Friday, 15 July 2016

16th July - Labuan Sarmi (New Guinea)

Friday 15th July 2016

01 degree 55.556S
138 degrees 48.924E
Labuan Samri (Irian Jaya)

Today we had a surprise respite day because Pete did some calculations and realised we were getting low on fuel.  We knew there was a small town along the way, and we hoped very much that it would be hospitable, and that we would be able to get fuel relatively easily and quickly.

Labuan Sarmi more than exceeded our expectations.  We arrived quite late and anchored as it was getting dark, with the boat juddering ominously.  WHY???  We leapt into the water, with snorkels and masks, to see what was wrong once the anchor was down and – oh the relief – it was an easily fixed problem – a great big ball of green weed impeding one of the propellers.  Maybe (just maybe…) we had gone into shallow water and scraped along the weedy sand on the other side of the Sarmi promontory…

Just as the sun set, along came a big police boat, laden with men, desperate to HELP!!  What could they do to make our stay in Labuan Sarmi as easy and joyous as possible??

The next day they took us around town on motorbikes to find fuel.  (Well they took Pete, early in the morning for a recce, while I stayed in board reading the last (sigh) of the three Slow Horse books by Mick Herron – such witty writing; highly recommended. 

At nine Pete came puttering back in the dinghy and we both went in to shore, to spend some quality time in this lovely little town.

I was very happy on the back of Franky’s polisi bike.  I don’t look happy in the photo because Pete is querying the capacity of my iPhone…but in fact I love whizzing around quiet streets on the back of a bike, so long as I don’t have to steer, or worry about slippery broken bridges, or gravelly potholes.

We went to a lovely market, out in the burbs, where I bought beautiful herbs, and some prawns (which took A LOT of cleaning but never mind!)

We found the Commander (Anton Sarwom)

at a local fuel station, getting a ute loaded for 2XS.

We sat around for a while, and the local girls came to chat.  Navila and her mother took a liking to me but Evelina was totally fascinated with, and amused by, my nose, which is apparently VERY big and pointy.  Compared to hers…

In the late morning we got back to the boat and prepared to pull up the anchored and take the boat in to the great big concrete jetty, where Commander Anton and the team were waiting with the ute full of fuel…

What could possibly go wrong??  Well the hawser, where the anchor chain goes down, got all wobbly and detached and Pete had to go into the anchor hatch and fiddle with the nut while I sat on the deck and wobbled the bolt from above.  For what seemed like HOURS!!   Eventually (Pete is very resourceful and determined) it all came together and we went in to the jetty.

I imagined that our awaiting police officers would be grinding their teeth somewhat.  But no; they were perfectly happy and cheerful.  People here are SO NICE!  So friendly, helpful, kindly.  Franky later said to me, “You are a wonderful mom!  You and the captain solve your problems together!” in tones of admiration.  Well that is one way of looking at it… a good way, I must say!!

We will draw a veil over the transfer of diesel from the ute to 2XS.  I found it very stressful.  We banged and crashed into the big jetty, with a cast of thousands helping and manoeuvering the fenders and the ropes.  I did my bit, mad a big bowl of popcorn for the helperboys, and then went down into the kitchen to clean those prawns of all their green internal slime.

Dear Franky invited us to his house for the afternoon.

He thought we would be tired after our exertions.  We had managed to buy some cold beer, and shared it with him and a few of his friends and colleagues.  Franky speaks such good English and he has learned it all himself, from a big grammar book (I saw it) and a book on how to conduct yourself in job interviews (ditto).  He also learns from TV, music and newspapers.  He would love more yachties to come to Labuan Sarmi, and maybe tourists… it really is a lovely place; we loved it!

We walked back from Franky’s house to the harbour, and found a small gang of boys (indisputably 8 years old, all of them,) rushing along the street.  Pete waylaid them and tried to do high fives.  They we so amused they literally fell over, clutching their tummies.

They rushed off and found us again in the town center, where they helped Pete find a shop to buy fuses.

I had 50,000 rupiyah left ($5) so off we went to the supermarket and bought icecreams for all of them – Arfan, Yoel, Elios, Anulfo, If an.

The town is just lovely.  Bright and tidy and pretty.

Colourful houses!  

Friendly people.  

We are so happy to have had a day here; wish we could come back and have longer!

Saturday 16th July 5.30am

Leaving Labuan Sarmi - internet s-l-ow to non-existent so photos may have to wait!

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