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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway

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24 May 2015

The Perfect Storm: Setting Sail for Bunga Bunga

20th – 23rd April 2015

April 20th:

     Jono took a look at his ringing mobile. The call was from an Australian number and Storm was at the other end of the line. He apologised for not getting in touch sooner but delays at work had knocked his plans back a few days. Storm was due to land in Denpassar at around 6pm that very afternoon along with his good friend Josh and asked if we were still keep to join them on the voyage we could meet up at Linga Longa Bar (a now regular watering hole) in the evening. Relieved that our prayers had been finally answered we agreed to ignore our planned flight to Darwin in favour of meeting up for beers (Liverpool FC were playing that night anyway, so we didn’t want to miss that).

     Storm touched down at 6pm and me us at Linga Longa two hours later. As skipper Storm introduced us to fellow crewmember and joint owner of the Strikly Bizness, Josh. In typical Ozzy fashion Josh broke the ice immediately by asking “How’s it going you pom bastards”. Naturally we responded with the typical riposte of “not bad you filthy, inbred, convict” and from that point we knew here was a crew we would get on with. Despite the naturally sporting conflict (which we were always going to lose thanks to the current state of English cricket) one thing we have noticed with Australians is that unlike our American cousins they have managed to retain that old British sense of sarcasm and piss taking which means that neither party takes offence no matter the extent of line crossing. The evening of April 20th 2015 will always bring up memories of celebration and hope for us. The uncertainties of the previous day had dissipated and in our beer filled stupor both of us knew we could well achieve what seemed impossible a month ago. The boat was pushed out (excuse the pun) and to compliment the alcohol Storm arranged for a real Balinese meal. The dish of Babi Guiling is listed in the Lonely Planet guide as cuisine to try before leaving the island and needless to say the spiced suckling pig roast was the perfect feast on our last night in Indo. For once Jono never needed to use his now familiar and overused catchphrase of “I’m still hungry”. Oh yeah the only low of the night was that Liverpool lost, typical.
The Strikly Bizness anchored at Bali Marina

 April 21st:
     On the day our visa extension officially expired we vacated Yulia 1, said farewell to the resident “guard” dog, had some breakfast at the Swastika Restaurant (I really think the name isn’t doing the owners any favours) next door and grabbed a cab back to Bali Marina. Storm & Josh were already supervising the clean-up operation in preparation for immigration and there was plenty to do. The Strikly Bizness had been at anchor in the marina since January and the previous owner had kindly left the ship with a plethora of perishable food stuffs which ultimately meant we had the joy of clearing a cockroach infestation. Josh and Storm left Jono and I, now known as the “soap dodgers” to the cleaning while they set to sorting out the important immigration paperwork.

     With the guys away we also had the opportunity to settle into our new living quarters which consisted of a cramped bunk bed. To be honest this was the best we could hope for as our room was the only part of the ship void of the resident roaches and I kind of reminded us of the cabin room we lived in for five days on the Trans-Siberian. The way we saw it was we were only going to use that room to sleep in and we were likely to spend most of the day on deck enjoying the view and sea breeze.
The marina would be a picturesque place if it wasn't for the islands only landfill located on mangrove habitat.
 
     Storm and Josh returned a few hours later looking a little pissed off. It turned out the Indonesian authorities would not be able to let us leave due to some bullshit about a new form, meaning we were unlikely to set sail early the next morning. Conveniently the delay’s meant that we would have to pay a day more for our visa overstay and Storm would have to pay additional fees too and although the officers assured us they have a no bribe policy, they couldn’t confirm where the fees were going. I’m not Sherlock Holmes but I guess the final destination of that cash would probably be their back pockets. Sadly delays are something all travellers have to expect in Indonesia and we had little choice but to except it and move on.

     At days end the final member of our crew arrived. Ben, a good friend of Storm’s would be the 2nd in command during the voyage. Like Storm, Ben has also circumnavigated the world sailing and would talk us through the daily tasks on board. Ben had been on holiday with his girlfriend for the last week but decided to take the more exciting and enjoyable route home. He also showed unnecessary praise and interest in our own travels. For the first time on our travels our boasting rights seemed a little flimsy with two round the world sailors and adventurers on board but the guys were kind enough to acknowledge our travels as an achievement few people strive for let alone complete. I was beginning to think that the celebrations were a little premature as we still had quite a big barrier to cross.

