4 January 2015, Misool Island Chain, SE Indonesia
Ocelot anchored in a Sorong sunset
Dear Friends and Family,
First of all, Happy New Year! We hope 2015 brings you much Joy and Prosperity!
We had the most amazing fireworks show in Sorong (after a delicious 6‑boat potluck dinner on a big catamaran here). We were anchored about 1/4nm (500m) offshore, with about 1nm (2km) of the Sorong town shore easily visible in front of the boat. About 11:30pm the power station hiccupped and all the power went out (a common occurrence here) which gave us a nice black background - and the shoreline exploded! There were no official displays, but they've been selling fireworks in street‑side stands for weeks. It seems that most of them were bricks of cardboard mortar tubes (10‑50 in a bundle) with fireworks pre‑loaded. Light 1 fuse and they go off sequentially about 10 seconds apart, shooting high in the air and then exploding in different colors. THOUSANDS of them! Several hundred folks, each setting off dozens of rockets.
Ocelot against a background of fireworks
The rate of explosions exceeded 10/SECOND for over 45 minutes! After that the noise continued for a while, but the smoke obscured all but the closest bursts. Not terribly professional, but VERY enthusiastic, and quite amazing to watch, especially as we got twice as many bursts if you count the reflections in the water.
We're now heading south, through the Misool Island Group. We've visited here before but the amazing snorkeling and diving is bringing us back. Then we'll continue SW to Ambon, where we hope to do our final visa extension for Indonesia. We'll be in lose company with 4 other cruising boats that are all heading south.
All the best for 2015! -- Jon and Sue
10 January 2015, Sailing towards West Seram and Ambon
Lots of tunicates and corals on the Balbulol wall
Dear Friends and Family,
We last left you heading south from Sorong towards Misool. We arrived at a small group of islands off the southeast side of Misool, sporting the unlikely name of Balbulol. There we tied Ocelot between rock walls (actually on different islands). The surrounding islands gave us excellent protection so we felt very safe. The islands are surrounded by reefs, so we snorkeled every day, sometimes twice a day. The reefs extend out from the walls a ways, so at high tide you can snorkel over them. But it's better at low tide, when we do the walls. They're mostly vertical, and the coral at the top is so prolific that it often creates overhangs. The walls were covered in an amazing variety of hard and soft corals, as well as sea‑fans, crinoids, tunicates, and all manner of exotic sea life. Very cool!
Not many large fish beyond bump‑head parrot fish and a lone black‑tip shark, but LOTS of small fish, and even a few nudibranch (Sue's new favorite). Sue was taking a picture of a nudibranch and almost reached out to the wall to steady herself. But when she downloaded the photos, she realized that there was a poisonous scorpion‑fish right where she was going to steady herself! She hadn't seen it at all in the wild, only in the photo.
Per Ardua and Sophie tied up in Balbulol
We spent 5 nights in Balbulol, in company with 2 other cruising boats, Sophie and Per Ardua. Then we spent a day motor‑sailing to the west end of Misool, where we knew there was a well protected anchorage (they're rare in these parts).
This morning we jumped off for Ambon, a distance of some 200nm. The winds have been about 12 knots off the beam but our speed pulls them forward to about 60° apparent. Normally this is a nice sailing angle for Ocelot, but we're battling against a 2‑3 knot current! So we've had 1 engine ticking over so we can maintain at least 4 knots over the bottom. The issue is that there's a narrow cut between islands that we want to negotiate in daylight.
Fair winds and calm seas -- Jon and Sue
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