Sunday, September 20, 2009

WEEK 21 11 September - 18 September -Gili Lawa Lout (north of Komodo) to NW Lombok

Day 142 - Friday 11 September - Gili Lawa Lout (north of Komodo)
We were asked to vacate the buoy by a big tourist boat so we anchored beside Whistle Down the Wind in 17m of water and could see our anchor chain hanging all the way to the bottom and along in the sand. We snorkelled off the back of the boat in the morning, again at lunch time and again in the afternoon. I was watching a manta ray further down when I looked up and the other one was right in front of me - certainly gave me a start!! One did a somersault for us and showed us its white belly - pretty special. It is like a great big fish wonderland with thousands of fish from tiny little ones to great big ones. In the afternoon the place was suddenly full of people off the tour boat - 2 big tinnies racing around directing people to where the mantas were, people snorkelling and people diving, all making a heck of a racket. I decided to get out if it and headed towards the reef near the shore. I wondered why everyone seemed to be following me. Peter told me later that the manta ray had been following me about 10 ft behind (I didn't see it) and so everyone else was following it!! I headed back to the boat and there was a diver just below me. I kept really still and the manta ray came straight toward with its big mouth(?) open and got about 2 ft away before it veered off and I saw its velvety back.

Day 143 - Saturday 12 September - Gili Lawa Lout
Headed around the island at slack tide and snorkelled between 2 islands. It was a drift snorkel hanging on to the dinghy. The fish (giant trevally and maori wrass) were huge and so many of them. As the tide started to come in the current got stronger and we shot out over a big canyon full of the hugest fish. From the surface the current looked quite scary but it was such fun we went back and did it a couple more times. It was the best snorkel we have had so far.

Day 144 - Sunday 13 September - Gili Lawa Lout
Headed to a big rock way out the front of the island and snorkelled it but it was more a dive site than a snorkel site and the current was quite strong so came back and had a snorkel off the back of the boat. Saw three huge turtles well camouflaged on the bottom. Lit a fire on the beach and sat around with Whistle Down the Wind, Wave Sweeper and Meridian. Cooked our spuds in the fire.

Day 145 - Monday 14 September - Gili Lawa Lout
Happy Birthday Greg and Ruth - hope you both had a great day
The swell has started to roll in and we had a very rolly night. Went back round between the islands for another snorkel but the divers had been in - there are no diving flags here and we went right over the top of them before we realised they were there! Anyway I think they disturbed the fish as all the big ones were on one side and all the little ones on the other side. We came to a big drop off and were watching a turtle when I saw what I thought were two small bullsharks and next thing Peter was in the dinghy - never seen him move so fast!!! I got in too and he said he had seen a bigger shark further down. Went back to the boat and Jean had been swimming with the manta ray so we decided to have one last snorkel - it was about 4pm and the water was a little murky but we had felt so safe in our little bay. Got about 50m from our boat when Peter saw a huge shark so we headed back to the boat - seemed like a long way. Dave was coming to rescue us but couldn't get his outboard started!!! Had another fire on the beach and then another very rolly night - time to go.

Day 146 - Tuesday 15 September - Gili Lawa Lout to Wera, Sumbawa Island
08°17.562S 118°55.679E
Upanchored at 7am with Whistle Down the Wind and Wave Sweeper - no wind so motored all the way. Anchored off the village of Wera around 3.30pm in 5.9m. The village builds big 100ft boats and didn't look as poor as other villages. The houses had tiled roofs and there were buffalo wandering around. It actually looked a very interesting village - black sand and a big volcano across the way. Very peaceful night.
Miles 42 Total 3,665

Day 147 - Wednesday 16 September - Wera to Kilo, Sumbawa Island
08°19.6S 118°23.3E
Upanchored at 7am and had a reasonable sail then the wind died and it was motor again. Arrived at Kilo at 3pm and Whistle was immediately surrounded by children. A young man with his family came out to us and he was an absolute character with a huge sense of humour. We bought some papaya, tomatoes and bananas off him and Peter had so much fun haggling with him. A young lady with a couple of kids came along to talk to us - she was going to uni and also teaching one day a week. What she really wanted was our Indonesia/English dictionary. Anyway gave her some stuff for the kids for the school and gave her the woman's weekly but she wasn't impressed because it was only in English!! Then a man named Mul wearing a trilby type hat stepped on board without invitation and sat down like he owned the place and smoked a couple of cigarettes. His mate stood on our duckboard and I could hear a wire twanging but couldn't see anything untoward. Mul said he needed to practice his English. Anyway when they left we realised that we were missing a gaff hook off the back of the boat and it wasn't taken by the children!!! It was a very still night and there were four people with lights dancing on the beach. Someone who shall remain nameless bought a coconut thinking it was a pawpaw!!!!(It wasn't us!!)
Miles: 37 Total 3,702

