August 29th, the Prime Minister of Malaysia announced that Malaysian borders would not be opening until the 31st December.!!!!! Previously the opening date for borders was set at 31 August.
Thailand is also closed to cruising yachts until sometime next year.
So, what now????
It has been over 4 months since we arrived in the remote uninhabited island of Barogang, a beautiful anchorage chosen by the Indonesian Government for our period of isolation and to keep us more or less in a group. Initially, we all visualised maybe a couple of months, possibly 3. Since we have been here, we have celebrated Anzac Day, Swiss National Day, Indonesia Independence Day and all the birthdays of course.
As mentioned, word was that Malaysia was to reopen its borders on the 31st August, so we were making our plans accordingly, taking into consideration weather patterns and necessary visas to time our crossing of the Indian Ocean. Since we are looking at going via the Red Sea and Suez Canal, January is the best time to start this crossing. Those heading towards South Africa would generally, wait until next May.
Before continuing on our journey westwards, most of us need to go back to Malaysia or Thailand to prepare our boats and to pick up spare parts that have been shipped from various parts of the world. Also, to re-provision for several months of cruising. It is difficult to find all the supplies we need here in Indonesian supermarkets. Indonesia is beautiful and the people are wonderful but the boat service facilities are basically non-existant.
In the early days of this pandemic, throughout much of Indonesia the misunderstanding was that it was the tourists who spread Covid19, so understandably, we were not welcome. We are in the region of South Nias, which is Covid free (for the moment) and the local people no longer see us as a threat. They are starting to warmly welcome us in their towns, still with social distancing and wearing masks as best we can.
We can now wander around the closest town of Tello, which has a safe anchorage nearby, (just a 3m crocodile keeping watch on our movements). The town is very clean and the people selling their wares out on the street welcome us with big smiles.
It is also interesting to see a Mosque, a Catholic church and Buddhist temple all close together in the town.
To go to the larger town where there is a larger market, we need to take a 2 hr ferry ride which could increase the risk of infection. However, it was good to see that they were limiting the number of passengers and alternate seats marked with a cross to ensure social distancing. Our temperatures were taken on disembarking. The towns are empty of the usual visitors who come for the world-famous surf spots along the coast, so businesses are suffering badly as a result.
We went to the local food market, dined out at the local restaurant, and generally had a fun days outing.
Some of our friends have needed to see the local dentist and doctor, and although the facilities were pretty basic, they were very satisfied with the care they received despite the lack of any local anaesthetic for the dental work. Ouch!!
Today is the first of September. We have all left Barogang to move to another anchorage on the Island of Sipika, well known in the surfing circles, and closer to the village of Tello. There some local people here coming and going, but we keep to ourselves on our yachts or meeting up for sundowners on the beach.
There is a lovely white sandy beach to walk along and a paved walkway takes us past a small village and school under the shade of coconut palms. As much as we enjoyed the walks at Barogang, I am really enjoying the change of scenery.
We often get together to discuss our plans from here, but really there are very few options open to us at present. We are allowed to sail around all the 101 islands of South Nias, but we are beginning to choose which of the trees on shore we will decorate for Christmas, and the turkeys are few and far between.
By the way, we are 7 miles south of the equator, so it is hot and muggy with heavy downpours several times a day.
Up until now, we had planned to take flights home occasionally, to visit with family and friends. Now, that is no longer an option. I find that hard. We have to satisfy ourselves with What’s App messages and video calls when we have good internet.
I have to stop thinking of all the places we could be visiting now if we had joined our friends and headed for the Med this year. Sicily, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal. That will have to be for next year or whenever borders re-open.
We will make the most of our time here, where, thankfully, we are safe and welcome to stay. It is very beautiful and peaceful.
The Indonesian government has assured us that they will continue to renew our visas until we can safely move on.
That looks like a great place to sit with a good book on the beach,while the rest of the world is in some kind of hysteria…….enjoy it while you can,……do. You have a surf board
No but some of the crews are out looking for one. Not for us.
Hi Lane & Kay; Happy to see that you have been able to enlarge your horizons and have more population around. Although you can’t get to close, new surroundings must be a breath of fresh air !! It is such beautiful countries but when you can’t leave, I am sure it must be disconcerting to say the least. Atleast you have your group of friends with you. Glad to know you are safe and comfortable. We are have a heat wave hear too (100 to 115) but atleast not muggy !! Havent talked to Derek & Amy for a few weeks but do follow his posts on Facebook; rest of us doing good. Kids are back to school – mostly virtual but managing. Stay safe and enjoy !! Love, Charlene
Hi to you both, Really enjoyed reading this blog, thank you xx
Oh! I hadn’t realised that Malaysia and Thailand have extended their restrictions. Global gloom and paranoia rules the day – crazy world.
Still plenty of time for the South Africa option. Maybe six to ten others here in Réunion leaving for there in next couple of months.
Fast broad reach all the way from Sumatra. Baguette, cheese and wine on arrival.
Good to hear what you are up to and see your photos!
Beautiful peaceful surroundings.
We have all had our wings clipped this year……hard not
to catch up with family isn’t it, lucky we do have Zoom etc.
All the best for the next few weeks,
Eh bien Kay, c’est pas du tout comme prévu! Vous faites preuve de courage en tout cas. Est-ce que vous risquez d’être touchés par la saison des cyclones?
Ici on continue de produire des petits-enfants! 6 au total jusqu’à présent ❤️
2 viennent de commencer à l’école.
La situation avec le covid est très bien gérée ici mais évidemment il y a plein d’opinions divergentes sur le sujet.
J’espère que vous pourrez bientôt entrer en Malaisie…
It’s always good to hear from you, even though your wanderings have been curtailed somewhat by this covid thing. There are many worse places to be marrooned, and it is good that your sailing club gives you some social cohesion.
Hang in there; you’ll be sailing again soon we hope.
only now got to read the last blog. You certainly live in a different world were you are. Wish I could pop over. We have had a few warmer days and spring is in the air but weather is also still changeable eg. today cooler and wet. Enjoy the tropical climate, the ocean and the beautiful beaches. Life looks fab your end. Big hello n hug from NZ
Hi Kate and Lane,
Have at last caught up with your latest blog. Don’t know whether to be deeply envious of your beautiful and peaceful hideaway, or commiserating with what must be a rather frustrating situation. So glad you are with a group of great people and at least you are spared the drama of second waves, Brexit and the American Presidential election, all of which are spreading chaos and gloom here in a wet and windy UK. Alcedo is still languishing on the hard in the Boat Lagoon in Phuket, with no possibility of us joining her in the foreseeable future. We are seriously thinking of shipping her back to the Med next year, so maybe we may even get to see you again. With that optimistic thought in mind and wishing you continuing peace and health and good sailing, all the best, Sally and David
So fun to watch your aventures In the sun ☀️
Meanwhile watching a snow storm Outside my window ❄️☃️