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Anthem Adrift
Having a Blast
08/30/2015, Serbete Island

Monday 31 August 2015

After a delightful unexpected reach, did indeed arrive yesterday at reef around Serbete Island. Despite several small fishing boats in near environs it is quiet, water is clear and, although with little protection, calm. Snorkeled above mostly sand with clouds of diverse species over, under, around and through the scattered bommies. No big fish, which may be more susceptible to being blown up with the dynamiting that preceding boats reported.

This morning charged batteries and made water (we didn't actually make it as even if we could put enough free oxygen and hydrogen together, the resultant explosion would probably be pretty messy). Plan to run dink over to island where snorkeling could be good. While dodging the odd explosion previous boat reported either a shark nursery or numerous midgets. There looks to be more coral over there, but then the water always seems bluer on the other side of the.. uh, fence.. no, bay.

Enjoying where we are, have decided to remain another day although next spot is less than 12 NM away and reportedly features monkeys. We like monkeys, but not as much as lizards. We'll see them too, but further along, around third week of September. Jan's priority is to see Komodo dragons... all of them. Mine too, but having seen film of one bringing down a water buffalo, not getting eaten is also fairly high on the list.

Jack

Escape & Evade
08/29/2015, Pulau Bani, Adonara

Saturday 29 August 2015

Following prolonged night of tequila, wine and fish bites with Champagne Charlies who also brought champagne, but no Charlies, departed Lewoleba at 0700 to time Boling Pass for northward tidal current into Flores Sea. Late yesterday afternoon had picked up additional 80 liters of fuel in jerries ($.72 US/liter delivered) and, after waiting around 30 minutes, laundry ("you mean you want it when you said you did?") so that early escape could be perpetrated. VHF net at 0800 revealed that a meeting tonight at acoustically challenged "gala dinner" venue would include free food (cruisers are psychologically incapable of resisting anything free) if those left in residence would tell the locals reason this stopover was such a debacle. We're not going back.

Have motored to Pulau Bani, a small island about 11 NM from previous anchorage, and now luxuriate in - not the pop pop pop of unmuffled longboats that seem to drive through your cockpit at 0500 or amplified, tone-deaf caterwaulers starting at 0415 or fishing boat generators that run all night or booming port and cruise boat horns that end late and start early - but rather blessed serenity. Have resolved to stop at every viable, uninhabited anchorage between here and Maumere to enjoy continuation of same before re-immersion into cultural diversity. Tomorrow may be Serbete, offshore reef, then Monday night Tanjung Gedong, dinner with monkeys, on northeast tip of Flores.

Since boat was rocking too much yesterday for re-bedding starboard light (window in regular English), would do it here if not suffering from a hard case of don't-give-a-craps. Urgency has evanesced (had no prior knowledge that urgency could do such a thing) due no rain, little wind and calm seas for the foreseeable future. There are other jobs, of course, that could be undertaken. They will also succumb to above related condition as we relax in the cockpit, nibble cassava chips and begrudge having to exert ourselves to discharge previously ingested coffee.

Jack

School of Hard Knocks
08/28/2015, Lewoleba, Lembata Regency

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Using research by Phil from Paseafique, timed passage through strait into Lebaleba Bay on a 2 1/2 knot southbound tidal current, then enjoyed about 25 minutes of lovely sailing in thermal breeze across into Lewoleba. Generally light wind and eastward current along the north coast of Timor and Flores, et al will probably limit use of sails now for awhile. Comfortable nights with light offshore breeze, but hot afternoons are expected.

Immediately ran ashore to sign up for Thursday's scheduled, friendly and well-meaning maltreatment at welcome ceremony, day-long entertainment and gala dinner. After lunch of nasi goreng special (with calamari) finally got to real business of coming here and going ashore, an ATM. BRI Banks in Tual, Banda and now Lewoleba were completely unimpressed with either of our debit cards, so found a BNI. Those guys liked us in Tual, but are apparently now devoid of cash. Next closest was 2 km and Champagne Charlies with whom we had dinked in were required to move their boat for a ship coming to nearby dock. We retain flickering hope that tomorrow will finally bring forth cash when we go back in.

