The Voyage of the DHARMA BUM III

The Voyage of the DHARMA BUM III

Name: Holg in Taipei
Location: Taipei, Taiwan

Thursday, February 04, 2010

To be continued at

Sunday, December 27, 2009

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Monday, December 21, 2009

//WL2K Christmas Greetings from the DHARMA BUM III in the South China Sea :-)

Dear Friends!

Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year!

For more then four years we are sailing around on DHARMA BUM III now and we have experienced quite a lot. If I look at the globe, I can see where we started and where we are now, both at the same time. And when Aurora Ulani had to do her homework for the Calvert School, we found out that she celebrated her birthday (born 30 December 2003) always in a different country up to now.

1. Taiwan
2. Tortola, BVI
3. Panama
4. Kiribati
5. Germany (Boat was in Whangarei)
6. Indonesia or Singapore

We wonder how long that will continue...

Last year was quite interesting. After we came back from the visit to my parents in Germany, we had a lot of work on the boat to do. We really liked Norsand boatyard and New Zealand in general. Made lots of good friends there and since then it is one of the places where we would consider settling down.

When we left, things got a bit dramatic for after five days we encountered winds of up to 58.6 knots. Our bimini didn't like that and decided to take off without us. It's been repaired since then, but sooner or later we'll need a new one. DHARMA BUM III itself behaved splendidly as usual and by now we think that she can handle pretty much any weather as long as we don't make any serious mistakes.

After 38 days non-stop sailing via Vanuatu and New Caledonia we arrived in Darwin, where we stayed for about a month or so and made many new friends. The main reason was the cruising permit (CAIT) and the visa for Indonesia. These things aren't only a lot of bother, but they are also getting really expensive these days. You can expect about US$ 500 for the pleasure. Australia ain't much cheaper and some countries, e.g. French Caledonia are so much trouble that we decided to forego them altogether.

Our daughter was very much impressed by the Territory Wildlife Park, where you can see many of the animals indigenous to the area. Among the attractions are a big salt-water crocodile, fresh-water whiprays, Wallabies, the aquarium and a big aviary.

We finally decided that it was time for a new fridge and bought a Waeco CF-40 CoolFreeze. We are very pleased with it and are still using the old one as a "vegetable" fridge. It also makes ice-cubes and now our food and drink situation is better than ever. Very important, that! Since we now have two brewing containers on board, beer is no problem anyway.

On we continued to Ashmore Reef, which turned out to be yet another highlight. The boys from the ASHMORE GUARDIAN, a permanently stationed customs vessel, guided us in and we followed them all the way to an uninhabited island, where they picked up a mooring for us. They were extraordinarily helpful and generous and we have to say that we had only positive experiences with the Australian officials.

We explored the island, snorkelled and met a shark and a big turtle under water, as well as numerous other critters. I've always been interested in all kinds of animals and Aurora takes just after me in that respect. Unfortunately we had to leave as the cyclone season was approaching.

So on we went once more, but this time even more slowly than before, as we are not fond of using the engine when it is not absolutely necessary. Almost no wind at all, but at least the current wasn't against us.

When we arrived in Bali, we had a lot of fun with the tidal currents. We made no progress whatsoever, although the engine was running. About six hours later, we could continue and headed for Benoa, which has A LOT more traffic then even the approach to the Panama Canal. Wow! The chaos was hard to surpass, as there were plenty of traditional fishing boats, ships, jetskis, tourist boats and so on all over the place. We zigzagged right through them and I for one found my pulse unpleasantly high.

We stayed only about a month, as we had been in Bali twice before. Again, we made new friends who gave us completely new insights into life in Indonesia. Liping said that now she understands her mother (born and raised in Jakarta) much better than before. Personally, I was a bit shocked about the evident poverty and police corruption. Our new friends Bahar and Hari (both former merchant marines) told us some horror stories about abandoned boats they had found drifting on the sea with nobody on board and everything of value, including the engine, removed. Originally from Jakarta, they fled the terrible circumstances there and live now in Bali.

