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Home > Features > A Captain’s Sea Journey to “Island of the Gods”
Cruising-Indonesia

A Captain’s Sea Journey to “Island of the Gods”

Charlie-Dwyer-Superyacht-Captain

The passage from Singapore had been an uneventful but pleasant six-day journey; running down the coasts of Sumatra, Java, Madura, and finally, arriving in Bali. Like most passages for Superyachts traversing the world our vessel was in “delivery” mode, thus not an extended journey. To cruise the country properly, it would take more than three years of continual sailing.

A brilliant sun was rising over the magnificent sight of the classic volcano cone-shaped Mt. Agung, coming into view as our superyacht rounded the north eastern tip of Bali. The Balinese believe that Mt. Agung is the abode of the gods and the volcano is thus revered as sacred. I called to the crew on watch, “You won’t want to miss this guys… it’s your welcome to the Island of the Gods”!

Following an exhilarating beam reach down the east coast of Bali a few hours later, our beautiful yacht was tied up at the limited (and only) superyacht mooring facility in Benoa Harbor, Bali, the first of our planned Indonesian explorations. A true “gentleman’s yacht”, our vessel was purposely constructed for worldwide pleasure cruising. Awaiting us at the dock to take the lines and greet us with a ‘welcome package’ was the Asia Pacific Superyachts Indonesia manager and team. This was to be the start of a two month close-knit relationship as we traversed the complexities of staying and cruising in Indonesian waters.

superyachts-Bali

Benoa Harbour is the main port for Denpasar, the capital of Bali and centrally located just north of Nusa Dua in the teardrop on the southeast side of Bali, close to the airport and to Kuta, Legian and Sanur. The other anchorage option, especially for cruising yachts spending longer periods enjoying Bali, is north in the protection behind Serangan (Turtle) Island.

The entrance through the reef is two miles northeast of the Benoa entrance and the yacht masts behind the reclaimed island can be seen from afar. As soon as our vessel was safely docked in Bali, we immediately began transforming her into the luxury yacht that she is in preparation for the owner and guests joining us aboard in the next few weeks.  The “jobs list” involved mostly minor works and preparations which I carefully orchestrated with the crew along with a lot of assistance from the APS team and their invaluable local knowledge.

Beach-Picnic-Indonesia

We met with the team’s local cruising experts and reviewed every nook and cranny the yacht might get into. My instructions were simple, “I want every detail of our program clearly mapped out and prepared to the minutest detail.”

This is a challenge in most countries and Indonesia is even more difficult given the very laid-back way of life.  After a few hours of kicking around a few different programs we selected what I thought would be the best program for the time and the preferences of our owner and guests.

The vessel was a hive of activity and work as the countdown was on for the owner’s arrival.  As provisions were being ordered it was surprising to find just about every food and/or exotic culinary need one could possibly imagine can be procured in Bali. The most important aspect was to ensure all of the vessel’s harbor clearances, tiresome Customs negotiations and other necessary cruising paper work were completed by APS in Bali without any hiccups in the pre-Covid years.

Berthed-at-Balis-Benoa-Harbor

Island Cruising

The day dawned of the owner’s arrival and the VIP airport Immigration and arrival clearance worked to perfection!  The owner and guests were soon on board and the true meaning of the ships existence was in action as she gracefully slipped out of the harbor and sailed to Nusa Lembongan, the closest island destination to Bali and a regular day-trip destination.

Nusa Lembongan is an island located southeast of Bali, Indonesia. It is part of a group of three islands that make up the Nusa Penida district, of which it is the most famous of the three islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan – known together as the “Nusa Islands”. This island group in turn is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands.

We arrived late afternoon after a beautiful sail across.  All the ‘day visitors’ had departed and the little anchorage bay was deserted. The Chef prepared a fabulous welcome on-board dinner for the owner and guests, and all subsequent meals happily met this high standard.

Indonesia-Diving

There was a lively downwind sail in 20 knots of breeze the next day from Lembongan to a northern bay on Lombok Island. In an idyllic anchorage the attentions of the Chef and crew ensured another beautiful meal served in the spacious and charming outdoor dining area.

The new day heralded the first of the land excursions as the owner and guests enjoyed a half-day tour on Lombok Island, a scenic tropical island adorned with coconut trees. The island is well known for pottery, ikats and general art and crafts and famous for its massive volcano, Mt Rinjani. One of the tallest volcanoes in Indonesia, adventurers can trek to the summit over a few days. Lombock is also now becoming well known as home to the ‘Moto GP track’.

As we departed in the morning on our 100 NM cruise to the Island of Moyowe, we caught the time right and before long were motoring along at 12 knots. By late morning the wind picked up and we set sails at a comfortable 15-18 knots, arriving late afternoon to drop anchor at the resort a mere 60 meters from the shore in 32 meters of water.

