Sunday, August 23, 2015

Alor, Lesser Sundras, and Flores

This is a long post.  We covered over 200 miles and went to around 10 villages.

The kids from Pantar
The Market at Balaurin

We made an early morning departure from Alor and pushed tide for the entire day.  At one point we were actually going backwards.  Well, we were going forward at 5 knots but the current was stronger than that so we were going nowhere.  We anchored in a nice protected bay on the island of Pantar and were swamped with kids wanting handouts and they were starting to become a bother.  We stayed an extra day to do some engine maintenance and were bothered that whole day also.  The next night was a neat little spot by the town of Balaurin.  We went to visit the town in the morning and we think that the school was let out, and a national holiday was made just for our visit.  We had easily 50 kids in school uniforms walking with us through the streets just wanting to be in our presence.  It's as close as we ever felt to being a 'Rock Star'. 

Some school girls in Balaurin

They made a Local School Holiday for us

Pretty simple housing

Very creative way to bundle two coconuts for sale at the market

We were going to do the standard 30 mile day to the next little bay but instead opted for an easier 10 miler and went to the town of Lewaling.  The anchorage was calm and protected.  The village was small and lacked the normal plastic trash strewn everywhere.  We opted to stay an extra day and made the plan to try to have some town ladies make a beach barbecue for us.  Ray from PARLAY speaks some Indonesian and was able to locate the town chief who then arranged with the ladies.  This is a good way to help the local economy, have a nice evening on the beach, and eat what the locals eat.  This turned out to be one of the best things we have done so far.  It was so original, the towns people were thrilled to do this for us.  The cost was $7 per person and we think the proceeds were going to help with construction costs for the Catholic Church. 

We left the following morning and opted to anchor at the town of Sagu on Adonara Island.  Our anchorage of choice would have been Gedong but it has limited space for about 4 boats and there were already 6 in there.  Sagu was a little choppy but turned out to be fine. 

The next day we had great wind and made some good distance to anchor on the island of Pulu Besar.  This is a small Muslim fishing village, quite protected and cute.  The prayer caller did not even have a microphone.  Just used his voice.  Go figure.  The fishing fleet of Put-Puts, as we call them because of the loud air cooled one cylinder diesel engines, left at sundown and came back in at sunrise and hopefully caught their catch on the reef that night.  They seemed to be quite loud and happy about things that morning on the beach.

Preschool in Lewaling
We then headed for Maumare and the anchorage in front of the Sea World Resort (no relation to the Sea World Park).  This was supposed to be a great anchorage.  We arrived around 1PM and found the anchorage to be one of the worst we have seen in Indonesia.  Folks reading this, THERE IS NO ANCHORAGE THERE, AVOID.  Unfortunately we didn't have a backup plan, the winds were not too favorable and our remaining choice was to get out to sea, spend the night underway and head west.  The big problem with that plan was not being able to see the oil barrel size fishing buoys at night.  To keep the wind in the sails, we had to transit an uncharted coral reef cape so I went online and while using Google Earth to see the coral, I saw what looked like a possible anchorage in a bay by the town of Kolisia.  We arrived just in time at sunset, anchored in 10 meters.  The town was simple, cute, clean, quiet, and calm.  If it was 1/10th as good, I would still have been ecstatic to not have spent the night off the coast.  Instead we found a real winner of an anchorage not referenced in any of our guides.  

We invaded the old folks Blood Pressure Clinic

Our little buddies

The Catholic Church

The Lewaling Beach Barbecue
A great local meal.  Check out the coconut spoon to eat it with.

Kolisia to Labuhan Bajo

Volcano by Lewaling
From Kolisia we made a 10 mile hop to Batuboga West.  This beautiful coral lined bay had the clearest water we have seen so far.  We dropped the anchor in 3 meters on a little sand ledge by the coral, drifted back a boat length and dropped the other anchor in 15 meters off the shelf.  We traded some girls in a canoe a pound of sugar for a papaya.  As it turns out, the local fisherman also like this anchorage.  About 10 Put-Puts anchored next to us shortly after sunset but left around 3AM to make their rounds of their fish traps.

Fishing Village on Pulu Besar
The waterfront of Kolisia
The next day was a 30 miler to Ciendeh.  It was August 17th.  This is the 70th Anniversary of Indonesian Independence from the Dutch just after WWII.  We went in to town to find out what events might be planned and scope out a restaurant.  The event underway was a football (soccer) game and there was no restaurant worthy of eating in.  The amazing thing was that we once again were treated like Rock Stars.  Kids just swarmed around us wanting their pictures taken and to take selfies with us.  We must have been the only tourists to visit in a year.  Our restaurant search got us pointed to the school English teacher for information since nobody spoke much English.  Amazingly, we were the first English speaking people that he has ever spoken English with.  He was thrilled by that and didn't do too badly with his English.  Ciendeh, an incredibly friendly place.

Beach House at Batuboga

All lined up at anchor

Independence Day Football Game in Ciendeh

The next anchorage was another 30 mile leg to the town of Riung.  We anchored in nice hard sand in front of town by the floating dock and ended up staying 2 days.  We went to dinner the first night with the usual suspects from LUNA BLU, ALUA, and LAZY LADY.   I had the dingy tie up all figured out and knew that we would lose a meter of tide before we got back from dinner.  Well, nothing happens fast in Indonesia and dinner took four hours and the poor dingy was high and dry at 8PM.  Accomplished a little electrical work the second day and took the dinghy out to some islands and went snorkeling on the coral.  Dagmar and Christoph from FLOMEIDA arrived and we went to dinner at Murah Muriah, the best Indonesian restaurant we have found so far.

The next leg was another 30 miles to Lingeh.  We were apprehensive about going here because other sail blogs had written about mobs of aggressive children and adults coming to the boats wanting handouts.  As is more the rule than not, don't believe everything you read.  The children were very polite and came with things to trade.  A much better situation than we encountered at Pantar.  We ended up with 3 coconuts, 30 bananas, 5 eggplants, and a bag of tomatoes.  We traded away some solar sidewalk lights, a few old catalogs, fish hooks, and my hat.  The catalog went to a kid named Ricky.  He spoke the best English of all the kids and probably has a much larger vocabulary now thanks to Whitworth's Marine.

We then went 39 miles to a highly praised island anchorage called Gili Bodo.  Once again, don't believe everything you read.  The anchorage was real deep, the 
These were our 'fans'.  The football game was secondary

The dinghy dock in Riung.  Tortuguita on the right
anchor just bounced along the coral bottom and never stuck in.  The winds were blowing hard into the little bay, and the island was on fire.  Like really on fire.  Wind fed flames, smoke, and ash were blowing all over.  With all these things working against making this a good place to spend the night, we left and headed to Labuan Bajo.  Fortunately we had enough daylight and good wind to go another 16 miles and arrive before sunset. 

A 'Spider' Boat in Riung.

The usual suspects at dinner in Riung

Gotta have that Satellite Television


Kids in Riung

Labuan Bajo is the biggest town since Kupang.  We saw a few jets arriving and there are quite a few resort/lodge places on the beaches as we headed toward out anchorage at Waecicu.  We grabbed the last of the moorings with help from Peter and Nelly on ALUA, and went to dinner at the Sylvia Resort with the usual suspects plus DANA FELICIA and FLOMEIDA.  The rest of the Rally fleet is 2-5 days behind us.   

The 5 Star Restaurant Murah Muriah

The ubiquitous Fish Trap Buoy

Ricky (front) and his brother.  He thanks Whitworth's

I traded my hat for tomatoes.

Boat kids in Lingeh eating the last of our Australian chocolate cake

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