23/08/2008, Flores North Side
After a very pleasant stay at Wodong near the beatuiful and serene Ankemere, a miniresort of 5 cabins owned by Swiss Girl (dive instructor) and Indonesian Husband, it is time to move on.
Yesterday we went off in a Bemo in the morning to investigate a local market about half an hour away. It was busy and interesting. To appreciate what the markets are like requires smell (not all good) and sound. There are hundreds of stalls where you can buy anything from thongs, to beetle nut kits (the nut, stick, lime and salt) if you want to numb your mouth and have it all red, to dried fish, sliced fish, whole fish, stale fish, chooks, pigs, sarongs and school uniforms. Fascinating. We spent some hours there, bought a few fruits and veges, tiny loaves of bread, had some lunch from a roadside stall and treked back to Wodong. The market is either side of the main road to Maumere and the traffic filters through the people or the people through the traffic. Stores sell hardware and bulk flour and rice side by side. It seems people also bring in Tamarinds, Coconuts, and Cashews to trade, and I guess buy their groceries, lighting oil etc.
Back to Wodong for a scrumptious dinner at Ankemere, affordable at about $5.50 a head. We had contemplated the trek to the hot springs but it was a warm day and a hot spring didn't sound all that inviting.
Up and weighing the anchor at 0600 in good light we left the basin at Wodong, ready to move on. A light breeze came in behind and we sailed with just the Genoa or headsail for a while before upgrading to the MPS which we flew in about 15 knots for much of the day. This is very pleasurable sailing with slight seas and wind behind us sailing at 7.5 knots or better just with the brightly coloured MPS or Spinnaker drawing us along. It doesn't get much better. Chicken Pizza for lunch from the galley - The seas are balmy, the weather just a tad tropical but not too hot and the breeze keeps it comfortable.
At 1600 the breeze drifts out and then turns so we sock the MPS, and start the starboard engine. We will run it for a couple of hours making water, should do about 100 litres to top up the tanks, and hoping we don't have to run it all night. Classically the wind does drop out at night. Classically we also get a 180- degree wind shift in the afternoon.
We are going to travel through tonight and the sun is just going down in front of us. We are crossing some open water and haven't seen a FAD, (Fish Attracting Device) - a bamboo structure or a buoy - many of which we navigated through this morning but would have NO chance of seeing at night, for a while. We are hoping we are far enough off the coast that they will be scarce because the radar will not pick them up either. The buoys are the size of a 20 litre drum up to a 200 litre drum size and the FAD can be quite material structures but low to the water and unlit.
It has been a great day sail, hope the night is as good and as uneventful.
We are bound for Labunjoey tomorrow and Komodo Island, home of the Komodo Dragon.
Hopefully Kirsty will be able to join us there on Tuesday all going well with her protracted and very frustrating arrangements.
Back to burning Solar or diesel!!
Yesterday and today we are still in Wodong. It is a great bay and about half an hour by bemo (those noisy mini vans - 19 locals squashed into one yesterday! sometimes they don't have floors, yesterday there was a pile (and a pile is the only way to describe it) of goats bellowing like a schoolyard of kids on the top of one with boxes, bags and people) from Maumere our current stopover.
Yesterday we did a town run with a group of others in two Bemos to do banks, internet (ha ha as if that would work), shopping (another ha ha) the markets, interesting and busy and smelly and fishy and rubbish piled up outside with pigs fossicking in it, and Solar - well at least we did get two "jerry jugs of diesel" and then to the welcome ceremony at a small resort just out of town of course on the beach. It was great with the usual singing and dancing, the Kiwi group from our side put on the haka for the locals which they thought was great fun, a very nice snack during speeches followed by dinner which was great. More entertainment during dinner and after. We were then driven back to our 'exclusive' bay where there are just a few yachts. It is quite serene, windy during the day and flat calm at night. The small resort here, did I mention it? consists of half dozen cabins, it is Swiss and Indonesian owned, quite Japanese in style is so very serene, quite and pleasant and a lot of help. It is so nice to walk through and around.
Many people on the Rally are frustrated with the Indonesian bureaucracy but for a reality check it is good to compare with Aust. Now last week Kirsty our daughter decided to defer a semester at Uni and join us for the balance of our time here. It will be a great experience for her and we all agreed to go ahead so she booked a flight to Bali on Jetstar from Brisbane and we arranged for a friend in Bali to book her a room and flight from Bali to Flores Island quite near to where we are. All good - so she packed up in Brisbane and yesterday caught the flight which was from Brisbane to Sydney to Bali. They let her on the flight to Sydney but would not let her fly on because (1) She didn't have a return ticket - of course she was leaving Indonesia by boat (2) she only had five months on her passport - despite the fact that she was only getting a 30 day visa for Indonesia which she planned to get on arrival in Bali as you are entitled to do.
Anyway Jetstar would not agree and would not agree to talk to anyone about it! They sent her off to get a Passport in Sydney of course when she went to the Passports office they wanted her Birth Certificate, My Passport, a witness of course who has known her for 12 months etc. So we had our friend cancel re book the flight Bali to Flores, cancelled the accommodation in Bali, changed our plans etc. So this morning we arranged Locky to get her Birth Certificate faxed down - no they want the original - fortunately she had a friend in Sydney who could act as witness so she went and saw him.
As for us here, well we hired the one motorscooter from the resort in our bay and headed off for Seafarers where the Rally organisers were for the day about half an hour. Now this is interesting - scooter is the main mode of travel in Indonesia - there are thousands of them. The road is narrow mostly bitumen heading in to Maumere, remember it was written off by an earthquake and Tsunami in 1992. They don't have potholes in the road they have craters! The motor bikes are scooters - not large or powerful and barely fast enough to escape the ever present Bemo buses and trucks which often come down the wrong side of the road to avoid the craters, to cross the bridges (or go around them) or just because it is a good idea. Now the traffic isn't really fast although it seems that it is, and everyone seems to mingle through, the one in front has the right of way, and forget about rear vision mirrors, but don't look back or you will ride into a crater, a pig, a goat, a bunch of people or a bemo that has just decided to suddenly stop in the middle of the road. Interestingly most riders wear helmets (of a sort), some passengers - if you hire a ride on a scooter as pillion the rider will have a helmet and a spare but will not offer it to you as passenger. It is also very common for three or four to be on a scooter or a family and the wife and child/baby will not have a helmet but the rider will, women often travel side saddle and you can even carry a goat or pig on your scooter if necessary.
