Happy New Year everyone! We wish you all a healthy, happy and peaceful 2020, filled with love, friendship and new adventures.
We spent Christmas Day in the company of other cruising friends at beautiful Frewin Island. There were 7 boats in total, so we had a ‘potluck’ Christmas lunch on the beach with enough food to feed an army . Between us we managed to rustle up roast chicken, lamb, beef, pumpkin & fish roasted over the fire, dips and salads galore, and even sticky cinnamon buns for dessert! Cruisers are definitely a resourceful lot. After stuffing ourselves silly we spent a lazy afternoon in the water, applauding the antics of those brave enough to tackle the rope swings hanging from the beautiful old tree.
This tree is very special, I’ve certainly never seen anything like – it has it’s own inbuilt Christmas decorations – a percentage of the leaves turn red and fall just over the Christmas period and then a few days later it’s back to a normal state of green leaves. Quite amazing!
Fireworks are a big deal in Indonesia. Towards Christmas the streets are full of stalls selling all manner of Chinese-made explosives, from scary big turbo rockets to little firecrackers and sparklers. We bought a bunch of them when we were in Sorong, and as we weren’t sure where we’d be on New Year’s Eve we let them off from the beach at Frewin on Christmas night. It was a good end to a fun day with new friends.
After that we decided to go exploring on our own for a few days before heading back to Sorong for our scheduled haul-out in early Jan. First we checked out Kabui and the narrow passage that separates Gam and Waigeo Islands. The topography is similar to Wayag with many small limestone karst islands dotted around near the entrance to the pass on the east side. We found a small bay where we dropped the anchor and stern-tied to the surrounding rocks.
It’s a popular spot for snorkelling and diving, particularly in the passage, but we’d heard crocodiles have been seen here so we were less than enthusiastic about getting in the water. On our first evening, enjoying a sundowner drink on the trampoline, we spot something swimming purposefully from one side of the bay to the other. The light’s fading so we can’t be certain, but it looks suspiciously like a croc to us. So that kinda makes up our minds about the water activities! We take the dinghy for an explore through the passage but the water clarity is pretty poor so we have even less inclination to hop in. The next morning I get to helm Toucan through the narrow, winding passage to the west entrance which is fun – it’s shallow but not too much of a problem for our 1.3 metre keels.
Next stop is Yangello, another popular snorkelling and diving location situated in the cut between Yangello and Waigeo Islands. We anchor on the east side of Yangello Island amongst the mangroves but unlike Kabui the water here is crystal clear. I hop in the water to do my usual check of the anchor and have a brief snorkel around the bay. Just as I finish drying off a dinghy approaches from one of the liveaboard boats “Hey guys, just before you get in the water we wanted to warn you a crocodile was sighted here yesterday”. Oh great.
Thankfully there’s little risk of encountering a crocodile on the dive sites here. We do an exploratory snorkel on “Citrus Ridge West” but unfortunately don’t get to dive as I have another equipment malfunction (last time it was my BC which developed a leak – amazing what Sikaflex can do!). This time it’s my high pressure hose, no way we can fix this with Sika so it’s off to the dive shop in Waisai for a replacement.
It’s now time to start making our way back to Sorong but first we want to find a special overnight stop. After all, it’s New Year’s Eve and also our 24th wedding anniversary. We find the perfect location in between two beautiful deserted sand cays – just us and the seabirds, with a manta ray making a special appearance to mark the occasion. Just magic.
We have a lovely dinner with a bottle of champagne and watch the last sunset of 2019 but our celebrations are muted by the news of the devastating bushfires back home. Our hearts to go out to everyone in Australia, particularly those who’ve lost loved ones and homes, and the millions of native animals that have perished. Who knows what 2020 will bring, but our first wish is for copious amounts of rain to break the drought and fires in Australia. Stay safe everyone, hug your loved ones and may 2020 bring you peace, harmony and good times.