Passage to Lombok
17 September 2012 | Lombok, Indonesia
It's 6:30am and we're motoring west, bound for of Lombok Island near Bali, which should take us roughly 28 hours, depending on the winds and conditions. We had 3 nights in our last anchorage, a busy destination for colorful, pirate-y looking Indonesian live aboard dive boats called Phinisi boats -- traditional, twin-masted schooners, and also a number of cruising boats. They, like us, were there for the incredible diving. But by yesterdays' late-morning dive, it had gotten a bit out of hand: 3 Phinisi boats, 8 sailboats, and scads of divers. It was a veritable parking lot in the waters above the pinnacle: Michael was manning our dinghy along with 2 others, making a 3-car train. The Phinisi boats were circling with their Indonesian crew hanging out on the stern, and a slew of other dinghies were sitting in the hot sun with their attendants (a wife with a cold, a snorkeler who doesn't dive, or the sacrificial volunteer) all waiting and watching for their people to surface.
Beneath the water, it was just as busy: all you could see were towers of rising bubbles, and clumps of flapping divers going clockwise, counter-clockwise, and willy-nilly around the beautiful pinnacle, with huge schools of fish clouding the water, all accompanied by the rather annoying rumble of the dive boats above us. By the time we got back to Paikea Mist, we were ready to move on to a more peaceful setting, which we found 9 miles south.
The new anchorage was deserted and starkly beautiful. We dropped anchor in blue water surrounded by a semi-circle of yellow-orange hills next to m/v Further. The two boats looked like a happy couple sitting placidly on the glassy water: the blue-hulled Further looking manly and stout, and the sleek, blue-hulled Paikea Mist looking the feminine counterpart. We all took a swim, and then Gloria and Michael roamed off on their inflatable kayaks while Allan and I joined Brian and Megan for drinks on Further.
From Furthers' high upper deck we spotted something flapping in the water, which turned out to be a manta ray. We'd been looking for days for the mantas but they had so far eluded us. A bit of excitement ensued as we reached for cameras and binoculars; Allan ran down the stairs to the aft deck, stripped to his shorts, grabbed a spare mask and fins in Brian's bin, and dove in. We hollered instructions to him from the top deck: "He's over there! 50 yards to the right! No, wait, he submerged, he's turning around, look ... over there!" while Allan swam furiously trying to close the gap between his clumsy terrestrial self and the graceful underwater bird. Not that Allan's a clumsy swimmer, he's actually part fish, but let's face it, the manta is made for the underwater job and has a definite speed advantage. He did finally succeed at sharing the same 10 square feet of water, and we delighted in watching the scene from high atop the boat.
Dinner on Paikea Mist was Australian steak and sausages with potatoes and onions, a nice bottle of Australian wine, and a delightful trip down memory lane as we recalled our early days together in Mexico and some of the highlights of our Pacific adventures. It's always such a surprise to realize how much I've forgotten. But our recollections and theirs recreate a pretty comprehensive picture, and I realize - if I'm going to put any of that in a book I need to do it soon, or I'll have to make it fiction.
(Later) It's been an absolutely perfect day so far. We put the sails up within the first hour and have been sailing along at a nice 8-9 knots on smooth water, with ideal temperatures and varying mountainous terrain off the left. Furthur is alongside us by a few miles, keeping pace and planning to meet us in Gily Air tomorrow. Here in the cockpit we've been reading on our Sony readers and Nooks and iPad's, writing blogs, taking little naps, eating sugar-sprinkled soda crackers with almond butter, and looking at pictures of fish. Michael has set the watch schedule in 3-hour blocks, and I'm looking forward to my traditional middle-of-the-night shift from 1am to 4, when it's quiet, and it's just me and the stars and the sea.
Next morning. We've crossed a large bay and are nearing Lombok, should be there in a few hours. My night shift was fabulous. I love the middle of the night on a boat, and sailing Paikea Mist is especially satisfying because Michael and Gloria have a very comfortable setup with great technical support. I was going up and down the companionway stairs every 10 or 15 minutes to check the radar and AIS data (AIS is a traffic thing for boats) and try to spot the targets on the water, keeping an eye on their path. Brian and his crew on Furthur are 5 or so miles behind, and it was comforting to see their blip on the radar, data on the AIS, and lights on the horizon. Then, a check of the wind and current to see if a sail adjustment is needed, and then back to the Nook to read a few pages, sipping on hot tea. Sometimes I'd turn the Nook off and sit in the dark, reveling at the stars above and the twinkles in the sea from the phosphorescence illuminated in our wake.
We lost our wind somewhere in the night and have been motoring, and now, as we near Lombok, a flurry of activity on Paikea Mist as dishes are being washed, blogs polished off for posting, sails lowered, beds remade, laundry collected for the onshore laundry person.
Later Still: And now we're settled in the beach restaurant on the NW corner of Lombok Island -- cold Bintang, tropical breeze, lovely view, Indonesian curry on the way. It may be harder to return to our lives at home after this trip than after the 18 months we spent on Fly Aweigh, it's been such a departure, such a relaxing escape, and yet this all feels so normal to us. It's clear we love the cruising life.