Scooting by Sumbawa

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September 15th 2014
Published: September 17th 2014
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A calm start to the dayA calm start to the dayA calm start to the day

Montjo Bay, NE Komodo
We had a comfortable night at Montjo Bay and heard later from the two yachts ahead of us that it was a good decision not to continue onto Bantar Island as they had a hard passage as the headwind increased to 26 knots and their anchorage was terrible - one boat left in the middle of the night.

The next morning was dead calm and I could see the anchor chain laying on the sea bed in 26m of water in the dim light before the sun had poked up from behind the mountains. We motored away while Alex and Naomi were still in bed on a very smooth passage to the northern tip of Bantar Island, though a current pushing us south was giving us 30 degrees leeway and it didn’t lessen as the tide changed. Just as we were passing close to the island the engine conked out again but I was able to quickly get it going by just bleeding at the injectors… but this only lasted half an hour but handy at the time as were drifting toward the rocks. We passed Bantar and across the next straight to Sumbawa Island - the tide had changed
volcano islandvolcano islandvolcano island

Pulau Sangeang
yet still the current was pushing us south!… but there was some wind to do some sailing though. And this gave the engine time to cool so I could do a full bleed without boiling and scalding myself too much when I lean over the engine to reach the lift pump.

As we approached Sumbawa the current came more on the nose and we were going slower and slower, even when we put the engine on we could only make 2-3 knots over ground. The wind died out but the sea picked up as the waves met the current making for a tediously slow rolly ride.

We eventually made it passed the corner of the island and into smoother current free water (well less current) about the time the engine died again but at least this time some wind had returned so we maintained course. This time she fired up when I was at the injector pump part of the bleeding process.

We arrived at Wera village about 3 pm, after 2 other yachts. This village is well known for its boat building and as soon as it came into view, the sight struck me of
boat on shore being builtboat on shore being builtboat on shore being built

as we approached the anchorage
one of the monstrous creations jutting out onto the beach. We went ashore and were directed where to land by some guy in ripped jeans and a cap. He then pulled out a receipt book and indicated that we were to pay him 50,000 rp, saying that he was police. I asked for some ID or where his police uniform was which he didn’t understand, so I chose to ignore him, much to Naomi’s concern… I think she actually felt sorry for him. The other two yachts had paid him so he had had a good day - 100,000 rp for doing nothing. He stood dumbfounded for a while and then we never saw him again.

We climbed up the ramshackle scaffolding and peered down in the deep hull of the huge half-constructed hand made boat. Apparently this traditional method of boatbuilding was brought over from Sulawesi when the island had to be repopulated after Mt Tambora erupted about 200 years ago killing 70,000 inhabitants (the largest eruption in modern history apparently (on that when does history become modern history vs old history?)). We walked around the village, lead by a local school teacher and followed by about 20 kids.

The next day all three boats left looking for a anchorage about 30 miles on without the detour of heading down to the known anchorage of Kilo. This day was also Naomi & Alex’s birthdays and we started well with a few hours sailing at 4 knots. This gave me a chance to tighten connections to the lift pump and the pump cap itself (which certainly was not tight) and the engine has not cut out since!

As we passed the inlet to the capital town Bima there were lots of fishing nets strung across our path to avoid and these guys didn’t use matching flags at either end, which made it hard to know where one started and another ended. Otherwise it was a fairly uneventful day mostly motoring the rest of the way which made the boat an easy flat place for opening birthday presents.

In the early afternoon the 2 other boats had picked spots to anchor just around from a main headland. This is the advantage of lagging behind - our company does the reconnaissance. We joined SV Kailana as they told us they had good holding and I had already spotted this place with potential good protection using google maps. S8 16.44 E118 26.39. We had no time for going to the beach as Naomi was making further attempts to get the water maker working and she wanted to cook lasagne and a birthday cake. I took care of the mountain of washing up.

So we had a lovely meal and reran the blowing out candles on the cake several times for Alex. That evening a rumbling noise of the chain alerted us, and under torch light we could see the chain was snagged around a rock and jerking with the small waves, so we let off more chain and hoped it unravelled itself.

In the calm of the next morning I slowly unsnagged the chain from 3 rocks as I pulled up the anchor.

We had some steady sailing off the morning sea breeze until it died out but after an hour this was replaced by a tailwind of about 20 knots… we were not used to a proper sustained breeze in Indonesia. A small island in the chart plotter had caught my eye as about a third of it was taken up with a crater lake - I had visions of climbing up through the deserted forest to the view of the lake from the caldera.

We pulled into its small southerly bay and dropped anchor near where previous year’s cruisers had suggested, but a guy came over on his boat to tell us there were moorings as people dive the coral where we were… oops! Friends on SV Chapter II had arrived just ahead informed us the mooring were $4 and apparently the bay could be a rough ride if a southerly breeze picked up overnight, so they left opting to anchor on the main island. We took a mooring and I paddled ashore alone - Naomi wasn’t ready nor really interested in a hike. As I neared shore the rowlock finally unglued itself from the dinghy- another repair to add to the list. I was met on the beach to find there was a small resort there and was charged $1.50 to visit. A few locals were sat around and I found out they were staff but apparently no-one stayed there as it was high priced $250/night so there wasn’t much for them to do. The lake wasn’t the remote challenge I envisioned but a short 100m stroll with about 20 concrete steps involved. I found the lake had salt water and took some selfie pictures. I took a path around the caldera rim toward a view point but gave up as it grew steeper and looser, also concerned for time incase we too were going to seek anchorage elsewhere.

The guy at the resort assured me the mooring was strong so we decided to sit it out and the wind never got above 8 knots so we had a peaceful night and were off before 6am the next morning. A tour boat anchored nearby that night and we watch the glow from the water toward the shore as their passengers did a night dive. So we had a perfect sail this morning as we passed the north side of Moyo Island - sheltered flat water, moderate wind on the beam and a favourable current made for a smooth fast sail. However as we came around its corner the current turned against us and things got painfully slow, especially as the wind became gusty we were left at a standstill in the lulls.

We headed
"The pond" Potopeddu"The pond" Potopeddu"The pond" Potopeddu

entrance on seen on right
south back toward Sumbawa Island and the wind picked up but became more on the nose so we motorsailed most of the way. The anchorage we had in mind had a small entrance and we were having difficulty spotting it as we approached land, especially as according to the radar the chart plotter was off again, this time by half a mile! We actually used google maps again to point us the right way, and I spotted from the boom as we came in the very narrow entrance, into an unbelievably well protected anchorage - steep sided hills surrounded us except where the waterway led off to mangroves where quite a few fishing boats were beached - it was like plonking Luna Ray onto a pond - Teluk Potopaddu S8 22.86 E117 10.34

Some of the fishermen came by to see what they could get off us. One asked for a pen and as soon as I gave him one he asked for two. Gave some aspirin to a guy who told me he had toothache and then the first one said he had toothache too. He also asked for something to help his cough, I told him to stop smoking the disgusting smelling clove cigarettes that are so popular here - if it didn’t help him it would at least make me feel better- he disputed the advice. A small group of them also gathered next to Naomi on the beach, all watching while Alex and I went for a dip.

As I write this we are crossing the north coast of Lombok and should be at the "paradise" of Gili Aer in 1-2 hours. We might actually stop for the day here!



17th September 2014
volcanic island


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