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Cruising on Diomedea
Diomedea is a Van de Stadt Tasman 48
15/10/2014, Lovina Beach, North Coast

Wet and wild! Diomedea dropped her mooring at 0400hr, leaving the stillness of Medana Bay for the fierce Selat Lombok. We soon found ourselves beam reaching into 25-30 knots from the south with three reefs in the main and only half the jib and still zipping along. The moon laid down a path for us to follow through the spray, swells and waves. By 0550 the sun was beginning to rise over the flanks of volcano Rinjani astern and its red glow brought into view the stunning symmetrical cone of the volcano Agung on the eastern side of Bali. At 3100m high this peak is very sensual in its curves, but of course occludes the wind flow. As we entered its lee it was time for the diesel and in fact we motored the entire north coast of Bali in calms, heading for Lovina Beach (08 09.556’S 115 01.302’E). The anchorage is quite open to the north but holding was excellent in 17m sandy bottom. Mild sea breezes came and went during the day, and the night had some offshore land breeze. Lovina is a tourist destination but is quite understated compared to reports one receives about Kuta beach in the south. There are a number of restaurants including the very excellent Spice Beach Club with its tourquoise and white themed livery and staff uniforms. Su at Shop 7 on the beach successfully relieved us of the burden of cash by selling us some nice batik shirts. Boat boys came out in their spider boats, here made of fibreglass. We were initially greeted by Peter Pan, then his brother’s boat Full Power. Many other fanciful boat names were seen and indeed the fleet was vast, transporting westerners to snorkelling, dolphin watching etc. Our boat boy Daman brought us diesel (solar), petrol (benzin), bananas (pisang), laundry (laundry), and provided a below the waterline scrub for the hull ($50 for 3 guys for 2 hours or so). The town of Lovina beach has commemorated the dolphins in a kitschy monument and there is even a dolphin gate through which traffic enters the town. About 15km east is the large town of Singaraja with a Carrefour supermarket and many other facilities. One always thinks of Bali as being a cheap destination for yobbo Australians but in the north this did not appear to be the case, although admittedly the season was well advanced. We decided to take a vehicle south for a day tour of the island to sample the Australian tourist factor elsewhere. A conscious decision was made to avoid Denpasar and the south coast. Our driver and his nice air conditioned car were hired for $60 for the entire day and it worked out very well. Up and up we went over a pass to a cluster of three lakes probably at about 1000m altitude before we descended toward the large southern plains of Bali. Along the way we stopped at the fascinating Coffee Break establishment to sample a wide range of coffees and teas. This included the remarkable Luwac coffee. The processing of this particular blend initially involves feeding coffee beans to a mongoose. The mongoose eats them and excretes them whole in its faeces. The scats are collected and the beans harvested and cleaned. They are then roasted, ground, and served in the usual manner. Reputedly the pre-processing of the bean renders the flavour exquisite and makes the product the most expensive coffee in the world. Did we try it? Of course. Was it worth $20 for a 200gm bag? No. In fact the flavour was very mild and the caffeine content low so for us hardened Mosmanites it was really anticlimactic. Nonethless, their other coffees were excellent and again our wallets were strip-mined by this effieient organisation. Our journey took us further south to the bustling arty town of Ubud. This place was definitely a tourist trap and was absolutely chockas with western women. Perhaps driven by the eat-pray-love thing or the quest for the ultimate spa or alternative health treatment we cannot say, but they were pounding the pavements in search of enlightenment. We did not linger in the town but did go to the interesting Neka museum of Balinese art (HYPERLINK "" established by Suteja Neka in the late 70’s. Works from local and European artists are on display and it is definitely worth a visit. A Dutch painter, Hofker, was quite taken with the naked Balinese female form and he had produced a real homage to same. One work though, painted by another European chap, featured a naked pubescent girl in a sensual pose. Such works I imagine would not be hung in Australian galleries today, and the artist presumably would be hunted down by the AFP. We left Ubud and its countless wood carving shops behind and headed north toward volcano Agung. The road wound up through beautiful rice paddy terraces to crest the pass at 1600m at the village of Kintamani. We lunched with a clear view of Agung and other volcanos, one of which had had a moderate eruption 9 years ago. A large crater lake some km long was also seen. Kintamani also was home to a fascinating Hindu temple in which devotees were actively engaged in their rituals. A loud 30 strong musical ensemble consisting entirely of tympani provided a noisy backdrop. Finally it was the endless descent down the ridge to Singaraja before heading back to Lovina. All in all a great day. Bali is quite different in its religious makeup compared to other islands that we have visited. Whilst there are some mosques, Hindu temples predominate and in fact every house has some sort of Hindu ornaments, be they simple puja offerings to the gods, or more elaborate private shrines. Some private temples occupied acreages! Little umbrellas and other comforts were provided for the god statues in the temples. The ethos being that if you give something spontaneously to your gods they will in turn give you something back. Our Hindu driver dreamt that one day his sect would dominate Indonesia and presumably supplant the Muslims for whom he definitely expressed some intolerance. Dream on.

