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Published: September 10th 2014
28th August - We left our little coral spits and headed west again. This day we had a 20-25 mile hop and with a light breeze that developed in the day we were actually able to switch the motor off and sail slowly at 3 knots for a few hours - we are learning to be grateful for small mercies in Indonesia. We were heading towards a town called Riung but actually aiming to anchor behind a small island about 2 miles out to its northeast. I was hoping to sail almost all the way but as we turned toward land there was a visible strip of reef/shallow water to cross and so the engine went on incase there was any urgent reversing to be done. We crossed this with sounder never less than 12m and came around the reef surrounding the island and dropped anchor near SV DreamMaker in about 17 m, a literal stones throw from the lovely looking beach. S8 23.448 E121 03.538
On shore the beach was good as it looked with gently sloping clean sand, great for swimming in, and there were old concrete beach shelters in ruins. A couple of boats brought tourists over
from Riung which was a bit of a novelty for us to see. We met Kevin & Chris from DreamMaker who invited us to share some of their sundowner drinks beachside - we obliged them. It was a beautiful flat anchorage and the next morning I climbed the island’s small peak and took some great shots of Luna Ray.
We could have easily spent another day there but time pressure to get to Bali made us up anchor for another 20-25 mile hop.
The difficulty of sailing in Indonesia is that the daytime sea breeze doesn’t really pick up until late morning so you don’t want to leave too early, the sailing is rarely not slow and then you want to be at your anchorage before 3 pm so you can see the inevitable reef near your anchorage… so best to keep distances short.
Indeed this day we were a little late and there was extensive reef sticking out from its east which was getting hard to spot. Fortunately we were motoring when the depth dropped to 6m over reef, so we were able to divert quickly to give it a much wider berth. This anchorage had
been reported as being pestered by kids on canoes that come out, usually to asks for gifts like stationary for school, and sure enough we were soon surrounded. Kevin had warned us they could be light-fingered so Naomi kept watch on deck. Did get some nice big coconuts in exchange, and they were keen to relieve us of the horrible fruit we had bought. We had a bit of a scare on the way when the engine started revving haphazardly and then conked out! I found lots of air bleeding at the fine filter and then bled to the injectors and got her running again.
The next day another picturesque bay and the name already escapes me (Teluk Linngeh). We had quite a few nets to avoid as we passed the town of Reo. These would be about a mile long with flagged buoys at either end. We would spy every boat we approached with the binoculars to see if the fishermen on it was getting frantic about our course. We turned around at one point when I saw a change in the water between 2 buoys and then thought I saw a chain of the typical 3”
floats they have on their nets. We later realised these were actually a line of small birds!
Soon after we anchored we discovered Alex’s new shoes that we had bought in Kupang had been stolen from the upturned milk box we keep at the back of the boat. So when the new flock of kids arrived, unfairly they didn’t get the best reception from us. Naomi was keeping watch again and told me she spotted a boy with his hand in our bag in the dinghy. I stormed out and pointed at him using the Indonesian word for thief which I just happened to have learnt, very undiplomatically and apparently really not the way to deal with Indonesians. An argument ensued between them and most of them disappeared, probably to badmouth us to the rest of the village.
We took Alex for a swim at the grey beach just north of the village, where there was lagoon. I took a little ride up a mangrove line creek that fed into the lagoon, and then cruised by the village to have a little snoop. S8 20.77 E120 10.80
We were truly over what I
called the hump of Flores and heading a little south. Our next short hop was another exercise in not trusting the chart plotter. The chart showed a gap in the reef by which we could approach our anchorage so still using sight (me on the boom) we tried to follow the gap in, and then there seemed to be reef all around in front of us. It certainly hand’t got shallow yet at 18m and maybe we could have made it across but it was hard to ignore the fisherman waving us to go back and around. We did a U-turn at a spot on the plotter that was already beyond the shallows and in about 50m of water!
We motored down the east side of Gili Bodo Island and into a bay where previous cruisers had recommended an unmissable stilt village. There was a small island to pass and there on its south end, crammed and hidden was this lovely looking village with all waterfront houses overhanging the water. We anchored alone in this lovely sheltered spot, across the bay from the village and it felt very remote and untainted by western civilisation S8 23.605 E 120 02.991.
I did take Alex to the beach, but had to go to the 3rd one away to escape the litter.
