Header image  

The Adventure ....

 
  
 

 
 
where are we ?
Tuesday 2nd September 2008
Labuhan Bajo, Flores Island, Indonesia

We've finally made it to Indonesia, dropping anchor in Kupang, Timor (10.09.500 S; 123.34.300 E) at 1am Thursday 31st July 2008 after setting sail from Darwin 11am Saturday 26th July - 5 days non-stop.

The Darwin start line was buzzing with excitement - a fair bit of spectator craft, hooting horns, boats jockeying for start positions, lots of laughing, smart one-liners between participating yachts - a great carnival atmosphere. And then came the serious business of trying to make the most of the light, fickle winds (which we now accept will be the norm) with the journey to Kupang (and ever since) being more of motor sailing than wind sailing, and excellent training ground for spotting almost invisible fishing boats (Indonesian fishing boats don't have the power capacity to run lights all night) and fishing nets (circular nets kept afloat with black buoys and/or an assortment of clear plastic to dirty white containers).

Our first impressions of Indonesia - spicy, aromatic scents; endless stream of chugging fishing boats; hot, dry, dusty; hooting bemos (the local buses); litter; unfinished buildings and sidewalks; very friendly locals all with huge smiles; frustrating red-tape for Quarantine, Immigration, Customs and Harbour Master, with clearance requirements and paperwork needed changing daily; lots of frustrated sailors; entire Sail Indonesia fleet being impounded at Kupang for nearly a week (we heard it made the international news) - not a good start !


Darwin start line

Kupang - harbour front homes
Darwin start line
Kupang - harbour front homes

Our impounded boat

colourful Kupang shop front
Our impounded boat
colourful Kupang shop front


Trying to ignore the circus we'd got caught up in, we got on with exploring and experiencing Kupang. Everyone wants to say "hello" and practice their smattering of English, although we're trying hard to keep speaking and learning Bahasa Indonesian. Getting around the city by bemos (with a silent "s") is an adventure in itself. The bemos are revamped minibuses with a low bench down each side of the van. There are no printed routes, although all bemos display route numbers although you need to know in advance which number represents which route; no printed timetable, although there's a myriad of bemos roaring up and down, constantly hooting for business; no official bus stops - passengers tap on the overhead rail when they want to get off; and it's best to negotiate a rate before you set off as "foreigners" pay top dollar (catch 22 - if you ask what the fare is, you obviously don't know = a prime candidate for being overcharged). Shop fronts are very colourful and busy; loud music generally blaring away; groups of children wanting to shake our hands and shouting out "hello Missis, hello Mister", then collapsing in fits of giggles.

We had a wonderful day excursion inland to traditional villages, where we saw traditional dancing and Ikat weaving (the weaved pattern is dyed into the thread before the material is woven - either pre-dying the warp threads (those stretched on a loom) or the weft threads (those woven across the warp) and is worn as a sarong or cloak, and even used as a sheet or towel(explanation courtesy of Lonely Planet).


Soe ikat weaving

Soe traditional village
Soe ikat weaving - finished product being worn
Soe traditional village


Finally, our boats were unimpounded and we were free to head off to Alor, the next scheduled stop - a mammoth journey as we had to travel through very strong currents, requiring good timing and lots of motor sailing. Unfortunately we developed an oil leak (the result of a punctured oil filter pierced by a broken 12v alternator bracket), which whilst not serious meant we couldn't get to Alor, so we headed off to the beautiful anchorage of Tangung Liang Meah on Kawula Island (08.30.55 S, 123.33.41 E). We were very happy to be sailing into this anchorage after 2 full days of becalmed conditions and strong currents; so at approx 1am, with a full moon to helps us avoid coral bommies, we dropped anchor and collapsed into bed! We awoke to a beautiful flat anchorage with smoking volcanoes off in the distance. First priority was to replace the oil filter and "loan" some engine oil from the other anchored yachts.

The next few days was spent relaxing and catching up with other yachts who also skipped Alor. It wasn't easy leaving this beautiful anchorage, but the next venue at Lembata (08.22.083 S; 123.24.447 E) was calling, where we had a great time. The entire town was involved in welcoming the Sail Indonesia fleet into it's harbour - everyone was so friendly and wanted to chat and find out all about us; a three day intinary was handed out with a welcoming dinner; there were lots of traditional dancing and ceremonies; more inland trips; even a ride around the town on the back of motor bikes and vans, waving and saying hello to all the locals. Whenever we walked around town we'd be mobbed by excited children, wanting to chat to us and have their photo's taken, and we always had to show everyone the photo before we could leave, which was always accompanied with hilarious laughter.