So when we get to Seafarers the organisers have a letter for us to send to the Consulate in Sydney to facilitate a visa for Kirsty so Jetstar will allow her to travel without a return ticket, We fax this to Kirsty and the Consul. She tries to get a Passport (she has a current passport with five months to run, she has a photo licence, she has uni photo id, do you think these prats will offer any assistance (Aussie Foreign Affairs) of course not, they just give her a hard time and no assistance.
We watch a couple of dugout canoe races for the locals and rally participants at Sea World and then head to Maumere on the Scooter to get some more phone credit!! We arrive just as school/s are getting out and the traffic is great. Locals seemed amazed to see the flying foreigners on a scooter and point out what we should do in the traffic (essentially shut your eyes and go anywhere!), oops a massive pig to go around in the middle of the city, oooops again this is a one way street and we seem to be going one way against the traffic - are well put it down to crazy foreigners!!
All the small shops along the 'highway' only have 50,000 Rp cards (about $6) and we want 100k Rp so into the "city centre" we go and get our card. Just as we do the Rally organisers phone and tell us they have made a mistake in the letter could we come and collect another and fax it. Back on to the flying scooter we head out of town towards Seafarers where we collect the letter and refax it. Guess what? The fax cost for six pages was as much as hiring the scooter for the day!! Cup of coffee, quick look at the stalls along the beach, (the town of Maumere is pretty ordinary (a master of understatement) but the beaches and watersides and countryside is fantastic with great view across water to mountains and the active volcano in the opposite direction. Coloured lakes in the surrounding hills, industrious subsistence farm workers along the road sides, varied standards of housing from western to traditional old to new and the clay/mud brick of the current times. Green fields, pigs, goats and people, people people. Mini traffic jams along the way as the roadside markets clutter with people clammering in and out of bemos and on scooters with their purchases or stock.
Back to Ankemere at Wodong, couple of litres of Benzine into the scooter at about 90 cents per litre from a roadside stall - these exist along the way and you buy one litre bottles of benzine just as you would a bottle of milk. How good to be back at our haven, although it has been.........exciting? is that the word?
Couple of chores to do, yesterday the inlet pipe to the hot water system blew off draining the tank of hot water into the bilge - just an old nylon hose gone hard, so it is a cautionary warning and I am going around checking the hoses and hose clamps on every seacock and skin fitting as it would not be as easy to fix possibly if one of these unexpectedly came off. Whilst head down and up in the engine room take the opportunity to make a mess and grease the universals, check the oils and bits and pieces and remove a couple of spots of water that shouldn't be there!
Tiaki come over and we have a drink and biscuit and finish the day realising that the Australian Bureaucracy is no better than the oft criticised Indonesian Bureaucracy, that people with a little power and no common sense who want to be difficult will always make life difficult for others (simply because they can!) but the bay we are in as the sun sets gently on the glowing horizon over water to the west, and the wind and water both become flat calm, that, at the end of the day, does it really matter?
We go off to another little accommodation resort, family run, traditional cabins, not as beautiful as Ankemere for dinner at about $3 a head and beer at about $2.50 so for $4 each have a nice but slowly delivered dinner and are long ready for bed - having sat up till midnight last night trying to send a simple attachment on non existent internet that nearly worked but the two hour attempt turned out to be futile. Third world communications, (except for mobile phones that work everywhere!!)YES, 1st world scenery, patience, family values, waterways, food YES - Bureaucracy in each country - yes about the same - common sense out the window, power and domination over others 'because we can' for sure.
Wodonga has proven to be a delightful anchorage with few yachts! and those mostly friends but you could count them on one hand. Yesterday we on board for the morning. Took a small tank over to Tiaki who was cleaning under his boat. Put a whole lot of plots into the chart plotter from 101 anchorages in Indonesia and a few other chores.
Mid afternoon we went to shore and what a delightful place is hidden behind the bush lining the waterfront. We landed at a small "resort"about 5 or 6 traditional/modern cabins with a central block what a charming location and how beautifully presented. Quite Japanesey, with pebble paths and ponds, a rice paddy beautifully laid out, water lillies and a big fat pig - as happy as a pig in mud - in one of the terraced ponds. Cashew trees abound with sweet cashew apples and the nuts that must be roasted before they can be eaten, papaya, berries and other produce. Goats, pigs and dogs. This little boutique resort is partly Swiss/Indonesian owned and what a place to get away from it all. We booked for dinner at the restaurant (there are about 6 tables) and all they yachties (about 12) and the guests had a wonderful buffet there and filled the place up! Tasty local produce, tofu dishes, fish, watercress, ginger etc. We had great dinner there of very tasty and very fresh products and will go back again another night!
This area was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 1992 but the reefs and surrounds are reported to be recovering well. There is a Japanese wreck for diving on not far from where we are anchored. An omnipresent volcano with the bare top and colour of sulphur around the crest, no doubt the cause of the earthquake, sits not far from where we are. As we walked down the street we were taken by the cleanliness of this area, in Indonesia littering and trash just do not seem to register - have a drink throw the container out the window, open a smoke through the wrapping out the window.......,. There are some lovely houses, in well kept yards with vege gardens and small irrigated plots, it is clearly a dry area. People come out to greet us and invite us in to see their areas with our non understanding of Bahasi Indonesian (which we should have learned some of) and their lack of English it is mostly sign language but they show us their small mud brick kilns that many houses or groups of houses are working on. They dig out the clay and make mud bricks building first a kiln shaped structure and then place the bricks in for firing. This seems to be the latest technology for building. These are industrious and hard working people, they sweep their yards, paint their houses, and many are building new houses and structures. Good building making the most of the surroundings, building on the natural rocks, terracing for gardens and running water seems to be available. The road is lined with bananas, cashews, kapok, and other trees. Bemo's (it seems the one thing that is universal in Indonesia so far - or the small van/buses/taxis with boom boxes, boys hanging off the side, people stuffed inside pass occasionally. But it is a quiet road, just like a beach village back home, with houses along the waterfront and some on the other side of the road into the foothills. A concrete welcome sign marks the start of the village. There are some satellite dishes at some places! Kids run out to greet us and the people on motor scooters all wave and smile as they go past. The occasional work truck with a few on the back trundles back and forth.