When we left there, we found ourselves confronted with hundreds of tiny outrigger sailboats. Of course those guys didn't have any lights, so that night-watches became very strenuous indeed. This stayed true for all of Indonesia. Also, plenty of logs and trees and even huge abandoned rafts were drifting all over the place.

We had planned to visit the orang-utans in Borneo, but fate decided otherwise. First we didn't have any wind at all for about ten days, this time with the current against us. Then we had difficulties to get around the Horn of Kumai and finally we came to the conclusion that both visa and cruising permit would run out, if we tried to make that side trip. Too bad, because we really had been looking forward to it.

Next, we encountered the "light fishers", who have mounted powerful halogen lamps all around their boats to attract fish with. Up to 30 of them we counted around us - on top of the regular fishers, ferries, freighters and once in a while also a cruise ship. Our boat was often brightly lit up. Because of all this traffic and wrecks littering the place, we decided to give a narrow and shallow place a wide berth, especially as the currents were also giving us a lot of trouble and the weather was bad.

When we had barely scraped past Borneo, we finally got to enjoy real equatorial weather. Ferocious squalls of up to 45 knots, day after day after day, permanently overcast sky, and, between the squalls, no wind at all. Just what the doctor ordered! I haven't really made up my mind, whether I prefer beating against the monsoon, blowing with 6 Beaufort, for days on end. Which is what happened next. :-)

It almost looks as if we will spend Christmas, Aurora's birthday and the New Year at sea, before making it to Batam and Singapore. Next on the agenda are Malaysia and Thailand, where I plan to renovate DHARMA BUM III quite extensively. My two beautiful girls plan to visit Taiwan and Liping's family and when they come back, we intend to continue to Chagos, Madagascar and the Cape of Good Hope. We'll see.

Both Liping and Aurora are fine and our daughter is doing very well at school. She is indeed fully tri-lingual (understand, speak, read, write). Mandarin-Chinese is her best spoken language, writing she can do best in English and recently I finished reading her the German translation of "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings", so that she now talks all the time of elves, wizards, dwarfs, orcs, trolls and balrogs. Funny that!

Now we are wondering what the next year will bring and hope that it turns out just as you wish for you!

Here you can see our current position:

News are to be found here:

Many greetings from the three Dharma Bums

Aurora Ulani, Liping & Holger Jacobsen
At 12/21/2009 3:44 PM (utc) our position was 00°13.45'N 105°11.92'E

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ashmore Reef

Hey there!

While the trip from New Zealand to Australia started with a bang, our departure from Darwin was rather quiet. There was hardly any wind, in fact, often there was no wind at all. That suited us just fine and for a change nobody on board got seasick. We set our course for Ashmore Reef, although there had been reports that an oilslick had hit the reef. We decided to go there first and then see what was up.

As usual, we arrived after dark and this time we tried a different tactic. Normally we just take down sails and drift until daybreak, but this time we decided to anchor on a sandbank offshore. Easier said than done, as my anchorchain had twisted itself round and round in Darwin (our anchor got entangled with an old sunken mooring there), so that I had to untwist the chain first and let it out centimeter by centimeter. I was in a mega-foul mood during this operation and cursed the day I had taken up sailing. Not for the first time.

The next day we successfully contacted the ASHMORE GUARDIAN, a customs vessel permanently stationed there. To our surprise they sent out a big RIB tender and advised us to wait for high tide, when they would guide us in. There was a slight misunderstanding, as they were in a different timezone than Darwin, but finally everything went okay. They guided us all the way to the mooring closest to the West Island and helped us to secure the boat. That was a good thing, as our charts, although new, were woefully inadequate. A couple of times we were going right across the reef on the chart, while our depth sounder showed more than ten meters of water under the boat. It was a major zig-zag channel, too.

