Bawean Island to Bilitung Island Indonesia
Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 05:55PM
Warren Matthews

Most cruisers when they leave Komodo Island continue down the chain of islands doing day sails.  That would be very pleasant.  It is a very nice area.  Great beaches and beautiful clear warm water.  Also very sparsely populated although there are small villages scattered around so little fishing boats can pop up from virtually nowhere.

Unfortunately I had a time table to keep to and did not have the luxury of time to have a leisurely cruise through these islands, so we have to do some more overnighters as there was 450NM to our next stop.  There were some interesting volcanic islands that we passed.  Most of the time we have a current running against us so it wasn't a fast passage.

We also passed a few ships and fishing boats...


The fishing boats that I found most interesting were the little ones as in the following photos.  We came across them even up to 60 - 70NM off shore.  They putter around quite quickly and sail even faster.


We only stopped one night at Bawean where we didn’t go ashore although it was a delightful spot to anchor overnight. 


We carried on to Bilitung another 340NM away the next morning.

PHOTOS

As I mentioned earlier these night passages are a pain in Indonesia because of the hazards at night with unlit vessels.  Many of them are hard to pick up on radar being quite small and made of wood.  They don’t seem to bother about using radar reflectors.  Also, the ships don’t use AIS although they are easier to pick up visually and on radar, although we saw the odd small ship running without lights.

We passed a weird bit of debri with birds sitting on it.  I would not like to have run over it.

Bilitung is a large island about 100NM south of Borneo.  The north eastern coast is delightful.  We arrived at the coordinates we had in Bilitung just after a rain squall which unfortunately we missed as our water maker had a problem.  At the anchorage there were a number of other yachts which were part of the Sail Indonesian Rally.  The Indonesian government were really making a big thing of it and were welcoming all yachts and doing everything they could to help.

To say the local people were delightful is an understatement.  Marianna and myself walked down the beach and we were stopped by locals with their children at least 6 times so they could take a photo of themselves alongside us.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me at the time.

Bilitung is as yet unaffected by western tourism and the locals did not ask for anything.  The children and their parents were happy just to be able to take a photo.  This is contrast to areas that are exposed to mass tourism where everyone has their hand out.  Not so here.  The coastline around this area is beautiful.  This combined with the locals makes it a place that I will definitely visit again.  The scenery is quite different and the day before we left I was going to do an excursion in the dingy and take lots of photos but a rain squall came through and blew onshore up to 30 knots for some hours so that squashed that idea.  We were there in the transition period between monsoons which is why we encountered that weather. 

Along with the squalls were the long calms which was more annoying because at least you can sail in the squalls.

We met a number of the other yachts and some very nice people.  We decided to check out of Indonesia there instead of Nongsa Point across the strait from Singapore.  Turned out to be a good thing as you will read shortly.

Article originally appeared on Natural High Adventures (http://naturalhigh-adventures.com/).
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