1st view Lembata Island

Lembata volcano
1st view of Lembata Island
Lembata volcano

Lembata harbour - traditional wooden canoe

Lembata - mobbed by children
Lembata harbour - traditional wooden canoe, with flour bag sails
Lembata - mobbed by children, happy to have their photo taken


As great as Lembata was, we needed our space and privacy back, so we headed off to the next beautiful anchorage of north east Adunara Island (08.14.64 S, 123.19.52 E) where we spent a glorious 2 days swimming and snorkelling around a sand cay in the middle of nowhere. We must have had too much relaxing as we then caught the flu that'd been working it's way through the fleet - although we've been lucky to avoid "Indonesian Belly" also making the rounds. We withdrew from the fleet to recouperate, finding a secluded anchorage at Sugo Bay (08.14.443 S; 123.13.487 E). Here Brian did a speedy tender ride to the village (worthy of an Olympic entry) in pursuit of our stolen dingy oar. We'd just had a visit from the local boys in their dugout canoe and after much whispering and laughing, they suddenly turned around and were paddling furiously back to their village. Realising they were up to no good, we did a quick scan and noticed the missing oar. I've never seen Brian move so quickly. Soon the whole village was out on the beach to see what all the fuss was about, the rascals slipped away, and our oar was handed back without too much trouble.

When we were up and about again, we headed off to the small anchorage of Tanjung Gedong, Flores (08.04.63 S, 122.50.71 E). It was such a flat anchorage, which was just as well as our anchor was only lying on the rock sea bed ! Within minutes of "anchoring", we were inundated by the local children on a flotilla of canoes - some were looking for handouts but most are just curious about who and what we are, as well as wanting to practice their English. And yes you've guessed it - another paradise, but crowded with 15 yachts, as we all start converging again as we get closer to the next scheduled stop of Maumere.


sand cay anchorage, North East Adunara Island

Tangjung Gedong, Flores
North East Adunara Island - sand cay anchorage
Tangjung Gedong, Flores

a canoe always materialises wherever we anchor

another glorious sunset
a canoe always materialises wherever we anchor
another glorious sunset

Enroute to Maumere, we stopped was at Tandung Watudama (08.17.782 S, 122.49.073 E) where we visited the local village in company with Jen and Ralph of "El Misti" and it was delightful to be the only 2 Sail Indonesia yachts at anchor in this beautiful bay. The next morning we trekked up the hill to the local village and had a wonderful interaction with the villagers. Judging from their shyness and reaction to us, they probably don't get many visitors and their pride and joy over our handouts was a very humbling experience for us. The village primary school children and their 2 teachers wanted to pose for photo's and we had to sign the "visitors" book.

Tangjung Watudama fish

Tangjung Wataduma handouts
Tangjung Watudama, Flores
Tangjung Watudama - Jen doing what she does best, creating laughter

Tangjung Watudama school kids

Besar Island, en-route Maumere/Wodong
Tangjung Watudama - primary school children & teachers
Besar Island, en-route Maumere/Wodong

Next stop was Maumere, but we stopped at nearby Wodong (08.36.397 S; 122.28.504 E) - far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but close enough if we wanted provisions, etc. We spent 4 nights at this paradise, anchored off Anker Mi, an upmarket backpacker/dive resort with a brilliant restaurant. Some of the rally participants went on a dive trip with the resort and raved about it.

Because we were a fair distance from Maumere, we hired a private car (complete with driver) with 4 other yachties for a trip to Maumere for banking, provisioning and internet. Although despite having the driver to take us exactly where we wanted to go, it's was quite a feat getting anything done. It took 4 attempts to get our banking done (no forex department, closing for lunch, no in-house machinery for over-the-counter forex transactions; ATM withdrawal amounts too small per transaction); not much fresh produce at the markets nor could we find the "supermarket" we'd been recommended to (really just a large warehouse-type shop with lots of stuff); internet connection tediously slow and continuously dropping out - after 1 hour, even with our own laptop and a wireless connection, we couldn't download any emails! So gave up and went for a long lunch instead!


fish market, Maumere

windowless "air-conditioned" bemos
fish market, Maumere
windowless "air-conditioned" bemos

traditional house, en-route to Keli Mutu

colourful rattan decordated house front
traditional house, en-route to Keli Mutu
colourful rattan decordated house front

