cruising the tanimbars
29 July 2011 | seira
michael and jackie
We left the town of Saumlaki in the morning and headed out to cruise some of the Tanimbar Islands. The Tanimbars are a large archipelago here in the Moluccas. There are a couple of towns but they remain pretty undeveloped with many uninhabited islands. While the large islands are extensively planted with banana and coconut the small islands retain their hardwood virgin forest. One of the islands we passed even seemed to smell of sandalwood and maybe nutmeg trees.
We first of all anchored off a small town called Wailutu. A prominent church marks the township. Small boats were loading and unloading at a new wharf, behind which stands a rather ancient generator complex. The generator switches on at 6pm and runs through the night, switching off again in the morning. As we sailed along perahus (small dugout canoes) with lateen sails could be seen criss-crossing our track. The local fisherman get quite a speed up in these little boats. It reminded us of the small sailing canoes in the Maskelyn Islands of Vanuatu.
We decided to forego a trip to the massive church and moved on to a beautiful anchorage at Watob Island. A classic circular shaped bay with a small island at the entrance. The lagoon itself is dotted with small beaches, interesting rock formations and areas of mangroves. Although the island is uninhabited we were soon greeted by people in dugout canoes requesting gifts, clothes, cigarettes, medicine, fishing gear, sugar, pretty well anything was requested. They were friendly enough but none offered anything in return so in the end we just said no. The larger boats carried seaweed which they were planning to sell but there was little sign of successful fishing. We spent the day doing some running repairs - the main problem at the moment seems to be our genoa furling gear - repaired in Mackay but now sticking again despite its new parts.
Still we have had our first day of swimming round the boat - no crocodiles here! and plan to launch the canoes this afternoon. We probably plan to head for Banda tomorrow a distance of about 180 miles.