Day 148 - Thursday 17 September - Kilo to Kananga, Sumbawa Island
08°08.479S 117°46.00E
Upanchored at 7am and continued our way across the top of Sumbawa. Had a great sail in the morning - best for a while then the wind started to fade so we put up our spinnakers and then we lost the wind altogether and it was back to motoring for the afternoon. The scenery is starting to change and turn quite green and lush. Went past Gunung Tambora which is 2935m high and in 1815 was the biggest eruption ever wiping out 10,000 people then another 66,000 died through starvation or disease as all the crops and livestock had been wiped out. Arrived in Kananga at 3.45pm and anchored near the beach. There was a very pretty village there.
Miles: 45 Total: 3,747

Day 149 - Friday 18 September - Kananga to Medeng Island, Sumbawa
08°08.544S 117°22.401S
Left at 8.30 and were hoiking along at 7.5 knots for quite some time and then the wind died and we motored the rest of the way. Had to give Medang a wide berth as there was a big reef quite some way off shore. Anchored in front of a reef about 1pm. Peter snorkled to check we weren't too close to the bommie. The island is very pretty with a village on the other side and thousands of coconut palms. Saw some cows on the beach late afternoon. Jean and Dave had a canoe around but couldn't get to shore as it was low tide and the reef was exposed. Enjoyed sundowners on our deck with Jean and Dave.
Miles: 24 Total: 3,771

Day 150 - Saturday 19 September - Medeng, Sumbawa to NW Lombok
08°17.72S 116°39.80S
Left at 7am. Caught some good wind but then motor sailed. Peter queried on the net where and when we could get our passports - that started up the passport talk again!! The wind came up quite strongly and the seas got quite rough and we copped quite a few big waves over the deck - it was quite a shock to have wind and seas like that - we had quite gotten used to the flat seas no wind!!! There were quite a few fishtraps and buoys along the way. We wondered how they anchored them as it is over 1 km deep. It was overcast, squally and rainy by the time we got to Lombok at 4.20pm so decided to stay well away from the reef area and the other anchorage was 4 miles up the channel so we just headed to shore on the NW corner of Lombok. Got to 12m and it started to shallow up quite quickly so anchored in 8m. Whistle and Wave Sweeper came to dinner as Peter made Goulash soup for us all. It turned out to be a good anchorage and we had a steady night. Lombok Island has the third highest volcano in Indonesia - Gunung Rinjani - 3,726 metres. It is actually an active volcano though its last eruption was in 1901.
Miles: 45 Total: 3,816

Desperately missing our puppies. Hope you are all well. Currently heading around the top of Lombok which is the big island before Bali.

Fair winds and calm seas
Dell and Peter

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Quotable Quotes

I can't remember what I did tomorrow - Dave, Whistle Down The Wind

It was windier two days ago but we'll be gone by then - Jean, Whistle Down The Wind

We're sitting in 25m and we only have 30m of chain out! - anon

I never know where we are till we get there - Dell, Pacific Express

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Friday, September 11, 2009

WEEK 20: 5 September - 11 September -Labuan Bajo to Gili Lawa Lout (north of Komodo)

This is the second blog sent in today so you will have to read week 19 before you read this one!

Day 136 - Saturday 5 September - Labuan Bajo, Flores Island
We were enjoying Labuan Bajo so decided to stay another day. Got up early to walk to the Batu Cenin cave (4km). However, we got lost and walked a lot further than 4km and it was very hot.. We were greeted long the way and pointed in the right direction. An old man came out of his house to talk to us and children practised their English very shyly and we found there was a lot more to Labuan Bajo than the long dusty street which was all we had seen. Found the cave and a guide took us in and supplied us with torches. It was a very interesting limestone area with lots of dark caves and a few bats. Caught a bemo back to town and decided to check out a restaurant where we had seen a lot of local people. We were immediately overcharged 5,000rp each bottle. Some young people were watching a soapie on tv and when it was over one of them asked if we were catholic and Peter spoke to him for a while then they all disappeared downstairs and a girl came up and locked the front door. When we had finished our beers she came up and said closed - we have felt incredibly safe everywhere we have been in Indonesia but this was a little uncomfortable!!
Saw some tiny little kids with plastic bags on their hands carrying a brick each down steps so big two of the little girls had to sit on their bottoms to negotiate so Peter went down to help and Jean, David and I formed a line and passed all the bricks to the bottom of the stairs so the kids could get them. They were so excited that they were running with their bricks to get back and get another one! The tiniest little girl dropped a brick on her toe and was crying so Peter gave her a bubble blower which helped make it better. We paid our boat boys for two trips as they had been waiting for us all day. Went to our favourite restaurant and had 6 big bottles of beer (for 4 people!) and a huge meal which turned out to be $7/head and the beer cost more than the food. Peter gave Rum Le and Geoffrey a bonus and some coffee for the next morning and Geoffrey gave us a very emotional farewell.

