Hugging the Coast Mon, 24 Dec 2012 20:15:56 +0000 en hourly 1 Tasmania talk January 8th 2013 /?p=915 /?p=915#comments Mon, 24 Dec 2012 20:15:56 +0000 admin /?p=915

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Last days /?p=835 /?p=835#comments Mon, 17 Sep 2012 10:07:50 +0000 admin /?p=835 read more]]> Duika here: Our last days were no different, still  there were unexpected suprises at every horizon. We spent our last expedition night on Selanka with Pak Joseph, our host during the period we were ‘winded in’.  We left early to ensure we did not experience the afternoon waves and it was indeed a beautiful calm sea all the way back to Tasik Ria. We had freshly caught tuna sashimi and all screamed in delight when a pod of dolphins chose to play in the bow waves of Tropica. We arrived back at Tasik Ria safe and happy. That night we heard of the 7.8 richter earthquake off the east coast of the Philippines and the tsunami warning that had been issued for Sangihe group. We stayed awake and watched the news, packed bags with passports, water and snacks in case we needed to make a hasty departure. The warning was called off. But the next morning when I went down to the jetty early and it was clear we were experiencing the effects – the waves were breaking over the jetty bar, the port was filled with fishing boats and anxious looking fishers facing the sea, and the water was licking the ends of the kayaks above high water mark. The fishermen reported they had been at sea in calm waters and the waves just ‘appeared out of nowhere’.  I felt their desire to be by the beach and watch for the water sucking out – knowing that it would be too late if that happened. But I also felt that the worst was probably over, the earthquake was east coast Philippines and we were  protected by the Sangihe islands between. We might not have been in such a safe place had the earthquake happened the night before when we were on Selanka. But that was the trip in a nutshell. We had our share of adventures, but more than our share of good fortune. At every hurdle there was someone, some event that made it all ok. I will never forget this trip or the wonderful wonderful people we met along the way.

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NEW! Tasik Ria a base for sea kayaking in Indonesia /?p=825 /?p=825#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2012 13:39:04 +0000 admin /?p=825 read more]]>

Hugging the Coast team member Vonna Keller stayed on to train the lovely Tasik Ria staff to lead kayak trips around North Sulawesi and the Bunaken Marine National Park. The pool at Tasik Ria resort provided great training ground for practicing their first kayak rescues! Our four Tahe Marine Kayaks (two doubles and two singles) are now based at Tasik Ria and staff are trained up and ready for visiting guests.  Given there are few kayaks in Indonesia, this is a great legacy for Hugging the Coast!

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Hugging the Coast on Vimeo /?p=812 /?p=812#comments Fri, 07 Sep 2012 19:28:24 +0000 admin /?p=812

Hugging the coast introduction from Duika Burges Watson on Vimeo.

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From Bebelang to Sangihe, and back to Tasik Ria – more adventures /?p=784 /?p=784#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 04:04:56 +0000 admin /?p=784 read more]]> Over the last week of the expedition we’ve had very little internet access. We even visited an amazing island – Pulau Makalehi – which had no phone reception whatsoever, even though every man, woman and child had and used a ‘handphone’, mostly for taking photographs it seems (a great deal of which recorded our own visit). Makalehi, as Duika has already written about, was another island paradise, and they’re building accommodation for tourists so that they too can experience life on the shores of a pristine, inland volcanic caldera lake. We received a warm welcome at the local secondary school and made new friends to whom we are now connected via Facebook. FB, as it is referred to here, is an essential means of maintaining social contact for the majority of people we’ve met. With insufficient 3G speed for accessing normal internet pages, FB profiles predominate over email addresses. It is clear that I am going to have to learn Indonesian if I want to understand the posts and messages, though!

So, since departing Beberang, we spent a couple of days just paddling, visiting villages and enjoying quiet beach camping. From there we spent a day paddling northward up the western coast of Sangihe, before meeting up with Tropica so as to make it to the Tahuna port and safe anchor before darkness fell. Tahuna, with its multitudinous volcanic peaks, has a distinctly different climate: humid, damp, hot. Everything felt clammy even before the tropical deluges soaked us through. We spent two nights parked up beside a large wooden cargo vessel, ‘camping’ on Tropica and meeting the lovely Pat Bone (local Honda bike dealer and former speed boat designer), Felix Gagaube and his staff at the Tahuna Marine and Fisheries Office, and Bapak Wenas, Felix’s superior. In addition to receiving gifts of smoked tuna produced by local womens’ cooperatives (a valuable regional speciality that is sold in Jakarta as part of a marine resources management / economic development trial put together by Felix), we were treated to a memorable lunch of roasted groper (fish) and kangkung ( water spinach).