 Indonesian-waters

The nature reserve of Moyo Island is 15 kilometers off the coast of Sumbawa at the western end of the Nusa Tenggara islands, a grouping that begins with Lombok and stretches some 1,300 km east to Timor. In the untamed wilderness of West Nusa Tenggara, Moyo is a rustic jewel of unspoiled nature and seas alive with plentiful marine life.

Most of the island is a nature reserve and remains virtually untouched by outside influences. Though Moyo has its green bursts of jungle, much of the island is arid savannah; home to multifarious flora and fauna. Macaques, monkeys, wild pigs, deer, and many colorful birds and butterflies remain thriving and undisturbed in some of the most verdant and fertile land in Indonesia.

Nusa_Lembongan_Reef

Moyo Island is home to the famous Amanwana Resort and guests can fly in by sea plane to meet their yacht as APS arranges for provisions on the seaplane direct from Bali. This is a perfect place for a late afternoon anchorage. The bay is a natural paradise, a veritable Eden in the Flores Sea. Overlooking the turquoise waters of Amanwana Bay – a protected national marine park – a visiting boat is awarded access to some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in Indonesia and a beautiful limestone waterfall is a short trek away with nice swimming.

Komodo Dragon

After touring the local village and bearing books and goodies for the local school, the owner and guests spent the afternoon at the spa and snorkeling on the beautiful house reef, then dining ashore at the resort. The resort was on to the small island of Satonda, just 23 miles north of Moyo with a great anchorage and a saltwater lake formed by the collapse of a volcano, a short walk from the anchorage.

Soon it was time to start our journey back in the direction of Lombok, sailing 40 miles to the islands of Panjang. Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia and forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east. It is roughly circular, with a ‘tail’ to the southwest, about 70 kilometres across and a total area of about 4,738.65 square kilometres.

 Provisions-in-Indonesia

We were delighted to find a large deserted white sand beach with clear blue water and a well protected anchorage near to shore. Pretty as a post card, at dusk thousands of large fruit bats (flying foxes) arrived in search of fresh fruits in the mountains, an incredible viewing. It was a surreal sight, with the sun going down and bats flying through the rigging in a secluded bay without another boat in sight. It was like taking a step back in time.

Panjang to Lombok was a pleasant 40 mile downwind sail along the northern coast of Lombok. We dropped anchor in the bay just outside the Oberoi resort. The views at anchor are dramatic as the volcanoes of both Bali and Lombok can be seen here. The island of Lombok lies a few hours sailing east of Bali, and offers a veritable array of amazing watersports – sailing swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing and fishing in some of the most biodiverse waters anywhere in the world. The 26 Gili Islands of northwest and southwest Lombok, many of them uninhabited with white sandy beaches, idyllic bays and anchorages year-round. A beautiful golf course is here as well, next to the Oberoi Hotel in NW Lombok.

The owner took us all ashore for a delightful gourmet meal and some pleasant conversation as arrangements were made for a helicopter to collect the owner and guests at the helipad behind the Oberoi and transport them on a 3.5 hour tour of Bali. They enjoyed viewing the volcano, rice terraces and coffee plantations before landing at the Amandari Hotel in Ubud.

 

The following day was spent sightseeing while the crew and I took the yacht back to Benoa Harbor for a few days rest before our departure to Australia.  A highly enjoyable and unforgettable sea journey!

This is a challenging country, an island nation of 17,000 islands with approximately 360 differing ethnic groups and more than 500 individual languages along with a checkered history of occupations and political events. However, those with a penchant for exploring and adventure will find nothing short of a cruising paradise and a great destination as the world moves to the backend of the pandemic.

Cruising Season

Moya-Island-at-Sunset

Given its geographical size Indonesia has a 12 month cruising season. April to October is best for what is termed 8th parallel cruising; transition cruising typically known as the Inter Monsoon is March / April and October/ November. This allows yachts to move or visit any one of the 17,000 islands making up this amazing country. The months of November to February are peak season for equatorial cruising.

By Captain Charlie Dwyer

Author Background:

Charles Dwyer started sailing as a child at the local Yacht Club in Newport, Rhode Island racing J24’s, Shields, Etchel 22’s and other small boats and has raced in the Newport to Bermuda Race, the Long Island Fall Series and most other Regattas. He has also been a crew member in the Admiral’s Cup, the America’s Cup for the Courageous Team, the America’s Cup for the Eagle Team and in the International Match Racing circuit. He has served as Captain of the Maxi Yachts Longobarda, Vanitas, Othello and Kialoa III, 42 meter Superyacht Islandia and Abide.

Captain Charlie joined Yanneke Too as the owner’s representative and was directly involved on-site during the complete build of the vessel at Camper & Nicholsons. He was instrumental in assisting with design and implementation throughout the entire construction of the project through to its completion in 1995 and winning the ‘Superyacht of the Year’ award. He then took over as Captain for the Yanneke Too world cruise, remaining as skipper for 21 years and for the past eight years, skippering a superyacht cruising the Mediterranean and eastern USA. Charles Dwyer has well over 300,000 of cruising experience complementing his racing background.