After 3 months on our deserted island of Barogang, isolated from any contact from the outside world, our little group of cruisers have formed a close-knit community making the most of our time here. It could well be another 2 to 3 months before the SE Asia borders re-open, so we have all changed our plans to turn this year into a tropical island living experience.
Everyone here is taking the Covid 19 risk seriously, and will not move until it is safe to do so. We are isolated and safe, and it would be a mistake to get impatient and start sailing again before covid19 has been defeated. The weather patterns are also changing in this part of the world, making our original plans unlikely to happen this year. It is now cyclone season in the northern Indian Ocean.
At first, everyone made the most of the calm anchorage to work through their to-do list of repairs and chores on board. Then, through all the discussions together on shore, we realised that we had a wealth of knowledge and expertise amongst us and were able to help each other out with advice, tools and spare parts. It has been really incredible.
We decided to get ourselves organised by creating the Barogang Yacht Club, with our group of boats as the 10 founding members. We are sure that when the rally to Sumatra is held next year, this will be one of the rally stopovers and hopefully the Barogang Yacht Club will be continued in the future.
One of the gals, Jay, from Bon Adventure, who is a very talented artist, designed a burgee. You may question why there are 3 pigs on the burgee. These were the only “residents” on the island when we arrived, but they certainly don’t seem to mind us sharing their space since we bring them all our food scraps.
Since we arrived here we have bought 5 chickens from the locals, and from those, we now also have 5 new chicks. But because of these we discovered other wild life that we didn’t know about. Firstly, a python came in and swallowed one of the hens, then couldn’t escape because of the size of the chicken it had swallowed. Some weeks later we found a 4ft cobra lurking around the baby chicks. Both were beheaded by a rapid response from one of our guys armed with a machete. But they are obviously out there in the jungle. A dog and 2 cats have joined the menagerie, and we have seen the odd monkey along the beach. We also love to see the turtles, squid and dolphins swimming around the boats in the bay.
Lane was voted in as the Commodore of the new Barogang Yacht Club, which he took very seriously of course and immediately delegated all the club responsibilities to each of the other members. Our officers are responsible for education programs, vessel safety and security, asset and building management for our on-shore club house and bar, media and publications, club membership and health and safety.
Lane has already assisted with a session on lithium batteries, while I joined the ladies for some cooking demonstrations. Our next joint session will be on Medical Emergencies, discussing what to do when we are far from any medical assistance (like now). This will be jointly run by Andrew on Angel Wing, retired army single-hander who has had experience in the field in the Middle East; Wayne and Debi on Irie, both qualified Scuba diving instructors; our 2 retired front line police-people, Donna and Steve on Kenobi and myself, ex NZ registered nurse. We will also go through medical kits and see what equipment we have collectively between all of us and to review what we need to replace.
Four of the guys have set up a band comprising 2 guitars and 2 ukuleles, calling themselves the Barogang Bugs. We swap books and movies, have games evenings, trivia quizzes, and make sure that no-one’s birthday goes unrecognised. Poor Andrew was awakened at 0700hrs with all of us singing happy birthday from our dinghies, followed by a birthday cake on shore for afternoon tea.
Apart from all these fun activities, we still have to maintain our boats, charge batteries, make water, do the laundry, clean the hull from rampant tropical growth, and deal with the delivered food. Most of us have a good number of basic supplies on board, but we get a weekly delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables, which is fantastic. However, we don’t get to shop for these ourselves and very often what we receive is either too big, over ripe, going mouldy or just not what we thought we had ordered, lost in translation somewhere along the way. For instance, when we order butter we get a 2 kg can of local margarine. We have all learned to happily accept what we get and deal with it on board after a good wash to get rid of any stowaway bugs.
It is amazing how creative we can be by improvising with what we have been given. But all that takes time, stowing it properly, planning meals, baking bread, baking cakes using any overripe fruit (mostly bananas, as they bring them to us in big bunches). The question of “what’s for dinner tonight?” usually gets the answer “let’s see what needs eating”.
In our last blog, we talked about the storm that blew through our anchorage for 4 days, causing considerable damage around the shoreline. Our beach on the neighbouring island, where we have been allowed to go walking, has changed dramatically, with much of the beautiful sand washed away right up to the treeline, exposing the roots and causing many of them to topple into the sea. We still manage to get a good hour’s walk in at low tide, sometimes scrambling over fallen palm trees, but we delight in all the things we see along the way. Every tide brings with it something new including, unfortunately, a lot of plastic rubbish and old fishing nets.
Michel on SV Javerne has put together a short video to recognise and thank all the Indonesian officials who found this island anchorage for us and continue to look in on us. We have interviewed each of the cruisers to get their opinions regarding how the government is looking after us during the covid 19 crisis. If you want to watch the video look on Youtube for “Catamaran Javerne a Travers le Monde”. Although the yachtie that filmed it is Swiss the language used is English and was just posted yesterday. Please feel free to take a look if you want to see a snapshot of our lives in Pulau Barogang.