With the collision avoided and some day light approaching my watch was coming to and end. The sea’s settled back down to near lake like conditions. I focused on the oily wavy iridescent blue. There was a hint of black only seen from the corner of your eye. The appearance was never seen across the panorama and only in the shadows or edges. As if the narration of a daytime movie, was my own voice sounding distant. “What secrets do you hold”?
How many ships and lives had been swallowed by this body of water; would not come close to being known until a few days later. On arrival at Belitung’s north west shore would we begin to learn of the history and catastrophe’s this part of the Java Sea held.
We arrived Belitung later than we would like. With a combination of Google Earth and our guide book we dropped the hook in 7m on sand. The anchorage noted in the guide book is bordered on 2 sides by bleached coral reef and open sea to our north. There are a few boulders north to north west.
After two days and nights to get here and it was time to get off the boat! The dingy ride to shore was quick. A poorly constructed and slightly dilapidated sign “Belitung” welcomed us. My guess was that it wasn’t more than a few years old. We beached next to the fishing pier and found a little restaurant with cold beer only meters away.
The angst from the near miss two nights ago had fully resolved when firm land was under foot again. Bloody good thing too I must add, as they only served Bintang Beer. A long neck would have to due. Josh found some friends. One a little boy, whose father was western. The boy named himself thunder-man as he didn’t like the sound of his Indonesian name. Josh was finally getting some kid time.
With beer down and food in, ’twas time to get back. Kozmic lay in wait, as we crossed the reef patches before the last of the light disappeared. As the last of the light dropped we made it aboard. A feeling of contentment radiated through us. We found our boat! Sounds silly but, a triumphant feat. In our excitement to get to terra firma we forgot to turn on the anchor and deck lights.
Belitung is a round relatively flat island in northern central Indonesia. It lies on the rum line between the far east (china) and the capital of Jakarta. The island once an important asset rich with tin. Its waters have been plied by countless merchant ships. The western shores strewn with shoals and drifting banks has accrued a collection of wrecks. Belitung has a long and prosperous history, mining, war activities, fishing and its reinvention for tourism.
Today tin mining is long gone. The museum does a wonderful job of telling the story of its hay day. The village just north of the main settlement remains a traditional fishing village. From what I can gather this is the most western settlement of the Bugis people. Remember the ones that I met in Karimunjawa? The roads are well paved, traffic is light and transportation my scooter is relatively easy.
Interestingly the locals on the island would seem to lack the skills to develop the island for tourism. With backgrounds in fishing and mining construction work and laying of bricks is outside the norm. Most of the workers met had been imported from the capital to aid in developing the governments dream of another tourist mecca.
The north west corner strewn with granite boulders and white sand. This is where the island gets compared to the British Virgin Islands of the Caribbean. Since the massive earthquake in northern Lombok and the bad press of Bali the Indonesian government made diversification of tourism a priority. Belitung was being preened become a tourist destination.