not fishing around Flores

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August 31st 2014
Published: September 2nd 2014
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Batu Boga eastBatu Boga eastBatu Boga east

everything in one spot
We left Pulau Besar just as the reef was becoming visible in the morning light, we had a track line to follow on the chart plotter but its always nice to have a real world backup. We had a light breeze blowing us across the north of the island at about 3 knots, which dropped out as we went out into open water. Then it returned an hour later and gradually built to a 15 knot breeze pushing us from behind. I was forever waiting for it to drop out again but it pushed us along goose winged for the rest of the trip… leaving the motor off, a rarity in this stretch of coast.

We turned south into the inlet of Batu Boga (east) heading for the anchorage described as “perfection” but found it was completely open to the NE swell, so headed to the east side of the channel. The swell was more suppressed here, we anchored in 23 m closely off the broaching rock/mud flats. The surrounding hills were very picturesque, but as we had a rolly night - this was far from perfection! S8 27.77 E121 57.76

We could have headed a mile further in the channel behind the protection of an uncharted islet but knowing there was reef all around didn’t have the nerve to attempt this when we had arrived in the waning light of 4:30pm. That’s the cost of sailing slowly for most of the day. But after a leisurely breakfast the next morning we did and dropped anchor in completely flat water surrounded by reef, and steep autumnal coloured hills in almost all directions except for the small islet to the north. This had a tiny beach off its southern tip that Alex got to enjoy twice that day, and we enjoyed a peaceful night’s rest.

The next day, again when there was adequate light we motored out of the fjord like inlet, around the headland and into another well protected beautiful anchorage.S8 27.63 E121 56.62 It looked very pretty with surrounding blue water of the fringing reef, a long beach and a village ashore, set inside the same steep hills. However the beach had a lot of litter on it and the first impression of the reef was poor. I found some better reef on the southern side of the bay, again on the edge of a precipitous overhang of deep water. This snorkel led us to a much cleaner beach for Alex to play at before we returned to the bay, had a chat to the Scottish/Canadian couple on SV Kai Lani that had just pulled in, and then set off again for Maurole.

This village about 8 miles west had been one of the original rally meeting points and apparently a good place to see the Kelimutu Crater lakes, however most had gone from the town of Maumere.

We had been given a waypoint where to anchor, just off the village beach. S8 30.52 E121 48.08 We took the dinghy along the beach to the large concrete wharf (as instructed) and followed the large paper signs to the “Tourist information” which led to a performance stage in mid-constuction (in readiness for the Sail2Indonesia rally that was arriving soon (this seems to be the competitor to our SailIndonesia rally).

One of the builders approached us trying to offer us some help with finding transport to the Crater Lakes in his broken english and then a girl arrived who spoke a little better, but still seemed a bit clueless. We sat around with the builders while they made some phone calls but nothing really happened until we threw out the name we had been advised of Mr Frankie. Soon he was on the phone and we arranged for him to organise a car for us for the following morning. He later called to say he was the driver/tour guide and was on his a way from Ende tonight which is 3 hours drive away so we could leave first thing in the morning!.

We paddled ashore at 6am the next morning (decided leaving the outboard on Luna Ray as we had to leave the dinghy all day on the beach), and put the cover on it, and met Mr Frankie - a small man in his 40/50s. He led us to his car and we set off across the island. The villages we passed on Flores seemed more affluent - more substantially built, more using brick/concrete - and the road was paved all the way albeit with numerous potholes often spanning 3/4 the way across. Mr Frankie spoke english well so he was able to demystify a lot of queries we had about Indonesia.

We reached the national park after about 2 hours of interesting countryside including lots of hillside terraced paddy fields - the morning light reflecting off the numerous flooded segments. I hopped out to pay our entrance fee ($2 per person plus 60c for the car) and fibbed that we had no camera to avoid the $5 fee for this.

After Naomi and Alex seemed to spend an eternity visiting the toilets, we hurried up the steps knowing that the clouds could come over and spoil our view at any moment. Got to a picturesque flat path and came across our first monkeys. Then there were about half a kilometre of steps up to the viewpoint which we all made, slowed only by Alex’s desire to have a poo. Got great views of the 3 different coloured crater lakes, one a rich pastel aqua-marine, another dark green and the last a dark chocolate red - influenced by the minerals being released into the craters - so they change over the years. Local folklore says the lakes are the final resting place of souls when people pass away- the red one is for evil spirits.

After enough time to take it all in, joined by mostly Indonesian sightseers we strolled on back to the carpark passing more monkeys. We headed for lunch at a nearby restaurant and told Mr Frankie we would pay for him… he said “ok” and that’s as much of a thank you we ever got - and between us he ordered the most expensive meal! This restaurant specialised in pork and I had pork satay skewers which were tasty and Naomi’s Pork Nasi Goreng (fried rice) was the best meal she’s had here.

Next stop was at a market which lined either side of the road and had some healthy looking veges and fruit for us to stock up on (we got carrots, cabbage, bananas, beans, tomatoes and some fruit we didn’t recognise (one plum size with armadillo skin was disgusting and another looked like a large brown avocado of which only part of its flesh was vaguely edible)).

We discussed visiting an interesting village that Mr Frankie might suggest on the way back as we had spare time. One known to him charged a hefty entrance fee and apparently most of the interesting buildings had burnt down recently so we asked he suggest another. He said he had another in mind and then later said the village that Luna Ray was anchored off had similar traditional buildings… perhaps swayed by his want to return to Ende. He dropped us off at the traditional buildings but we didn’t feel like nosing around peoples houses uninvited, especially as we were soon swamped by lots of kids. Walked back to the beach stopping off at a couple of shops for more supplies - a shaver for me (no, the new goaty is not going yet!) and some buns (which had mould on them the following day).

Carried the dinghy into the water with the help of a new batch of kids and back to Luna Ray.

Wednesday - left just after 9:30 am and motored north - navigating the out lying shallows/reefs with the evermore unreliable/undetailed chart plotter and google maps on Naomi’s iPhone. Was passing a fishing boat until he started shouting at us to turn back- presumably we were about to run over a net. In a confused exchange of waving arms we turned around and circumvented them and the neighbouring boats. Then a few miles on another directed us
returning to Luna Rayreturning to Luna Rayreturning to Luna Ray

yes that's a big pile of rubbish next to the dinghy
the right way around his visible net with a few pre-emptive waves of a large stick.

We ghosted the out lying reefs for about 10 miles and then caught a fish on the trolling line - not commonly done in overfished Indonesia apparently - pulled the 50cm Rainbow Runner up to the boat only to have it thrash itself off the hook just before we managed to pull it aboard…. bugger!

With the reef clearly visible in the midday sun we turned in around a couple of tiny cays about half a mile off the headland where we saw some fishing boats at anchor (actually only shown as reef on the chart plotter). With the advice from a couple in a dugout canoe we dropped anchor behind the reef and decided to stay and avoid the planned detour to an anchorage 3 miles south.

As ever Alex was keen to visit the beach, so we went over to the nearest cay which was entirely broken coral so not too gentle on the feet but I did find some good colourful reef with schools of fish here. Even Naomi found the water warm enough to snorkel, so we dragged Alex in his floating ring along with us. Back to the boat in flat water, for pina coladas and sunset. S8 28.56 E121 36.01

Unfortunately the usual evening sea breeze kicked in from the south and we got slapped and rocked about by it waves.

We are actually in Lubean Bajo now (far west Flores) but I’ll fill in the gaps soon



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