Moyo’s Surprise

From Labuan Bajo to Medana Bay in Lombok was ugly. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t any bright spots. There were. It means that sailing in Indonesia is; well, not sailing. A half dozen times or more we put out the sails. We covered a few miles under sail. However as I’ve mentioned before; each island has its own wx system. The morning starts with a light offshore breeze. Around 10-11am the breeze dies and as the day progresses and the land heats up an onshore breeze fills in. Then we’re looking to anchor for the evening. Traveling at night is a serious no-no in Indo.

Hell, even during the day there are hazards. We were traveling along the coast of Sumbawa. There are heaps of fishermen with nets out. By heaps I mean every km or so there was a net strung across the water. Nets 500 meters long or sometimes more. We had done well avoiding them by staying farther offshore. We came upon a fisherman up ahead. He was slapping an oar in the water. We’ve seen that before. They do that to drive fish towards their nets. Then as we got closer he began to wave, like a madman. We had no idea what he was waving about as his arms seemed to be all over the place. About a boat length in front we saw the floats for a net. I wasn’t worried. We had gone over nets before. The advantage of a full keel boat. But before we were sailing. Now we were powering. All seemed to go well till I noticed the net had caught on the shoe of our rudder. Obviously I hadn’t cleaned all the barnacles off. More than that, my fishing lure too caught something; you guessed it, the net. I was afraid we had wrapped the prop. Others have told me that they had reversed the prop and the net would unwrap. Don’t try it! It didn’t and most likely made it worse.

All this time the fisherman was paddling over. He too wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy, W/ wasn’t happy. The only good thing was there isn’t any wind, the Sun is shining and the water warm. I donned my swim trunks, got my dive mask and fins. In I went. I couldn’t unwind the net. It was firmly tied / wrapped on the shaft and prop. The only option was to cut if free. The fisherman was hanging out, hanging onto our dinghy. He had already freed the lure we had and given that back to W/.

W/ handed me a filet knife and I set about cutting the part of the net wrapped around the prop and shaft. A few dives later we were floating free. I got back into the dinghy (we had been towing it) and removed my gear. The fisherman hung on. He indicated he wanted money to repair his net. I felt a little wronged. Little floats one can barely see on the water. No discernible end and a wild fisherman waving his arms in every direction. Such excuses I can make! W/ brought up 200,000 Rp and handed him the money. For a cruiser, that isn’t much money. For him fishing was his livelihood and we had made his life more difficult. I can’t say he was happy. I can say we weren’t. He did seem satisfied and let go of the dinghy. We started up the engine and continued our trek west.

Anchorages along N Shore-All open Roadsteads

The majority of anchorages on the N coast of Sumbawa are open roadsteads. Any serious winds from the N puts a boat on a dangerous lee shore. There are not many choices here. Fortunately this time of year the winds are light and at night they blow offshore. So we don’t worry. One such anchorage we had the hook down and W/ was preparing Dunch (Dinner and Lunch at the same time). Something large banged on the boat. We both scramble up on deck. A mid-sized Bagan bumped into us. The winds and tide had changed. I had anchored a 100 meters away from him thinking we were safe. They had more anchor line out than I thought and they were sitting away from the island. I was able to push them free enough that there was no more colliding. W/ started up the engine and we moved farther away. Damage. A little. A small nick in our paint on the hull. We were lucky we were aboard, the winds were light, and it was daylight. In the middle of the night that would have scared us silly. We didn’t take a break till we hit Moyo.

Anchorage Moyo

Moyo looked like a good anchorage. Protected from N winds around to the S. Only open to the W and SW. We anchored in 15 m of water and with the light afternoon onshore breeze we drifted nearer the reef. The anchor was doing its job keeping us in deep water. We set up the dinghy and went exploring. We walked the village. Smaller than a town. Checked out a Covid closed dive resort. Discovered there was not any Laundry Business and looked for a place to get a nice cold drink. We checked out one place that looked inviting only to discover they didn’t sell beer. With our mixed up Bahasa and their hand signals we were directed down the road; really much closer to a path, to a restaurant. There we found a cold beer and great view of the harbor and if we stayed long enough; the Sunset. And as so often in our travels we were lucky.

An Aussie ex-pat with his daughter hanging out joined us for a chat. He had just built a place on Lombok with his Indonesian wife. And he said…. he had a great meal at the restaurant a couple doors down. Now, we’re not one to turn our backs on any place that has good food. We were getting hungry and the beer alone wouldn’t quench our hunger . So…. We wandered over.