This road goes into Maumere a significant town about 45 minutes away. We will go there tomorrow and take a couple of "jerry jugs" to top up the diesel or Solar - having used maybe 50 or 60 litres during the last week with necessary motoring and we run the genset for an hour or so each day to keep the fridges down and the hot water up and also to top up the dive tanks. Must convert the freezer to 12 volt one day and then we would only need to run the genset every three days as the hot water stays hot for at least that long. The Energo-Tec which runs on the Port Engine is fantastic as whenever we have to motor we have 220 volts and can the fridges and other 240 appliances but I still have a minor issue with the wiring with running the hot water off it - I get a current leakage indicator which is not good so do not run it through the boats wiring. Thought we had it solved in Darwin with the first electrician I have found who could properly diagnose the problem and with an isolation switch we nearly had it pickled but not quite! But it is great not to have to run the genset very much. If I could solve this one last issue we could remove the genset all together and maybe put another Energo-Tec on the Starboard side - they are just fantastic for power @ 4kva 220 volt and 18kg in weight and no separate engine required it doesn't get much better!
The WaterMaker runs in the Starboard Engine room which has an isolated start battery so I generally run the starboard engine to produce the 38 amps @ 12 volt for the watermaker which seems to work really well. We had a few teething problems with the Echo-Tec which were unusual in nature but seem to be fully resolved and it is very easy to use and produces good quality water at about 150 +/- ppm solids which is very acceptable. It is great to be able to shower and wash down etc without having to worry too much about water although we keep the tanks at about 50% "just in case" which is about 500 litres still. But it takes half a tonne off the boat compared to having full tanks. With diesel we try to keep it topped up in the main tanks and when we can two "jerry jugs" which we use to transport the diesel and also as reserve if we get to fill them up.
It is now Tuesday morning and we are off to Maumere with our two jerry jugs and with a few others have 'chartered' two Bemos for the day or half day to do the rounds, go to the markets, fill up our jerry jugs, go shopping, if we can find an internet that flys faster than the average pigeon we will try again to upload some photos.
This morning it is beautiful and calm, flat water, sunny and tropical. No doubt the breeze will spring up as the day progresses. We will take the covers off, as although the anchor seems to be well dug in don't want to take any chances whilst we are away for the day.
Departure time in 15 mins so will catch up with you later!!
After passing through Selat Flores we picked our way through fish pots and traps and anchored in a beautiful bay in 15m of pristine crystal clear water where you could see the coral, rocks and the anchor clearly sitting on the bottom. There were quite a few boats but we snorkelled and in the morning left early in a very light breeze which built slowly as we sailed on. The wind picked up as we went and we started to motor sail and eventually had 20 knots and a great sail doing 9 knots as we crossed a broad bay. Charmar loves these conditions and we quickly overhauled a mono that had been off in the distance. As happens here after an hour and a half the wind petered out and we were back to motor sailing and making water! The day became really tropical after the breeze died out it became hot and balmy. A couple of hours later the breeze came back from the south which was cool and fresh and good for sailing again. It seems we get a real sea breeze, land breeze pattern and some areas are just wind channels where every boat seems to get the breeze whenever they go through it.
We rounded the scorpion tale of Flores which is the northernmost area and progressed down around in the direction of Maumere but often close to the coast, and we cut through some narrow channels between Pulu Besar and Dambillah Islands which were surrounded by colourful reef and reputed to be fantastic dive sites. The islands had large and dense traditional style villages and one of islands had a large stilt village on the water. The top end of Flores was quite bare of population however everywhere there are the odd huts and traditional houses doting the hillsides. There were a number of fishing dories in and through the channel and we always had the welcome smile and big wave from all the people on boats. PAUSE:- it made me reflect on how we treat Indonesian's who drift into our waters!?! Are we like the ugly neighbour that complains about the tree reaching over the fence or the kids cutting through their yard! I know we need to stop illegal fishing in our waters but do we respect other people as people? Have our respective governments painted a perception of Indonesia and its peoples in our minds? Questions only! These delightful island dwelling people are very welcoming and friendly. Clearly the city dwellers in Jarkata and Bali may be quite different but I would rather their welcome than ours!
We contemplated staying the night at the small islands surrounded by reef in idyllic conditions but in consideration of possible winds thought we should go to Flores to anchor and maybe come back across the 8 miles to the islands for snorkelling/diving/visiting another day. With a fresh breeze we were making good time across the bay in and out of the fish traps and bouys. A nice little bay at Wodong we went in around a submerged rock in deep water and started sounding for an anchorage, what looked to be a nice sandy bottom continually rejected the amorous advances of our anchor with the bottom falling from 15 metres to 50 in about the same distance. We went a bit deeper into the bay dropping the anchor in twenty metres of water but to get this depth we are less than 50 metres from the beach - quite close when we blow back but still 6 metres of water!
With the shallow depth alarm and the GPS anchor alarm finely set to sound if we move an inch either way we are anchored at about 1600. 1630 a call from Forza a Schionning Cat for sundowners at 1700 was welcomed and picking up the crew from Tiaki in the white limousine we whiled away a few hours on Forza returning to a calm, calm night on board and a good long sleep.
This morning, Monday, seems to be public holiday for Indonesia and we have seen a lot of signs out in various places with some sort of anniversary date on 17.08.45 - 17.08.08 and the kids are not at school. Talking about school it was interesting yesterday morning that seemingly anchored in the middle of nowhere a bunch of kids in school uniform were sitting on the beach at 0630 watching the boats and seemingly waiting for a school ferry or something. The kids even in remote areas all seem to take school seriously.
Some of the people on boats have visited remote schools and taught an english song like "Old MacDonald had a farm" etc. School visiting is quite popular.
This morning we are having an easy day, well I suppose they are all easy days, but on board there is always something to be done. It is a glorious day, the breeze is just coming up at 1030 - as it does. Running the genset for the fridges and hot water. Have a dad and son fishing near us in a dugout with a drag net. Some traditional boats along the beach and some thatch and grass buildings nearby - not sure what they are. There must be a road nearby as we hear a truck occasionally (and of course the odd horn - if there is a car or truck anywhere there is a horn sounding) but otherwise we seem to be away from everything. Somewhere here though there is a "resort" where there are good meals, interpret the word "resort" very widely. About 8 nautical miles along the coast is "Seaworld". It is said that a couple of nights ago some other people went for a shore visit to see a monkey that had been shot with a bow and arrow that was being taken home for dinner! A bit close to cannibalism for me but who are we to be judgmental on what people should or should not eat? Fish is clearly a big part of the diet here.