Medana Bay Redux
David and Andrea
11/10/2014, Medana Bay Marina of course

Back in Medana we had an enforced stay whilst waiting for a shipment of a new high pressure pump for our desalinator from NZ. However, we were very happy to receive another shipment, this time a $44 bilge blower fan from Whitworths chandlers. The fan was brought in by Aleta, who was joining the yacht Mediterraneo. The fan had been purchased by my sister Carolyn who delivered it to Aleta whose residence is in Charlestown, Newcastle. A big thank you to Carolyn, Aleta, and Meika for making this possible. The fan was installed and works nicely.
The crew of Gypsy Rover joined us for a day trip into the hills to see some rather impressive waterfalls on the flanks of Rinjani. About 2 hrs each way from Medana bay the drive took us along the black sand beaches of the north coast, past countless rice paddies before turning right and climbing up the mountain. The waterfall walk was cool and pleasant with a few short wades through the river to reach the roaring torrents. Even in the dry season the falls were pumping. Following this hike we had a brief tour of a "traditional" village, complete with satellite receiver dishes before we decamped to the fabulous Rinjani Lodge for a long lunch. The Lodge even has a wet edge pool which we were very pleased to use. Then back into the car for the run home via the markets and ATM. One can do a summit walk of the volcano but three days are required so we did not pursue this option.
Internet in Lombok has been very patchy and getting blogs up etc has been remarkably challenging. Access to the internet will come and go from one minute to the next even if one is using a hotel's wifi network. Hotspotting off your iphone is usually even less reliable. Typically all bandwidth disappears during business hours.
Local phone calls can be made but usually there are very few people to speak to in English. Overseas phone calls on the local sim card are quite pricey, so it is cheaper to use a satphone for this purpose. Of course, the satphone drops out quite frequently making this relatively unreliable as well. Generally coms in this country are very frustrating. Having said that we were quite surprised when our pump arrived on schedule after one week from ordering in Opua, NZ. Sadly the tariffs charged to import goods are not for the faint hearted! Peter and his office staff really made the speedy delivery possible and without their support the process would have been a lot longer.
With the pump in our hands we prepped Diomedea for her next passage, 75 miles to Lovina Beach on the north coast of Bali. Before we left we had a final meal at Sailfish with some of the other yachts and then an early night in readiness for a 0330 hr alarm.