The cats and the restaurant’s 6 year old daughter took a shine to us. She worked it so she could climb up onto my lap while we checked out the menu and ordered food! She sat there playing with her phone. On the front of the menu was a lovely picture of a waterfall. Another tourist; Chinese this time, wandered over. He had an electronic device that translated English to Chinese and visa versa. There we learned that he and his partner had this am returned from the waterfall. The one in the picture, and it was well worth visiting. The manager of the restaurant could arrange a trip. The device was cool. We need to get one. It made communication much easier. Anyway, we arranged for the following day to visit the waterfall. Our food came and I wriggled enough that my lap mate decided she had had enough. She wandered over to another tourist looking for more lap time.

The following day we had lunch at Mary An and then began our tour. Our guide took one motorcycle plus W/ and I took another. I was glad he had W/. The trek to the waterfall was not on a smooth, well paved road. Even a path would be an optimistic assessment. Some areas were paved with cement, others stones and many areas eroded. A four wheel vehicle wouldn’t have an issue. The motorcycles worked well but not fast. I tried to follow W/ with her driver, weaving between ruts, the side of the road and a few places of smooth pavement flying down the middle. But, I couldn’t look around. I had to watch the road. Forty minutes later we came to a stop; the parking lot! Parked the bikes and began to walk.

A story circulated that Princess Di visited this place. The rumor was she would walk up above the falls and bask in the shallow pools – san’s clothing. I rather doubt this last part as this nation of majority Muslims is quite conservative. We walked up to the upper pools and waded through the cool water enjoying the emerald green water color. The forest here is cooler than at the beach and we enjoyed this place. Next time (as if) we would being some food, maybe a bottle of wine! 🙂

Hiking downstream we arrived at the waterfalls where the main action was. There were several falls from about one meter to five. Under the five m falls was a pool of water asking for a swim. Our guide jumped in and I followed. I didn’t jump. The water was cool. The depth unknown and my training with water was never to dive or jump in water of an unknown depth. I don’t and I didn’t. It was about 3 meters deep and in the middle and was a bit over my head. We (our guide and I) swam to the falls, climbed up the rocks and sat behind for minute or two while W/ took some pics. I was told there were fish here but never did see any. I don’t believe any were food.

As we exited the pool to dry off a slew of tourists from a Liveaboard arrived. 15 or so. They strolled in as I was getting my new drone out for pictures. We hung around till they tired of the swim. I got ready to fly the drone to the middle of the pool and take a few images of the falls itself. The rocks with the water cascading over them would have made a wonderful pic. Notice the tense of the sentence! The drone was up and I manipulated it towards the middle of the pool, about 4 m above the water. As I was about to snap a pic it took off! I wasn’t doing anything! Shit! It flew towards me and then lurched into an area bounded by three large trees. Water is deadly to drones. Trees not much better. This one does not have any avoidance circuitry and if it hits a tree ; well, I won’t be able to repair it. This was only the 3rd time flying. Losing it here in Indonesia; where it is not easily replaced, including how not cheap it was, was frightening. My heart was racing. I quickly moved to where it had paused in the middle of the tree triangle. I reached out my hand, held the joystick down for landing and landed it on my hand. It was only the second time I had caught my drone. And I was lucky. It didn’t end up in the water, it didn’t hit any trees and I wasn’t injured by the propellers. Enough of that. I put the drone away.

A few more pics with the phones and we headed back. The ride down the mountain was as exciting as the ride up. Weaving in and out of the track I only high centered a couple of times needing to help the bike with my feet on the ground. We caught up to the truck carrying the tourists from the Liveaboard as we arrived in the village. The road / ditch / path turned into an easier ride and we finished where we began. A couple of drinks to cap off a great day, then back to Elysium.

At the dock there was chaos. Our dinghy had moved. We didn’t mind. It is better if they move it than work around it or damage it. The town was getting new electric poles. With one vehicle and many men they were removing the cement poles from the delivery boat. They already had several poles off but were having difficulty with the last one. The tide had come in. The pole needed to get it onto the pier, off the boat, onto a cart and moved to the storage place. 20 or so men were guiding the pole; plus the truck pulling. As the cement pole moved off the boat some the boat would rise and create a problem. The trucks wheels would spin on the sandy cement pier and work would stop. A new discussion with many chiefs and no Indians ensued. They would go to plan C, and then to plan D etc. During one of their brainstorming sessions we worked our way around the activity and into the dinghy. On the way to Elysium we heard a cheer. I’m sure the pole was off now.

