Passage Report 15
15 September 2008 | Komodo, Indonesia
Flores to Komodo
If cruising is doing maintenance in beautiful places then leaving Maumere and backtracking to Wodongs is eminently sensible. Sahula is here to meet "Galiano." Her skipper is an electronics expert. Cedric (Coursemaster self steering)
Dominated by a freshly "ashed" volcano, set in jungle, is a bay containing a "pure heaven" resort for 17 fortunate souls. At 75000 rupees ($7.50) per night including meals staying in delightful timber huts, "fortunate" gains a new meaning. It is voted the Rally's best restaurant.
The "maintenance" is successful. Cedric is well again. His malaise being caused by a malignant fuse. The restaurant is for celebration.
A fence away, villagers live in "happy" poverty. In villages, it seems the dead enjoy superior accommodation than the living. Large, elaborately tiled above ground Christian graves coexist in the yards of bamboo huts. Children play innocently around them. Life's full circle.
A quick visit in an impossibly crowded "bemo" to noisy, hectic, Maumere is enough to ensure it is time to sail again. Sahula has a week to the next Rally port, Labaun Bajo and Komodo Island.
The skipper meets Peter and Ullah (from Sweden) on "Lovina." Enjoyable company. Peter is doing a four day dive course at the resort. We will meet again at Komodo.
The idyll still requires its fill of "what is happening to Obana," "how is Rudd doing," "is Global Warming real?"
How do you spend a day at sea. The wind is various or light requiring frequent sail changes. It's Tanya who is the major player.
Between five minute "pop ups," bread and muffins are in the oven. The skippers second successful bake. Reefs, fishing nets, boats and bouys ensure navigation is a challenge. Patrick O'Brien's classic, "Master and Commander" fills the remaining small space. Ashore Flores parades its mountains and valleys, background to local fisher's villages. Triangular blue sailed fishing boats and sweeping prow, "bugis"cargo vessels ply by. The ruby orb sets to sundowners.
Sahula arrives late in Mausambi, Ende Regency. She rejoins the fleet. Many have already left. Finally there are two boats and three sailors. Skipper and friends are elevated to "royalty." It is Kalimutu Cultural Festival prize giving night. The locals are at fever pitch. A young white faced, goddess traditionally dressed in pink silk and weavings gracefully enwraps the skipper in her ekat, an invitation to join her in dance. Skipper, ekat displayed, takes the part of the wooing male. The Phillip
Glass mono-rhythm of drums and cymbals quickened, the villagers cheered - a night of memories.
So was the day. Kalimutu, the peak of three coloured volcanic lakes, is a much touted, star attraction. Two hours as pillion on Vinsen's motorbike, along a narrow, twisting, sometimes sealed road, waving to cheering school children, "hello mister," past a rural idyll of mountain clinging villages, terraced rice paddies; past clove, coffee, copra and cashew nut plantations, through busy Wednesday markets, found the cloudy coolness of jungle clad, Kalimutu National Park. Vinsen paid homage to the
legendary spirits of the departed and their continuing life in the lakes. The cloud lifted, the sun shone and closed over as we departed.
Sustainability is by default. Not for villagers a solar panel or electric car. A deconstructed village would leave a stone pile, bamboo, palm fronds and perhaps a plastic chair. Bamboo is mana. Poverty demands bamboo. It provides houses, furniture: beds, chairs, musical instruments, animal and bird pens, irrigation "pipes" and troughs. It's slotted, fitted, tied or nailed. Modern houses ape the west. Their high cost evidences "success?" Traditional or modern they co-exist in the same suburban maze.
Many homes are dark after dusk. The electricity connection fee is some two million rupees ($20.00).
Villagers are invariably spotless. Whereas, towns or cities expose their rubbish in the streets and gutters. It apparently depends on the headman's directive, presumably a more diffuse power in larger places. The result is the seas suffer. Sailing coastal Indonesia is through a constant stream of small goods wrapping. Turtles are rarely seen. The trailing plastic lure ensnares plastic.
Margaret (Aqua Magic - English) spends three days in the local hospital. Royalty could not receive more. On her departure the hospital staff and doctors lined the doorway. It is the Indonesian way.
A waterfront house was burnt down. The Fleet collects 800,000 rupees for the devastated family. The fleet also supports five university students in Kupang. Some good comes from the Rally.
Engrossed in a beautiful day, a glance shows a depth of 8 meters where the skipper expects infinity. Tanya is in full reverse. The coral smiles up. Charts are ancient. Later in Monkey Bay, Sahula caresses a coral bombie. The navigator's guard can never rest unless miles offshore (perhaps).
Monkey Bay is calm and protected, it's a welcome respite from last night rolling. Monkeys chat ashore. Young youths paddle over to receive, excitedly, their gift each of a biro and to practice their English lessons. Indonesian children are well mannered, effervescent, enjoyable, ever present, company. However, where canoe fleets swamp the yachts, it is tiresome respond to the repeated conversation inevitably requiring a "gift."
Sundowners aboard Sahula with Thomas, Klaus and Ziggy (Nahda Brahma - Germany) and Brian and Anne (Hydrasail - Australia).
Another day in this lovely place to paint. Skipper works at a Indonesian modernist pastel and a small water colour. The water colour is of Galiano, whose skipper, Brian, was so generous with his time in repairing the self steering. A delightful day.
Mollie (MPS spinnaker) has been feeling ignored; not today. The rare full days sailing.
A constant reminder of the failings of digital charts is the persistent collisions with reefs by a fleet yacht. Her skipper relies on them. Lady luck shines elsewhere than this boat. It has so far, lost its propeller, suffered a diesel tank leak into the bilge, hit two reefs and had two major bouts of illness aboard.
Lovely Bodo, clear water, golden beach, no villagers - time out. Lovely BBQ fire on beach, with three other crews, to watch the sun dip.
Now rejoined the fleet at Labaun Bajo, west Flores. It's the entry to the Komodo dragon World Heritage islands. A day here to stock food, fuel and water, have laundry done and prepare for a week amongst the dragons.