We might stay put a few days. Kirsty, our daughter, is flying to Bali on Wednesday and then getting a flight to Maumere not far from here - about 2 hours flight from Bali - could be a slow plane of course, so we are looking forward to that.
All is going well at present and life on board is great. Still haven't caught a fish despite towing a line for 580 nautical miles!! and losing a few lures. When I went to replace them I realised how sparse my tackle box for gear, although it probably doesn't matter if you are not catching fish!! The locals are far more expert at it than me!!
I have managed one or two photos on some earlier entries and will try to put some into the Indonesia folder in the Photo Gallery.
16/08/2008, Flores -Northern Side
This morning we upped the anchor at about 0830 and headed off to chase the boats that were anchored with us last night and had set off earlier.
It is quite unusual here where just up anchor and head off in the direction we want to go and see what happens. We leave without a destination in mind, may sail 20 or 30 or 80 nautical miles, maybe we sail 20 miles in two hours and then 30 in the next 8 or 9 hours, sometimes we do ten knots (almost with no sails) and sometimes we do 0.8 - 1.8 with full sails. We often sail very close to the shore but in 100 metres of water, and sometimes we cut across bays and go wide. The Islands are all steep and must run straight down to very deep water at the same angle. In some places there is a small ledge near the shore of 50 - 20 metres and if lucky and then 5 metres and this is ok for anchoring. As you come into these areas you start in 100's of metres of water then 100+ and then it jumps up to just 50 and you are quite close to shore but would like to anchor in more shallow water.
After leaving this morning we set the Genoa and sailed up towards Selat Flores or a straight or channel between Flores Island and Adonara Island. The straight narrowed towards the top, or northern end before going out to sea. Flores Island side had very substantial settlements along it with wharfage and an obvious Port well established. Ferries plied between the two islands across the straight and the omnipresent fishermen were there with nets and lines. We were catching the three other boats as we entered the Straight which was flat water, great scenery, a very interesting township and nice breeze. We ran one motor to chill the fridge and Dianne took the opportunity to do the washing whilst we had the power on. As we progressed we started to pick up the tidal current. One, two and then three knots propelling us along. We cut the engine and with just the genoa or headsail we were doing 8 + knots boatspeed with just a few knots of breeze. Further along as we approached the end of the straight we had 9+ and then 10 knots with little breeze. I reckon we had about 6 knots of current with us. The water was flat but swirling until we were near the end of the Straight when Tiaki called on the radio from infront of us and suggested we put the stormboards in as they had taken a wave right over the boat as they left the straights in turbulent water.
Having been forewarned we could see this coming in front where there were breaking waves at a tumblehome where the water pouring the straight met up with the ocean swell from the Flores Sea. Tiaki had suggested we go left and we could see flat water on the right hand side of the channel. As we got closer we could see flat water on the left as well. We took the extreme left and sailed through the gentle swells but avoided the breaking waves and turbulent centre of the channel. Another yacht behind, which was in the anchorage with us last night, came through more to the centre and we have video of them rising and falling as they crashed through the waves. For us it was a gentle but great experience. The breaking waves in the centre of the channel were blocking out a local ferry on the far side of the channel who also took the shoreline and a smoothish entrance.
Back out into the Flores Sea we cut across open water which scattered with fish traps and platforms and dugouts and fishermen, one who was flying a kite from his boat, not sure why but it seemed to have another line off it. Now these things consist of possibly a drum or plastic bottle, right through to a bamboo platform, some with warning flags on them, and some bamboo platforms with thatched roofs that presumably people stop on from time to time or fish from, Some are quite substantial and sometimes you see a line of floats that obviously is a net or long line and I wonder if nets are strung from one platform to another. Anyway we sailed on through going around the boats and structures as we we could, but if you came through at night you would have absolutely NO hope of seeing some of them at all.
If there are nets we must have sailed over them as we didn't get caught up but I preferred to sail rather than motor and have a prop suck one in the way they do.
Out around further was passed a small atol with a massive coral reef around and from it which would have been good to snorkel or dive but we pressed on as although we did ten miles in one hour we have only done 2 or 3 for each of the hours after it!
As we rounded the top of Flores we noted a fingerhead of land behind which may be a suitable anchorage. As we reached it we must have been right as there were already twenty boats anchored up there!! Well in we went and anchored only 30 metres off the beach in 15 metres of crystal clear pristine water where we could see the anchor and chain on the bottom and the little crab next to it!! Many dugouts came out to us asking for books and we gave away some swimming goggles. The kids loved the readers digests, the adults must have been hoping for something more spicy!
In this water we had to go for a snorkel over the corals and reefs around us and right up to the beach. Never think that we have a mortgage on coral reefs in Australia - there are great reefs, diving and snorkelling off the beach here. And it is very cheap!!! (two readers digests and two pair of swimming goggles).
It is amazing where the time goes to when sailing. Even on an easy day like this where we started late and only covered about 30 miles and finished at about 4.00 pm with a swim after anchoring there seems little time. Of course there is always something to be done on a boat and keeping all systems going keeps you passively busy all day.
It is interesting to reflect as we sail past the towns and villages as to how revenue and income is generated in these areas and many people live a subsistence life. Many live in what we might refer to as weekenders or beach huts on coconut lined beaches that could be on the Australian Coast anywhere. They are scenic, with hills or mountains as a backdrop, there are thousands of palm trees and sandy beaches, mangroves areas, and steep rocky bluffs that fall into the water. But these people live a simple life without the trapping and issues of the western world, where family and friendship comes first, where consideration is given to the other person, where ego is constrained and modesty a virtue, where they balance use of nature with their needs, and above all the focus is on consumption for NEED not for GREED as is so commonplace in all western communities where there is aspiration to gather material goods to demonstrate wealth and prestige, not to gather and consume to meet your daily needs for food and water for subsistence. These are happy people despite what we might see as a lack of material goods or possessions.