After lunch we went to beach just around from the village which was clean, we spotted monkeys and it had the village’s graveyard nearby. We then dinghy’d by the village and pulled up to a couple of houses over the water to say hello. One family, also with a 3 year old boy, the mother spoke a few words of english, had a small monkey called Donna chained to their porch. The whole village was friendly and all waved as we passed, and no kids came out to pester us on Luna Ray. I really liked this sheltered authentic spot. Things would not be like this for a while as we approached the Komodo tourism trap.
The next morning we passed south of Gili Bodo, I was spotting and I had to remind Naomi when I said head down the middle of the channel between the islands I meant the channel you could see in real life rather than on the chart plotter. As we passed the island we spotted about 7 yachts from our rally
tucked behind it… in a few moments we were no longer at the end of the rally! Another bonus was that the wind picked up slowly to 15 knots and we had a lovely sail between reefs, beaches, rocks and fishing boats to keep it interesting, arriving in Lubean Bajo in the early afternoon. The internet tourist sites I have read for describe it as a small fishing village but for us its a major town.
When we were a couple of miles out from the anchorage south of town a boat approached us, offering fuel, water, beer, and wooden Komodo dragons. We agreed to buy 200lt of diesel and then he remarked that we didn’t have an engine running, and seemed genuinely surprised that we were moving under sail alone! For some reason he followed us all the way in rather than go and get the fuel. We joined the 8 other boats in the anchorage, including our friends from CD, who we had last seen when we headed to Lembatta two weeks earlier.
Ferhan said he would be back around 3-4 pm with our fuel so we started fuelling up at around 5pm. It was a
slow process as I wanted to filter the fuel into our own jerry cans, which I was glad I insisted we did on his boat as there was a bit of spillage, and then pour them into the tank. Consistently his 20lt measure was short by a litre or two which I wasn’t happy about, but Naomi pushed me to let it slide. He claimed he was sorry that Indonesian litres are smaller! but he wasn’t sorry enough to reduce the cost … these guys make about 100 % profit on selling fuel so its a huge earner for them. Went ashore to the Eco Resort, quite a grand hotel, which felt like the first bit of civilisation since Kupang or Darwin and had a nice meal with Chris & David from CD .
The next day we put off plans to visit town as Noami wasn’t feeling 100% and we wanted to focus on trying to finding to some chemicals to maybe fix the water maker which has not been working consistently. Naomi has been suffering with sore swollen lips for 1-2 weeks now - I thought it was just sunburn to begin with but it
Labuan Bajo market
hygiene not the highest priority
hasn’t got better, and small pustules developed so now we’re trying antibiotics. We never found the chemicals so probably never had them to start with but tidied the boat in the process, Naomi felt better, the water maker had a good run, and I fitted the security light I bought about 6 months ago - useful for security but also for us returning to the boat when its dark.
I had struck a deal with Ferhan to exchange an old fender and some rope for a trip to town by his boat (normally $10) but Naomi had used all our phone credit so we couldn’t call him the next day to take us and settled for paying the standard 100,000 rp ($10) to some other boat people.
After an earsplitting ride past the impressive Pelini boats that take tourists around for 3-4 days we hopped off at the concrete harbour and headed into town. Topped up the phone credit, visited the ATM 3 times (you can only take out $125 at a time), and went to the market which was mostly dried fish covered in flies but they had some veges too. It was unusual for
us to see the white faces of so many tourists in town, mingling around the numerous dive shops and tour operators. After lunch at The Treetops which commanded good views over the harbour, we restocked at the small supermarkets. One even had wines and a freezer with cryovac’d meats. Sadly we had forgotten the trolly and carrying 2 crates of coke and beer back to the port was hard work for me!
The next morning (4th Sept) we headed south to the island of Rinca, the neighbour of Komodo, which also has Dragons and reputedly a better place to spot them. Along the way we decided to follow the local boats along the more intricate costal route and were constantly reminded how inaccurate the chart plotter was. Using the radar it appears to have every thing displaced 1/4 mile to the NE. We had head winds all the way that picked up to an unusually strong 20 knots, but shallow water was still fairly easy to spot. We passed rocks the chart said were submerged that stood proudly 2 m above the water and an island that was drowned. Curiously even the waypoints from “101 anchorages” were
also off. We entered the narrow passage of Loh Buaya and anchored off the pier that was bristling with tour boats.
After lunch we took the 600 m walk to the office to pay our park fees and book our walk for the morning. This was a ticket for each of us for being in the national park, another each for walking in the park, one to pay for the ranger for our walk, one for Luna Ray, and some extra government tax ticket - all up came to $27.
We saw some monkeys and a deer but no dragons, so returned to Luna Ray for a peaceful night in another very flat anchorage
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