Well, here we are in Raja Ampat. Took us a while to get here. After leaving Darwin Oct 9, we stopped at Pulau Molu for a few days before arriving in Tual for check in Oct 22. We did more motoring than we hoped, as the SE winds were fading with the approaching NE Monsoon change. After a very short stay in Tual we were able to squeeze out a two day sail to Misool. Since then, the sails have not been out from there sun covers. Sail boats turn into power boats up here as winds are very light to non existent.
After leaving Australia we have been plagued by a few boat issues. We inadvertently cooked the batteries at the marina in Darwin during our two week stay. Not enough ventilation in the battery compartment combined with 35C ambient air temperature had the batteries reaching 150F with the battery charger. Not good. Fixed the ventilation issue, but the damage was done. We didn’t notice the loss of capacity until we were up here. Also the fridge can’t drop the temperature as it is low on refrigerant, so it is running constantly. Combined with the wind generator being useless up here, the batteries can’t keep up at night. So, we are turning the fridge off at night. Luckily we have enough solar to handle the boat during the day. Also luckily the freezer is ok and we have kept all our meat. Oh yeah, and our generator stopped working. This is the most challenging place we have been. It is very difficult to find what you need. It is the first time we were not been able to get cash out of an ATM machine. Neither our Canadian or Australian bank cards would work at the ATMs in Waisai, which is the gateway into Raja Ampat. All the tourists come through here. I had to take the ferry from Waisai to Sorong to get cash. After trying three different banks there, finally got one to work. Scary feeling when you can’t get your money out. A bit of forced saving, as there is nothing to buy and no cash to buy it!
We have arranged new batteries (at twice the price than in Australia) and they are waiting for us in Sorong. Also I was able to buy a tank of 134A refrigerant, but didn’t realize that I needed a tank adapter to use with my refrigerant hoses. That is waiting in Sorong for us as well. As for the generator, hopefully a few parts I ordered from Australia will fix the problem. If not, we can live without the generator. Although Liliane wants to throw the thing overboard and use the space for storage of her art supplies!
But, when we are not working on boat issues, we really enjoyed Wayag and Uranie. On our way there we crossed the equator for the first time since 2011 (planes don’t count!). From winter in the southern hemisphere to summer in the north. Hard to tell the difference though as it is hot everywhere. We spent two weeks in Wayag, and only saw two or three other cruising boats. Lot of dive liveaboards though. I googled and found 85 dive liveaboards working Raja Ampat. Snorkeling was not the best, but we enjoyed the calm anchorage and beautiful scenery. I think are favourite spot so far is Uranie. We were there close to a week and never saw another boat. We had our own beach which Scupper enjoyed every day. Between finding coconuts, snorkelling, diving, and playing music, we really enjoyed the place. Running out of fresh produce, Liliane became very creative with coconuts (and coconut shells!)
But not all is perfect in paradise. Indonesia is the fourth most populated country on earth. And there is a huge plastic issue here. We have never seen so much plastic floating in the water and washed up on beaches. The closer you are to a populated area, the worse it is. And it finds its way into the sea life. We spent some time on this beach seeing what trash washed up, and we made a pile. A lot of single shoes. Are you missing one?
If we look beyond that and the challenges of cruising this part of the world, there is a lot to see. We are currently anchored at Airborek (snorkelled with the mantas the other day) and are going back to Sorong to renew our visas (we need to do that every month now). And of course install our new batteries. Hopefully we will be out of there by Dec 21. Our plan is to head back up to Uranie for Christmas. There is also another place we want to explore a bit more from a diving perspective.
There are more awesome pictures in the photo gallery section of the blog. Check them out.
Lastly, when we travelled down the coast of Australia last year we were really impressed by the story of Old Tom, the Orca that actually worked with the whalers in the 1920’s to corall and kill Humpback whales during there migration along the coast. This is all at the Eden Whale Museum, along with the skeleton of Old Tom. The museum link is: http://www.killerwhalemuseum.com.au. Check it out, it truly is an amazing story. Liliane was inspired by the story and wrote a song about it. We just recently recorded it on the boat. We sent it to the museum and they are considering adding it to their collection. Have a listen.