Sundowners now, a gin and tonic as the sun sets on this stunning location and then it is time to think about dinner - and another day is done, I wouldn't previously of thought of Indonesia as paradise - however this is but another day in paradise!
15/08/2008, Selat Solor
Yesterday we left Lombarto and the boats dispersed in all directions. The day before had been long and gruelling and the farewell ceremony running until midnight. As we drifted off on a flat sea in magnificent conditions we elected to go below Adonara Island rather than back up the same passage we had come in on. This took us away from the fleet and just ourselves and a couple of other boats motored slowly off in this direction.
Conditions were calm just a wiff of breeze right on the bow so as the day progressed we ran first one motor to chill the fridge and freezer and then the other to make water, the first since leaving Darwin, and to make a steady and slow passage away from Kawula across Selat Lamakera or the Straights of Lamakera towards Selat Solor. We were in no hurry and in these conditions speed, time cruising all merged into one with no pressure to be anywhere or get anywhere. As we cruised along the coast close to Adonara Island we passed many villages, new houses getting built including a large modern house with a tiled roof, something we had not seen in Indonesia before.
The trip down Selat Solor was quite spectacular with the current against us, then with us, then swirling and the same again. I now have the currents and tides fully worked out here, you stand facing your nose in the direction you want to go and the tide and current will then flow from that direction! Progressively the breeze predictably came in, conveniently the wind dies off every night and comes in mid morning. We set the headsail and motor sailed on through the Straights. Inter- Island ferries ply the Islands loaded with people, motor scooters and whatever else. Often overloaded and poorly trimmed we pass several of these in each direction. A larger ship is seen from time to time that goes to the major ports presumably with people and cargo. Of course then there is the small and smaller fishing boats here and there setting nets or line fishing. It is necessary to keep a constant lookout for floats and nets.
We passed a fairly new port type complex with a new building. Constantly dotted along the Islands are villages on the coast and villages right up to the top of the hills and mountains.
At about 2.30 we chose a destination to anchor up for the night just before Selat Flores and headed towards it. How nice it was to be away from the crowd, although it was great being with them at the time. Our good friends Jenny and Peter on Tiaki were tracking down this path as well and we notified them of our destination.
Arriving in the bay we had chosen we sounded the area as the water throughout Indonesia is very deep from hundreds to thousands of meters and much to deep for anchoring. Close to shore we found 30/40 metres and even closer, we are talking a hundred metres or so we found twenty and below so anchored up. A little later Tiaki joined us and two Kiwi boats went past to round the point only to find the water too deep for anchoring so came back and we gave them a position in front of us.
The wind then died down to a flat, calm and beautiful anchorage and we call congregated on Charmar for sundowners which continued on until about 8.30 under a full moon on dead calm water. Is it just so serene and beautiful to be out here. The surrounding islands and patches on the hills light up as the villages with electricity showed themselves. Fishing vessels went out to do their thing and the occasional ferry, one all light up (although no nav lights) and quite loud music (was it a bemo ferry) looked just like a dinner cruise boat only it continued past down the straight so must have been a ferry.
We are off a small village but yesterday evening the "dad's army" or cadets were drilling and marching left, right, left right, whistle whistle whistle!!! This morning at about 5 they were up at it again. This is a very small village has a large concrete landing dock from days gone by, a few motorcycles and the omniprescent kids although we did not go ashore here, revelling in some quite time and the great conditions.
This morning there is a breeze coming up and we will head off through Selat Flores after debating the tides and currents last night. As a fairly narrow passage there could be a strong tidal run here. Again the conditions are good.
Coconut groves line the coast, the country is a bit dry and parts burnt off on the steep hillsides.
The sailing areas we are in at present are superb with sheltered and protected waters between the islands with the odd passage back out into open waters as we break free from island areas.
The country and waterways are quite different than I anticipated and pictured. We should have expected but there are villages everywhere.
It is now 7.30 and we depart at 8.00 for the Selar Flores which should be interesting so we will be off and readying now.
Wednesday we had a "lay day". No tours just a catch up day. Spent a couple of hours under Charmar giving the bottom a rub over, Dianne watched for sea monsters in case there were big ugly things in the water - always seems different in foreign waters. Caught up on few jobs and general tidying up.
We went over to the shore late afternoon and out to the best restaurant in town for dinner. At about $3 for a pair and $2.20 for a largish bottle of beer eating is not expensive. On the way back we got caught up with the Cultural and Arts festival at the anchorage and ended up spending the evening joining in tradtional dancing and games as each region put on their display and with constant calls from the organisers to then join in. But it as fun.
Yesterday we went on tour to Lamalera Whaling village where they still do whaling and fishing the traditional ways. It was a rough three hour journey in a Truck Bus across the Island - up and over the mountains on a single lane mostly dirt and rock road up one side and down the other. We went through many villages and eventually arrived about lunchtime. We were two hours late getting started as they couldn't find another bus for the long trip, and if it were my truck bus I wouldn't want to take it there either. We were a bit lucky as we ambled over to the truck bus when it turned up rather than rushed over and scored the front seats with the driver
The fishing vessels were just coming back and these traditional plank vessels are quite big and heavy and they are hauled up the beach between the rocks into boat houses for storage. Yesterday they had just caught a number of large rays which is common for the area and feeds the village. Every house had strips of whale blubber and fish on drying racks with gutters under the whale blubber catching the oil and running it into drums. Whilst we do not agree with whaling using these traditional methods for feeding the village in the traditional way and not wasting anything is more acceptable at least.
We arrived back at about 1930 and our farewell from Lembatta was to be at 1700 but was put back due to our late arrival after the late start on the tour. So the festivities which included the wind up to the cultural and arts festival (more dancing, music and traditional games) continued on and we didn't finish until midnight - somewhat pooped out. But the communities go to so much trouble it is important to attend as they welcome us so warmly and openly into their communities.
This Island seems to have been relatively wealthy with many shops, including several selling kids bikes!, some komputer shops (can't be for internet it is soooooo slow) many pigs, goats and some cattle, and the dogs seem healthy and in good condition. Most of the villages appeared to have electricity although water still comes from wells. The Whaling Village had toilets at the houses. Long queues for benzine (petrol) every day at the service station., No bowsers you just get a bottle full and it must be scarce as the two litre bottles on the roadside stalls everywhere were only half filled with one litre. Motor scooters are the common form of transport. There are also a small number of modern four wheel drives and a few cars.
