Saturday, September 25, 2010


September 20--Our time in Lombok for Sail Indonesia was wonderful. Medana Marina is a "virtual" marina, meaning that there are no docks--yet! The owners are planning to put in floating docks in the future. Right now, you can pick up a mooring ball, or you can anchor in depths up to 80 feet. They have cleared out a place inside the reef and have built some very nice facilities ashore such as bathrooms with showers, a lovely open-air restaurant, and a small store. We were able to order diesel and have it delivered, water was available at the dinghy dock, and laundry service was available at very reasonable prices.

When we arrived on the 14th, we were able to pick up a mooring ball just off the beach and then run a stern line to a post on shore. The area was a bit crowded because of the rally so we were pleased to get such a good spot.

On September 15 we attended a cooking class presented by two local women with an interpreter provided to translate for us. It was quite interesting, and we got to eat the food that was cooked when it was over. In the afternoon, I had a one-hour massage that cost me 75,000 rupia or $7.50--it was wonderful! That evening we joined three other couples and walked down the beach to the Oberoi Lombok, which is an absolutely stunning resort. We enjoyed cocktails at the bar overlooking the ocean, and then we joined Walter and Tiggs from sv Marne for dinner. I ordered seared yellow fin tuna, and Steve ordered rack of lamb. Both meals were exceptional.

The next day we hired a driver to take us to Mantaram to do some grocery shopping at a mall. We enjoyed eating lunch at McDonalds. We then stopped at a wood carving shop and saw some beautiful pieces of furniture. We also stopped at what is called the "Monkey Forest: where you can feed peanuts to the monkeys. There were quite a few when we stopped, including two mothers with small babies clinging to them. It was very entertaining to watch them climb the trees and sit while they ate the goodies. All the roads were very crowded with car, motorcycles, and horse-drawn carts.

That afternoon a "Welcome Ceremony" was held at which the usual speeches were made, and a group of men dressed in costumes and carrying large drums performed a dance. We were fed some very nice treats and were served soda and even Bintang beer. There was a two-hour break during which we walked around the many booths that had been set up by local vendors. Then dinner was served and additional performances by a band and several singing groups were presented to our group. It was a lovely evening.

On September 17, I had another massage while Steve joined Glen and his son Jaryd for a motorcycle trip. They drove up to see three waterfalls. The last one in the series was especially beautiful, and they were able to climb a ladder in the waterfall, enter a cave behind the waterfall, and find the second waterfall plunging from 40 meters above through a hole in the roof of the cave.

We left Medana Marina around noon and motored to Gili Air, which is an island about a mile away. We had to wind our way through a few reefs and made our way to the anchorage. Unfortunately, there were so many boats there that we decided to continue another mile to Gili Trawangan. We were able to pick up a mooring ball there because only two other boats were around us.

Gili Trawangan is the largest of these Gili islands, and it is a very popular place. We went to shore to enjoy lunch, but just as our food arrived, so did a huge thunderstorm. The winds picked up, and the rain came down in sheets. It was raining so hard that we could not see the boat anchored just 50 yards away. We quickly finished our lunch and walked back to the dinghy in the rain. We found the dinghy half filled with rain water, so we quickly drained it and then braved the waves to return to the boat. Everything was all right except for a small amount of water below that had come in through the port lights.

We spent three days at this anchorage and enjoyed it very much. The restaurants were excellent, and the beaches were beautiful so we can understand why it is such a popular place. Our next stop is Bali.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ferocious Komodo Dragons

September 16, 2010—On September 8 we left Labuan Bajo with Tin Soldier and moved southwest to the Island of Rinca. It was a beautiful day so we had good sunshine that would help in spotting the reefs along the way. We had a lovely trip except for one uncharted reef that was difficult to see until we were close to it.

We anchored with four other cruising boats at Loh Buaya Rinca, a beautiful bay surrounded by mangrove trees, and then we ate a quick lunch. By now it was overcast and sprinkling rain, but we all decided to go ahead and go see the Komodo Dragons. We tied our dinghies at the dock and stopped at the small shelter to allow the rain to stop. Just a short distance away an older dragon was sleeping. There was also a small group of monkeys that immediately came up to us when we got the camera out of the backpack—not because of a picture, but because they thought there would be something to eat.

