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Cruising on Diomedea
Diomedea is a Van de Stadt Tasman 48
David and Andrea
19/09/2014, Maurole

This photo was taken by my father circa 1960 from the deck of the Sitmar line ship Fairstar on passage to the (still) United Kingdom. I was there and saw the magnificent Komba volcano, depicted here in the Flores Sea, at the time as well. We saw it again recently as we cruised west along the island chain, 54 years later. Thank you to Al for keeping a fantastic photo archive.
I have also added more photos CLICK HERE.

12/09/2014, Maurole, Flores Island

The local pronounciation is: ma â€" oo- rolay, as we found out whilst listening to speeches at an unexpectedly well organised gala dinner for the fleet. Diomedea had arrived at this unpromising location, primarily to receive our passports with the new visa extensions. To our pleasant surprise, we found an excellent local tourist operation run by Vincent and Ferdinand of Flores Adventrip (+62 813 34330155, HYPERLINK "" . A stall with information brochures was manned and ready for business. They organised local tours including up to Kelimutu lakes and some hot springs, as well as a short trekking tour to a traditional village followed by a walk through various plantations. We did this walk and enjoyed every minute of it. We were enthralled by stories of a two-faced Portuguese sailor, drowned on this shore centuries ago. His bones were said to be contained within a structure that appeared like a bird house in the traditional village. Indeed, inspection revealed some human like metacarpals. The structure had enormous animistic significance for the village. There was also an elaborate meeting house with carved human, fish and animal figures. Some locals also demonstrated their climbing talents and taut six-packs by scaling a palm tree with a machete to send down some fresh coconuts. Small notches are cut in the tree to allow purchase with the feet and the hands grip the trunk. There are no safety devices of any sort. The climber wields the exceedingly sharp machete with the sword arm at 25m above the ground, hanging on with the other hand. The water from the coconuts straight off the palm is excellent. We are shown coffee beans drying in the sun, cashew nut trees being harvested, rice paddies about to be harvested and being harvested, cocoa trees, kapok trees and others. The cashews are roasted for us and we eat them. Yum. The amount of labour required to fill a packet in Coles with cashews is really staggering. We are also treated to roasted Plantain bananas served hot (would have been good with Nutella dipping sauce though). As the heat of the day builds we move back to Maurole for morning tea at a small resto and then seek the shade of the boat. The gala dinner is a lot of fun. It seems as though the entire village is there. All the senior political figures and leaders of the Ende regency, and their wives have also come over the mountains from Ende on the south coast, an arduous three hour drive. Interesting speeches from the bupati (village chief) and the vice regent are followed by good quality food. Bintang beer is available. Afterwards come the dancers from the school showcasing traditional themed stories from the region. Finally it is our turn. We join the mob on the dusty arena and whirl around with colourful cloths. In a rather surreal moment, I find myself dancing in this way with a heavily built chief of police, wearing an equally heavily built pistol. Nonetheless, he has a cherubic face and a nice smile so we sashay around for a while. The celebration draws to a close, having been a complete success for all concerned. A column of headlights preceded by the flashing and wailing of a police car disappear up the hill on the road back to Ende and we fumble our way in the light of the full moon back to our boats. Our last engagement in Maurole was an educational session with 15 year olds from the high school in Ende. Accompanied by their very enthusiastic teacher it was a time for the meeting of cultures. We tried to reinforce the notion of rubbish control in villages as an important concept in improving the tourist potential of Flores. The region has plenty to offer we feel but it does need to meet at least the minimum standards of cleanliness that modern tourists expect. Overall we had a great time in Maurole and would recommend this as a stop for yachts in the future.