On Elysium we discussed where to next. A place called Badas! Interesting. We needed some supplies and a calm anchorage. This anchorage had turned on us. The winds were fine but a swell had begun to work its way into the anchorage. We were starting to roll from side to side. We DO NOT like rolling. Tomorrows trip is only 25 nm. The restaurant owner had actually said we could order supplies from Badas and have stuff shipped the following day for 5,000 Rp / box. However Badas was on our way and we prefer to choose our own supplies. Badas here we come.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The People we Meet

Labuan Bajo is an interesting place. A bustling city described by the international media as a “fishing village”. 🙂 We arrived at the beginning of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit. Had we been aware of the event when we left Banda we may well have waited. For us, events like this get in the way of our traveling enjoyment. However it was eye opening the amount of security, the number of officials and the pomp that Indonesia put on for this group. Everywhere around Labuan Bajo there was enhanced security. Roads were blocked, many re-routed, new black vehicles; many electric, accompanied by support vehicles were everywhere. We watched a practice run with the motorcades and hotel. Generally as white tourists here we seem to have a great deal of privilege . Only once were we asked to stop while a motorcade went by. In the end, the interruption to our cruising life was not enough to dissuade us from enjoying this “fishing village”.

Labuan Bajo was filled with tourists. The harbor was filled with small local boats; I say small, but they are often 100’ or more. More like mini cruise ships. They have accommodations for up to 30 guests +/_ and with 25 crew, chefs, spas, and dive facilities aboard.

We enjoyed the few moments of pageantry we came across. As usual for us, we didn’t stick around for more. We explored the town a fair bit, tried new restaurants and were denied entry to one of the tourist lookouts. The representatives here for Asean had that all to themselves.

As we so often do we learn about where to go and what to do from other cruisers. One such place was an Italian eatery; La Cucina. We liked it. Air Conditioned, fair prices and good food. That goes a long way in our book. After a couple of visits we were sitting across from another tourist… eating alone. We invited her to share some stories as we all ate, initially she refused preferring her own company to ours. 🙁 After a couple of small talk questions we discovered that she too is a sailor; and a new one. As we finished our meal she joined us for some sailing stories. Here from Germany; she’s in the midst of working on her medical degree. But; she and her boyfriend / partner, just purchased a sailboat and were planning on some sailing adventures. More stories, more laughter and it was time for Ice Cream. After which we invited her to our boat for a peek into the cruising lifestyle.

Luisa & Elysium Crew

Three days later we brought her and her traveling companion to Elysium. A slow dinghy ride. We picked their brains about Germany, Europe, the events effecting their lives on the other side of the world. Luisa and Anouk; her friend, probed us about the cruising lifestyle and life in America (which we know little about as we’ve been gone 6 years). Culture shock is in our future.

Visiting new places is ok, checking out environmental wonders exciting; but what we love most is meeting and sharing info and ideas with people. Luisa and Anouk were the frosting on our time in Labuan Bajo. The discoveries of things in Germany and even what they had seen as tourists in the land of the Komodo Dragon helped provide directions to our adventures. They had finished a 3 day Liveaboard cruise (scroll down to see the real Indonesia cruise boats). We had already decided we too needed to see the Dragons. Their time there confirmed it. As for Germany, too cold isn’t in our cards. We have discovered we’re warm weather sailors! Sunset passed; photos taken and we traded more stories. As the evening wore on I dinghied them to shore where they summoned a taxi back to their abode in town. What a great evening. In the am we headed off to see the dragons.

First stop was just that, a stop in another Indonesian anchorage. And I was happy this one wasn’t deep. I don’t like anchoring in water deeper than 15 m. If something happens, retrieving the anchor is a real pain. And, I like this anchor. I don’t want to loose it. Even though I carry 5 anchors, many for different bottoms and situations, this one; a Spade, is our primary anchor.

The following morning we headed to the Komodo National park, a Unesco World Heritage site. A great bay; well protected, soft bottom, and not that deep. We headed ashore to suss out the situation and pay our fees. The park headquarters is new and only been open a bit over a year. The anchoring fee was $100,000 Rp / night and the park fee for W/ and I about $500,000 Rp. We had heard from others before us that the Dragons were more active in the morning. We arranged to arrive at 7am the following day.

