Indonesia: South Sulawesi to Lombok: 01-13/06/04: fantastic trip with sailingboat Ikan Terbang

I just came back from a super great trip. Although the original planned dive liveaboard was canceled, Jan Soontjes from Marlin Dive found a superb alternative: the sailingboat of his divemaster Jerome. The route changed a bit from the original schedule but no problem for me: instead of Lombok-Komodo-Lombok, we started in South Sulawesi, to Komodo and Lombok.

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I flew from Denpasar to Makassar and after a visit to Jan’s office, went with a car to Bira, a little village east of Sout-Sulawesi where the sailingboat Ikan Terbang (flying fish) is based. When I arrived at the small harbour, I immediately recognised the boat: 2 masts, 20 meters long, wooden sailing yacht (5 sails). Jerome had anyway scheduled to sail to Lombok, and didn’t mind to change the trip into a sailing-dive trip. His father, Maurice, would join him, to help out. Immediately, when we introduced ourselves, I knew it would be a good holiday. They showed me my cabin and the different things on the boat. I helped with loading the boat with the last things that just arrived: food, divegear, oil, … You sometimes seem to forget what you need for 2 weeks on the sea (because on our route, we wouldn’t encounter cities or villages to re-supply.)
When sailing under Indonesian flag, you are obliged to have an Indonesian crew on board: a captain and mechanic. They arrived on the 2nd. Rabba, the mechanic (or better, the do-it-all), had been already on this boat, the captain was new for Maurice and Jerome. And very soon, we found out that he probably only goes 1 time on each boat. He didn’t know anything about navigation, sailing, ropes, … Maurice and Jerome are very good captains and know it all, but as the Indonesian captain has to be on board, they hoped that he would do that part of the job. It was sometimes great fun to see the captain handling things: he didn’t know which direction to pull or push the handle to go right or left, he didn’t know how to put a knot in the ropes, he couldn’t read a map, put a position on the map, read a compass, … So, very early, his job had changed to washing dishes, cleaning the boat and only steering under supervision of Maurice or Jerome or even myself. It was a good opportunity for me to steer several times the boat myself for severl hours a day sometimes. Exactly what I wanted. Normally either Jerome , Maurice or Rabba where navigating.
A routine was developped on the boat after a few days: Jerome’s boat is used for sailing trips or short divetrip, so we had to find the best organisation on board for this longer divetrip: but it all went smoothly. Jerome and myself were diving upto 4 times a day (see other stories on the site), Rabba brought us to the divesites (and picked us up), with the “annex” (the little motorboat), Maurice filled the other divetanks during our dives and did different things on board while waiting for our return, and the captain, he was smoking his cigarettes or washing the dishes.
Jerome used to be a cook, so the food on board was delicious. Even at the end, when we started to run out of ice to keep things cool, he still managed to use his creativity and prepared very nice meals. And in between (even at night when navigating), he bakes a chocolat cake, pancakes, …
Maurice, who used to work on fishing boats and construction works, is very skilled. Most people don’t realise how much things have to be done once you are at sea. Different things can break down, so you have to be very handy: Maurice knew a solution for every little (or big) thing that had to be fixed or changed.
Rabba was continuously helping and working wherever needed.
And I, I was the tourist on board: enjoyed myself and helped out wherever I could.
I can absolutely recommend the Ikan Terbang, both as a sailing boat or for divetrips.

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