23 September 2012

5 33 South 106 17 East

Greetings to all our friends,

The offshore oil platforms are behind us, and the chimneys at west end of Java lie across a few miles of mirror-flat sea, and I now have a mobile phone connection to send, what may be my last communication for some time.

Dulcinea spent much of the daylight hours yesterday heading south at about 10 knots. Twice the speed and far grater comfort than Harmonica might have given us. During the evening and night, the wind dropped slowly until then engine went on at about 4 am. Now we are heading into the Sunda Strait, Krakatoa, and the Indian Ocean beyond. Jan is back in Canada so this is Dave writing.

The only current technical disappointment is that data connections neither, radio email nor Iridium satellited phone, are working reliably. I did not realize that data on Iridium must be relayed satellite-to-satellite until it can be sent to Pheonix Arizona, and if any intermediary satellite is busy or slow then TCP/IP does not get established. Peter Francis flew here from Canada 3 days ago and brought a new radio modem, but that has been at loggerheads with the Windows 7 operating system on my laptop and has not past any data yet. We shall try to send position reports and emails as much as possible, but please do not fret if there are gaps for a week or two.

I shall keep in voice contact with Jan or Mark or Neil by a couple of voice calls per week on the satellite phone.

It has been an arduous 6 months, and I would not choose to repeat it. But thank you to the many individuals who put up with me, and befriended me, and helped during Dulcinea's refit. The last big item - new sails (the original main and jib both split before we reached Penang) arrived from Quantum's loft in Malaka - Thank you Scott. They proved their windward performance in conditions varying from calm to gale between Singapore and Belitung. Yesterday, they showed that that they could drive Dulcinea on various reeches, and now the mainsail is hanging in the calm sunshine just north of Jakarta in case any zephyrs come past.

Belitung is a quiet picture-post-card little jewel island at the west of the Java Sea. Jan & I missed it in 2009, but I am really glad to have seen it now. Particular thanks go to Mr. Harun and his driver Wempy for looking after me so well there, collecting Peter at the airport (after we figured out which airport it was) and letting me use his uncle's property and swimming pool at Tanjung Pinggy (harun_cahyadi@me.com anchor at 2 33.3S 107 41.8E)

Back last month, while we waited for sails with Dulcinea moored at Pangkor, Jan & I spent a week visiting Siem Reap in Cambodia: a country that neither of us has been to before. The books of its recent past are horrific, but its people are lovely and and its Ankor history archeology is wonderful, and packed with UNESCO heritage sites. I expected that Siem Reap and Ankor Watt would be swarming with tourists and a society warped to take advantage of them. I was wrong. It helped that we spent the week in a lovely air-conditioned hotel with a swimming pool just behind our room and quiet, polite Cambodians. We rented a taxi for our first day and were taken to some of the remote Ankor and Hindu sites in the area. The next day, we rented bicycles and explored on our own. The many temples half-emergent from forests are magnificent, but, built over the same period that gothic and moorish architecture were develpoing in the west, the Ankor structures, like those of Central America used massive solid stone lintels without discovering the angles and curves or buttressed walls needed for wide openings and light vaulted roofs.

A doorman at our hotel was an avid cyclist and owner of a very fine mountain bike (quite different from most chinese-style bikes in town), and he invited me out for a ride on our last day. We pedalled NW of Siem Reap and had a lovely visit at his parents-in-law's home in the country. He impressed me by swarming up a coconut palm for afternoon refreshments too. Then we rode back through the grounds of Angkor Tom in the cool evening and bought supper to take home from a little stall.

Dulcinea is sailing. She is a beautiful boat. Thank you again to all who have helped.

Love from both of us

Dave & Jan