There we met the rangers who explained where the Dragons were and a bit about the purpose of the park. Three rangers guided us to the museum entrance where we met Win (his western name-we would have difficulty pronouncing his given Indonesian name) our actual tour guide. Groups have a max of 5 people and we were lucky, it was only W/ and I. We had our own personal guide! And, he was good. First we forgo the Museum part till after the walk and dragon spotting. Dragon details are fascinating. Dragons can smell food (blood and stool) up to 2 km away. This includes females during menses. Women at this time of the month carried a “dragon stick” on the hikes. The sticks we guess are to keep the dragons head away. They had a notch that would appear to surround the dragons neck or mouths(guessing here as we didn’t see one actually used). And it is only myth that Dragons breathe fire! Sorry 🙂 . They don’t move fast for any distance choosing to slowly stalk or wait for any prey to wander close. And when close (a couple of meters) they strike. In one second they can attack up to 5 meters. Exactly why all the rangers expected their group and themselves to stay 10 m away.

I watched as one tourist attempted to get closer with a camera. The tourist knelt down and began inching closer to the dragon. The ranger reached down and firmly grabbed his forearm as a parent would a child’s. That tourist was not going any closer. Kudos to the ranger keeping people safe!

People can survive a bite; if treated quickly. Some people have actually died. I’m not talking about in history, I’m talking about recent history. Dragons are lazy hunters. Often they let their prey come to them. Then in one second, they leap and bite. Their bite is what is deadly. While the bacteria in their mouths are quite dangerous too, it is the saliva that does the work. Any bite that draws blood will continue to bleed. Their saliva has an anticoagulant in it. Thus any person, deer, buffalo, (all part of their diet) will bleed to death. So the dragon waits. Or follows, knowing that it will not be long till they can have a good meal. They eat everything. Everything! They will grab a head and then roll much like a crocodiles or gator. Once the animal is beheaded they break the skull and swallow everything. Bones consumed as well. The calcium is then deficated and the white colored areas around the grounds identifies where they have been. Much like sharks, teeth are lost and regrown as they age. Our ranger found a tooth on the walk and he showed us. We asked about keeping it as a souvenir but that was verboten. Although I understand we can buy some in Bali. We left the tooth.

A Retired Dragon

After the walk; an hour was suggested, we spent two; we visited the Museum. There we heard about a couple of rangers who had been bitten. Both survived with immediate medical attention and time. One took over 7 months for a full recovery. Scientists use an identical technique in capturing and restraining Dragons as they do with Alligators and Crocodiles. There is a lot of similarity between those three animals. All apex predators. At the end of our time with Winn we invited him out to the boat when work was over.

I went to the dock to pick him up about 5:30, after prayers. There I met the engineer for the property. His English wasn’t the best so he went to their housing and gathered up another ranger. I was escorted to their living area to pick up Win. They were not wanting me to be alone in the Dragon area. I respected that wish.

I am always intrigued by the inner workings of any place. At their living compound they had internet. But in the park; very little. What surprised me was that the park has the infrastructure to have good cell phone access. Seems to me it would be a huge safety issue. And the rangers said during Asean, when the elite from the Pacific islands were around, the internet was strong throughout the park. Once Asean was over it was shut down again.

Park Engineer and Guide Winn

I brought Winn and the engineer out to our boat. More stories, more shared experiences. We get to see a slice of each other’s culture. We showed them our home and while showing off our aft cabin (where we sleep) Winn apologized. We didn’t understand. He said that in the Muslim culture the sleeping quarters of the couple is very private and the public (guests) are not invited to that area. Hmm. Here we’ve been in Indonesia for 6 months and we’ve never heard of that taboo. We too apologized for subjecting that to him. A beer got us past any discomfort and in the cockpit we talked of the park, dragons, and our futures. As the moon rose over the mountain I returned them to the dock. We picked up the dinghy, we store it on Elysium’s hip, and hit the sack. Tomorrow we would begin heading West to Bali.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Frustrating 5 Days

Mita and Anwar

It was time. We’ve watched the weather. We’ve downloaded the various models way more than any sane person. Our friend Dirk likes to say Analysis Paralysis. A disease very common in cruisers. We said our good byes to those friends on shore, had Meta, Anwar, Lisa, Durango and Fella out to the boat. We wanted to show them we’re not living a “crazy” life.

