Monday, 25 June 2012


Tanjung  Genting  1'41.46S. 105'2038E    Is our favorite anchorage  since leaving Nongsa Point. It provided a peaceful and pretty stop for a couple of days to recover from David's flue, catch up on chores and just relax after a hectic week of sailing long days in sometimes uncomfortable conditions.
Hundreds of these tin dredges operate off the north Banka coast.
On Tuesday 19th we left to sail to Mengkudu on the northern tip of Banka. Only 36 NM so an easy day.  After rounding the first headland we discovered tin mining Indonesian style! There were about 300 + huge dredges working the offshore sand, countless numbers, in the thousands, of small one man rafts with pumps, working around them, and numerous small fast boats rushing here and there doing something! This section of the coast for about 25NM is tin mining country. The mine camps ashore, where there are also big sand diggings are a mess of canvas and stick tents, thatch cottages, and hovels. The overall feeling is frenetic. This is all new since 2006 1'30. 89S. 105'52.50E Mengkudu 
There are thousands of these one or two man operators on this coast. This is dangerous but very lucrative work for enterprising Indonesians. Making as much as Rup. 6,000,000 per month between two or three people. Equivelent $600. The average daily wage is less than $5 per day.
On passage today we passed what looked a beautiful and interesting stop, worthy of further investigation. Penyusu.1'36.45S.  105'43.37E is roughly the area. Pretty white sand beaches, strewn with huge boulders, fringed by palm trees. There is a small port and town just near here. 
Dropped anchor in a nice protected bay we visited in 2006 1'30.786S 105'52.460E. At the northern tip of  Banka.   This once deserted bay is now host to a range of dwellings, of dubious architectural merit, and a dusty sand pit. It's still a good haven from the relentless south east trades. 
Wednesday 20th June was a big sail down to  PANJANG    2'8.761S  106'15.816E We had to sail  71 nm  to get here. Wind as ever, on the nose. Didn't spare the ponies for the last 3 hours as we left late and could see we were not going to make the anchorage before dark without assistance. It's a great shelter with a big sand spit and a lot of reef around it. Plenty of fishermen coming and going but no one came to visit. We are off shore from  Panjang  Pinang the biggest city on Banka, and see many large ships and ferries in the southern channel on their way into and out of the river there. Our chart doesn't show a lot of depth but there must be good water. 
This small fishing house not far from our anchorage at Panjang. Each morning someone came to pick up the occupant who had worked through the night lowering and retrieving the under slung net using a bright light to attract fish.
Thursday 21st we got away early but  9 miles out we came to a shuddering halt at about  8am on a reef.  There was a small asterix on the chart, some distance from where we hit but the reef area was extensive. The charting is somewhat inaccurate in Indonesia? After a half hour of bouncing on the reef we caught a wave as the tide turned and lifted clear. The steering chain broke as in the panic we tried to steer the boat with the auto pilot engaged.... so we hand steered back with the emergency tiller. It wasn't until we set to work to repair the broken  chain that we realized we could have steered with the auto pilot. Its amazing how rusty you get a t tiller steering after using a wheel for years.
We returned to Panjang to survey the damage and were relieved to discover nothing bar a few minor scratches, a broken steering chain and a few jangled nerves .  Friday we decided to stay as Baraka and Estrellita with whom we are loosely traveling stayed in north Banka.