When "the boys" came on board for the inevitable paperwork - most of Ashmore Reef is a strict nature reserve with no access for the public - I invited them over for a beer when they were off duty. Customs vessels are strictly non-alcoholic, while the navy apparently has a three-beer-policy.

Of course we went into the water as soon as we could. It had been way, way too long; all the way since Vanuatu in fact. New Zealand was too cold and Australia was infested with crocodiles, box jellyfish and other nasty creatures. Here it was just perfect. We put the dinghy down and decided to explore the island the next day.

This we did before breakfast, as it happened to be low tide and the sun had just come up. So we took a little stroll on the sandflats, found all kinds of sea creatures and generally had a good time. You would think that this uninhabited island would be deserted, but that was not the case. A team of scientists with a cameraman and their assistants were doing a survey onshore, as the story about the leaking oilwell was sadly not just a rumor. Now everybody was worried that the oilslick would indeed end up on the reef.

At high tide we went back to the island once more, this time to check out West Island itself. We observed many different kinds of animals and took care not to disturb the birds. Only two forlorn palmtrees grow up there, the rest is low shrubs and a kind of withered brown grass. All of that bone-dry, so that a single spark could set the whole island on fire. No bonfires at the beach there!

As Cameron from customs had told us that we might get lucky and be able so see turtles hatching just after dark, we went a third time just at sunset and just before low water. We attached two solar lamps to our outboard and left the dinghy anchored in shallow water. We would have to stick to the timing pretty accurately, for otherwise the dinghy would either be high and dry or far offshore on our return.

Again we could observe many different creatures, notably silvery beach crabs that were blinded by our (1 LED) headlamps and giant red hermit crabs that we had only seen after dark. At low tide we had seen others in long snails shells. They had bright blue eyes and stayed in the water all the time. At high tide we had seen yet another kind, which lived only in round shells, had black eyes and lived mostly on land. Aurora Ulani had a whole bunch of them doing races on the cockpit floor.

In the end things got a bit dramatic, as our daughter couldn't walk so fast anymore and we had to get back to our inflatable on time. Pitch black, too. So I ran back alone to secure the dinghy and got a bad fright when I had to splash through some water and still barely saw the dinghy. It almost looked like we would have to spend a night on the island.

But then the dinghy was floating in shallow water just as we had left it. The timing was perfect, but still it took a long time to get the adrenaline out of my system. The tide was coming in fast and we got out of there in a hurry.

Back on the boat awaited all kinds of bad news. The saildrive which had been fixed by the Volvo guys in Whangarei had plenty of water in the gear oil again. The fiberglass repairs to our bows, which had also been done in New Zealand, were all falling apart again, one toilet died altogether, two electrical fans followed suit, so that I had my work cut out for me. Sailing around the world means repairing your boat in the most beautiful and exotic places...

Another thing was the "land sickness", which I had already experienced in Darwin. I had severe problems with my balance as well as with my vision, accompanied by bad headaches where head and neck connect. Dehydration? Sleep deprivation? A virus? What? I stumbled around as if I were completely drunk.

Strangely enough, I had no problems while snorkeling. I met a small shark, which was totally unafraid and a big turtle which got scared when I involuntarily shouted "Cooool!" into my snorkel. So it goes. Plenty of tridacna shells, fish, sea cucumbers but not a single of of the famed 18 species of sea snakes that live in the area. It was a delight to be under water.

The customs boys did indeed show up for a beer and had even made plans to invite us to their ship, but fate had other plans. Over the VHF we heard "This is an Australian warship. Cease your illegal activities immediately!" Apparently the maritime patrol planes had spotted a suspicious vessel and sent the navy to investigate. They captured the boat with illegal immigrants, who were then transferred to the navy vessel, while their boat was burned at sea. Quite a few of the navy guys had to bunk on the customs vessel, so no chance to have a look at their boat. We were told that the people would probably be transferred to a camp on Christmas Island, there to be checked out more thoroughly.

