in IndonesiaComments Off on Batam


There were several boats left Kumai within a few hours of one another. We were all heading for Batam, just over the strait from Singapore, although we might stop on the way.

Our alternator troubles had not resolved, it was working at half capacity, although we could manage perfectly adequately with that, we could not run our ‘frig and freezer. We had given away a lot of the frozen meat to people in Kumai and shared some of the better cuts around our friends to ‘babysit’… It was to be an interesting trip for us without refrigeration, we had plenty of food, but as the days went on meal planning had to be increasingly creative to make the best use of the little meat we had left and not always with good results!
It had a positive side however, we had good sailing weather and we had our wind-vane steering on, it was a treat not to have run the engine to recharge the batteries and run the ‘frig as we used so little electricity. It was like the old days of cruising and in that way certainly had appeal.
On the other hand, to have meat and cold drinks on hand is also appealing!

There is a an extensive area of shoal water out from the south coast of Kalimantan, there are shifting sandbanks and the are is not well charted. We took a conservativ approach and stayed well out, we were nervous in water less than 10 metres deep (and this was 20 miles off shore…) so ours was the longer, safer, ‘scenic’ route, whereas others took various short-cuts through shallow channels, but we all ended up in the same place at the same time as we rounded the south western corner, we then had a spinnaker ride all within sight of one another for a day and night. There is some pleasure in sailing in company like that, if only that there is something to talk about and there’s always chatter on the VHF radio.

We approached the island of Serutu in the early morning of the third day out, uncertain whether we would actually stop there, but as the wind faded we decided to take a break and went into the anchorage.
It was a good choice.

The bay we stopped in was uninhabited, it was well sheltered from the sea by high hills but had gusty winds, it could easily have been in the outer Marlborough Sounds, we felt at home. There was a small beach and a little river coming into the head of the bay, it gave the opportunity for a fresh-water wash, but most importantly, the seawater around the anchorage was very clean and ideal for getting rid of the accumulated grime of Bali and Kumai. Goose Barnacles were taking over the keel; they were disposed of.

We only stopped there the one night, it was clear there was a good sailing breeze the next day and the ‘fleet’ moved on, next stop Batam. Again it was good sailing with light winds from behind, much of it with spinnaker.

There were many ships crossing our path, going to or coming from northern Asia and although there were not the small fishing canoes, there were the bigger fishing boats to avoid. Surprisingly most of them were anchored (as the water was that shallow) and they were largely unwatched by day as everyone aboard slept

but at night, they lit up the very bright lights on those spider-like arms and started work, catching squid (?)

Their bright lights were visible miles away around the horizon, they were not easy to miss, however some of the ships caused anxious moments in close encounters…

After 2 nights and 3 days we stopped in at the first island in the Riau Group of Indonesia, Pulau Mesanuk.

It was for us an overnight stop only although a nice anchorage in sheltered water, -among many fishing huts and nets…
The chance of cold drinks and refrigeration at a marina was beckoning, we carried on the next day up the Riau Strait in the middle of many islands.

It was a grey stormy day and while we kept our spinnaker up, those yachts in front were caught in a squall with lightning at very close range…We missed the worst of it. The boats ahead were concerned, but we had warning and were able to reduce sail before the squall struck.
We were by then almost at our next planned anchorage, we motored into it to spend the night before going on to Nongsa Point Marina, our departure from there would be to Singapore.

Nongsa Point is a good marina and is probably the nicest part of Batam Island!

The whole of Batam is under Singaporean influence, much of it has been bought by Singaporean Money. Nongsa Point is no exception, it is Singapore owned, they don’t even bother to convert back to Rupiah, the prices are all in Singapore Dollars!

The marina provides a good service, but it is only a small part of the whole Nongsa development. There is a hotel block and apartments owned on a time-share basis

with an excellent communal pool and restaurants, we were able to partake as fellow-owners.

Even without the swimming pool, the water inside the marina was surprisingly clean, clear and full of fish. It was a nice spot!

Beyond the Nongsa Point Development however it was a different matter…

The island of Batam, along with neighbouring Bintan is undergoing extensive and very rapid development, it appears almost out of control!
All over the north half of the island there are large areas of bare earth everywhere.

All the old has been torn down, new industrial, shopping and housing complexes are shooting up everywhere, although for a good proportion work has halted in a half completed state.

One wonders about an overall plan…

The city of Nagoya is a busy, but very messy place

on the waterfront and downtown.

Architecturally there are some incredible sights, design fantasies with amazing use of colours…

new shopping centres

this one of modern design about to open

and this mock Victorian Gothic, St Pauls look-alike, its building paused midway…

While on the waterfront is this ‘cruise-liner’, – in fact, it’s a reinforced concrete hotel building, construction also halted…

There’s a pocket of the old way of life still remaining

but most of it has been torn down and replaced with new village complexes.
This one seems to have a ‘neo-Dutch’ theme…

while nearby is ‘Italian Renaissance’…as just a few examples…

I think it unfortunate that they are not using Indonesian designs, there’s very little evidence of that.

Typically these islands used an elaborate form of the Indonesian ‘hairclip’ gable ends, but the only evidence of it I found now was in the bill-board for this little restaurant!

It’s an architectural nightmare!

That part of the island not under the bulldozer and builder is covered is scruffy trees, there’s little that’s useful for agriculture and there are few animals.

There is big industry all around, people here work for a living rather than grow food.

Batam is one of many in the Riau Island group.

They are close by, most of them small and either uninhabited or with just small villages.

At the southern end of Batam a road with a series of grand bridges has been built to join several islands together, all part of the massive redevelopment plan.

It’s quite an engineering feat, but the volume of traffic being carried can’t possibly
justify the expenditure -yet…

but the view from the big bridge is terrific!

and at the far end on the next island food stalls and sellers lie in wait to catch the passing traffic;

and the spin-off from all the development to come their way…

We spent more than a week in Nongsa and enjoyed it for facilities at the marina and the cheap shopping at the hypermarket, we also took a day trip over to Singapore on the fast ferry which leaves from Nongsa, but we wouldn’t regard it as a place to go for an Indonesian
cultural experience!

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