It is early morning on Friday and we will soon move off heading towards Maumere over the next couple of days.
In Lembata. Correction to yesterday's update, We are not anchored under one active volcano, in fact there is another one just across the bay smoking away as well. So really we are between two active volcanoes! What happened to Pompeii? Anyway for those who cautioned us about pirates maybe the volcanoes will get us first!
Yesterday we had a good clean up, but using salt water. Charmar still had Darwin dust and ash on her as well as Kupang dust and ash and so on so it was great to give her a good washdown and have a good clean up.
So it is time for another Welcoming Ceremony and we are thinking we have seen all this before, but each is different and a massive amount of work has been put in by the community organising it. Last night at 10:00pm they were still building bures on the beach under a generator making light. So we did feel obliged also as a courtesy to the local community. But again they surpassed our expectations. We were all given traditional head-dress before going through a temporary gate into the "village area". We were entertained by tiny children from the local orphanage all dressed up in uniform and playing a drum band which was just heart melting! Several of these tiny tots then gave little welcome addresses in English. You could not help but be absolutely touched by it and the energy they put into it. As they marched off we were heralded to the back of the grounds where there was a cavalcade of assorted utes and probably a hundred motor scooters with riders. We mounted up on our choice of a crowded ute or the back of a motorcycle and lead by traditional warriors on horseback, and a Polisi escort, headed off on a village tour. We all expected to go round the block but an hour and half later we were still going, numb bums and all! We went through the town and markets, to the villages, through development and housing areas, past rice paddi's with their traditional farmers toiling away, past pigs, cows looking at us in curiosity and past many schools where the students lined the road and cheered and laughed and called out and did high fives as we went past. There are hundreds of young people on motor scooters the main mode of transport. People lined the streets and joined in it was almost like a royal visit! Quite indescribable in words.
Lembata although obviously not a wealthy area seems quite prosperous and certainly industrious. There is a lot of constructions work, some quite nice houses, houses with fully tiled fronts all over, two story concrete and mud brick houses, shop, stalls and markets en masse, pigs, chooks and cows (everywhere), goats etc. Many houses have tv, satellite dishes are common and some houses had computers. The internet at Telekom however was like ours 15 years ago with no broadband, dial up only and far too slow to load a web page or deal with email in the full! Thus still no photos on the blog!
There seems to be a strong Catholic influence here unlike Alor which, according to a guide was, "70% Christian, 20% Muslim, 5% Catholic and 5% everything else". Not sure whether the Catholic element was Christian but they differentiated this way!!!
Tonight was the formal ceremony and dinner with more dancing by the tiny tots from the orphanage and singing as well as other traditional entertainment. The children at the orphanage stay there until about ten or fifteen and then are turned out as there are too many to cope with and more young ones to come it.
We are still flabergasted and overwhelmed by the sincere hospitality accorded to us. Walking through the village everyone comes out and says, "Hello Miss, Hello Mister", and those with a better command of English delight to engage in some conversation. The effort gone to in order to welcome the Rally and participants is just unbelievable.
Tomorrow we will have a lay day, and the day after will visit a traditional whaling area and plant as well as some traditional villages and areas and the three coloured lakes.
The anchorage is good here and the boats have gathered again although a few are starting to move on. The water is extremely clear although there is the interminable rubbish and way too much plastic in it near the land and villages - a great shame and so bad for the environment. They really should not allow plastic bags in these area (or probably at all anywhere for that matter!)
No another welcome ceremony is not too many and would not have liked to miss todays. They are all different, the culture is different in every community and they work so hard to set it up and organise it. Overwhelming is the only word I can think of to try to describe it.
Found the Olympics on TV this morning =3D the TV seems to have some English up till about 7:00pm.
No another opening ceremony is NOT one too many. They are so different, so unexpected, and so much effort goes into them that they are not to be missed.
Yesterday morning we had breakfast for Solomon who stayed with us on Charmar for the night and then sent him off with a backpack full of children's clothing for his village. He was set to trek back to the village and we had planned on the first of a two day sail to Lembata further west of Alor and close to the Flores Group.
We would have been of the last boats to leave Kalabahi as many left early to catch the tidal streams and currents, which despite all the science and calculations is pretty much just good luck if you get it because they edy and ebb and turn and spin. We took hearsay advice from a foreigner diving in Alor - which is famous for its dive sites - and that was about as good as all the technology! Anyway the general rule is that the tide runs against the direction you want to go whatever time of day or night! I say that tongue in check and not to get the ire of the tide gods up as we have had some good runs also!
We had a good run down the Alor Fjord with the falling tide, and turned north up the straight to clear water. On this leg we had it with us and against us and with us and against us but a good breeze gave a good sail and then out into open water. A great reach to start with making good time and then the wind boxed the compass (and us) with a 360 degree series of changes but we adjusted continually and kept on. Hard pressed to get over the top of a massive expanse of reef attached to a tiny island but we managed to pinch through and live to tell the story. On we pressed with a great sail on a long low rolling swell - idyllic conditions for sailing. As the day wore on we contemplated anchoring for the night but would have had to go in at night. Part of the fleet were anchoring in behind a headland through a narrow reef entrance and talking boats through after dark but they were rafting up as there was not much room to anchor so we pressed on through the night changing a two day sail to a night sail. Conditions were great and early in the night we had good moonlight which left us about midnight in total blackness apart from the lights of many little villages off in the distance to Port and the odd yacht or ship plying the waters. Not many ships in this particular part of the world but a few coastal traders and ferries and some bigger ones from time to time.
These are interesting waters to sail however with a new trick every moment. The wind shifts all the time and obviously there is a strong sea breeze, land breeze diurnal component, but also the intensity varies but to date always manageable and often light so we really enjoy the power sails when we get the opportunity to click on some miles. The water is generally fairly flat although now we are on top of Indonesia there is a long rolling but gentle swell. Fish traps, dugouts, Sampans are all common fare some with lights which is great but some without. And then there are some strong lights in the distance like a trawler but when getting close turns out to be what is probably the start or end of a net or longline just bobbing about, oops is that other one the "other" end - have we just sailed over a net or longline? The one I really like is the drum about the size of a 44 gallon drum well marked with a palm frond in the middle of nowhere - goodness knows what would happen if you hit it at night because there would be no chance of seeing it. In the canoes there will be a fisherman, maybe a wife and often a young child or two way out in the middle of nowhere.
