Indian ocean

KARIMUNJAWA: Meeting the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

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. Most of them are uninhabited as the 8,000 inhabitants of the archipelago are confined to Karimunjawa, Kemujan, Menjangan, Parang, Nyamuk, Tambagan, Genting and Menyawakan. The site has become a tourist attraction and one can make the most of the soothing zenitude. For the sailor, there is nothing more pleasant than taking a break here to relax: the night watches in these seas require lots of slaloming between hundreds of fishermen though, which is stressful and exhausting!



05°52.503'S / 110°25.645'E

Ideally, it's best not to anchor on a jellyfish as it doesn't hold very well...

Like many anchorages in Indonesia, it's deep. There are ways to get close, but the seabed rises sharply and it's usually coral. So, we had more than twenty meters (65’) displayed on the depth sounder. With 70-80 meters (230-260’) of chain, it shouldn't move.

You should ideally make your approach during the day, whether coming from the north or the south. The coral heads are indeed numerous and not all of them are indicated on the charts. The anchorage is very calm, but the current is strong.



In October, the wind is usually east-south-east, perfect for sailing up through the Indonesian archipelago. Next time though I'm not sure that I'll follow the recommendations on websites and nautical guides. This voyage across Indonesia has taught me that the seasons can be rather random. There's no point going to the extreme and crossing the Indian Ocean in the cyclone season of course, but some areas here are just too unpredictable as far as their weather is concerned. Sailing becomes a question of patience and luck - a bit like the way that people used to live. Your experience will change from one day to the next, be it during the 'good' or 'bad' season. Whatever happens, when in Indonesia, make sure your engines are working well: the wind is very temperamental!



To start, visit the main village. Everything seems dead between 10 am and 3 pm. The inhabitants have deserted the streets and the tourists are all on the beaches on the neighboring islands. There is an overbearing silence... until the chanting of the mosque resounds - and the atmosphere changes completely.

Snorkeling is of course the main activity here. If you have been following my columns, you will have understood that it is one of the main motivations in my quest for new anchorages!

The area is magnificently preserved, and the coral is alive and well. The fish seem to abound too, so there is nothing to complain about. This archipelago is infinitely more attractive than many other spots in Indonesia - let's be honest, some have really disappointed us...

And of course, don't miss the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. These are the largest specimens in existence and their bodies can be over two meters (7 feet) in diameter. If your eyesight isn't optimal, I wouldn't advise you to go in the water: you might not be able to see the 20-meter (65-foot) tentacles coming at you and the stings can cause irritation and cramps, or even worse. Be careful and never dive alone.

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