14/09/2014 | Peter
David, a bit worried you might be thinking about batting for the other side with your choice of dominatrix dance partners. How does Andy feel about that?
The Flores Report Number One
10/09/2014, Maumere, Flores Island

The wind remained light for the trip around the scorpion’s tail. The first supposed anchorage was at Tanjung Gedong, right at the northernmost extent of the tail. It proved to be substandard and so it was on to Teluk Hading at the very tip of the tail. One yacht went in there and dragged around, also commenting that there was not much room. As the day began to ebb away we became increasingly apprehensive about finding a spot for the night. It was a relief to arrive at possibility number 3, which was “just right”. The fairly open bay at the village of Waimalung (08 25.353S,122 35.328’E) was very comfortable, with good holding and plenty of swing room. It is not far from Babi Island. Several yacht crews went ashore to visit and were mobbed by the usual crowds of kids all shouting “mister”. We gave some of them self-adhesive heart stickers, other baubles and trinkets. However, there was little to hold our jaded western attention for long. A nine mile trip to another anchorage on the southern shore of Dambilah island, next to mighty Pulau Besar (about 900m high), was made and we anchored in 12m with poor holding inside a fringing reef system. (08 28.621’S, 122 28.631’E). A channel about 75 metres wide was easily negotiated with good light. Generally, the Navionics Gold chart of this region is completely unreliable and bears little resemblance to reality. There is virtually no useable information for this coast and the chart can be more or less ignored. The list price for this chart when purchased in Micro SD card format for a chart plotter is over $600 and is a complete rip-off. Increasingly we are downloading Google Earth images of planned anchorages to allow for accurate plotting of courses around coral reefs. This and the Mark 1 Eyeball. Our trip to Dambilah took us past a village built on a sandspit which must have been wiped out in the 1992 tsunami which also devastated large areas of the Flores coastline. One crew visited the village found that the beachfront doubled as a sewerage system and graveyard. Vast plumes of plastic rubbish streamed out into the sea from the village. This is perhaps one of the worst aspects of Indonesia: rubbish. It is just everywhere and cannot be ignored. Streets, canals, rivers, gorges, national parks, beaches, domestic front yards, markets, and just about every bit of water are all heavily polluted by garbage. The plastic load being introduced into the Flores and Java seas must be beyond measure. The environmental catastrophe is evidenced by the decimation of fish stocks and virtually complete absence of bird life. Burning off the rubbish on land is a universal phenomenon, causing toxic smoke to drift out to sea. Diomedea receives a nightly deposit of soot and ash. There is no structured waste management to be seen anywhere. I tremble to think what the island of Java must be like with its 140 million people. It looks to be no bigger than Tasmania or perhaps Victoria. After Dambilah it was only a hop, step, and a jump to Maumere, the largest town on Flores island. (08 37.982’S, 122 18.573’E) The island’s name comes from the Portuguese in the 16th century and refers to flowers of course. Not on land though, more likely pretty coral heads underwater. We anchored off the Seaworld Resort some 15km east of the town. This proved a good choice. Generally the ports are disgustingly dirty. The resort had a volcanic black sand beach, reasonable swimming, a nice sunset bar, a good restaurant, boat boys bringing all manner of commodities, and an efficient limo service. The resort is reportedly run by German missionaries. There are no water slides or performing sea mammals. There is a small swimming pool full of an alarming green liquid. The crew of Diomedea availed themselves of the chauffeured hire car for the run into town. A SIM card top up, a visit to the Roxy supermarket, and finally shopping in the produce market were the items on the agenda. The produce market was vile. Back to the boat for a shower, the water was brown running off our bodies. Being suckers for punishment, we opted for the trip to the Kelimutu National Park the next day. The park is noteable for its three coloured volcanic lakes in the summit craters. The lakes change colours on a monthly basis. For our visit we had a stunning tourquoise, deep red, and muddy green. We theorised about the origins of the colours with the favourite hypothesis being varying sulphation of minerals extruded from the magma chambers. It was a pleasant cool temperature at the high altitude but this did little to negate the arduous nature of the 6 hours of driving required for the round trip. If you look on a map of Flores, you will see Kelimutu not far north of the town of Ende on the south coast. You will also see the exceedingly winding road from Maumere on the north coast. Our car driver commented that if one were to drive from Maumere to the town of Labuan Bajo on the western end of Flores, it would require 24 hours of driving spread over 5 days. The distance by sea is only 300km. However, we did see all sorts of interesting things: churches bulging with worshippers, pillion passengers doing saltos off motor bikes, cows slaughtered by the roadside, cloves drying in the middle of this highway, buses with crowds surfing the roof tops, buses with goats surfing the roof tops, no fear motor cyclists on the wrong side around blind hairpins, monkeys on chains, and so forth. Our party collapsed into the sunset bar in time for bottles of Bintang beer.