Wednesday

Beautiful morning with smoking volcanos overlooking us to north and west quickly turned hot as sun burned through a thin overcast. Once ashore we found a couple of scooters to rent ($1.45/hour) and spent rest of morning defying death on terrible and overcrowded roads around town (everyone seems to have them, scooters and bad roads). Went back to the BNI Bank which was now pleased to let us have as much as we wanted. Explored the vicinity and found among other things a wonderful bakery. Good morning not discouraged, as no carnage ensued, by rotted front tire that blew near end of ride.

Thursday

Remember that, "Must remain within escape-to-boat distance" thing? Feeling sporty and thinking that promoters had to get us back by 1700 for gala dinner, boarded a bus for 45 minute ride to welcome ceremony, etc. Result was nearly 2 hours in a bus with no shocks over bombed out roads to, after an unintelligible welcome ceremony, a ferry across the bay in a meter-wide, tippy, overloaded longboat with 110 decibel one-banger to a day of the most remarkably boring speeches and entertainment one might imagine. The only saving grace to equally long, hour late, return trip was knowledge that home was at the end. And yet, not having learned our lesson, got on another bus at 1900 for gala dinner at "close" hotel that was many kilometers away over more potholes than bitumen to a room with acoustics so atrocious that even if the hour of waiting then hour plus of speeches, primarily in Bahasa, were interesting couldn't be understood. Dinner actually began about bedtime and lasted, mercifully, only until Shayne commandeered a truck with, however, hard wooden seats for bouncing return to boat. Bum recovery time expected to be be extensive.

"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment." - Barry LePatner

Friday

Having eschewed the previously planned 3 hour ride to whaling village (they actually got 2 sperms the other day using traditional method of jumping from longboats with bamboo spears) plan to spend day getting laundry and supplies, then rebedding starboard light using correct, and this time hoped, waterproof goo.

Next scheduled stop, Larantuka, has been canceled due local elections so we're off the hook until 4-7 September in Maumere where visas are renewed and there are no ceremonies or dinners.. YES!

Jack

Stuck in the Mud, Pt2
08/24/2015, Kroko Island

Monday 24 August 2015

By most accounts Rocna anchors do not suck, however have found occasion to question that assertion. Take Saturday arrival for example. Finally got the thing hooked up on second attempt, however (have you noticed there's nearly always a however? (would have used 'an' however if from UK)) when current and wind shifted at 2200 it dragged opposite direction depositing us on a shoal just before low water (a high outgoing tide would have been sportier, but this was good enough, particularly since we had injudiciously celebrated arrival with an extra tot of grog). Said anchor was reeled in with little resistance on an upslope. Backup Delta (mostly rode) set well after being carried out in dink, but regrettably was angled to pull us into even shallower water (suspect ethanol induced brain death). Stern anchor was then set (correct direction) and #2 retrieved (it's waaaay heavy) with dinghy to be reset as well as was possible given that much of its line had been chewed through by gypsy underneath windlass capstan (see explanation above). Finally pulled us off around 0300. Re-anchored next morning with enough reverse power to dig into earth's magma (not as far away as one might suspect due our being surrounded by 3 smoking volcanos). After 2 nights awake, slept last night like a baby (you know, one of those babies that sleeps all night).

On a scale of 1 to 10, snorkeling here is not 11, but not bad: pipe fish (straight seahorses), stinkrays, eels and snakelike sea cucumbers, plus good visibility). Wouldn't mind staying another day, but Lewoleba's ATMs and fresh markets are calling. Also, we've eschewed last 2 organized festivities and feel obliged to suffer through another. Hope it's better than first, although one place in between bussed detainees to site and didn't release them until midnight (the real one at 0000) so remain trepidatious (real word). Must remain within escape-to-boat distance.

