Friday, December 10th, 2010
We love sailing the Picton Castle to and visiting Bali with our crew for many reasons…
For starters the approach to Bali from the sea is a bit mystical. Cones of volcanic mountains rise up from the opaque mists on the horizon like examples of ancient oriental art pained on silk. As the ship closes with the peninsula of Bali where we stay called Nusa Dua, we can see huge kites and soon all manner of brightly painted fishing boats, fluttering flags.
Steering up the narrow channel at slack water takes us into Benoa Harbour; seeminly broad but mostly shallows, congested with vessels of all descriptions, we soon find ourselves one ship among many and one of so many kinds; tankers, containerships, a small Vietnamese bulk carrier with Haiphong on the transom, a Thai naval ship is in painted beatifully. Two Indonesian navy ships come and go. Many of the ubiquitous white Chinese or Japanese steel long liners (we see them all over the world) are alongside and at anchor. Green, red, blue 140′ long wooden local fishing vessels, little tiny (and very cute) saucy fishing vessels are rafted up here and there all over the harbour. Small water taxis, also wooden built with outboards scoot all over the bay. These last are no different than the lateen rigged sailing ferry boats that were the norm some years ago. Only their rigs have been removed, plywood awnings and outboards fitted.
The smells of a harbour of the far east dominate; fuel oil, fish, smoke, salt water tides, even the distinct spicy perfume of clove cigarettes waft by from time to time from passing boatmen. In the light of early morning and late afternoon, small out-riggers with delicately curved pontoons on both sides are paddled by lone fishermen wearing the signature sun hat of this part of the world, the conical straw chapeau known as a ‘coolie hat’. A strong tide flushes this harbour clean.
We motor up to our anchorage directly under the glide path for the airport. We soon become used to huge jets flying overhead taking off and landing, including airforce fighter jets. It is loud but kind of exciting. Once at anchor among rafted fishing vessels Indonesian Customs & Immigration visits the ship. With formalities concluded we launch our fine Cape Islander skiff and take the first of the off watch into the landing which is handily located at what is called the Bali Marina which will be our take off point in Bali for the days ahead.