Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Whaling village trip

15 August 2007 | Adunara
15th August Adunara Is 8.14S 123.19E

The sun has just risen surrounding our sand cay anchorage in a pink glow , Mount Ili Api has a whisp of smokey cloud crowning the summit and fishermen are paddling quietly past, a lovely time of day. I get up earlier now than when I was working! We left Loweleba on Lembata yesterday. Loweleba is a small dusty town whose people once again made us all welcome, a little more low key than Kalabahi , no hordes of kids wanting autographs this time, quietly friendly. Unfortunately a couple of local lads wanted to get to know some yachts and their contents a little more intimately, they were caught on board a couple of yachts and one night some things went missing off another boat. The padlocks came out and we made sure everything was locked when we left the boat even for a short time. I can understand the temptation of 60 odd yachts to some one who lives in constant poverty, we have more wealth on our floating homes than most people here will have in a life time. As yachties most of us live on a tight budget, we debate about the affordability of this trip or that piece of Ikat weaving, to the locals we are wealthy visitors.

One way to earn income from tourists is to get together as a village to promote their particular traditional culture. Lamalera village on the south side of Lembata Is is one such place. The villagers here are whalers, they are permitted to catch 25 whales a year although I'm not sure who counts! Our guide said there had been eleven caught in the last two weeks. Because it is a small subsistence activity it is considered legal. 60 yachties piled into 3 open sided trucks ( air conditioned but dusty) and bumped our way along narrow dusty roads, over steep hills, past volcanoes and spectacular scenery, 3hours, 65kms later we arrived at Lamalera. "What is that smell?" A quick scan around the village from our vantage point and the source of the smell was hanging on wracks outside many homes, whale meat drying in the sun. It wasn't a terrible smell just one that would take a bit of getting used to. The oil dripping from the drying meat was caught in iron gutters to be used , I didn't find out what for, cooking I suppose and the pigs were the fattest we had seen for a while. Our big group was led into the village by a team of whalers singing, I think, the song they sing as they bring a whale back to the village beach to be carved up. That day our big group and our money were the Whale!! The headman welcomed us to Lamalera under a huge tree in the village square, they understand our need for shade. Another item by the whalers and we were taken off to lunch past all the ikat weaving, whale teeth, shark jaws and more that was laid out for sale by each household. Lunch was delicious that is except for the whale meat, we had to try it, I managed to put mine in my mouth then discreetly extract it. To me it tasted like the smell outside not to be eaten. Alan ate 3 or 4 small bits just to make sure he didn't like it. Apart from feeding themselves and unsuspecting tourists the whale meat is traded with other villages, especially for cotton for their weaving. The interpreter said the women don't get a lot of time for weaving as they have to get up early to give the men folk breakfast before they go whaling, the women see to the children then walk up the hill to their gardens where they work all day. This the first time I have heard the women credited with all the work they do. After another walk past of the goods for sale, one straw hat and small ikat later, we found ourselves on the hot black sand of the beach. Twenty five whaling boats under thatched roofs stretched along the beach. In the shade of the boat huts little girls played elastics, men slept or repaired their woven sails and the local blacksmith was forging a new harpoon. Little boys swam in the sea catching tiny fish in their tee shirts and we all took masses of photographs. Two crews rolled their whale boats down the beach on bleached logs, eager little boys shifting and gathering them up for the return, apprentices perhaps. The boat is about 12m long, no motor just 12 oarsmen and a huge pandanus woven sail. When the boats were being launched they looked just like the surf life saving boats being launched on our black sand beaches in NZ. Each boat did several simulations of harpooning. The harpooner stands on the end of a bowsprit with the long bamboo harpoon poised , paddlers paddling furiously, he then launches the harpoon and himself towards the whale. The weight of the harpooner is used to drive in the harpoon. The business end of the harpoon is rounded so it must take a lot of effort to push into the whale, I feel sorry for the whale and harpooner. The harpooners are the heroes of the village, in the shallows a little boy of about 3 with a long stick was launching himself and his "harpoon" into the waves oblivious to all around him. I am not a supporter of whale hunting but these people had been hunting this way for centuries, starting at Sulawesi, pushed out to a small atoll by rival tribes until 350 years ago a tsunami destroyed their new home and they found a settlement at Lamalera whose people lent them land to live on in return for some whale meat. A lease agreement, payment in whale meat. All the meat is used, no stockpiling, no wastage. The kids are healthy and happy, the village appears to be more prosperous than many we have seen and there are young men in the village they haven't all left for the city. It seems to be a good arrangement all round. Several more speeches, a weaving demonstration by the talented hard working women and we boarded our trucks for the bumpy return to Loweleba. I ignored the steep drop offs, didn't worry about the large couple opposite leaning out too far out over the cliffs, looked out at the scenery not down and we got back safely. I think I have had my fill of narrow steep, long bumpy rides, next trip has to be no more than an hour, close to the coast or not at all. That's what I say now until a tempting trip comes along.!

We left Loweleba the next day and sailed down to this lovely anchorage to swim in clear clean water, a little R& R before continuing on our way west to Flores Is.

There are no new photos on the gallery as there are no internet cafes for miles, next one is probably Bali nearly 400 miles away. I am sending my blog entries via Sailmail, so can only send text. I have been told there is internet access at Maumere our next major stop but this is Indonesia nothing is certain. As long as there is a bank, diesel and water we will be happy.
Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