We walked a short distance to the Komodo Dragon National Park office and purchased our tickets for the tour. Our guide’s name was Obie, and he spoke very good English. He showed us two dragons hanging around the kitchen hut hoping for some scraps, but he informed us that they never feed the dragons.

The Komodo dragon is a ferocious looking lizard with enormous claws, fearsome teeth, and fiery yellow tongues. The Komodo dragon is actually a monitor lizard. All monitors have some things in common: the head is tapered, the ear openings are visible, the neck is long and slender, the eyes have eyelids and round pupils, and the jaws are powerful. The dragons also have massive bodies, powerful legs (each with five-clawed toes) and long, thick tails (which function as rudders but can also be used for grasping or as a potent weapon). The body is covered in small, non-overlapping scales; some may be spiny, others may be raised and bony.

The dragons’ legs allow them to sprint short distances at a pretty fast speed. They have a very keen sense of smell. The Komodo dragons feed on deer, wild pig, and water buffalo. They bite their larger victims and wait for the potent bacteria their mouths contain to take effect—waiting for up to two weeks for the buffalo to die. We have since heard that there is some doubt about the bacteria aspect, but we don’t know for certain.

The Komodo dragon lays the largest eggs of the monitors, and the female lays 15 to 30 eggs at a
time and usually buries them in the wall of a dry river. The incubation period is nine months, and after they hatch, the female will protect them for three months from predators. The young then spend about five years living up in the trees in order to protect them.

The one-hour tour was very interesting, and our guide was very knowledgeable. We saw one female protecting her nest, and we saw a water buffalo as well. After the tour we returned to the main base and enjoyed a cold soda while watching two dragons lounging on the ground.

It was now late afternoon so we returned to our dinghies, which were now almost out of the water because of the tide. We had to walk them out a ways before we could get in and discovered some sea snakes along the way. Not my idea of a good time.

It was now raining pretty hard so we quickly returned to the boat and put the dinghy on board since we were wet anyway. We fixed dinner, took showers, and then read for awhile. It was a rainy evening, but we really enjoyed it, and the rain gave the boat a nice bath.

The next morning we headed north to Gili Lawa, which is a popular anchorage on the northern tip of Komodo Island. We pulled into the bay and anchored in beautiful, clear water. We enjoyed a snorkel in the afternoon, where we watched two turtles digging into the coral, and a beach bon fire in the evening with three other boats. By the time we left the beach, however, the north wind had picked up, and now the bay was quite rough. We spent a miserable night sleeping on the settees with the boat rocking and rolling.

The next day was beautiful again. We went for another snorkel and again enjoyed the beautiful coral and sea life. In the afternoon we joined four other boats for happy hour on the catamaran Orono I and had a great time. In the evening the swell came in again, so we were rolling and spent another uncomfortable night.

In the morning we had planned to go on a dive, but it was overcast and raining so we left and moved west to Batu Monco about two hours away. This bay was also lovely, well protected from most winds, and had only our four boats in it. We got our anchors down, enjoyed some lunch, and then met for a dive at one o’clock. The dive was not deep, but the coral was lovely, and there were so many types of fish around that we enjoyed it very much.

That evening we had another beach bon fire, mainly in order to burn our plastic trash, but it was again a lot of fun. We returned to the boat around 6:30 and got her ready to go early in the morning. This anchorage was much calmer so we were able to get a good night’s sleep.

We left at 5:20 in the morning when dawn gave us just enough light to see. Three of us left, but sv Imagine decided to stay. Because of light winds we motor sailed. There was a narrow channel a few miles out, and the tides and currents produced a very sloppy sea plus the current was against us, so we spent a lot of time trying to make it through the two-mile wide and 10-mile long channel. That put us into our anchorage at Batoc Basar at dusk with barely enough time to see where we could anchor. At least there was no roll here so we spent a pleasant evening in this spot.

From Batoc Basar we went to Medang, which took another long day of motor sailing. We arrived at dusk but had no trouble anchoring along with about 12 other boats. We left Medang at 2:30 the next morning so that we could arrive in Lombok by dark. We had a lovely trip and passed Mount Rinjani, a beautiful volcano that rises to almost 13,000 feet.

