may 2013: indonesia: simalue island, banyak islands, nias.

We cruised. One week in Simalue. One week in the Banyaks. Two weeks in Nias. We’re happy to be sailing and surfing again.

SIMALUE ISLAND

SAILING. The passage from Pulau Weh to the north of Simalue was ordinary. We chugged against a knot or two of current. The passage was five nautical miles shorter than the one from Phuket to Pulau Weh, but it took us five hours longer. Dan travelled with us and continued his wizardry; he did my night shifts, and when we finally arrived in Simalue, he snapped family photos.

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LIFE. We attracted attention. Dan was in his element; Willow not so much. She fled from one crowd…

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…only to be engulfed by another.

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…But she found a friend…

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…with whom to play chase…

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…and cuddle.

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CREW. After two weeks and 526 nautical miles (973 kms), our dependable deckie, Dan, left us to continue on his merry backpacking way. We were sad to see him go. Willow still refers to the spare room as “Dan’s room”.

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SURFING. Ho. Hum. The few surfs we had were ordinary and crowded. I guess you could say we didn’t score Simalue.

ANNOYANCE. “Dale’s great storm”. We were nipped by the edge of a cyclone, 200 nautical miles from its eye.

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We had ample time to find somewhere to hide because Captain Dale spotted the storm on the charts 11 days out (well, so it seemed). Our safe harbour was a hole in the mangroves in the south of Simalue; it offered us with 720 degrees of protection (well, so it seemed). We sat onboard for three days as Zinc danced circles in the torrential rain and 40 knot winds. The term “cabin fever” now means something to me.

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…On day three, the weather was fair enough for a tender ride…

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…and a short walk on this patch of grass.

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ANNOYANCE. While doing a spot of baking during “Dale’s great storm”, I used my left index finger to clear the blade of an immersion blender. At the same time, I accidentally turned on the blender. Dale used his tools to release my finger. We both thought we’d find my finger hanging by a flap of skin, but the nail bed saved it. This is how it’s healed. I am one lucky, ten-full-fingers and nine-and-a-half fingernails lady.

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BANYAK ISLANDS

ANNOYANCE. Our favourite sail, the screecher, crumbled before our eyes as we sailed with 10 knots on the beam over calm seas from Simalue to the Banyaks. We didn’t expect to sail beautifully on this trip, nor did we expect our 4.5 year old sail to delaminate in patches and then tear from the top down over the course of an hour.

SURFING. Dale enjoyed bountiful barrels; I enjoyed long lazy lefts. We played “Transfer!” with Willow all week.

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LIFE. Life is easier with our new washing machine onboard; it’s the Willow model.

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BOAT KID. In the spirit of the Hawaiian SHAKKA, Willow has invented a hand signal of her own: the PAKKA. “It’s not a SHAKKA, Mummy; it’s a PAKKA.” Of course it is, Sweetheart. Apparently, the PAKKA is tallman and thumbkin. It looks like you’re giving someone the finger or signing a gun. I doubt it will take off.

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LIFE. We spent hours each day playing in a waterfall that trickles into the ocean. For some reason it reminded me of the Southport Rockpools, but with fresh-water and nature, and without the crowds; so not really like them at all.

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CREW. Bertie travelled with us from the Banyaks to Nias. He was very good at doing the dishes. I would go so far as to say exceptional.

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…As a reward, he scored a nice wave or two.

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SAILING. The main sail + spinnaker combo was a first onboard Zinc. Blink and you’d have missed it.

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NIAS

LIFE. In the mornings we went to land to relax,…

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…to work in the office,…

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…to enjoy the view,…

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…and to run craft sessions.

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…In the evenings we returned to sea to watch the sunset and to sleep in our comfy beds.

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SURFING. Here onboard Zinc we froth the full swell cycle. Frothing the peaks is Dale.

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…And frothing the troughs are Willow…

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…and me.

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…At a minimum, one of us is happy, most days.

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VILLAGE KID. Willow loved being a village kid for a couple of weeks. She was (reasonably) good (for a two year old) at sharing (and giving away) her toys.

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ANNOYANCE. The wave that dusted these punters went unridden. Dale had been waiting for it for six hours. He’d left “the spot” ten minutes before it arrived.

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INFORMATION. Here’s a photo of me carrying my favourite board; it’s an eight foot Yater, and I love riding it. Sure, I can get to my feet (kind of) quickly. Sure, I can handle a (kind of) late take off. Sure, I’ve been surfing for years, and I should be well and truly stepped down to a quiver of (much) shorter boards. But, for many, many, reasons, I love riding my Yater. So, if you see me in the surf and you feel the urge to offer me unsolicited advice about the type of board I should be riding, please don’t act on your urge. And if you just can’t help yourself, please don’t be offended when I smile politely, pretend to speak Portuguese, and paddle away – toward the shoulder out the back to grovel onto a big one that dusts the lineup, of course…

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