April 22nd:
     We all awoke bright and early to crack on with the remaining tasks. After a marina breakfast we cleared the ship of unnecessary, rotting and pest ridden crap before heading out for the BIG SHOP. Judging by the final array of shopping items it seems the old stories of sailors surviving for months on mouldy bread & rum weren’t complete bullshit. Sure there are a few modern comforts today to complement the rum and bread such as pot noodle, beer, eggs, vegemite, bacon, tea, coffee and water but the foundations still remain.


Finally setting sail even if the sails aren't set
    With the big shop complete and on board Jono and I had a little bit of time to relax whilst Storm, Josh and Ben set about completing the necessary immigration forms, again.  Once again we thought it would be a quick and painless procedure but naturally it took around six hours. In the end it wasn’t our expired visas that was the issue. It was the yacht documents apparently. For a second time in two days the guys had to negotiate a fine based on pure guess work even though there are listed fine’s online. The problem is that because the fines are never listed at the immigration offices the staff can play fast and loose with the truth claiming recent changes have occurred. Finally though after almost a whole day of delays with the “clean” cops paid off we were given the all clear to set sail at around 1700 hours. This meant that our planned day voyage to Lombok in the sun was now an overnight trip. Not ideal when you have no sailing experience but at least the guys had the experience to help us through.
    We had around an hour of sunlight left as we edged out of the marina and the day’s heat was slowly beginning to die, although with virtually no breeze you hardly noticed. With Storm at the helm Ben and Josh issued everyone with their lifejackets and talked us through the safety briefing and ship rules. The ship rules were pretty simple:

1.       Do as Storm and Ben do.
2.       Try not to fall in the sea.
3.       Drink and eat as much as you like, when you like.
4.       Make sure you stay awake when on watch (probably strongly linked to how much you follow rule 3).
5.       Have a laugh and enjoy the trip.

     The safety briefing really brought the trip into perspective and kind of added to the slight sense of danger. I strongly feel that adventure is very closely linked to the extent of risk in a journey and that is the real difference between overland travel and taking flights. On flights the safety briefing is carried out by permanently tanned hostesses waddling around pointing unenthusiastically toward the exits because they know that the majority of passengers aren’t paying the slightest bit notice. The passengers are reading newspapers and books bought from the newsagent’s, others are enveloped in a game of Angry Birds or Candy Crush, some are just asleep or wondering how long before they can order a gin & tonic and it’s because there is no sense of danger or excitement. Sure there have been a few high profile incidents of flights crashing or being shot down but these are few and far between. In stark contrast our safety briefing was just as simple but we both hung on every word because at the end of the day if you ignore the rules or failed to listen you inadvertently put the lives of other crew members at risk. We all hoped that the voyage would be calm and without incident but after ten months of relatively straight forward public travel this shit was getting real.
With the sunset behind us we set course to Bunga Bunga land
    Once out into the between Bali and Nusa Pendia and with the setting sun bathing the island in a golden sheen Storm finally announced the watch rotation. Storm and Ben would rotate together to ensure there was always an experienced sailor on watch. Josh, Jono and I were on a four hourly rotation in the following order:

Josh: 10 -2 (am/pm)
Jono: 2-6 (am/pm)
Ross: 6-10 (am/pm)
    As it was early evening I took the helm first alongside Storm whilst the other cooked up some dinner and cracked open a few beers. It was an easy watch really. In this part of the world the weather is generally calm early evening and with no breeze we were forced to use the ships engine. Our course towards Lombok meant we sailed around the southern shore of Nusa Pendia hugging the intimidatingly steep and high cliffs. The calm conditions changed as the ship passed the southern tip of Nusa Pendia as we hit a northerly breeze and strong current which pushed the Strickly Bizness south away from our goal. Unable to head straight against the elements we had to zigzag a little to edge forward.  
 By the time I handed the helm to Josh and settled in for the night the ride worsened. With waves splashing onto the deck we were forced to shut the window hatches to the dorms. The motion of the yacht combined with stuffy, diesel fumed surroundings needless to say my first night at sea was a little unsettled but a lack of sleep was nothing compared to Jono’s first watch. The poor sod had the graveyard shift from 2am to 6am and had to work hard to fight against the tide. His only one consolation was that he and Strom managed to reach our first anchorage point at around 4am on April 23rd on the shores of Bunga Bunga bay in South-West Lombok.