When we arrived at Medana Bay Marina, we heard that there was very little space. This is a virtual marina with no docks, just mooring balls and anchorage space. We were lucky because we were able to pick up a mooring ball just off the beach. We ran a stern line to the beach to keep us in place, and then we settled in to get ready for the next festivities.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labuan Bajo

September 8, 2010--We enjoyed several days at Gili Bodo Island. Several local boats came by to sell carved masks and Komodo dragons. They also had a lovely assortment of pearls. We went out twice to snorkel and the spots were all right, but snorkeling through plastic trash was not very fun. We did, however, find some good shells. While we were there, Grant aboard sv Imagine celebrated his 10th birthday so his parents had a party on the beach. Quite a few cruising kids were in the anchorage, so they all had a good time. Just about every day we also saw monkeys on the beach, and they were a lot of fun to watch.

We left Gili Bodo on September 5 and headed to Labuan Bojo. The anchorage was actually a mile or two away in front of the Ego Lodge, which was very welcoming to the rally boats. They had a pool, and we could buy cold Bintang beer. There were about 30 boats in the anchorage, which was only about 20 feet deep with a thick mud bottom so we had good holding.

There were quite a few local boats with boat boys who would provide services. We ordered diesel and water from them, and they delivered it all to our boat. They also took our garbage for us. They also provided transportation to town for just 20,000 rupia or $2.

We went in to the pool at the Eco Lodge in the afternoon along with several other boats, where we sat in the lukewarm pool drinking a cold beer. We agreed to meet Esprit, Tin Soldier, and Imagine for dinner later at the restaurant next door so around 6:30 we dinghied ashore in a light rain and walked quickly to the restaurant. Steve and I ordered tenderloin steaks, and Steve's was great, but mine was a bit tough. We were stuffed when we returned to the boat.

The next day we went ashore and hired a "Bemo" or van taxi to drive us into town. We stopped at the bank to get 1,500,000 rupia ($150). We dropped off our laundry and then found a good grocery store that actually had mozzarella cheese and Cheetos. We picked up a few items and then walked around town where we ran into the crew of Tin Soldier. We all decided to stop for lunch and found a great restaurant with a view of the bay and excellent food. We did a little more shopping and then caught a ride with them back to the anchorage on a local's boat.

Katie froom sv Esprit was celebrating her 50th birthday that day so I baked her a chocolate cake. We all met on the beach at 6 p.m. and then returned to the same restaurant. This time I ordered the sautéed beef dinner, and it was excellent. Steve had another excellent tenderloin steak. After dinner we all sang "Happy Birthday" and then enjoyed cake, brownies, and ice cream. We were again stuffed as we walked back to the beach to head to the boats.

The next morning, Marilyn and her son Jaryd from Tin Soldier joined us for another shopping spree. The Bemos here all have names decaled on their wind shields so that you can remember which one is yours. Our Bemo was "Rocker." We headed for the traditional market where we were able to find green beans, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and even a watermelon. It is always fun at the markets because the locals are very friendly, and it is always interesting to see what is offered. The Bemo then took us to the bank for another 1,500,000 rupia. We wanted to be sure to have enough money to last us until Lombok in about a week. Next we stopped in town and went to the Corner Restaurant. They had wireless internet, although it was slow, and excellent hamburgers. After that we went to the grocery store for some more mozzarella cheese and some Bintang beer. Our last stop was to pick us our laundry. The woman was very nice but did not speak any English. Her friend was able to help us out and told me that the bill was 40,000 rupia or $4. The woman's daughter was quite precocious and wanted her picture taken, so I took a couple of pictures of her and her friends and then took some of her and her mother. They all giggled when they saw the pictures on the camera.

It was time to head back to the boat so the Bemo driver returned us to the Eco Lodge, and we paid him 170,000 rupia ($17) for three hours. We got to the beach and saw that the wind had changed and the waves were pounding the shore as well as our dinghies. It took some effort to load all our stuff into the dinghies and then get them off the beach. We got soaked on the ride back to the boat, but most of the goodies survived in good shape.