Jack

Stuck in the Mud
08/21/2015, En Route Kroko Island

Saturday 22 August 2015

Several days ago brand new Yamaha outboard exhibited lack of enthusiasm for running at either full speed or idle. Peek at in-line filter gave a hint and subsequent look into fuel tank revealed watery, rusty, mud. Yowzer! After dumping old fuel/water/rust mixture, cleaning rusty gauge assembly and purging hose, the thing would run OK, but still not idle. Finally, yesterday morning after deducing that a reliable outboard might occasionally prove useful, removed carburetor, pump and internal filter for disassembly and cleaning. Displaying incorrigible, but often ill-advised confidence that all parts would fit back in a logical manner, paid scant attention during this process. Although normally favoring restoring all parts that are removed, a little, rubber, 2-layer wedding cake looking piece discovered in work tray didn't fit anywhere except atop a jet which had been meticulously cleaned. Since plugging that up was manifestly absurd, slapped the entire operation back together as is to discover engine idled like a sewing machine. Way cool. Later, while motoring over to take friends ashore for exploring realized the thing wouldn't run any faster. Pshaw or naughtier words to that effect. Took carb back apart, put plug in jet and Bob's your uncle. One wonders if stopping one jet or the other is the only difference between a 9.8 HP and a 15, which is the same weight, but costs somewhat more. Perhaps the 15 plug is made of really, really expensive rubber.

Once finally able to get there, offshore stilt village was pretty cool. Only way on is via boat and probably awkward at low tide. Everything connected by walkways. Big place. Must be a several hundred houses. Pretty sure they haven't had a tsunami or cyclone through in awhile. Also investigated nearby land based village where purchase of 3 dozen eggs averted nascent panic after last one aboard was eaten for breakfast.

Now en route through a painted sea to Kroko Island, 10 NM north of Lewoleba (more common spelling), where reports indicate anchoring is excellent, diving is good, volcanos belch steam and breeze remains non-existent.

Jack

Nothing Atoll
08/20/2015, Hoga

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Better dive today with 6 of us as Jan snorkeled due bum tum. Hope she didn't catch it from me. Mine OK after a round of Cipro. Pretty good viz with lots of fish, a school of baracuda, Napoleon wrasse, large snapper and a cool nudibranch - black with white dots in grey stripes. Shayne from Champagne (misspelled previously) Charlie had a spare dive computer watch that Jan bought yesterday as hers was old and feeble. Same as mine so don't need additional com cable. Cool! Couldn't test it as she's too floaty to snorkel down to 2 meter auto- start without weights.

Have made unanimous committee decision to blow off Wanci (hoping to find help at market here to restock woefully inadequate egg supply) for return to Tomia area several miles southwest of resort. An atoll with deep and manmade entry channel (guessing dynamite, which locals apparently also use as a rather effective fishing enhancement) looks to have good protection, excellent diving and no loudspeaker-enhanced call to prayers. The 5-a-days in previous Tomia anchorage featured a loud, live performance from someone astoundingly tone-deaf.

Thursday

Learned from advance boats on HF net this morning that atoll near Tomia sucked. Bad anchorage, murky water. Bugger! New plan is to stay here another day, go to "mall" in one of the villages for fruit, veggies and most importantly eggs then explore a large stilt village nearby. As rising tide washed away previous plan we regroup and wait for low water to write another. May go back to Tomia or overnight to next scheduled, Lowoleba (supermarket, ATM - yes! Welcome ceremony, gala dinner - maybe!). There are reputed to be whales.

Jack

Not a Drag
08/18/2015, Hoga

Tuesday 18 August 2015

After passing out of very narrow, shallow, dynamited channel at Tomia had a terrific sail up to the much more easily entered Hoga anchorage. Decision to go a couple of miles further rounding east side proved to be either wonderfully engaging or excessively strenuous, depending on point of view. I'm going with that first thing. First half was a glorious 10 mile, hull speed reach followed by a somewhat rolly, poled out, wing and wing run for 9.5 miles then a 3 mile beat. Westward, alternatively, was a relaxing broad reach, partially in the lee, then motoring last 5 miles. Borrrring.

At 1700 took dinghy over to rustic, budget dive resort with a plenitude (pantload) of other people (15 boats here) for Bintang and excellent buffet dinner. Two beers cost more than chow. State of funds allows one beer each until post, useable ATM. Cabbage accompaniment was especially delicious with, regrettably, predictable subsequent consequences. Fun evening was iced by hauling dink barefoot through 100 meters of mucky, sandy goo when all the water went away. A good mariner would have checked tide tables or tied off to and walked from nearby pier if he wasn't so lazy. Crew from Paseafique saved our butter beans by helping with drag then leading around, in the dark, previously negotiated, but now way too shallow reef.