We departed Tahuna at 3:30am, but even this attempt to avoid the strong wind and waves of the hot part of the day didn’t enable us to escape the storm. We raced south to Tagulandang through torrential rain, big waves, thunder and lightning, intending to re-visit Minanga and the KD, Anita Bawatong for an overnight stay as her guests. Sadly, after an hour hoping for a safe dock in the Minanga bay, waving at Anita on the rainy beach, we had to give up so as to use the last few hours of daylight in an attempt to reach a safe mooring further south. A sketchy anchoring on the south east of Tagulandang was abandoned at 3am, and some calm finally achieved at daybreak, at our beloved Selanka. The former care-taking host, Josep, was waiting on the beach, ready to guide Tropica, via phone, through the intricate coral pathways. Here, we enjoyed a chilled-out day, recuperating after several days of lost sleep (Tahuna never sleeps, it seems), drying our gear, replenishing drinking water, and hoping in vain to see the egg-laying turtles come ashore during the full moon. Carroll cooked the best meal yet, to celebrate our final night on Tropica (by the way, I’ve been collecting Carroll’s recipes to publish on a new page, as soon as I’ve tested – at his request – that they’re reproducible away from tropical latitudes).

We again departed before dawn (I’m getting really good at snoozing through these night-time departures) and, during our calmest inter-island crossing yet, were welcomed back to the Manado area by dolphins surfing our bow wave. I cannot tell you how much this gladdened our spirits: their strength, speed and aerial agility were breath-taking. Auspicious, or what! We gave Josep a lift to Manado, to facilitate his attendance at a funeral, delivering him to the shore via double kayak piloted by Vonna – thusly, Josep finally got his ride in a kayak. Our return to Tasik Ria, despite it being too early for lunch, was celebrated with our first cold Bintangs (‘Star’ beer) in weeks. This part of Hugging the Coast ended with bitter-sweet hugs all round. We also, FINALLY, met Daniel Gondowidjojo, who was responsible for our sponsorship by Tasik Ria (the training week accommodation and meals, Tropica and the crew, and instigator of the kayak-loading trial by Silk Air).

Having washed and rinsed huge amounts of equipment, we are now catching up on correspondence as our gear dries (ready for Lena and Vonna’s departure on the 3rd; Duika and I depart on the 5th), facing up to the budget (yep, we still have a shortfall), and urgently confirming all the Facebook friend requests from the many lovely people we’ve met over the last 3.5 weeks. We haven’t caught up on much sleep though: we saw the news of the Philippines’ earthquake just before bed last night, and didn’t cease our monitoring of the Pacific Tsunami warning webpages until the alert was cancelled around midnight. Breakfast saw millpond seas suddenly transform to huge waves and fishing boats racing for shelter as the earthquake’s effects were finally felt here. We wonder whether the 3 earthquakes that have affected the region since we’ve been here are related – and sincerely hope no more are to come. We could not bear the thought of our newly made friends being in danger.

After a long blog-post, that’s it for now. Tonight we celebrate a successful conclusion to the expedition phase of Hugging the Coast with a team dinner in Manado.  Bring on the Manadonese chilli! Arny and Jacqline will be there, along with Didi, Alex and Carroll.  Our gratitude to each of them cannot be expressed in words.

AND, please see the new Photo Diary page, being created by Duika as I write.

All the best, Johanna

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homeward bound /?p=735 /?p=735#comments Thu, 30 Aug 2012 00:25:59 +0000 admin /?p=735 read more]]> Back at Selanka island with a final 6hr trip to Tasik Ria to come. Last night we experienced the first westerly winds of the trip. Here, people speak of west season and east season, the wet and dry. West brings big rain, strong winds and big waves and we had a taste of it. Pity we’d bothered to wash and dry our gear the day before! The last island we visited, Makalehi, was a delight. The massive caldera lake fringed by water lillies, water spinach and “shoe” bananas. Poverty and environmental wealth exist side by side here.