We had planned to stay on board for the evening, but sv Orono called us on the radio and asked if we would like to join them, Tin Soldier, and Finale for dinner in town. We said we would love to go, so they picked us up in the boat taxi, and we headed in. It was just misting rain so I grabbed my umbrella before we left, and I was so glad that I did because it started raining pretty hard. We walked about a block to the Corner Restaurant and looked like drowned rats when we arrived. We did enjoy an excellent dinner. Steve ordered a vanilla milk shake but ended up with something that was like cream, ice, and cucumber--it was very strange so he skipped it.

It was still raining when we left so we hurried back to the water taxi. We left the dock and were all huddled under the small piece of canvas and watched as lightening lit up the sky. The boat boys were having a difficult time with the engine as it kept dying on them, and they worked very hard and got us back to the anchorage. These little 16 horsepower engines (Mr. Engine) make a lot of noise, but they do get the boats from place to place. The first time I heard them, I thought a helicopter was coming nearby. Our next problem was that the boat's rudder would not turn the boat enough to easily pull up to our sailboats. One boat boy would have to stand on the bow and use a pole to finesse us up to a boat. The cruisers took this all in stride, and we eventually made it back to our boats, wet but happy.

Our next stop is Rinca Island to see the Komodo Dragons.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

South to Flores Island

September 1, 2010--On Thursday, August 26, Marilyn from Tin Soldier and I went to town to pick up some last minute items. We enjoyed an exciting ride in a van/bus to the MGM grocery with about eight teenagers. I was lucky enough to find some JIF peanut butter, which made Steve very happy, as well as some other "goodies" for our enjoyment. On this return trip we were able to get a motorcycle pedi-cab, which we had not done before.

When we returned to the boat, I worked on the last blog during the afternoon. Around 6:30 p.m. we went ashore to meet the crew of Tin Soldier for dinner at the same restaurant that we had dinner at the night before. The food is exceptional, and no one wanted to cook because of the heat, so it was perfect. We arrived first and had just ordered dinner when we saw a couple on the street who looked to be Americans. They came into the restaurant and we exchanged greetings. They told us that they had planned to eat next door, but when they saw us (Americans), they decided to come into our restaurant.

Caleb and Tiffany are from the states and are in Indonesia teaching English. They also take divers out to the nearby dive sites. We asked if they would like to join us for dinner, which they did. Soon Glen, Marilyn, and Jaryd arrived so we had a merry group at the table. We learned quite a bit about Bau-Bau and Indonesia from Caleb and Tiffany. Tiffany asked if we had found everything that we wanted, and we said, "yes" except for ice cream and grape jelly. After dinner she took us to a local store that had an large freezer, and in it were Magnum ice cream bars! We hadn't had those since Fiji, and they were just as good as we remembered. Caleb asked if we would like to do a dive the next day, and since we were planning to leave Bau-Bau, we agreed to head south to Nirwana Beach and meet him there.

The next morning Steve and I went in to shore to take some last-minute pictures. We pulled up to the dinghy dock and climbed the stairs. Steve wanted a short of the dock with the local boats at it, so he went back only to find that the navy was removing the dock. The strange thing was that the navy guy helped us tie up the dinghy and never said a word. Steve ran back down, climbed into the dinghy, and took it to anchor it at the shore. We went to town, quickly took our photos, and then returned to the boat.

We headed south and arrived at Nirwana Beach around 10:30. Caleb arrived at 11 o'clock so Glen, Marilyn and Jaryd headed in with us to shore. We all geared up and entered the water. Marilyn, however, stayed to snorkel. The dive was along a rock ledge that ran quite a distance, and we saw some interesting fish and pretty coral. It was a very relaxing dive. When we all returned to the beach, we found that the wind had really picked up, and the boats were bucking around on their anchors. We thanked Caleb and hurried to leave, but we agreed that their family would meet us at our anchorage at the south end of the island in the late afternoon.

Getting the dinghies off the beach was a real challenge. There were large waves rolling in, and we got drenched when they hit the dinghy, sending water all over us. We were able to get the dinghy engine off and the dinghy aboard without too much trouble. We then pulled the anchor and left the anchorage, bucking like crazy over the large waves.

We continued south for another 10 miles and then carefully made our way in to shore. There were numerous fishing floats in the water, and at one time we were about to go over a long line, so we had to reverse and find another way toward shore. We anchored in about 30 feet of water in a beautiful spot where the southern tip curved around to give us good protection from the ocean.

