Here is another main road that runs through town.
The roads in and around Lewolaba varied with some very nice ones being the main throughfare and then quickly deteriorating as you moved around. This is the super duper road that is the main road in town.
Here is Harry with his Hondo motorcycle. He carries his computer with him wherever he goes. Thus, he calls his motorcycle his office.
08/15/2012, Kewolaba, Lembata Island, Indonesia
Around 0800 this morning, I loaded up the dinghy with 9 empty diesel jerry jugs and 1 empty gasoline jerry jug. When I got in, there was hardly any room for me. Once on shore I schlepped the jugs to the rally office, which was a shade tent set up next to the dinghy dock. I wanted to buy 176 liters of diesel and 20 liters of gas. The cost of each type of fuel was 7000 Rp a litter. Thus, about 45 gallons of diesel and 5 gallons of gas were costing about $2.80/gallon. This is the best price for fuel we have seen since we left Ecuador 2.5 years ago.
After making those arraignments, Harry, the young man who I spoke with yesterday, started up his motorcycle with me on the back and we took off. Harry works in the Customs office and is part of the Rally organization here on Lembata. He is 30 years old and is married with two children. He went to University for 5 years and speaks excellent English.
My goal today was to top up my Internet dongle and to extend its usage time to three month. When I got it in Kupang, the sim card was only activated for 30 days. The same was true for my cell phone sim card. Since we will be in Indonesia for about three months, I did not want to have either sim card expire while we are in the country.
Harry ended up taking me to 5 different places before we found a place that could do what I wanted. Along the way, Harry also had to run a couple of errands for his work so I had a nice scenic tour of the city and the country side. I took a few pictures from the back of Harry's motorcycle and will post them above this blog.
We ended up having to wait for the fifth store to open so I treated Harry to a cup of good Indonesian coffee at a restaurant that is owned by a friend of his. The two cups of coffee cost $1US, which was a lot cheaper than in Kupang. The farther off the beaten path we go, we see less gouging of the cruisers by the locals. However, even in the bigger town, like Kupang, the prices were much, much less than in Australia. Thus, we really cannot complain.
I was so glad that Harry was with me. The complex process one needs to go through to top up one's dongle took a lot of explaining and I would have never made myself clear as to what I wanted without Harry translating for me. He was a god sent!
The whole process took over 4 hours to complete. It seems that when it comes to technology, things are a bit complex and a number of bugs in the system still need to be worked out. However, we have been greatly impressed with the service and extent of coverage we have had so far. While certainly not up to what we had in Australia, it appears that they are making great strides regarding technology here in Indonesia. We are so thankful since having Internet access makes our lives on the boat so much easier.
Last night Harry had called me and asked if he could bring his wife and family to see our boat after our errands were done. Thus, when we returned to the dock today, I took the diesel and gas out to our boat while he called his wife. When I returned to the dock, they were there waiting. Harry's 5 year old son is with his grandparents right now but his 3 year old daughter, Virginia, and his wife, Linda, were waiting with Harry.
The winds had come up a bit, making the anchorage a bit choppy so I warned Harry that we might get a bit wet on the way out to Leu Cat. At that moment he told me that this was just the 2nd time he had been in a small boat and he was a bit nervous with the spray spitting up at us at times. I slowed the dinghied down some to make the ride a bit more comfortable.
Once on board Leu Cat, Mary Margaret and I got to know Linda a bit more. She also went to University for 3 years and earned her teaching diploma. She now teaches in the secondary level. All too soon Harry's boss called with another request so they had to leave.
When I returned back to Leu Cat, we rested before dinner and, right before dinner, our friends Marian and David from S/V Kilkea stopped by. Like us, their daughter also just gave birth so we toasted our grandkids, our kids, and ourselves with some red wine. They will be leaving here tomorrow. We will be staying another day as Harry will be taking me to the local market so I can buy some eggs and vegetables. I would prefer Mary Margaret to go but she just does not relish the thought of riding on bumpy roads on the back of a motorcycle. I can't say that I blame her.
08/14/2012, Lewoleba, Lembata Island, Indonesia
The waters that we are sailing in here in Indonesia can be a bit tricky at times. As it turns out, the tidal currents in the various passes between the many, many islands that make up the Indonesian Archipelago can be vicious. We experienced this first hand when we first approached the island of Alor. If you will recall, we were slammed with a tidal current that went instantaneously from 0 to 5.3 knots against us when we were in the pass between the islands of Alor and Pantar. Apparently, we were lucky. We talked with a couple of cruisers that went through the same area but hit 9 knot currents and they actually were moved backwards for a while since they could only muster 8 knots of forward speed.
These currents are tidal in nature, which means that they will switch direction and vary their strength depending on the stage of the tide. The string of volcanic islands which make up this archipelago are separated by passes that connect two large seas: the Java Sea to the north and the Timor Sea to the south. As the tidal bulge moves the water in both seas, the water mass is pressed through the passes and huge currents are set up.
Our friends Peter and Nicki printed off a few pages of their cruising guide: "Southeast Asia Cruising Guide Vol II" that contained instructions and tables on determining the strength and direction of flow for a number of passes between the islands. We have since ordered this book and recommend it to anyone who is considering coming to this part of the world.
What we discovered is that we need to time our passage through these passes to the local upper transit of the moon. Armed with this information, we can use the tables to determine the optimum time to make our passage. We have since discovered that the tables are not always spot on but at least we can use them to avoid the worst of the tidal currents. You can calculate the UT of the moon from your almanac but I have found a great web site that does of the math for me, based on our location. It is: http://www.jgiesen.de/sunmoonclock/index.html.
I use a second website to locate the specific passes given their local names. Finding these names on your charts can be a bit difficult but this web site gives me their exact location. It is: http://www.geody.com. Just enter the name that is given on the tidal current table within the cruiser guide and the site returns with a Google Earth map and the Lat/Long for the location. For example, enter "Selat Alor" and up it pops on the map.
Armed with all of this information, we figured out the best time today to make our passage through Selat Lamakera, which is the name of the 4 nm long pass between the islands of Lembata and Adonara. We wanted to make the passage starting at 1230. Thus, at 0830 we weighed anchor and headed off. There was no wind today so we motored along at 5 knots, trying to keep our RPMs down to conserve fuel.
When we entered the pass, the currents had just switched and were flowing in our favor. As we motored through the pass, the currents increased from 1.5 knots to 3.5 knots. They would be getting much, much stronger as the tidal flooding continued.
We arrived at the rally anchorage a bit after 1400 and were greeted by the sight of 50 boats. We have decided to make this stop a "business trip" instead of a pleasure stop. By that I mean we will be shopping a bit to top up our Internet time, phone time and get a few vegetables. Once that is done, we will head back out seeking white sand beaches, clear water and great reefs to dive on. I have used Google Earth to locate what appears to be a great spot about 90 nm to the west of us. We cannot wait to get there and see if it is as nice as it appears.