Day 137 - Sunday 6 September - Labuan Bajo - Rinca Island (pronounced Rincha), Komodo Nat Pk
08°38.965 119°42.780E
Departed Labuan Bajo at 9am and motored most of the way. Got a bit of a sail before we had to turn towards Rinca when it got very windy 25 knots on the nose. Arrived at 1pm. There were a few boats in so we anchored out the back in 17m. It was very windy so Peter did anchor watch while I went ashore with Dave and Jean around 4pm to check things out for the next day. We had heard that the harbour master (dragon) hung around the dock so we were a bit nervous but there were lots of monkeys. Walked a bit nervously the 600m to the ranger station which was closed. There was a basic cafe where we got talking to Arrdy - one of the rangers. We asked him to be our guide next day. He took us up to see the six big Komodos which hang around their cook hut (they do not feed them) and we were startled to see that we had walked past one and not seen it. Arrdy then walked us back to the dock - saw a water buffalo and heaps of monkeys. All the rangers carry a long stick. On the way back in the dinghy we saw a huge water buffalo right on the shore. Whistle stayed for sundowners.
Miles: 18 Total : 3,583

Day 138 - Monday 7 September - Rinca Island
Headed in at 6.30am but it rained - the first rain they have had for three months! The monkeys greeted us and Arrdy came to meet us and walked back with us. Unfortunately, the crews of 4 other boats also came in and we ended up with 10 people. Had to wait an hour for the rain to stop then we had to pay - an 8 day pass for the whole Komodo National Park was something like 630,000rp (about $90). Unfortunately they left us in a group of 10 and poor Arrdie had to take all of us. Arrdie's story was he was brought up by fundamentalist muslim parents who divorced when he was 10 and he lived with his uncle til he was 13 then he went to a catholic college which made him think about religion so now he is a non believer. His thoughts were why have a holy war - let God sort it out!!! He said he had done good things and bad but now wanted to do good. He loves his job, the island and the dragons but wants to go to England to do his masters. I hope he makes it. We saw the six dragons around the cookhouse again. Stupid tourists were trying to get close and making the rangers nervous. A bite from a Komodo has 60 deadly bacteria so even if you survive the bite its odds on you will die anyway. There have been two deaths this year - a fisherman and a child at the school on Komodo and the bloke in the office had a lucky escape. He was working and didn't hear the dragon come in and he panicked and it bit him on the ankle and arm. He was lucky there was a motor boat there at the time and a plane waiting and they got him to Denpasar and he lived to tell the tale. We did a two hour walk and saw dragons in different area, saw their holes in the ground where they live, a water buffalo and a few monkeys. The island looks very Jurassic park being very dry and sparse with strange looking palms growing singly - not in clumps. Got back to the cafe for some bintangs and mie goring (made from instant noodles!) when there was a huge commotion. One of the young dragons (they are the hunters) which had been hanging around the cafe had chased a monkey up a tree and was trying to climb up after it. Monkey got away but only just! The dragons live in the trees till they are 3 - 5 so other dragons don't eat them and then they get too big. They are two and a half to three metres long - look a bit like a large goanna but as big as a crocodile. The water buffalo and wild horses were introduced to feed them - a nasty death as they can last 2 - 3 wks after they are bitten before they die. Dragons eat everything including the bones. There used to be more deer but poachers got them. The legal penalty for poaching is 10 years jail but it seems they may be shot and fed to the dragons - leaves no evidence! We went to the water hole where the buffalo usually hang out and there was a dragon on a rock on the buffalo track - very well camouflaged - ambush! It was a good day out and we had sundowners on Whistle and planned our passage for the next day to get the currents right.