The wind boxed the compass again a couple of times during the night and we did a couple of 360's just to practice the pirouettes, but then we had to motor the last 20 miles with a light breeze right on the nose.
Chris B - the tri would Love this place!
But we track our way around to a fairly narrow BOLING STRAIGHT to get into Lembata Bay at about 5.00am this morning. Still feeling frisky enough we set about washing the boat that was still showing signs of the Darwin dust and ash, as well the dust from Kupang and ash from various fires along the way. It was good to clean it off.
Lembata looks like a lovely little place but we may have a snooze before going ashore. Chancing to look up it is nice to see we are parked under a smoking Volcano with molten sulphur running down the side. May not have to run the genset to hear the water tonight!
Tried to upload some photos through my Telstra Next G Modem but it took about 20 minutes to load the blogsite so I will have to give that away. Will try another method later.
Thanks for your emails and comments to all those that have written.
Best wishes Chris and Dianne
09/08/2008, Kalabahi - ALOR
Haven't heard a thing of it or about it!! Did it start?
09/08/2008, Kalabahi - ALOR
Saturday in Kalabahi, well the same as every other day of the week I guess. This morning we were to go on a snorkelling trip so we were up early, with Dianne doing the washing and some chores on board then over to the landing for a 9.00 o'clock start, only to find it was an 8.00 o'clock start and the buses had gone. But everything happens for a purpose!
Solomen the Uni student we had met a couple of days ago and who has adopted us was waiting for us. So off we went to catch a BEMO and small van which is a bus and always has a loud boom box constantly booming, always one or two people hanging off the side and maybe one on top! Off we went to the beach and caught up with our group.
Great beach and snorkelling over a ledge that then dropped off into deep coral and water, Pristine clear water and great corals including a crown of thorns! The coral and snorkelling was as good as. Had lunch out there which was also great.
Arriving back we thought it would be good to go and meet Solomen's parents in their traditional village so we went and caught a BEMO again up to the markets and chartered three motor scooters with riders to take us up. It seemed a bit crazy because the riders wear crash hats and the passengers don't and he we are weaving our way through traffic.
We start to head up to the mountains on a formed road, up, up up we go starting to enjoy the views over the port and surrounding valleys. Up and up we go further and further. Up, Up Up and the road narrows a bit and the bitumen becomes more scarce, still climbing, The dogs stop running off the road when the cycles approach and up up up we go, now the dogs don't run off the road and up up up we go now the startled chickens stop running away from the bikes and start running in front of them. The road narrows to a track and then a narrow track the bitumen is now rare and up we go.
Eventually we seem to be riding across the top of the mountains of this steep island and on we go. Solomen travels this track, often on foot, 35 km each day to go to Uni where he is studying to become an English teacher to return to his home village to teach. It is a five year uni course.
Eventually after passing through many traditional villages we arrive. Here we meet Dad, 78 and Mum 73 and his Sister and Sister in Law who live adjacent. Mum had been off getting a pig in the fields but joined us on her return. They live in a traditional woven and thatched home with an earthen floor and no power or water. Water comes from the river about an hour a way by bucket as needed. They grow the best coffee I have ever tasted, grapes, casava, paypaya, corn and other staples. (Photos will go on the site as soon as I get to a web place)
It has been a highlight experience. Dad only talks in the dialect of his village, not Bahasa Indonesian the standard language. They were very generous and we left with a bag of coffee and it is great.
Solomen has returned with us and is staying on Charmar tonight.
A few facts: Solomen completed high school and then worked for two years to save money for Uni; the course is five years to become an English Teacher, then he will go back to his village to teach elementary school - they do not have an English teacher at present. As a teacher he will earn 75000 rupiah a month (about $aus10). He has to pay to go to Uni which is very difficult for his parents to afford and he is a lovely boy. He has already completed 2.5 years of the course in very difficult circumstances but wants to teach the children in his community to help them. We will sponsor him to help out a little and to help him help his community.
SPONSORING A YOUNG STUDENT IN INDONESIA TO HELP THEM HELP THEIR COMMUNITIES
For any readers who would consider sponsoring somebody like Solomen with $5, $10, $15 or $20 per month - and you can see a little money for us goes a long way in this community - please email me at VZN6971@sailmaill.com as we will be identifying several suitable and dedicated candidates for sponsorship and meeting their families and situation. If you would like to help all your contribution will go directly to their education to enable them to help in their communities. A little goes a LONG way here, if you can help with a little please do so.
08/08/2008, Kalabahi - ALOR
Today still in the Fjord at Alor Island anchored at Kalabahi. This is a smaller town although there are 175,000 people on this small group of islands with various regions. Interestingly some live by the sea and others in the Highlands. The boys we were talking to last night who are training to be English School Teachers walk 35 kms to get to the University from the highlands where their families are farmers. They had never been on a boat before and wanted to come and see Charmar. To our surprise they were a little afraid in the dinghy. We had assumed with the beautiful waterways and the tiny and big kids and adults that are constantly plying the waters in the tiniest of dugouts through to traditional fishing boats and Sampans that they would all be water- babies - but not so - the farmers do farming and the fishermen do fishing! The littlest of kids paddle out to our boat in the littlest of dugout canoes to sit on the back steps and wait for a talk or a chocolate. They have a great method of flick rolling their dugouts to bail the water out if they capsize or are capsized by their mates or crew!
Last night the Gala dinner had some wonderful performances with traditional music by the school children, traditional dancing in costume (pity I can't get photos on at the moment!) and singing and dancing.
Today we did the tour and went to the Museum and then to the highlands to a traditional highland village without power or any "modern amenities" where they and we danced and enjoyed their traditional lifestyle before we walked back down not exactly trusting the bus that didn't quite make it to the top. Then on to Mali Beach for a "Bento Box" lunch and more music from the local elementary school which was just wonderful using their traditional instruments with enthusiasm and gusto.
