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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