Day 139 - Tuesday 8 September - Rinca Ranger Station - West Rinca, Komodo National Park
08°42.245S 119°39.416E
Left the Rinca Ranger Station at 8am and made our way around the island. Had to get the current right to go down the Linta Strait. Our chartplotter is out by about ¼ mile so it is eye ball and depth sounder. To work out the current we know it ebbs to the north and floods to the south and we work out the transit of the moon (either upper or lower) take off 3 ½ hrs and that is the start of the flow. The flow ends 1 ½ hrs after the transit of the moon time. Anyway we got to West Rinca about 11.10am so we got it right. Its funny when you are moving around islands - you cant tell one from another and it looked as though we were going to run into the island but when we got up there it opened into a lovely little bay. Troubador and Tapestry were there so we went to the next little beach and anchored in 10m and drifted back to 5m but when the spring tide went out we were sitting in 2.8m and Tapestry was sitting on the bottom so he had to move! Troubador and Tapestry lit a fire on the beach so we (nervously) went ashore for sundowners. Dragons are supposed to go into comas at night to regulate their body temperatures but.............. Jean cooked a risotto and we put potatoes on the fire and had a nice meal. Sat around the fire for a while after Troubador and Tapestry left until we heard a big noise in the bushes so like the wimps we are we prudently put the fire out and left.
Miles: 18 Total : 3,601

Day 140 - Wednesday 9 September - West Rinca
Saw 16 monkeys on the beach early and then they disappeared and a huge dragon appeared on the beach. Watched him till he disappeared. Had a quiet day. Took the bathoscope to the reef but the water clarity wasn't much good! Cooked shishkabobs without the sticks. Wave Sweeper and Meridian anchored very close. SiSu and Dilandra a bit further away.

Day 141 - Thursday 10 September - West Rinca to Gili Lawa Laut, North of Komodo Island
08°26.821 119°34.071E
Watched a dragon on the beach for quite some time. Others went to shore to get water from a water hole. We left with Whistle at 11am to catch the current in Linta Strait. Picked it well and at one point were doing 10 knots - would hate to get it wrong. In fact a couple of boats got it wrong the other way and it took them 2 hrs to do 1 mile!!! At one stage there were whirlpools and currents running round us and Whistle went sideways for a bit! Sailed all the way past Komodo island which looks very barren. It is extremely hot as during the last week the sun has been directly over our latitude as it makes its way south. Heard an interesting story about the Harbour Master (dragon) at the dock on Rinca. He came running out chasing a monkey and scattered the tourists, one of whom ran down the dock and jumped in the water (obviously didn't know Komodos can swim!!). We have only caught one fish the whole time in Indonesia. There are a lot of fishermen and they really do live hand to mouth so when they catch small fish they have to keep them or they starve. There are a lot of small fish in the markets. Their boats look pretty old and crappy but they cut through the water beautifully. We arrived at Gili Lawa Laut at 3pm. Whistle anchored and we grabbed a buoy. We then went for a snorkel with a couple of manta rays - they were smaller than we imagined but very graceful. Lovely afternoon.
Miles: 22 Total 3,623

Day 142 - Friday 11 September - Gili Lawa Laut, North of Komodo Island
Happy Birthday Jackson
A quiet day so far apart from the two huge tourist boats which are here and we heard on the radio that Wave Sweeper and Meridian are coming this way so it could get a bit busy. This is a beautiful spot and one to be enjoyed so we intend to stay a while - hope it doesn't get too crowded.
Well, we are now up to date. We are having good days and bad days thinking about our little dogs.

Hope this finds you all well.
Much love
Fair winds and calm seas
Dell and Peter

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WEEK 19 29 August - 4 September - Riang Bay to Labuan Bajo

Well who could have known that we would have been in that most serene silent peaceful place when our little Jackie went to heaven. Have always missed our puppies desperately and it is so hard to know that we weren't with him when he needed us and probably thought we were never coming back. As you may have noticed it has taken me a little while to get back to this blog.