The crew of the ASHMORE GUARDIAN came by one more time, to bring us a crate of soft drinks and sweets. Either Aurora Ulani had worked her charm yet again or the Australian officials are going out of their way to counteract an undeserved bad rep. In any case, just like in almost every port in the past four years, we met the most courteous, hospitable and generous people one can imagine. It is just like our Czech/German friends Karl and Libu of the ROSINANTE said: We like it everywhere and the people are always nice to us.

But it was time to move on. Our cruising permit for Indonesia is going to expire, same with the visas and next Sunday is the official beginning of the cyclone season here. Since then we encountered mostly calms and had daily runs of 30 miles or thereabouts. We aren't using the engines, as usual, but rely on the wind alone. You see so much more that way!

Still, we didn't see the three Indonesian fishing boats, that were floating in the middle of nowhere without any lights on. They asked us whether we wanted any fish.

At 10/27/2009 9:26 AM (utc) our position was 11°48.39'S 121°47.34'E

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


Can't remember when/what I wrote last time... Maybe old age, cruiseheimer's or lack of sleep. ;-))

We left Kiwistan on 13 July and headed north, experienced a storm with up to 58.8 knots of wind (bimini didn't like that; wind-generator is lashed down now) and sailed between New Caledonia and Vanuatu towards the Torres Strait and Darwin in Australia. All in all 38 days at sea, which is my personal record. Extremely slow as usual, as we covered just over 3600 miles in that time. The weather was pretty shitty until we reached the Torres Strait, but the wind was from behind almost all the time. Now we have sun and absolutely excellent conditions. Can't go into the water though, as every year they are pulling about 200 ferocious salt-water crocodiles out of Darwin harbour alone. Never mind the deadly box-jellyfish...

One thing that is pretty strange, is my reaction to being ashore again. I am actually "land sick", staggering around as if I were totally drunk. Always expecting "land waves" which somehow don't show up. And that although we arrived three days ago. Never had it that bad before.

Of course everything is very exciting and we are looking forward to meeting new interesting people. So far, we have always been very lucky in this respect. We need to work on the boat (always), get our visas and cruising permit for Indonesia and then slowly go up to Malaysia and Thailand. Major refit is the plan. Liping told me that she would continue to go sailing with me until Aurora's 10th birthday on 30 December 2013 -- but only if I get the boat properly fixed. So, I will at least try to do that. <grin>

If you have Skype or some such, you can reach us on +61420422168 . My brother just called me from Turkey, so it seems to work fine. eMail currently only at and *ONLY* simple ASCII text.

Cheers & ciao for now,

Holg, Liping & Aurora Ulani

At 8/22/2009 6:07 AM (utc) our position was 12°28.06'S 130°51.33'E

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Month at Sea - Left the Pacific - In the Arafura Sea

Now we've spent one month at sea and are almost used to the sailing lifestyle again. :-) In that month we had three (3) days of good weather - but the wind has been from behind all this time. Except for the first few days after leaving Whangarei in New Zealand, we have been sailing solely under the genoa all the time. Today the sun is shining and the wind is very light, while yesterday we enjoyed exhilarating sailing in the Torres Strait. It is a beautiful place, almost like a lagoon with little islands all over the place. Although there are reefs lurking all over, the charts are excellent and so are the lights. Still, at night it makes me nervous... It took two nights and one day so pass the Torres Strait and now we are in the Arafura Sea. Next stop Darwin and it looks now as if we'll go on to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand next. We might still change our mind, though, and head across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius. We'll see. eMails are welcome, but keep them in plain (ASCII) text and on the brief side.

At 8/12/2009 10:00 PM (utc) our position was 10°33.68'S 141°50.40'E

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pangolin Position Tracker

Since we left New Zealand our position can be found under instead of the old link.

Unsere Position ist seit wir Neuseeland verlassen haben unter zu finden und nicht mehr unter dem alten Link.
At 7/27/2009 7:43 AM (utc) our position was 22°27.50'S 170°33.36'E

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