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Bali - Benoa Harbour

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Making landfall in Bali was a lesson in how in a sailboat you can not count on the weather gods to cooperate with you no matter how well you plan.  We had gotten close enough to Bali to see the mountain top before dark on the 4th of October.  It was a beautiful sunset with a nearly full moon rising under Juipiter about an hour and a half later.  We had been motor sailing all day in light beam winds. 

I had worked all the calculations that showed on our current course and speed we would make the Lombok straight just as the tide was turning in our favor.  This would give us a boost of upto 8 knots if we rode it correctly.  With great peace of mind, I went off to bed leaving Towlee on watch.  About 11:00pm I felt the boat getting pounded by the waves (chop really), the engine straining to keep the boat moving and Towlee letting out a string of expletives.

Concerned, about what might be going on up on deck, I stuck my head up to ask if everything was OK?  Towlee look exhausted, the boat was going up and down more than forward and there was spray everywhere.  Our nice quiet Northeast breeze had turned into a 25knot wind from the Southeast (the way we wanted to go) and the seas had risen to about 1- meters of steep short wave.  Where we had been doing 6-7 knots during the day, we now fighting hard to maintain 2.

With great disappointment, we had to bear off to the east.   The beating we were taking was just too much for the boat and crew.  This put us on a long tack east before we could turn south again and head for Bali.  The result is that we lost exactly 6 hours on our course to the Lombok Straight.  This saw us arrive just as the tide turned against us.  We spent the 7 hours averaging 2 knots over the ground and 6 knots in the water to get to Benoa harbour.  This was some of the worst rips and eddies that I had seen up to then. 

We should have waited for the current to change again, but I wanted to get into Benoa before dark.  Also with fuel in Indonesia only 9 per liter (33 per gallon), I didn't feel bad about burning some to get there.

Bali Market.jpg (14028 bytes)

Towlie walks through one of the food markets in Bali.  This was the biggest market that we saw in Indonesia.  It went on for about 3 blocks.

Once in the harbour, you are reminded that this is still the third world.  At full tide, it looks very nice and big, but at low tide, the harbour shrinks to about 25% of is high tide size.  There is one small "yacht club" everything else is anchoring out.  Boats anchor very close together in 4-6 meters of water.  With the tide and winds changing direction all of the time, the dance the boats go through on a shift makes for an exciting time.  Especially with the Cat's swinging one way and the keel boats the other.

When we arrived the harbour was very full as it was the end of the season for boats going from the Pacific toward the Med.  They had about 2 weeks to get to Singapore before the NE monsoons kicked in and made the passage very uncomfortable.

Coming into the yacht anchorage, we spotted a boat that we didn't expect to see again, Le Dragon du Maud.  This was the boat from Singapore that was going to motor at high speed to Sydney at 9 knots.  We were a bit surprised to see him here as we knew he did not have an Indonesian cruising permit.   We later found out that his engine had died and he pulled into Bali to wait repairs.  He would be stuck here for at least another week.

The morning after, I received another reminder that I was still in the third world.  Dave and Dave had gone to shore for breakfast when a police launch came through and started yelling at all of the boats to move NOW!   There was a barge coming through and we were in the way.  Sure enough, right behind him was a huge barge being maneuvered by 2 tugs.  I pulled anchor and circled around in the outer harbour waiting along with about 10 other boats.  Any boat that was in the way was treated as if it was not there.  The tugs just smashing them aside.  A couple of the yachties that were anchored out of the way enough to not have to move, jumped into their dinghies and tried to push the unattended yachts out of the way. I had learned in Singapore from an ex-Bali yachtie that the government does not consider the barge company to have any liability for damage to yachts in the path of the barges.   They regularly damage a number of boats bringing the barges in and out.

When things settled down, I tried to re anchor, but could not get the hook to stick properly in the soft mud.  After the third try I saw an empty spot on the dock at the yacht club and tied up there.  We spent the next 4 days on the yacht club dock.

The yacht club is actually very nice. It is owned by a Chinese businessman (as is 95% of Indonesia) and run by an American yachtie that came and stayed.  In the morning, "boat boys,"  that will work on the boats, show up in the club house.  They can be hired on an hourly or daily basis.  The going rate was 10,000rp (~US$1.00) per day.  They work very hard with some supervision and are a great opportunity to get the boat cleaned up.  Other work can be done, but requires looking beyond the yacht club.

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Last modified: February 01, 2009