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Bali – Day 1

Yesterday the Picton Castle steamed into Serangan just to the north of Benoa, the large commercial port on the southern tip of Bali, Indonesia. We had a very good passage the 3,000 miles from Vanuatu. An excellent sailing passage of 1,500 miles from Santo to Cape York, the northernmost tip of Australia, followed by a swift transit of the famous Torres Strait, fair tides every inch of the way, lucky us. I was worried about the prospect of lack of wind on the Indian Ocean side of Cape York but we had many good days of sailing before the wind petered out to nothing and we had to fire up the main engine. It also was not as hot as I expected although it certainly was hot enough, plenty hot, but it could have been worse, a lot worse. But mostly we had smooth seas, gentle breezes and good time under power. We made ample use of all our awnings to keep the beastly sun off us, and it is hard in this part of the world. Something to do with an ozone hole above I have been told. But in due course after passing the Gulf of Carpenteria, passing through the Arafura Sea, Timor Sea and into the Indian Ocean we sailed up to Bali in the haze of volcanos and smoke from fires and made our way into Serangan.

The harbour is well protected, the anchorage seems like good holding. There are all kinds of exotic Balinese fishing craft and ferry boats working from here. Red tile roofs dominate the shoreline. Clearing in was swift and cheerful. The gang keen to get ashore after almost a month at sea. Some family have come to visit their crew members.

My first day is predictably jammed up with getting our Bali visit started. Crew signing off, and on, returning crew, meeting with agents, looking after fuel, food, ship buying and such, Made Alon setting up tours, we are even having a wedding aboard too! Serangan is a bustling seaside village.  The landing is crowded with ferry boat passengers at the ends of the day. Vendors and hawkers all trying to make eye contact to assure us that their cold drink or sweet pineapple or alligator fruit is the best. Plenty of places to get a cold Tebotel or Bintang or a nice nasi goreng meal, low houses many with a charming old Dutch colonial feel to them. And plenty of stone carving about of Barong and other spirits. I like it here a lot and I think will be good for our Picton Castle gang. Not posh and not too touristy, even a bit scruffy, but plenty warung and things to do as well as a good jumping off spot to explore Bali over the next bunch of days. There is a little hotel with a pool nearby, maybe just fine for ship’s boy Dawson who is mad about pools and swimming. The harbour probably not clean enough for pleasant swimming.

View from the hotel

We are getting four local workers to knockarust the rail and waterways on the quarterdeck. Get them restored and ready for paint. Nothing wrong with us chipping paint ourselves but we have much else to do with the crew: rigging, sailmaking, carpentry, etc and still we will have plenty knockarust left over. A steel ship never lacks for a spot of rust busting. The Amazing Donald went ashore as soon as he could yesterday, through the bustling crowds to a market and loaded up on fresh food for a few days. Colourful boats everywhere, brightly painted outriggers, big pinisi ketches, ferry boats back and forth with their own rush hour patterns.

The 2nd Mate Dirk and I went ashore out for a walk on this evening of our first day in Bali. To see what we could see and see about an evening dinner somewhere. After landing at the very busy town dock and a ten-minute walk along the waterfront we came upon a small warung (Bali roadside diner, great food, cheap, where the locals eat) on pilings over the bay. There with a good deal of gesturing and pointing to bowls of this and that in glass display case we were served a fine tasty repast while watching the bright painted outrigger canoe fishing boats bob at anchor nearby, Picton Castle anchored in the far background. Two little girls were playing in the water alongside the sloping stone sea wall looking like it might date back to colonial times. A young woman in lace blouse and sarong with a belt around her waist made from a piece of yellow cloth came along and we watched he set out her offerings on the seawall. It is far more than just setting down the bamboo tray. There is ceremony carried out with dignity in the fading evening light. Later we went and looked at the small, maybe 5” square, palm leaf offering tray to see what was in it. Bits of rice and fruit, an incense stick with smoke spiraling up and even small chocolate candies in their wrappers, a couple cigarettes too. Quite a bit of treasure. Before setting down the offering she had simply swept aside the older dried up offering tray down into the lapping water joining what looked like a few other older such trays from earlier days no doubt. Across the street was a beautiful small residential hotel. $250 a month to stay there. Can’t afford to stay home.

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