Monday, 9 March 2015

From the Coral Sea to the South China Sea
(Part 18)

On to Toli Toli: Saturday, 7th February 2015/Sunday, 8th February 2015

Around 1.00 p.m. on Saturday, we left Bunaken for Toli Toli, a journey of 266 nautical miles. Our course took us west, through the Celebes Sea, broadly paralleling the coast of Northern Sulawesi on our port side.

By breakfast time on Sunday, we were turning to port to head almost due south, following the coastline to reach Toli Toli.

View of the coast of Northern Sulawesi from the bridge of 'Caledonian Sky' on Sunday morning.

The ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) shows us heading south to Toli Toli.

The final approach to a port is always an interesting time. Both the Captain and the Chief Engineer came onto the bridge and the autopilot was disconnected, allowing the helmsman to steer the ship using the small 'conning wheel' forming part of the Anschute equipment. Unfortunately, for safety reasons, that's also the time when the bridge is closed to passengers, although the Captain allowed passengers to remain on the outside bridge.

The Bridge of 'Caledonian Sky' approaching Toli Toli.
L-R: The Helmsman, the Chief Engineer, the Captain.

The ECDIS shows the planned track (in red) to approach the jetty at Toli Toli.

We gently approached the jetty at Toli Toli. The jetty was a reinforced concrete 'raft' suspended on a mass of concrete piles, as we'd seen elswhere. This was apparently where the inter-island passenger ferries berthed because a modern passenger terminal building faced us on the landward side. To our left was a village, partly built over the sea, with a host of canoes and small boats. There were a number of small outrigger canoes where the outriggers were supported by what appeared to be welded alloy tubes, giving them a very modern appearance. To our right was a second jetty, occupied by a fairly small container ship with a stacking ground for shipping containers on the landward side.

View of the jetty at Toli Toli.

Approaching the jetty at Toli Toli, showing the village and small, modern outrigger canoes.

Toli Toli, Sulawesi, Indonesia: Sunday, 8th February 2015

It was around noon when we tied-up. All the passengers were keen to go ashore. We walked to the nearby passenger terminal, where the seating had been re-arranged around a central arena, allowing three young ladies in traditional dress to perform an elegant Welcome Dance.

The Welcome Dance.

Music was provided by four musicians playing two drums, a set of seven small gongs mounted in a wooden frame and a large gong to 'keep the beat'. I was reminded of my experiences with similar instruments at the Longhouse Rumah Nyuka at Bayong in Sarawak (described here).

The Musicians.

The Captain and Jane, the Expedition Leader, were each presented with floral garlands. There were lots of local people in attendance and they all seemed keen to have their photograph taken with the visitors. Many of them had their own camera/phones to record the event.

As we'd docked, I'd seen that the main part of the town was further round the bay and I wondered how we would be transported there. After the welcoming ceremony, we went outside and discovered lots and lots of tricycle rickshaws waiting to take us to the town. There was a fair amount of pandamonium as we each got allocated to a rickshaw but soon we were bowling along the level road around the bay, cheered on by the locals. Two policemen on a motor cycle pulled alongside my rickshaw and engaged me in conversation for a short while ("where do you come from?" is the most common enquiry). One of our taller passengers was unable to fold himself into the limited passenger space, so he sportingly swopped places with the 'Driver' and pedalled to town!

We passed a number of outrigger fishing vessels larger than I'd ever seen. They were about 80 feet in length, with a beam (over the outriggers) of 80 feet. This required complex bracing on the outrigger booms and an elaborate system of cable supports to support the weight of the outriggers from two masts on the main hull. Their massive bulk suggested some sort of pre-historic flying boat to me.

The massive outrigger craft at Toli Toli.

All the tricycle rickshaws pulled into a parking area in front of a large building which, we soon discovered, was Toli Toli market. I took a picture of my smiling 'Driver' on his steed. One feature I'd not seen elsewhere was a horizontal rod extending from the frame supporting the saddle a couple of feet to the rear. The extremity of this rod had a clamp to which was attached a silver-painted rubber tyre perhaps 9 inches diameter. This was presumably to discourage following vehicles from 'rear-ending' by giving an indication of just how far back the trailing wheel was set.

The tricycle rickshaw which took me to the market hall.

Although some stallholders appeared to have packed up for the day and some were happily sleeping, plenty of stalls were still operating and everybody seemed pleased to see us. I was surprised to see how many stalls had television sets, presumably to distract the stallholders during quiet spells.

Toli Toli Market Hall.

After we'd wandered around the traditional market, we congregated in a paved area outside which seemed very modern. In the background, there was what looked like a temporary stage for a pop concert. Admission to the area in front of the stage was via a large, red, inflatable arch next to a number of modern plastic tents. Nearby, a large computer-printed sign gave a clue: in English it read "TOLITOLI TIGER MOTOR CLUB: 7th Anniversary, 7-8 February 2015". The event appeared to be over but a couple of dozen motorcycles remained with their riders chatting. All the riders appeared to be obediently wearing crash helmets.

After I returned home, I found a Bali Motor Tiger Club page referring to the event and to the Honda Tiger Club Indonesia here. You can't fault Honda's marketing - I was reminded of the Honda Goldwing Rally in Llandudno I'd seen in 2014 (described here). This was only one of the rather odd experiences we had in Toli Toli which induced one of the passengers to describe our time there, appropriately, as "surreal". The next odd happening followed immediately. Buses were to take us to a traditional cultural performance, but there were apparently insufficient buses to move all the passengers, so Toli Toli Police had lent two modern police coaches with drivers. I was allocated to the first police bus and our procession was preceded by a Police pick-up truck with red and blue lights flashing. At most junctions, our driver added a "whoop" from his siren as we made our way through the town to our destination.

Disembarking from our (rather smart) Police Bus.

You can find all the posts on this trip here.

My pictures

Sailing to Toli Toli, Sulawesi.
Toli Toli, Sulawesi.