The next day, we hired the same car and driver for a day trip into the mountains to visit Keli Mutu, with canadians Jean and Ken of "Reinnaisance 2000" ( Toronto). The scenery into the mountains was spectular and it didn't take long before the air was fresher and cooler. The 3 hour drive inland took us past villages perched on mountain ridges; upgrading of mountain roads and bridges, all being done by hand; traditional and colourful, rattan decorated houses; rice paddies; before finding ourselves at the top of Keli Muti, an extinct volcano containing 3 lakes that over the year's have change colour numerous times (chemicals leaching from the rock walls). The colours during our visit were dark chocolate, green and brown - our photo of the green lake doesn't do the colour justice - it was the most brilliant aqua/grass-green colour that we've ever seen.


rice paddies en-route to Keli Mutu

atop Keli Mutu - green & chocolate lakes in the background
rice paddies en-route to Keli Mutu
atop Keli Mutu - green & chocolate lakes in the background

Monkey Beach (08.23.43 S; 121.00.06E) was the next fabulous anchorage - didn't see any monkeys but we could certainly hear them chattering away early morning and evening. We managed to hit a bommie on the way through to the anchorage, but the gods were smiling on us, as no harm was done to Destiny. At this anchorage we also came across our first Indonesian "trawlers" - it's a central wooden boat, with bamboo/wooden outrigger-type stablisers on each side, the whole structure tensioned by two masts. The trawling ropes are coiled around a horizontal beam positioned between the two masts. The ropes are secured at the outrigger-type stablisers corner's and mid-way points, weighted with stones. It's quite a sight to see these "trawlers" underway, especially at night as they only use a hurricane lamp for illumination. The span of the "trawler" is considerably larger and wider than some of the biggest rally catamarans - seeing it squeeze past two anchored yachts, in a tight anchorage, on a moonless night, makes you realise that the Indonesian fishermen are certainly a lot more skilled than we give them credit for.

We've just left the anchorage of Lingeh (08.16.41 S; 120.36.02 E) in company with about 15 yachts. The never-ending begging/haggling, canoes constantly hitting the side of the boat, little faces peering in at the windows, drove us all away which is sad as we're probably their best source of income all year. However, we did manage to have a walk about around the village without being too seriously mobbed - the village, while very poor, was relatively clean and tidy. Don't know if there is a special arrangement with the Indonesian Government or if village headmen have good connections, but despite villages being rather poor, most houses having a big fat sattelite dish holding prime spot in the front garden. Which also means everyone's got a generator to run the TV. So not sure were the villagers get their income, as subsistence fishing seemed to be the main occupation - the beach was full of racks full of smelly drying fish.


Indonesian "trawlers"

Indonesian "trawlers"
Indonesian "trawlers" - the span of these vessels is considerably larger and wider than the biggest rally catamarans

drying fish at Lingeh village

being mobbed again - note satelite dish in the background
drying fish at Lingeh village
being mobbed again - note background satelite dish

We just arrived at Labuhan Bajo (08.29.439 S; 119.52.261 E), where we've rejoined the rally for festivities and sightseeing. We're also hoping to make side trips from here to the Komodo and Rinca Islands to see the infamous Komodo dragons - watch out for the next update :-)

Communicating outside of Indonesia isn't easy (and it's also quite pricey) so our family members that haven't had a telephone call yet, please don't be alarmed - everything's OK, text messages will have to suffice. But within Indonesia, it's a breeze as mobile phone usage is widespread - everyone's got a one and there are huge communication towers everwhere. And the mobile phone infrastructure is brilliant - topping up prepaid credit, finding out the credit balance, retrieving bonus credits depending on how much is used - everything is done via the phone's keypad, you don't need to speak to an operator for anything - Telstra Australia, take note !!!!!

However, it's another story for internet. G3 internet wireless coverage is still in it's infancy and only within city areas, so we're having to use internet cafes (only in the bigger towns, and they're few and far between). Those that we've tried having woeful connection speeds (dial-up mostly - 1 hour to do 2 banking transactions and at the time of typing this page, we've still not been able to download any emails, but hoping to rectify this as soon as we've updated the website). So if you haven't had a response to any emails, now you know why :-) And to all our website junkies, you'll have to take your fix with longer periods in between each website update, or at least until we get further north into SE Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand).

Here’s the link to our latest video's - enjoy :-)!

Until next time, “ Selamat tinggal” from Destiny III
B & G