In the a.m. we pulled the anchor and tooled out the N channel. The only channel we could get out. We were lucky, the anchor came up with out having been caught on anything new. The dinghy was secure on the davits, the electronic autopilot was connected. The sails were ready and the winds for all intents was somewhere out of the E quadrant. That was what we wished for. We were heading due W hoping to end up in Flores; Labuanbajo to be exact.

Lava Field N Shore Api; Banda

Clearing the N shore of Banda we were greeted by a large pod of dolphins. If we had to guess there were over a 100. W/ said she heard a tail slap from a whale. The lava flow on the N shore of Api was receding on the horizon as I added sail. The engine was off, the autopilot on and we settled in for a nice ride.

No matter what the weather models say, it seems Mother Nature has a different idea. The winds for the first day were fine. The sea state was not. While the models said the seas would be under a meter, they do not take into account the multitude of directions they come from. Those who paid attention in High School physics understand that wave crests and troughs are additive. Thus two seas from different directions that meet, if one is a meter and the other a meter we now have a two meter crest. And if one trough is a meter and the other a meter we have a two meter deficit. Add to that that nothing is consistent. Not today. Up, down, all around, the motion was not fun. Elysium didn’t care. We did.

Fortunately, before we left W/ prepared ahead several meals. Meatloaf, grilled chicken strips, and hard boiled eggs . We won’t starve. As uncomfortable as the first day was it passed without incident. Day two provided some adventures.

Can you see the squalls in the Sunset?

Squalls were developing around us. Those in front; no problem. We’re not fast enough to catch them. The winds were just aft of the beam (a good thing). With wind from the SE. squalls N are not an issue either. Those behind or SE of us raised the anxiety meter. On day two into three we had a squall pass through every few hours. Yuck. That encompassed reducing sail, closing up and practicing patience. Waiting for it to pass. Somewhere in day two day we had two squalls pass us; one immediately after the other. The first was mean with winds in the 30 kt range and the second a little milder with winds in the 20+ kts range. As they passed we set the boat up again for the gradient winds we’d been having; 10-15 kts.

Unfortunately those winds didn’t hang around long. Somewhere between around day 3 they went on vacation. We didn’t even have a chance to use our light air sail, and there isn’t a sail for no air! I misspoke. The no air sail we refer to as the “iron genny”. The diesel engine. So on it goes and again we are speeding towards Flores. Speeding, yeah; 5-6 kts.

The seas left over from the squalls and those created by the land masses around are bumpy. As the day wears on we look forward to them easing. The islands in Indonesia are quite big. Not only big… HUGE! Many larger than states in the US or countries in Europe. Each island creates their own local weather. The land sea breeze. The sea breeze doesn’t affect us this far offshore. The land breeze the islands create do. Not the winds. The seas. As the winds blow off the island they create waves. The waves travel across the variou seas in Indo and end at another islands shores. With those waves, with the waves created by the squalls and by the gradient winds we again had a bumpy ride.

Dave would say unlucky and Wendy might say luckily; no wind was the main course for the rest of the trip. Dave would love to have sailed and W/ doesn’t mind the iron genny. As the day wore on the sea state eased and our only issue was hearing the constant drone of the diesel. Out here; 25 miles offshore we didn’t have any FADs (Fish Attracting Devices) or Bagans (the local HUGE lighted fish traps Indonesians use). Yet on the morning of day 5 we were nearing shore.

And shore is where the fishermen are. On my watch; late night early a.m. (of course), I saw several lighted Bagans ahead. Hopefully none are on our course. Since we started the iron genny we have been using the electronic autopilot. That unit connects to the wind vane. To adjust the course one of us must leave the cockpit. The person crawls aft and pushes the button as many times as needed to ensure we miss the obstruction. At night that entails waking the other person. We don’t leave the cockpit at night alone. Never! During my watch we missed every bagan and I didn’t need to wake W/. On her watch we were getting closer to shore and the Bagans increased in number. W/ had me up several times.

On the morning of day 5 we were close enough to land to get a cell signal; internet. I contacted Natsumi who had already beat us to Labuanbajo. He suggested a good place to anchor: off the Silvie Resort. Great! That spot shortened our trip by a few hours. At this point; hours matter. Otherwise we would have had to round the island off of Labuanbajo and anchor off the town. It was a good thing we didn’t to that. In front of the town were heaps of Liveaboards (like mini cruise ships) coming and going all the time. Plus, as we were in the area long enough I never saw the water in front of the town…. calm.

Anchored, we breathe out the stress from the transit and like warmed ice cream we melt to any comfortable area. Time for some Rest and Relaxation.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long