A catamaran-hitchhiker on a round the world tour - Wild sailing In Indonesia

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Who: Sandrine, Joé, Myriam
Where: From Timor to Mentawaï, Indonesia
Multihull: Seabra, Perry 43
I’m a boat hitchhiker. After the Mediterranean it was the Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Sea of Cortez and then the Pacific. In July I embarked for the first time on a catamaran in the role of skipper with a captain, Joé, who had barely 400 nautical miles of coastal sailing under his belt. In Darwin, I recruited a female crew member with whom we formed a diverse trio, now united by friendship. What an immense pleasure it was to draw up my own itinerary, without time constraints and with as many wild islands as possible! At the start, we had to arm ourselves with patience and a sense of humor to get through the formalities for entering Indonesia, which resembled a treasure hunt in a tropical urban labyrinth with riddles in Indonesian. Even if we were well prepared and had the help of an agent, both on land and at sea, we had to endure a real struggle with the authorities in Kupang. But it was well worth it! Except in Bali and Lombok, there are no markers, no marina, no English, rarely any electricity and no shops, but in my opinion our experience was richer for it. The Lesser Sunda Islands offer precious travel moments, as I call them: our authentic exchanges with Muslim, Hindu or Animist families, our bartering with fishermen at dawn, and the exceptional underwater world made up our daily life. From July to November, between Timor and Sumatra, we always enjoyed a very steady south-easterly wind of around twenty knots, which offered us some fairly calm inter-island sailing, under spinnaker, or goosewinging with the mainsail and the genoa. Lightning flashes lit up our nights, but only twice did they turn into thunderstorms, which we easily avoided. The dangers came more from the strong currents: up to 7 knots between the islands of Nusa Penida (Cristal Bay) or the seabed, which is not always well charted. In Mentawaii, we had two scares. Being used to monohulls, I was discovering the advantages of a shallower draft, which makes the presence of reefs less real. It was a big mistake, because we suddenly saw the color of the water change from ocean blue to coral green. In a few seconds, the depth sounder went from 60 m (200 feet) to 2 m (6’), and we came close to a small circular seamount. If we’d been sailing a monohull, we’d have taken the keel out. Although Joé couldn’t (yet) tell the difference between a halyard and a sheet, he knew his Perry 43 by heart and had mastered the handling of his dinghy, which enabled us to reach the most elusive places. I’d never been over the coral reef before with the Kon Tiki style dinghy, surfing the highest of waves, flying over the churning reef before landing in the turquoise calm - a guaranteed thrill! The islet of Salura, to the south-west of Sumba, was by far the most breathtaking island of my entire trip.

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