Posted: 17the September 2012. 10:40:39 PM AEST.
No more night sails thus the poor performance on the updates. Picking up from the previous Wag Tale we once again experienced a first for us on the morning prior to arrival in Taka Bone Rate. About 20nm out we saw what we thought were dolphin jumping, on getting closer it looked like small dolphins doing the classic sheep dog routine, swimming around in circles and herding the fish before jumping in for an early lunch. Now within 15m we realised that the dolphins were actually big Yellow Fin Tuna!
Taka Bone Rate; Birkenhead in its shipbuilding heyday except far more scenic and not a union shop steward in sight. Probably hasn’t changed much in centuries, the old wooden boat skills very much in evidence, still using wooden pegs to pin the planks to the stringers. The whole 500m of foreshore is one big activity of shipbuilding, an amazing sight.
Ashore for the first time we just missed the launching of a new boat, about 20-25m long. It took 12 men pushing around a manual winch to move the boat, at this stage engineless. We got to go aboard later in the day when she was at anchor and had swelled enough to stem most of the water ingress. Scally would definitely come off second best if we ran into this battleship disguised as a fishing boat. Moving on further into the village I spotted a couple of 5-a-side goals and a young boy kicking a half inflated ball. Always up for a kick around I joined in for 10 minutes of making a fool of myself. Isn’t sport, anywhere in the world, the greatest leveller? MV Lizzie had some new balls onboard to give away so we returned the next day with a proper ball and the intention of showing them how it’s done. With Colin on one side and me on the other we had a great game of six-a-side in the dust. For the record we won 4-0. These kids could really play, so skilful but no idea on team play, moving off the ball or making the ball do the work doesn’t enter their game.
Next it was a day sail/motor down to the large island, Flores and a small bay (Inca) for the night before moving on to the very scenic Gilli Bodo islands the next day. Anchored inside a coral reef we had our first sight in Indo of monkeys on the beach. Early the next evening we experienced another first, two in one tale is starting to feel a little unreal. However, four of us witnessed a marlin jumping inside the reef just 20m off the back of Scally. It leaped out of the water doing a back flip at least ten times in a 15 minute period, just bloody amazing!
After four days we forced ourselves to move on. We’re on a bit of a tight schedule now as we have to be close to Bali by the 24th Sept to renew our visa’s for another 30 days. So next it the big smoke of Labuan Badjo. As an aside, it did occur to me on this passage that maybe the Indonesians are at last extracting some revenge on the Dutch. Each major port on the Sail Indonesia Rally is reported as offering 100ltr of free diesel to all rally boats that rock up. Now image the hurt a cloggie feels when being told that there’s no free diesel for him, worse than execution I reckon.
Labuan Badjo is another dirty, run down Indonesian town but once again full of character. A little more westernised than others so far as it serves as a centre for diving the area, reputedly and qualified by us, as one of the best dive areas in the world. Week long dive tours leave the town on big replicas of old sailing ships, a great sight. During our reprovisioning trip ashore Marion decided to test the honesty of the locals, unfortunately, I spoilt her experiment by finding her credit cards on the pavement before a local got their dirty hands on them. Normally a scouser finding credit cards would have been a worse result for Marion but as Colin was right with me I had to come clean and a run on the Indonesian Rupiah was averted. We then retired to The Tree Top café, the plushest looking in town, for lunch and free internet. Let’s start with four banana milk shakes, made perfectly behind the bar. Then the waitress spoilt the treat by overfilling the glasses and having to take a sip out of each glass herself before she proceeded to serve them, at least we couldn’t see what happened to the food in the kitchen before that arrived. Another great Mi Gorang for $2.50. Maybe the best part of the café visit was meeting the resident Japanese dive master who drew us sketches of the best local dive sites. Although he’d now succumb to the lore of Bintang beer and computer games he did command some credibility having been a co-author of the Bali Dive Guide book.
So based on Jimmy’s (or whatever his name was) advice we head south the next day to the southern tip of Rinja island with the help of current running at times above 5 knots through the passage. Once out of the passage we hit head wind of 15-20knots, not supposed to happen in Indo. Anyway this resulted in a later than planned arrival so Cannibal Rock, the dive site, would have to wait until the next day. However, excitement and thrills didn’t as that afternoon we got our first sight of Komodo Dragons. Five of the big buggers strolled down to the beach and we took the dinghy in for a closer look. They are the biggest lizards in the world, about 3-3.5m, only found on four of the local islands. Not to be messed with as they can take out a wild pig. Speaking of which one appears on the beach to join in the food hunt and not to be out done monkeys are hanging around, although a safe distance from the dragons. And we thought we’d come here to dive. The next day’s dive on Cannibal Rock ranks as the best dive we’ve ever done. The colour and variety of the coral supplemented by hundreds of different types of fish was just spectacular. We dived on the rock again before leaving but could have spent much longer in this area with it’s amazing natural entertainment auditorium.
We were heading north again now between the islands of Rinja and Komodo towards a small island off the top called Gili Lawa Laut, another renowned dive spot. Getting the currents correct for this passage was beyond the combined mental capacity of the two captains. Basically the tides are meant to ebb south and flood north but other local influences seem to complicate this resulting in adverse current for us. We broke the trip and had a nice night and snorkel at Pink Beach without managing to see any pink. Most of the rally boats are way ahead of us so we’re only meeting up with one or two in each anchorage which is great as soon we’ll catch up the other 120 boats. Luckily 12 boats left Gili Lawa Laut the day we arrived so there was plenty of room in the bay.
As I write we’ve been here three nights, had four dives and numerous snorkels. Two of the dive sites are world class; one has more fish than I’ve seen anywhere. On one dive we were surrounded by thousands of fish, hundreds of different types and were watching a group of Giant Trevallies swim round and round an outcrop of coral. Suddenly one fish dives and picks something out of the coral, then it was all on with all the others attempting to steal the feed, even a white tip reef shark came in for a look.
The pass between this island and its neighbour is a feeding ground for Manta rays but we haven’t seen them yet. One last chance tomorrow before we have to move on, we could happily stay another week here. The temperature is in the early 30’s but not too hot as there is some breeze, the water is 26-27 and each day the sun shines. I think we’ve only had one decent rain and one shower in Indo and best of all, we’ve not seen a mozzie yet.
We’re on passage again now but before we left we did snorkel the passage between the islands again and this time swam with the amazingly graceful Manta Rays. Not only that but one joined us in the bay the next morning swimming around Scallywag, much as I’m not big on getting wet before breakfast we both jumped it to snorkel with it for about five minutes.
Little did I know when I started this update that we’d be on a night sail again so soon. We’ve spent so much time around Rinja and Komodo islands that we’re running out of days before we need to get to Bali and still have places to visit. Therefore, we’re once again on a night passage trying to eat up the miles. I reckon we still have 1300nm (2400k) to go before we get to Singapore. Once again we’re following behind Colin and Marion on old Rolly, on our way to what they hope, this time, is a flat water anchorage at Palua Medang island.
Paul & Glor – SV Scallywag
08 08’10.96 S, 118 19’44.48 E
12-09-17 20:27:07 +0800 +0000