18 August 2008 Monday
Latitude 01 37.600 N; Longitude 124 48 .329E
Siladen Island in North Sulawesi is a tiny jewel in the Marine National Park of Bunaken. Clearest water I’ve seen anywhere, with wonderful coral and fish. The reef suddenly drops off into infinity about 30 to 50 metres off the beach but allows more than enough room for wonderful snorkeling. Where we anchored was away from the coral beds, in sand with patches of dead coral. Not a fantastic bottom, and we dragged once, but otherwise were fine. We were underwater within a short time of anchoring - thankfully I wore a T-shirt in the water, as I ended up with sunburnt legs after being so mesmerized by the underwater scenery … Masses of electric purple fish and shimmers of every other colour imaginable. And of course Nemo was there too, hiding in the anemones. Vivid blue starfish, bright yellow Painted Flutemouths, spectacular Moorish idols, parrotfish, all kinds of Wrasses… and that just about uses up all the fish I can identify. I see them and think, I’ll look that one up in the book, but when I get to it, there are pages of possible contenders. Fish are too hard. I’ll just enjoy the spectacle instead.
The crews of Malaika, Lothlorien and Serenity 2 had dinner at a little café right on the beach. It is so ‘on the beach’ that high tide lapped at its walls. We booked early so they would know how many to cook for, and then waited expectantly for the food. At least the Bintangs were cold. The fish, when it arrived, was excellent. Slimy mackerel smoked over a barbecue, (sounds terrible but it’s terrific eating), plenty of rice, and then a ‘chicken’ dish. I think the unlucky chook was the one we’d heard crowing an hour before dinner, and that was probably because it was hungry. Not sure if anyone managed to find any meat on the bones at all. But, it was still a great night. Patsy and Richard’s mate Bob Hobman met us there, having taken the weekend off from his boat building job over at nearby Waru Bay, about a half hour speedboat ride away.
We arrived in Manado today after a pleasant sail in the early afternoon, and anchored off a stone wall in the industrial part of town. The site chosen by the welcome committee was simply too deep at 60 metres. After setting our anchors we headed into the little stone harbour for a bus ride and a late lunch, which meant a tour of the town and a very long drive out to a restaurant where we were served fish and rice and not much else! Although they did have cold Bintangs which mollified most of the crews. Arrived back at the harbour to find only three yachts at their moorings, and not four: Cruise Missile had dragged her anchors and was nowhere in sight, so a fast boat was commandeered to go in search of her. They found her floating off an island nearly 5 miles out of the harbour, and brought her back in, quite safe, no damage.