Around 5 p.m. Caleb and Tiffany arrived with their 4-year-old daughter Alethia and their one-year-old son Asher. Glen picked them up in his dinghy and brought them out to Tin Soldier. When Tiffany got aboard, she gave me a bag that had a jar of Smucker's Organic Grape Jelly--I couldn't believe it! Now Steve would be really happy. We enjoyed several hours visiting and learning even more about Indonesia. Asher stayed in the cockpit with the ladies and Steve, while Jaryd entertained Alethia below, and Caleb received a tour from Glen. When it was time for them to leave, we all exchanged email addresses so that we could stay in touch. Perhaps we will see them in the states some time in the future.

We spent the next day catching up on chores and relaxing. Glen had an issue with his autopilot so Steve went over, and they were able to fix it. I joined them a little later for a game of Scrabble with Marilyn. Soon it was time to go back to have supper and call it a night as we planned to leave at 5 a.m.

At 5 a.m. we pulled our anchor and headed south for Bone Rate anchorage, which would required an overnight run. The conditions were excellent, and we had a knot of current pushing us along. During the day we actually put a reef in the main because we were going too fast. We continued on and eventually pulled in some of our jib to slow us down some more--we did not want to approach the pass into Bone Rate in the dark. The worst thing was the "fishing rafts" that were out there. These are rafts that are unmanned, and they just float along catching fish. We don't know exactly how the fish are caught, but these rafts are not small, and if we hit one during the night, it might do some damage. They do not show up on RADAR, and they are very hard to see if it is dark. While I was down below sleeping around 9 o'clock I woke up because of a loud thumping on the hull. I immediately thought that we had hit a raft, but Steve swept the water with the spot light and saw nothing, so we decided that it must have been a log in the water.

Our timing worked out well because we entered the pass at 8 a.m. with an ebb tide, which pushed us through at 9 knots. We worked our way to the village at the eastern end and anchored not too far from the pier. Tin Soldier followed us in and anchored next to us. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes later, a very large local boat pulled anchor but started drifting down on another local boat. Then both of them came close to us, so we pulled the anchor and spent another 30 minutes looking for new spot. Tin Soldier ended up moving to get away from the local boats as well.

We did not go ashore since we were tired and planned to leave in the morning. We enjoyed visiting with some of the locals that came by to visit. We took a swim in the afternoon and then showered. While Steve was showering some locals came up to the boat. He was standing there dripping wet with a towel wrapped around his waist trying to tell them that he was bathing, but they just continued to come up to the boat. I went through some hand signals to explain that we had to go below to eat our dinner so they finally left. They don't seem to have the same view of privacy as we have, and it can be frustrating at times.

We were off at 7 o'clock the next morning. Tin Soldier was a bit behind us as they all slept in because they were sick with colds. We made good time with the tide helping us along again. We saw dolphins on our way but were very surprised that they came close to the boat but did not swim in the bow wake. That is the first time they have not done so. It was a beautiful day with light wind so we motor sailed the whole way. We arrived at Lingeh Flores around 3 p.m. and did not even have the anchor down before we were inundated with local canoes filled with children. They completely surrounded the boat and began asking for writing pads, pens, fishing gear, etc. We told them that we did not have any more, and they were obviously disappointed. Steve did give some fishing line to an adult who brought out some nice bananas. I bought a piece of Ikat from one of the boys, but that was it. Tin Soldier arrived so some left to visit them. Finally, about two hours later, we told them that we were tired and had to go below so they left.

As it happened before when Steve went for a swim and then took his shower, a local boat came pretty close to the boat. This time he didn't stop showering but just continued on. I waited until it was almost dark to take my shower, and a local in his canoe was only about 50 feet away. We stayed down below for the rest of the evening and then made a hasty retreat early the next morning.

We now headed west along with Tin Soldier to reach Gili Bodo Island, which is an uninhabited island with white sandy beaches. We need a respite from visitors and some down time, and everyone on Tin Soldier needed to recover from their ills. We made good time with the help of the current, wound our way through the fringing reefs, and anchored in 20 feet of crystal blue water over sand. It is spectacular here, and we even saw monkeys walking on the beach. All is well aboard sv Linda.

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