After late sarapan (breakfast) dived near previously alluded to pier with Champaign Charlies. Not bad - saw hawksbill turtle, 3 baracuda buddying up to numerous sergeant majors and several cryptic underwater platforms below overhanging ledges - but with limited viz. Pales reference Tomia. Spent afternoon before proceeding for sundowners to dive buddies boat by, among other things, pounding out this tripe to squander time you might otherwise have spent constructively. Hey, it's your fault!

Jack

Oh Dear
08/16/2015, Tomia

Sunday 16 August 2015

Love it when a plan comes together. Wind was very helpful with poled out genny and reefed main for getting us to Tomia 2 1/2 hours before high tide. Came in early through the very narrow channel with depths no less than 3 meters.

Was subsequently pummeled by costs out the wazoo. 500,000 rupiah for the port captain to start and he took our departure paper from Debut without giving us one to next. Then went to dive resort for drinks and dinner and to check on a dive next day. $220 US per person. After administration of smelling salts discovered that included the whole day with 3 dives and food. Although not entirely convinced you can't take it with you decided to have a bit less to carry and signed up. Sometimes you just don't mind if result is good and this was. Great day of diving and being treated like the cream de la cream of cruiser trash. Counting drinks, a dinner, a lunch and donation of $25 per person that's requested for reef maintenance we'll be down the better part of a boat unit.

Monday

Ouch! Well, it was fun, but now heading toward less dear accommodations at the next island north then, maybe, to the "Welcome Ceremony and Gala Dinner" at Wanci (Pulau Wangi Wangi - just love saying it).

The common boat here is a high prowed, low freeboard longboat with inboard, unmuffled, one-banger engine. They're loud and you can almost count the revolutions. Figure underway they must go a meter or so per pop. Nobody's going to sneak up on you in one of these. Even the larger cargo vessels have an extreme, swooping shear that has the midship gunwale just above water. Apparently they don't normally sink so must work for them.

Better wind and more comfortable temperatures than anticipated. Expect both of these will evolve as we head north into Borneo (now Kalimantan), Sumatra and toward Singapore. So far almost no motoring which is good although diesel is cheap because it must be schlepped in jerry cans from fuel stations.

Jack

Patch Me Through
08/12/2015, En Route Tomia

Thursday 13 August 2015

Wind blew up and spinnaker didn't. Finally found just enough of that first thing to fly the poor abused sail, last seen creating a hazard around forestay. Repair held, but discovered a couple more chafed spots, fortunately not in a stress area - a project for later. Made good time, but wind has been more variable than forecast. Had to snuff the spin for overnight as wind topped 18 knots before easing, slowing us below 5 at times. Have to average 6 knots to arrive around midday tomorrow for high tide at what has been confirmed a shallow channel to good anchorage. Confidence runs high(ish).

Jack

Assymetry
08/11/2015, En Route Tomia

Wednesday 12 August 2015

After getting my people, Jan's people and other people's people together have decided to blow off Ambon, dirty anchorage/city with insufficient holding. Only real reason to go was likely availability of usable ATM. Set sail early for Pulau Tomia in the Wakatobi group SE of Sulewesi where diving is reported to be excellent and better than Saparua. Should arrive sometime Friday if other people's people can ascertain entry channel into only possible anchorage. Islands around the Banda Sea tend to have circling reefs that drop off at walls going from nothing to forever. Good diving, but anchorages that are crap, just crap (to be said emphatically with a strong Scottish brogue).

As an aside, 2 boats on this rally are "Persephone" and "Charon", the queen of Hades and the ferryman who took her there. As counterpoint, however, we also have "Always Saturday" and "Champaign Charlie". The rally like life strives for balance - yin and yang, good and evil, turnips and pecan pie, Republicans and Democrats... oh wait, those last 2 are practically the same, never mind.

Seems there was some impetuous talk a couple of days ago about beam winds and no roll for awhile. Remember? Well... swell is on the beam from winds farther south that haven't made it here. Angling away from land may eventually find breeze, but makes motion worse. We motor along in dead calm, wallow mercilessly and yearn for the elusive pie.

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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