Island Number Two – Chicken Island

Ayam means chicken in Bahasa and our next destination is said to look from a distance like a trussed one though our Admiralty chart names it as Pulau Ajam. Regardless of the name the Anchorage is closer to Djemedja the northern tip of which forms two sides of the u-shaped bay with Pulau Ayam forming the third. Wooded hills surround the coral filled bay. Bird song during the day and tree frogs through the evenings provide the soundtrack ocassionally supplemented by the throb of a local boat engine. Temptress and Mai Tai anchored short of the suggested waypoint as the depth dropped off alarmingly towards two metres. Nautilus, a catamaran sat calmly and tantalisingly the other side. We had to satisfy ourselves with a 7 metres deep blue water over sand.

Lane and Kay joined us for supper. Food is becoming a bit makeshift. Our main dish was sausages, pumpkin, onions and pepper roasted together served with pilau rice and a salad of cabbage and carrot Kay had made. Tomorrow will be our third evening dining on pumpkin curry. We still have a limited supply of meat in the icebox plus lots of tins in the bilge so won’t starve but until we reach Kuching fresh food is going to be limited to the little we can find in local markets, much of which, apart from pumpkin and cabbage doesn’t keep for very long.

The Djemdja beach looked pristine except for the rusting hulk of a ship’s boiler (I wonder what the story behind that is, but there is no one to ask), closer inspection revealed the usual piles of plastic bottles and single flip flops. Ayam has a beautiful white sand beach fringed with tamarisk and palms. Nestled in the trees is a part constructed house and two guys seem to be using it as a day place. The beach facing the channel between the islands proved almost rubbish free probably because it wasn’t directly downwind from anywhere! If only other beaches could be so lucky. It was a lovely spot for a stroll, our feet sank ankle deep into the fine soft sand. Exotic shells and a few crabs distracted us all. Half an hour or so of perfect paradise.

The four of us took to our dinghies again and headed further to the east along the Ayam shore for a spot of snorkelling. The corals weren’t that spectacular but the fish were abundant and in great variety. Don’t think we spend our entire lives walking beaches, swimming and snorkelling though. The bedsheets were soaking in a tub waiting to be rinsed and hung out on the foredeck once yesterday’s laundry is dry. By rising with the sun, housework and boat fixing gets done in the coolest part of the day; I’d swept and washed the cabin sole (floors) before we headed out in the dinghy that morning as well as started a batch of yoghurt. Kevin regularly dons a mask to dive on the hull with a scraper to ensure Temptress is kept free from barnacles. He is also steadily working through a lengthy job list fixing or replacing items, the latest being a replacement diesel filler cap which required emptying a cockpit locker of virtually everything so he could climb inside to reach the underside of the bolts holding it in place. A grubby time consuming task that has been put off for months.

Each afternoon here rain showers, some heavy, some just a few spots, ensure the crews are kept busy closing and opening hatches. Not enough rain though to wash Temptress’ increasingly grubby looking decks. After one shower we spied a sail heading our way. An hour or two later Henrietta dropped anchor and her skipper kindly invited both Mai Tai and ourselves for sundowners. It was fun getting to know each other a little more with Michael gently quizzing both couples about how we met and our sailing histories. Kay’s daughter and son it turned out are roughly the same age as Maddy and Will, Michael has three sons and Lane a son. Kay’s children introduced Lane to Kay at a sailing club supper in New Zealand some twenty years ago, he had sat next to the then teenagers as it was the only spare seat.