Day 129 - Saturday 29 August -Riang Bay - Inca Village, Flores Island
08°16.682S 120°24.263E
We left at 7am wishing we could stay another day. From this peaceful start the day turned quite exhilarating! There was not a breath of wind so we were motoring when the fishing reel went off. Put the motor to neutral and the whole boat shuddered. There is quite a bit of junk in the water and we had gone over a big pile of old fishing net and ropes and crabs and stuff, part of which got caught on the fishing line and part of which had wrapped around our rudder and propeller. Peter managed to get the line in and get the bulk of the crap off the rudder but had to don goggles and dive to cut the rest off the prop. First time he has swum in 1.2km deep water!!! And he didn't need help getting back aboard either!! About 2 hrs later we could see boats and buoys further out and thought we were in the clear. Peter went forward to keep an eye out and while I was sitting pondering why our chart plotter had us going through the middle of an island Peter raced back saying stop stop stop!! Wacked into neutral and saw a net about 500m long running all the way across in front of us. Tried to go to port but forgot we had the self steerer on - Peter wacked it off and we went hard aport with a few metres to spare!!! We wondered why the fishermen hadn't waved us off. After that they started waving and chasing us but it turned out they wanted water so we gave them a litre. Came into Inca Village at 3.10pm and there were 3 boats already in so we anchored in 17m a little closer to the reef than we would have liked. I noted in my diary on this day that I was worrying about Jack and Rosie and missing them so much.
Miles: 40 Total: 3,545

Day 130 - Sunday 30 August -Inca Village - Gili Bodo, Flores Island
08°22.089S 120°00.917E
Left around 8.30am with waters so still it was hard to see the horizon. Avoided 3 buoys in a triangle which had a net in the middle - have become a bit paranoid!! Arrived Gili Bodo at 3pm - a nice little place with a white beach and monkeys on the beach. Found the channel through the reef but Whistle just went right over the top of it!! Our charts are really out - were heading for a reef today but luckily saw it in time. Got the devastating news about Jack - so hard being so out of touch. Had drinks on the beach.
Day 131 - Monday 31 August -Gili Bodo, Flores Island
Went for a snorkel - best coral so far and saw some fish we had never seen before. Had a barbeque on the beach and Jean brought a candle in and we burnt it for little Jackie. Thank goodness for the company of Jean and Dave.
Day 132 - Tuesday 1 September - Gili Bodo, Flores Island
Went for a snorkel and three men on a boat tried to sell us a heap of souvenirs - I bought a small box just to make their trip worth while. They came aboard and Peter was teaching them English and we had an enjoyable time with them. They gave us a small souvenir each which was pretty embarrassing. Had a fire on the beach - it was so hot we had to sit away from it but the atmosphere was there. A monkey came down and sat behind us on a rock and watched us. Meridian and Wave Sweeper also came in.

Day 133 - Wednesday 2 September - Gili Bodo - Labuan Bajo, Flores Island
08°31.020S 119°52.049E
Left at 9am and motor sailed with the wind on the nose and anchored at 2pm off the Eco Lodge about 2 miles south of the town. Boat boys came straight away - we looked for ours but they didn't come so we got Rum Le and Geoffrey - each boat gets a yacht to look after. They took us to town (25,000 rp return - about $3.20). We found our other boat boys and gave them some photos we had done off for them. Then we went to dinner at the Mata Hari restaurant - very good food. Sounds like a restaurant like home but it is just a rumah makarn - thatched ceilings and open air - really nice with ice cold beer. The rally people were meeting at The Corner which appeared to be European owned. A lot of tourists come here as it is the jumping off place for Komodo and Rinca. Our boat boys were waiting for us and took us back.
Miles: 20 Total: 3,565

Day 134 - Thursday 3 September - Labuan Bajo, Flores Island
Got 100 litres of fuel from our boat boys and then went to town to take our passports in for visa renewal. We had to give our passports in and wont seem them again for another couple of weeks which is slightly worrying. Walked down a very long street with very interesting shops which had everything from propellers to material to wireless microphones. Amazing what you can find there. Had dinner with Jean and Dave at a place called Persona or something like that - Balanise style and the absolutely best food we have had so far. Were joined by Meridian and Wave Sweeper and Brio who had finally got his engine fixed and made it here. Our boat boys were waiting for us and took us back.

Day 135 - Friday 4 September - Labuan Bajo, Flores Island
Went to town early and went to the markets by bemo (van) and Rum Le came too which was a great help. Bought pawpaw, potatoes, tomatoes, mangos, carrots, shallots, pineapples etc Left the stuff on the boat and did some food shopping as we had intended to leave tomorrow. Rum Le and Geoffrey took us back to our boat and then collected us again at 3pm and we went to The Corner to try to do some internet stuff - was very slow and then it disappeared. We took Geoffrey and Rum Le to the Persona restaurant with David and Jean. Peter had to explain to them about not smoking at the table and they took that well. They chose the most expensive meal on the menu - about $4.50 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Their meal cost more than they earn in a day!!

Fair Winds
Dell and Peter

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