Naturally it was time for an oil exchange, having done 180 hours since leaving Cairns. Fortunately the waste oil is recycled here to other engines so not just dumped. With this task out of the way it was time to make Diomedea ready for her guests, Andrea's niece Lea and her boyfriend Simon. They had been travelling by land from Jakarta to Bali and had done a dive course on Gili Air which they enjoyed immensely. We picked them up on this bustling island and headed across to Gili Meno for an excellent lunch on the eastern side of this more sedate cay. They brought with them some fresh fruit and an excellent Balinese table cloth which has supplanted our slightly faded NZ Tui tablecloth in the deck saloon. We had four days in which to explore the region with Lea and Simon and so we turned Diomedea south toward the southern Gilis along the shore of the large promontory at the SW corner of Lombok. 15-18 knots SW breeze in flat water gave us an outstanding sail for 25 miles to Gili Gede. Picking our way around the reefs and pearl farms we managed to find the moorings belonging to the Secret Island Resort on the southern end of Gili Gede (08 45.783'S 115 56.026'E). The resort is sadly in need of maintenance but we were warmly greeted by its owner, expat American Peter. There are other moorings belonging to Ray (Marina del Ray, get it) which some yachts use for extended periods. Generally the trades found their way into these bays keeping the boat cool and the nights more pleasant than further north. We found good snorkelling around the small islands at the north of Gili Gede and we anchored here in 18m sand for the day(08 43.504'S 115 55.151'E). Poor Lea burnt despite applying sunscreen on the back of her legs and other parts north, resulting in uncomfortable sitting for the next 24 hours as a result of the extended swimming session. For subsequent swims she borrowed Andrea's burkini (full length lycra rashy). We did our best to provide liquid analgesia for Lea in her hour of need. Some cortisone ointment was also used! Simon fared better but did not decline the offer of refreshments. We had some lovely meals together on board. For our guests it was something of a relief not to have to haggle over every item during a day of travelling, instead just chilling out on their own magic carpet. For us it was lovely to have some nice young folk with whom one could talk and debate. Our final night on board was remarkable for the appearance of cirrus mare's tails and an ice halo around the moon. Too soon the time came for our visitors' departure. As Lea and Simon had to get back to Denpasar for the flight home, there was a complex sequence of travel required. However, the first step was an excellent beat in light SE breeze past Gilipohl with its Olympic torch lighthouse to the rather nice Cocotinos Resort at 08 43.911'S 115 59.607'E. Both Lea and Simon had turns at helming Diomedea with Simon recording top speed of 8.7kts over ground. After some initial dog-leg manoeuvres, Lea found her form and got the boat in the groove. The resort provided a very good lunch for us all before our guests had a final snorkel. We all dinghied ashore for the taxi to take Lea and Simon to Port Lembar to catch the RORO ferry back to Bali overnight. We hugged and kissed our goodbyes and then they vanished into the dusk. Andrea and I had a sundowner at the resort bar and then a quiet night on board before we too cleared the area for the run back up the coast in good SE flow to the vortex of Medana Bay.

Komodo to Lombok
David and Andrea
10/10/2014, Medana Bay Marina

After bidding a glad farewell to the fearsome lizards, Diomedea had a motor and sail north up the Selat to Gililawalaut where we found Wairima and Maus Katti (08 26.84'S 119 34.08'E). This is very close to the dive site of Crystal Rock and more noteably the Cauldron which we decided to traverse in a relatively settled 3 knot flow.
After overnighting there we moved on to a bay at the very NW tip of Komodo island to enjoy some solitude. The price of this solitude was an anchor chain wrap around coral bommies the next morning. Fortunately the water was sufficiently clear even at 0600hr to allow us to reverse the wrapping path and undo the cat's cradle of steel. A pleasant broad reach took Diomedea into the passage between the NE tip of Sumbawa and the massive conical volcano island of Sangeang. Of course, the mariner's amongst you will now know that any narrow passage generates strong tidal flows here and indeed this was the case with 3 knots of contrary current for about 5 miles. After motor sailing through this we had strong downwind conditions along the coast to the entrance of the large fiord leading to the town of Bima. We anchored at the funnel shaped mouth of this fiord rather than motoring 10 miles up the sound (08 19.725S 118 45.202'E) and had good holding in black volcanic sand. Whilst not a very scenic spot we watched in awe as a fishing fleet numbering at least 50 steamed out past us on dusk for their night of work. As we weighed anchor early the next morning the same armada returned. Our passage took us to the delightful island of Satonda (08 07.173S 117 44.745'E). This is a collapsed volcano and is only a few hundred metres high. However, most of the collapsed volcano is a lovely lake filling much of the interior. A resort is being developed there (slowly) and two moorings are available. It is a popular dive site with many commercial operators shepherding battalions of punters around. We did not dive as I had and still have a bad ear infection. It was to be a long passage across to Lombok so Diomedea slipped her mooring late in the afternoon in a total glass out, until we reached the Selat Alas separating Sumbawa from Lombok. All of these straits between the islands are huge wind funnels for the SE trades and so shortly after dark we were close reaching into 20+ knots with two reefs in the main. Currents swirled around us as the entire Indian ocean sought to make its way north through this tight 500m deep waterway. Few fishing boats ventured into this area fortunately but as we approached the north cape of Lombok activity increased. Lombok itself is crowned by the 3700m high volcano Rinjani which of course blocks all tradewind activity and once again we were back in calms in the early hours of the morning. The final leg along the NW coast of Lombok took us down to Medana Bay marina at 08 21.784'S 116 06.740'E. Yes I did say marina. Peter and his wife Ace (pron. Acha) have built a hotel and marina here with about six berths with water and 240V electricity. Also available are a number of good moorings and one can also anchor in good holding. Laundry, diesel, internet are all available. The Sailfish restaurant in the marina quickly became a favourite amongst the fleet. Peter the owner was extremely knowledgeable and very helpful, with nothing being too much trouble. A few km away is the town of Tanjung with an excellent market, pharmacies (which I visited more than once), several ATM's and many other interesting things. About one hour car ride away is the very large and busy city of Mataram. Half an hour by local sampan takes one to the Gilis on the NW tip of Lombok. These are quite touristy islands, full of westerners, mostly 20-30 yrs old doing dive courses, dancing, dining, drinking, drugs, dropping out etc. It is something of an alternative to Bali. A fleet of fast boats will whisk the punter from Bali to the Gilis in as little as one and a half hours. The anchorages at Gili Air and Teluk Kombal are not tenable despite claims in pilot books as a result of ferry wash.

