. The next morning before Wewen turned up to take us to the village we bought some squid from a fisherman and had him aboard for a coffee. Once at the village we were taken to Wewen’s home and given tea.
We met his wife Saja Rina and daughter Alifvia Sybilla, and before long many more people had turned up for a visit.
We had little koalas for the children which they all got quiet excited about, even the shy children smiled at their koala.
We needed some fresh fruit and veg and we asked Wewen if there was a market. Wewen got a couple of scooters and we went for a ride to a small supermarket.
They didn’t have fruit and veg (only had some shallots which I bought) but they had the second thing on our list (or first on list for Dwayne) – beer. Beer on a small island was a surprise and Dwayne left with a carton of beer and a happy little smile!.
We then went back to Wewen’s house for another hour before being dropped off to the boat. Our visiting fisherman was still anchored nearby and as we paddled to the beach Dwayne stopped by and gave the fisherman a cold can of coke. We went ashore, had a swim and a walk and the next day we moved on.
We visited P. Busung and P. Genting where we snorkelled and then paddled to the beach to explore. We noticed large lizard tracks everywhere. The next morning, while having coffee on deck, we saw the lizards on the beach. They are some sort of large monitor lizard… a water monitor as they went into the water and dived from our view.
Later we had a visitor who, when I asked about the lizards he told me they were called beawak (assuming my bahasa was correct and he knew what I was asking). We also had a visit from another fisherman, Ahmir. We traded two old working mobile phones for a mackerel. We also gave him a pair of sunglasses, some DVDs and a 1/3 bottle of vodka…. Dwayne was trying to trade for a chicken, but our chicken never turned up! I think we would have had to stay for another day to get it and it was time to move on and see more of this beautiful area.
We moved on to P. Bulu and had some more canoe fishermen turn up. By this time we were wishing we could have a break, just wanted to lie in the shade and read. Oh the dilemmas of paradise! Dwayne paddled to shore with the guys and had a look around, I could see them climbing the trees for coconuts. They got us about a dozen coconuts which was fantastic.
I made some lunch and went to shore to join the others. The fisherman had their lunch which consisted of fried fish and turtle eggs… so much for conservation. We shared our lunch with them and they offered theirs to us. Although Dwayne and I say we will try any food once, neither of us believe in the collection of turtle eggs for food so we didn’t try an egg.
The island is uninhabited but there was a dog that appeared to live there. the fisherman said his name was Memo. We fed him most of our lunch. He was cute but very shy.
Later we paddled over to a nearby island to have a look around a deserted village. Apparently the people come back to fish in the dry season.Memo followed us over, swimming the whole way… he must have been hoping Dwayne had more food.
On this island we saw turtle tracks and an empty turtle nest.
Lots of different veg and fruit were growing on the island, cassava, chilli, banana and taro to name a few.
Once we left this little paradise we stopped at P. Balai and it was time to do chores. Just after I started my washing we had our first visitors turn up. This time it was a family (mum, dad, daughter & son) they couldn’t speak english but we were soon joined by some more fishermen, including Agus who could speak reasonably good English. It turns out that Agus spent three years in a perth prison for people trafficking. Dwayne of course had 100’s of questions for him.
We moved to a place called Panebangan and once again were bombarded with visitors. By this time we really just wanted to chill out with our books. They asked us back to there village and we said that we would visit tomorrow. This happened a few times, when the third lot of visitors arrived we gave up and went with them to the village.
It turns out these were the fishermen that helped Shaun Sims when his boat, Australis ll, hit rocks near Panebangan. Shaun Sims gave the fishermen, that helped him, the salvage rights to the boat and everything left on it (to read the story about Australis ll see link at the bottom of blog). At the village we discovered the shell of Australis 2. It had been gutted. We went and had a look through it. Sad to see what clearly was a beautiful boat in ruins. It was a reminder of how vigilant one must be when sailing the seas.
This little fishing village is just a row of houses on stilts along a wharf. We were taken to a house and seated on the verandah before given tea. I think most of the village people were there and after a chat Rudi’s wife gave us a huge bunch of bananas.
By this time all our fresh fruit was gone so these bananas were gold! We also bought a crayfish from Rudi and then they showed us the room with all the spoils from Australis II.
We spent the rest of the afternoon bartering for the dinghy and motor as well as the dive gear and some other bits and pieces including rope blocks.
In the end we parted with our dinghy and two motors as well as a big chunk of money for the things we wanted. We didn’t have the money with us so it was decided we would sail the next day, overnight and straight to Pontianak where we could put the money into a bank account once we had withdrawn it from ours. That decided, we went back to the boat to relax with a drink.
While enjoying a bevvie on board with our new friends we saw a wild pig across on the next island. So Dwayne got his compound bow and set off with ‘Rambo’ to hunt pigs. He came back empty handed but I think he enjoyed getting the bow out!
Later that night after we had retired to watch a DVD, Rudi turned up with a couple of cute little animals he’d shot. It turns out they are kancil (mouse-deer) after Dwayne took a photo they went off to clean them, returning later with some of the meat for us. I cooked it the next day for dinner and it was delicious and surprisingly not too gamey.
The following morning we were invited on to one of the fishing boats for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of rice, fish cooked with chilli, crispy fried fish heads and, as a special treat for Dwayne, a crab. Dwayne watched the chilli fish being made and it has since become his ‘signature dish’, which is great because I can now say ‘I’d really love your fish dish for dinner’ when I don’t feel like cooking!
After breakfast I spent the morning teaching English and learning Indonesian before we loaded our acquired goodies, and after handing out little koalas for the children (and adults) we bid everyone a farewell and began our sail to Pontianak.
Next up… Pontianak, problems and pirates!
P.S. Dwayne putting in a word here in relation to Australis II hitting a reef. I know when I googled the yacht I actually saw someones comment in relation to “How could you hit a reef with all the modern navigation aids that we have today “ Well, I will just say that in the short time we cruised the south west of Kalimantan we actually sailed past at least 3 big rocky outcrops that were not on any of the charts. You definitely would not sail in these shallower areas at night and definitely not with a following sea.
P.P.S Dwayne caught his first fish in Indonesian waters.
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