After that out to an area which I am not sure where it was exactly (didn't have the GPS with me!) where we planted trees that will have our names on a plate on them, Sandlewood. So it tramping through Indonesia in years to come look for the tree called Chris White and the one called Dianne White of Charmar in the Memorial Forest! There were giant Sandlewoods in this forest some 500 years old and 50 metres high with a circumference equal to a curtain fig. I guess we did this for our Carbon Sequestration or maybe just to replace the enormous amount of paperwork required to enter and travel in this country. Some people are still stinging from having our boats impounded but it really was not a problem. Personally I think it was just a sure way of keeping us in Kupang for four days minimum!!
We have a couple of more days here and then will press onto to Lembata on Pelau Kawatu about 80 miles east after passing a couple of other island and probably doing battle with the fierce tides and currents that prevail in this area. Despite all sorts of software and planning there has been more talk on the radio about the currents but few have been able to benefit from it and I think more luck and chance than science, but it certainly slows you to a snail pace when against and turbo charges when it is with you. Coming in here we had 9 knots plus with one engine just ticking over! (We also had 1.8 knots earlier with one engine running normally - which is NOT a fast way of getting anywhere. Still can't beat sailing with the fresh breeze where we get 9+ knots and better.
Still signing hundreds of kids exercise books with our names and residence - thanks teachers what a good idea!! Some have a little English but it is easy to lose them by asking their age etc. Nevertheless the Country clearly has a policy to teach all Children English and except for the remote villages many people speak a little or quite good English and there are many English speaking local teachers and many more studying for the task with a five year course.
We are still overwhelmed by the hospitality and friendliness and the effort made to make our stay rewarding for us.
06/08/2008, Kalabahi - ALOR
Anchored in a magnificent Fjord or Sound deep in ALOR Island and Kalabahi Township. This is a fairly remote area. Yesterday they had their Annual Expo which is a bit like an agricultural show with all the produce, weaving and handicraft from each region of this local area and other displays and fun. We went around it last night and it was quite interesting. Had a Nasi Goreng (of course) and a barbecued fish for dinner at a small wharfside food outlet where there is a string of them possibly just set up for the occasion.
The children all obviously have a project or competition to get as many names and signatures from the foreigners as they can so we get swamped every time we hit shore with lovely little kids with exercise books introducing themselves o so politely and asking for us to complete their books. Sometimes the English doesn't go much past this though!
The anchorage is a part of a commercial port and very protected. As we travelled along the Fjord there were communities at every bay and large fish trap structures the size of a house on the water - they seem to light these up at night to attract the fish.
This morning was the official welcome and the warriors came around the boats in their traditional gear and traditional boat singing and drumming and took the captain of the first boat to arrive to shore for him to be the leader of our tribe.
This was followed by the official reception on shore with dancers from the school, speeches, morning tea and more dancing including us participants.
Unexpectedly this really is a cultural tour where each village or town (and each one has its own culture - they are quite different) visited has gone to tremendous effort to welcome us and make arrangements for our visit. This area is beautiful and also great for snorkelling and diving and very "original". The people are traditional and delightful.
There goes some kids in a dugout canoe! "Hello Mister, Hello Misses".
Tonight we have the gala dinner welcome hosted by the local mayor.
We are absolutely blown away, overawed, amazed (and any other adjectives) by the hospitality, the arrangements and the effort by the Indonesians towards this tour. I can only suggest that if you have a boat or can get on one do it and book now for next year it is truly outstanding and a lifetime experience.
We have found that communications are not that great here, as expected. The Telstra message bank system does not seem to work despite it leaving a message that it will call back with the messages it never does! On querying Telstra they have recorded a complaint so it may be fixed by the time we are home.
If you need to contact us the most reliable will be try my mobile 0418 772 601, or our Indonesian number dial Indonesia (I am not sure of the code then (0) 81353 779312 probably dropping that first (0) by normal convention. Satphone is an option if we are onboard but the most reliable is email to email@example.com
Yesterday, Tuesday we weighed anchor, with a plan to go to Alor. We had intended to day sail along the coast, anchor and then cross to Alor today. BUT, we left with a glorious 10/12 knot favourable breeze and sailed along and north, north east beside the west coast of Timor in perfect sailing conditions just cruising along at a steady pace on flat water. Later in the day the breeze dropped out a little and we put the MPS up to boost our way. As we had been progressing steadily on flat water we decided to continue on over night to arrive at Alor in daylight the next morning.
The wind faded and we kept the MPS up for the night. At about 10.00pm Dianne was sitting on the front deck keeping an eye on a couple of close boats and reading when she was surprised by a loud, "WHOOOOSH!" right next to her. When she looked around she saw a massive phosphorescent image in the water heading towards us and then it moved right under her under the front decks and hulls. Obviously a whale on the surface that then swam under us.
As the night went on the wind died out but the seas became very sloppy. At about midnight a couple of boats in front that had set out before us were reporting 25knots on the nose so we thought it prudent to take in the MPS and return to the Genoa. An hour or so later the wind piped in and from about 2.00am we had about +/- 20 knots and about 9 knots of boat speed. It was great. Earlier in the day we had tides and currents of up to 4 knots against us! The tide turned to help us also.
Just now it is 0800 and we are entering the channel towards Alor about 20 miles to go and a big pod of dolphins leading us in .
A really mixed night with calm, flat, rolly and windy but a good sail at the end and wind is dying out again now.
We have a couple of volcano to port and the channel and a small island to starboard.
In Kupang we spend the afternoon unsuccessfully trying to clear email and update photos to the blog. Internet is not common in Kupang!!
Sitting down on the waterfront in the late afternoon we were approached by students, teachers and others from Kupang who wanted to "practice" their English and talk to us.
Debbie, Karen, Sandy, Andy and Lucas stopped and talked with us for some hours and we learnt a lot about Kupang life and other things. Sail Indonesia is the one big tourism event in Kupang each year and is welcomed by the whole community. It was interesting for all of us to compare notes about our lives and conditions in Australia compared to those in Kupang. Few people have a computer and/or access to the internet, not even teachers. At uni they get to use a computer "a little". But they sure do have good family values and a sense of their community. Mostly the people in Kupang are Christian. The schools have a few weeks holiday in June/July and four days at Christmas. School starts at 0730!
Sitting and talking has been another one of the highlights of Kupang. Interestingly many of the people we spoke to had origins in Alor where we go to tomorrow. The Japanese and Dutch have had an influence in both these area.
For the people here they can only dream of visiting somewhere like Australia, despite the fact that they have, through their own efforts, very good English, which they see as the universal language and work hard at learning.