Labuan Bajo
27/09/2014, Komodo National Park

How embarrassing. I cannot believe we have not updated the blog properly since Maurole. Been too busy I suppose, finally having a good time. From Maurole we had a pleasant sail/motor to the famous Riung islands. There are about 17 islands in this small group (08 23.727’S 121 04.822’E), and they are generally quite attractive. Our anchorage was just off a nice white sandy beach with a small fringing reef. We were able to swim and snorkel, and we met up on the beach for drinks with a few other yachts. Strange things happen at sea of course and one of these was a young lady whose chosen profession was pole dancing. She decided to exhibit her talents on the beach, not with a pole but with a sort of cloth bag/sling suspended from a tree. Quite athletic with emphasis on core musculature â€" sort of like display gymnastics. Not particularly sexy though, but she would be able to get a role in the excellent Star Wars burlesque show, “The Empire Strips Back” which shows periodically at the Vanguard Theatre, King St Newtown (highly recommended). At dusk, the resident rat population appeared near our food so it was definitely time to go back to the boats. One boat may have actually unwittingly brought a rat onboard with them here. Trapping failed to kill it and eventually they were forced to poison it. Naturally it died in some remote and inaccessible bilge space where it remains to this day. Yuk. From Riung it was a long motor and sail dodging a thousand fishing nets and boats to Teluk Levilia (08 20.607’S 120 10.86’E). Here the electronic charts really showed some significant error with the actual landforms being displaced well to the SW on radar when compared to the chart itself. This persisted all the way until Sumbawa island, including Komodo. At Levilia, we anchored off the village of Bari and enjoyed impromptu serenades by youngsters in dugout canoes. We gave them small koala bear toys as well as some writing materials. It was nice that the kids actually did something for the gifts rather than just demanding handouts as we have experienced elsewhere. It was here however, that I had to take an unplanned scuba trip. I managed to throw overboard the 97mm diameter o-ring that seals one of our desalinator water filters. A crucial item to our health and well being I watched as it disappeared, and my subsequent seabed sortie failed to recover it. During the dive I was somewhat conscious of the fact that the bay had a lot of mangroves and thus possible crocodiles. A short glide took us to the pretty anchorage of Gili Bodo (08 22.182’S 120 00.909’E) with its clear water and good snorkelling. We had drinks on the yacht Moonbeam but I was developing a mild URTI so did not feel so great. Then it was off to the big smoke of Labuan Bajo. We had a lovely sail around the NW tip of Flores and then down to the anchorage outside the Laprima resort just south of the Bajo township (08 30.330’S 119 52.450’E). The first superyachts of the trip also appeared here with the rather nice 167 foot tinny Sapphire and a private Indonesian flagged ship, converted from its previous life as a coastal tramp steamer. Probably about 200 feet. Bajo itself was filthy, as we have learned to expect. The markets were disgusting but we did still get some fresh produce. Amazingly, we also managed to source a new o-ring from a Pacific Motors hardware. Even more amazingly we were able to purchase good quality cheese and salami and not-quality alcohol. Bajo is a developing tourist destination for the exploration of the Komodo National Park. There are many restaurants, most being Italian for some odd reason, and a plethora of dive operators and boat tours. We negotiated with the outstanding dive company Manta Rhei ( for three days of diving and the Advanced Open Water dive course. Dives were about $35 each. Accomodation can be had for as little as $8.50 per night if you are budget minded. Internet access was very patchy, with some Ausaid conference chewing up all the bandwidth. We stomped up and down the high street looking at pale young puzzled European tourists and at the teak coloured locals. It was here in Bajo that we had a compulsory visit to the Dept of Immigration to get Andrea’s visa extended. An arduous opaque process which generated a staggering amount of paper. Whilst there were a few computers they were all switched off. Most of the staff seemed to do very little but it still took us 3 days of effort to get the tiny green stamp.

