Life at Barogang Island, West Sumatra

Nine weeks since isolation, 6 of those weeks here on our tropical island of Barogang in the middle of nowhere. And who’s counting?

There may be times when it may not be safe to leave our secure anchorage if the weather turns nasty, and we might have to wait a week longer for news of the outside world, and connect with friends and family. I always look forward so much to our family chats.

Daily beach walks, swimming and a bit of yoga each day, then sundowners on the beach around 5pm, every other evening. The ladies use the pool bar, talking food, good books and recipes to share, while the guys discuss boat issues at the bar.

Sometimes we will leave for our walk on a perfectly fine day, then long squalls build up on the horizon and we have to make a mad dash back to the boat. At least it is warm rain if we don’t make it back before the squall hits.

Sometimes we get the feeling we are the last people living on earth.  Imagine a month without seeing another boat, plane or car.  No people at all, no buildings, no roads, no internet, no communication outside our little bubble of our 10 boats and one Indonesian guy who arrives once a week from a small village over the horizon with semi-fresh veges and fruit. We all quietly hope he doesn’t forget to come. We don’t even have a way to call him. Then when he does come, we have to deal with kilos and kilos of tropical produce before it goes off in the heat.

The arrival of local fishing boats taking refuge in our anchorage help us predict the imminent approach of bad weather. They are so fascinating and very colourful boats. Some are set up to fish for tuna, others are lobster boats and still others fish for squid, each is unique.

There is nothing like a tropical downpour.  Buckets of water are poured from the sky and the surface of the bay looks like smoke due to the splashing of the rain.  At times it is so thick that you can’t see the other boats anchored next to you.  Usually the wind hits first.  It will begin with a small vibration in the rigging and you can feel the boat starting to swing with the change in wind direction.  The wind builds up to forty knots in just a few minutes and the wind chop can be 5 feet high.  The wind shrieks and roars through the rigging as the boats lean and twist.  There will be a light sprinkle of rain hitting the deck and then, a moment later, ka-boom, the real rain hits.  The rain comes down so hard that it actually flattens the sea. It’s hard to believe that the clouds can hold up so much water.  This can go on for days.

Sumatra is world renowned for it’s surf and many resorts cater for the hundreds of surfers who come from all over. The resorts are closed at the moment due to the Corona shut down, but for us, approaching an anchorage beyond the surf makes for some quite interesting landfalls.

Nightmare for us cruisers but heaven for surfers

 Baking cakes and bread in my Stove-top Dutch oven has made a big difference, since it cuts down on the use of our LPG, plus there is less heat in the boat than using our regular oven.

I am so glad to have brought my Nutribullet to make daily Pineapple, banana and orange fruit smoothies, and fresh EasiYo yoghurt .

Also being stuck on the boat means we can catch up on all lots of jobs, like checking our storm jib, which fortunately, has not been used since we had it made in NZ,15 years ago. But because of that, we found that all the hanks had seized, so it was good to free those for when we really need to use it.

I did other sewing repair jobs with my Sail Rite sewing machine.

A couple of our guys cut a path with machetes through the jungle to the other side of the island.  I followed along putting bright orange markers on the trees to mark the path. I miss the NZ bush, so pretended I was marking a DOC pathway.

We have felt quite safe in this bush, not seeing too many creepy crawlies.

That was until last week when we noticed one of our chickens was missing. We found the culprit stuck in the chicken coop. A 2 metre Python apparently found a hole in the coop that it could get in through but after it ate the chicken it couldn’t get out because of the bulge of the whole chicken in its stomach.  (There may be a moral to this story somewhere). No pics, sorry.

Now we know that there are pythons on this island paradise.  We have been walking all over the island in sandals and thongs up until now.  So, paradise isn’t always what it seems!  There are sometimes snakes in the green grass.

We have heard that SE Asia will be closed until at least the 9th of June, possibly late- June, but that could still change.  We will stay here until we are able to move on and our plan is still to go to Thailand once international travel is permitted.


  1. As always, great to hear from you with your latest update. Like us you will be thinking that you will never be let out again. For the time being you seem to be reasonably busy and making the most of isolation on an island – except for the storms of course! Yes, certainly hope the man with the food doesn’t forget about you all! Nothing much to report from here. Tired of being locked up and still concerned about the future. Hope it won’t be too long before you will be able to make it to Thailand. We should have been going to Koh Samui again for a month in June. Trip to Canada/States in September also cancelled. Oh well, there is always next year. Keep safe and well. Look forward to hearing your next chapter . Love from Jan and Linton x

  2. Great to hear your news Kay. We have been back in Darwin since December – before c19 The NT has fared better than any other Aust state with the virus. We are lucky and feel very safe. Enjoying being home – the grandchildren and the vege patch. Had plans for Indonesian sailing later in the year but will now cruise in Nth Aust waters instead. Beau Soleil, Esoterica, Umbra Luna and Pegasus are all in NT waters. The current situation is that if you cross borders you have to isolate for 2 weeks but there is a lot to see and not much alternative. All the best and our regards to you, Javerne and Michael S. Lib and Punchy, Nautilus

  3. You two are amazing and so resilient and sounds as if you’re with a bunch of similar people. I’m sure though that you must be so ready to move on. We look forward to your next chapterlove
    Joan & Claude

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