10/09/2014 | Barbara
You should sail to Byron Bay where the sharks might eat you but there will not be any rubbish on the shore. Plastic is the shame of the world.
More Photos
David and Andrea
08/09/2014, Maumere

Came across some further Queensland photos of interest. CLICK HERE
Also more photos added in the Indonesia section.

05/09/2014, Maumere

Finally I can upload some pictures. Click HERE

06/09/2014 | Al
Nice pix, looks sunny and warm. Not quite the same as back at home base where it is cold, wet and unpleasant. Watch out for the dragons.
07/09/2014 | philc
Those red shirts look familiar ...I think I have one in the wardrobe.
08/09/2014 | Hannah
Love the pictures. You two look so happy on your adventure. I especially like the "local sailing" one and all of the ones with you and the locals. Keep enjoying yourself to the max. Lots of love xx
Chilling Out at Kroko
01/09/2014, Kroko Island, NE tip of Adonara Island, Indonesia

We have been slow to learn the lesson about anchorages. Most of them are poor quality in at least one way or non-existent. In this relatively remote eastern end of Indonesia, one should not really plan on any particular anchorage as being good for the night. So it was that the crew of Diomedea found themselves at sea for another unplanned overnight sail. Diomedea had left Kalabahi in the late morning after a final instalment of internet activity and headed out for some promising spots at a nearby island. These supposed anchorages proved untenable, one being smack bang in the middle of whirlpools and overfalls leading into the Selat Alor. Our decision to go to sea was easy, rather than risk a noisy unsettled night being swept about close to a coral reef. The night was kind to us but nonetheless, the usual assortement of kamikaze fishing boats, larger ships and untended fishing nets presented themselves in random order. Daybreak saw us under the shadow of a massive smoking volcano, guarding the Selat Boleng, better known as the Boiling Strait, for its cauldron-like tide effects. We hit the strait with 5.4 knots of favourable current and were soon whisked to the port of Lembata across a large unsheltered bay. The anchorage initially was excellent but proved to be very uncomfortable due to quite violent wind-against-tide issues. We lasted one night before leaving and did not go ashore. The town did look interesting and the mosque was quite jazzy with neon lighting on its minarets. Other yachts that stayed there reported a well-developed tourist infrastructure, good supply lines and an enthusiastic welcome. For us, it was back out through the Boiling Strait to the most delightful anchorage of the entire trip to date. The Kroko islands are quite small, just off the NE tip of the largish Adonara island, immediately west of Kawula island. Sand cays, coral, crystal clear water, gentle sea and land breezes, great scenery and good holding in 25m of sand. What more can you ask for? In the mornings a chap in a canoe came by with fresh produce for sale, including a good sized kingfish for $5. We happily purchased bananas, coconuts, small mangoes, and tomatos. We swam, snorkelled, did exercise classes on the sand cay, read, rested, chilled out, ate, drank, socialised and generally did all the things that one should do on a cruise. One evening we went to the sand cay for sundowners only to find it occupied by a group of relatively affluent middle class young adults from Adonara island. A good-looking bunch, they spent the ensuing 2 hours doing an endless photo shoot of us, them, us and them, them and us, all in evolving permutations and combinations. It was a lot of fun. One of the crowd was a professional ornithologist doing a research project. He referred to nearby Bat Island, so called for its resident population of tens of thousands of bats. They appeared periodically in dense black clouds over the island. Lingering here has allowed us to really enjoy our surroundings. The passage of the last rays of light flicking the massive lava slops of the volcano with russet tones, and the summit sulphur cone with yellows is really special. The waxing crescent moon smiles gently onto the pan flat water, and Scorpio hangs above us with its pincers ready. The only negative has been the relentless burn offs being done for miles around. At night the wind drops away and the boat is soon festooned with ash fallout. This is the work of man. The time came for us to move on from this paradise. For Diomedea it was westward to the large island of Flores with its scorpion tail.

02/09/2014 | Philc
Flores Island is a great area.
Getting close to Komodo, that is a place to visit.

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