27/09/2014 | BARBARA
Dragons do not have to breathe fire and smoke to scare the populace. How do villagers manage to live with them?
Diving and Dragons
27/09/2014, Komodo National Park

Naturally we were keen to cast off from Bajo so we headed out to the gorgeous anchorage of Sebayor Kercil, where we stayed for about 4 nights. Each day the dive boat Tree Bucca Dua came by to pick us up for our scuba trip and we returned fatigued before sunset. The diving was stunning to say the least, with many highlights. One of these was the Cauldron dive near Gililawalaut. It is a narrow shallow channel strongly affected by currents. Inspection from the surface revealed nasty overfalls which would normally make me hesitant to go anywhere near it in a boat, let alone in the water. Nonetheless, we plunged in and soon found ourselves in the 20m deep bowl of the Cauldron. The exit is a short ascent to 16m where the current really gets a grip on the diver. We rocketed along at about 7 knots over a coral/rock shelf known as the Shotgun. A drift dive on steroids!! Andrea saw a manta during this dive whilst I saw the obscure pygmy seahorse, as well as many other wonders. Other great dives included Batu Bolong, a small rock pinnacle in the middle of the Selat Lintta. Strong currents rip around this spire creating dangerous conditions but we were well guided by the dive team. I did my deep dive to 32m for the course here and watched as the dive master cracked a raw egg at this depth. The yolk sac stays nicely intact at 2-3 atmospheres of pressure and you can chase it round with your hand â€" sort of like water droplets in zero gravity on the ISS. The fish species here were prolific thanks to vigorous efforts by dive operators and National Park rangers to prevent dynamite fishing. At Makassar Reef we had an excellent view of an eagle ray feeding on the bottom as well as sting rays and finally a massive manta ray. (Manta is Spanish for blanket, which is quite apt) After the dives we needed a rest so it was over to Gililawadarat, just south of the Cauldron site, then down to Rincja island for our dragon experience. We had an enthusiastic local ranger give us the guided tour. We saw a small juvenile within five minutes of landing, but it was the large adults that really get one’s attention. They were clustered under the elevated kitchen hut in a small community. We found this quite intimidating, particularly if you wanted to enter or leave the kitchen. These adult Komodos are up to 2.5m long and 125kg in weight. They are monitor lizards and are directly related to the goanna as they are still on the Australasian side of the Wallace line. They feed on goats, deer, water buffalo, chickens, humans, other Komodo dragons, and anything with blood. They can smell blood from miles away. Their bite does not cause death immediately. The bitten animal dies a slow death of sepsis due to the bacteria and viruses in the saliva of the dragon. Once the animal is dead, the dragons begin to feed. And they don’t leave much on the table. Entire skull bones and other long bones are easily digested by the dragons, leaving only a telltale white smear of calcium in the scats. They can disarticulate their mouth or gullet in some way to permit swallowing hole of suitable creatures such as pigs. Apparently they can even regurgitate them if challenged, with the successful opponent getting to chow down on the predigested pork. Females can lay up to 50 eggs at a time but only about 17% survive the transition to independent life. Once hatched the baby lizards live in the trees to escape predators, particularly the adult Komodo dragons who cannot climb trees. We found these goannas-on-steroids to be remarkably frightening and when encountered in the bush their camouflage was excellent making them look like fallen timber. One yacht encountered a dragon swimming next to their small inflatable tender. Yikes. We enjoyed the tour immensely but were glad to move on. Just before we left I asked the guide whether the dragons flew and breathed fire as depicted in Game of Thrones. He looked incredulously at me, presumably thinking I was nuts, and replied authoritatively in the negative. Just as well, I say.

28/09/2014 | Philc
I am very glad you made it to Komodo, it is one of the best dive areas I have visited. The Cauldron dive near Gililawalaut was such a buzz we did it a couple of times. At the end of the second run we came face to face with two feeding mantas.
The Komodo Dragons are very interesting. Keep having such a great trip.

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