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SPOT our location /?p=733 /?p=733#comments Sun, 26 Aug 2012 00:19:10 +0000 admin /?p=733 read more]]>  

Don’t forget you can see exactly where we are, 24hrs a day, by following the link to (to the right of this page). SARInfo, a Swedish company, donated the use of the SPOT locator beacon, the Satellite phone plus a service plan to use it, back-up solar panels and an EPIRB. We’re glad not to have had to use anything except the Satphone – for weather reports. Happy to keep receiving text messages via the InmarSat weblink, too: 

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What matters is that we’re all safe and happy /?p=729 /?p=729#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2012 07:50:33 +0000 admin /?p=729 read more]]>  

The title of this post comes from the words of a kind man – a Bapak – whom we met at 11pm last night and bid farewell at 5:30am this morning. The Bapak was part of a group of men who, having seen us kayaking yesterday, were so frightened that we might be bad people coming to do harm, walked to our ‘secluded’ campsite in order to see the bad people off – with torches, loud voices & machetes. Their fear immediately turned to concern when they saw 4 western women – concern because they had not heard about us from the local Kepala Desa. The only thing to do, they said, was for two of us to hike with him to see the KD, whilst the other two stayed in camp under the protection of a bunch of guys. So, Duika & I spent the next 5 hrs hiking rough jungle & tracks in pitch dark. Lena & Vonna, not able to share language, shared sweets, tea & campsongs with their protectors. They were rewarded with a coconut picked from the top of the palm, and the security of 8 chaps sleeping around their tent. Duika & I found ourselves walking back to the port and KD we had reported to the day before, where it turned out that the news of our stay on the island had not been passed on to the Secretary, who would normally pass it on to the villages. So, we hiked back in the dark, torches failing, arriving back at camp after 4am, whereupon all 18 of us went to sleep for an hour. Our hosts departed when the sun came up.  What started as a frightening event for all involved, ended with smiles, photographs and hugs on the coast. The moral of the story is, always keep the Secretary in the loop, and the only thing that matters is that we’re all safe and happy. 

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Thanks for the donations! 1 week left to raise $4760 /?p=726 /?p=726#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 02:56:14 +0000 admin /?p=726 read more]]>  

I’m posting from Karikatang, to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to all those lovely people who have made donations to Hugging the Coast. Given the last minute, unforeseen expenses (a dodgy import tax bill, for a start, equalling the value of an entirely new kayak), we’ve been very grateful for each and every contribution.

Our crowdfunding time limit expires in a week (the 29th) so we’re sending out our last ditch call, to help us raise the final USD$4760.

Contributions can be made via the ‘Join the Crowd’ link on the left of his page – it will take you to our GoGetFunding site. 

We’re still struggling to upload pictures & videos to this site, but we’ll keep trying!

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Tahulandang /?p=723 /?p=723#comments Tue, 21 Aug 2012 22:32:35 +0000 admin /?p=723 read more]]> Johanna here: the day after the Independence Day celebrations at the southern end of Tagulandang, we travelled to the north of the island, so as to be ready to make the next big crossing. In keeping with the serendipitous happenings that have characterized the project from the beginning, we met the female Kepala Desa of the northernmost villange (Minanga) at the Independence Day ceremony. We accepted Anita Bawotong’s invitation to visit Desa Minanga, and enjoyed a lovely morning of conversation, sampled the locally-grown nutmeg, cloves, bananas & coconuts, all straight off the trees.

We also walked up into the hills to visit Minanga’s renowned & beloved fresh water spring, for more washing & joking  with local women (we were the joke). In the dry season (which is now), people from several mountain villages come to wash, do laundry & butcher meat in the river (the spring is a separate water source). I have to admit that whilst I wasn’t too fazed by the pork entrails getting a good rinse, I was thrown by the sight of a man showing off his whole smoked/roasted dog. Dogs, cats, mouse, rat, snake and frog are standard fare in these parts, & are raised like livestock. Again, Anita laughed at me when running through the list for me – it’s no news to them that ‘bule’ (white people) are rarely so inclined.

That afternoon we crossed to Siau in Tropica, and spent a night camping in a small hamlet. Here, we experienced our first torrential downpour of the trip – around 2am. We all got soaked whilst scrambling out of mosquito tents & tying tarps to trees.

Following interesting conversations with the residents, the next day we paddled further, to a truly deserted island, & had our first night of quiet, tropical bliss since Selanka. For a remote part of Indonesia, there sure are a lot of people hugging these coasts! Today, Monday 20th, we had to bid Arny farewell as she took the ferry back to Manado. Despite having shown great promise with her paddling skills, & providing excellent assistance during the research, the combination of homesickness & discomfort during the longer inter-island crossings became too much for her. We’re really looking forward to catching up with Arny & Jacqline upon our return to Manado.  As of now we (and Tropica) are poised to cross to Para at first light tomorrow, and are hoping for 4 or 5 days of paddling from there to Sangihe. Now that we’ve got quite a bit of research done, it’s time to have a bit more fun whilst the weather holds. Yay!

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