Indian ocean

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Published on 21 june 2017 at 0h00

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Departure for the first leg: heading for Pulauweh

The aim was to find some good surf spots...

10.30 pm: embarkation on the quay at Yacht Haven marina, in the north-east of the island of Phuket, with a good weather forecast which announced north-westerly or westerly winds at 10 knots, which would allow me to sail at an average of 9 knots under mainsail + gennaker, while my friend, who had just disembarked from the airplane, rested.

In the early morning, we were already at sea, but the wind had dropped. We had to wait, one of the ups and downs of sailing, waiting for the breeze. Late in the morning, the wind returned. I was finally able to go and sleep for 3 hours, and leave Mianoy to the autopilot and my crew. 

During the passages, the weather was sometimes unpredictable...

After a 2-day passage under full sail and with a little help from the engine, we arrived at PulauWeh.

We finished meeting big tankers and container ships in the Malacca Straits at night. Vigilance is essential on night passages, and even becomes a bit worrying sometimes when visibility is lacking, and with no AIS on our little catamaran.

Welcome to Sumatra

2 am, we arrived at the entrance to the port of Sabang. It was a good job we had furled the sails early enough, as a big storm awaited us near the coast. A strange way of welcoming us, with this firework display of lightning which twice struck close to the boat, rain like a high pressure hose, and winds of around 35 knots. A widespread power cut on the coast deprived us of landmarks; despite the lack of visibility I could see the port entrance buoy... An hour later we were anchored and as if deliberately, the weather calmed down.  

Dolphins came to play round the Catathaï 34’s bows. Always a big moment!

The Indonesian-style administrative formalities

The next day, the ordeal of the formalities awaited us. ‘Indo-style’ means hide the alcohol, or be prepared to give out some samples. The doctrine established here is the sharia. Alcohol is therefore not allowed, but...certain people can’t resist it! Which goes to show that taboos are only worth something if you can transgress them.

During these formalities, you must never try to rush, the atmosphere is good-natured (registration before your departure via the internet is possible, and makes things easier: https://yachters-indonesia.id). We got by in English, as they also did, so all was well, but it nevertheless took us the whole day to go round the administrative departments.

It must also be said that it was a Friday, the day of prayer; when we returned, it only took the morning.

Consider buying a sim card with a 3G internet deal; it’s not expensive and works everywhere, (in the area around the coast of course).

2nd leg: Lok-Nga in the south of Banda-Aceh

Neighbors in the anchorage with shimmering colors.

We left Sabang, heading for Lok-Nga in the south of Banda-Aceh. We were sailing downwind to leeward of a squall, and apart from the pass between the islands, where it is best to arrive with the right tidal flow (a lot of current and no wind, as in the shelter of the land), the passage was very pleasant.

We had planned to spend three days here, with surfing and visits ashore ...

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