If you exclude our enforced time back in Sydney last year, we’ve been in Raja Ampat since Sept 2019. That’s quite a lengthy time by any cruiser’s standards, but then Covid has forced many of us to be stuck in one spot for much longer than usual. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going to be stuck anywhere, then Raja Ampat is one of the best and most beautiful places to be – but we’re ready to do some exploring of parts unknown. So, we’re off to Triton Bay, some 396 NM south of here on the west coast of Papua (still part of Indonesia).
It’s remote and isolated and has a reputation for great dive sites and encounters with whalesharks, so you can imagine how keen we are to get there. The only drawback is that we need to provision for approximately two months. Quite the challenge, and by the time we’re ready to go, our fridge and freezer and pantry shelves are bulging at the seams, and the bank account is looking decidedly thin.
We’re travelling with ‘Jams’: Kevin on ‘Aquabago’ is waiting for parts so he’ll join us later. One of our first stops along the way is, in fact, not a part unknown at all – it’s beautiful Balbulol in Misool where we spent a glorious time early last year. While we’re there this time, Murray shinnies up his mast to do some maintenance and gets this spectacular shot of Toucan tied up in the bay. You can see why we need long tie-up lines!
Sailing is a bit of a rarity in these parts as we’re so close to the equator (think doldrums), but we manage to get a good overnight sail to our next stop at Pisang Island (curiously translated as Banana Island but not a banana to be seen, and the island isn’t even banana-shaped). But we do find a pretty little bay to anchor in. It’s a bit squashy for two boats so we put the anchor down and tie back to a tree ashore to limit our swinging room.
Our plan is to spend a couple of days here doing some diving, but that gets shot to pieces the first night when a squall comes through from the northwest, putting us on a lee shore. We’re OK and holding well, but Jams suspect they’re dragging back onto the beach, so they make the prudent decision to hightail it out of there. After that, neither of us are too keen to spend another night there so we keep going towards the mainland to our next pretty anchorage near the delightfully named town of Fak Fak. We’re being super-cautious not to draw too much attention to ourselves as we’re not sure what sort of reception we’ll get from the locals in these strange covid times, but they appear unfazed by our presence and wave happily as they do drive-by’s to check out these foreign boats.
We’re keen to do as many day hops as we can, as navigating these waters at night can be hazardous with local fishing boats (many poorly lit) and buoys and who knows what else. So our next stop is a long day’s sail and then an even longer haul up to the head of Selasi Bay trying to get some protection from the westerly wind and hoping to find a depth that we can anchor in – it’s a challenge to find anything under 30 metres in these parts, but eventually, just as we’re about to give up, we find the bottom shallowing to a mere 25 metres, as close to the end of the bay as we can get, and just abeam of a little fishing shack on stilts. This’ll do nicely. We have a chuckle about the times back home when 15 metres seemed too deep to anchor in! Thank goodness we carry 100 metres of chain, we need nearly all of it here.
The next day our goal is to get further south to Mommon, where there’s some diving to be had and a spectacular waterfall dropping straight into the sea. It’s stunning, but by the time we get there a squall has come in from the west with strong winds and swell, and there’s no safe anchorage that’s shallow enough for us.
So on we go, to an anchorage around the corner of Cape Papisol. By the time we get there it’s dark, but Murray and Carol have been here before, so they lead the way in as we dodge fishermen flashing their torches at us from their dugouts. It’s good to get the anchor down and the next morning we’re rewarded with the view of a stunning location and a safe place to stay for a few days while we wait for Aquabago to catch up with us. Every day’s an adventure!