Posted: 29th August 2012.
We ‘re on passage again, left Hoga Island in the Wakatobi Group at 0600 this morning heading for Taka Bone Rate Marine National Park, about 190nm. At the current speed we’re looking at a 34 hour trip, nearly a full week’s work! We started well but the wind died on us two hours out so it looks like we’ll be burning precious diesel all the way. The precious comment isn’t about economics but rather the desire to get to Singapore without having to take on dubious diesel in Indonesia. At the moment the screecher is dancing around out front in a doomed attempt to look like a real sail.
The big worry tonight is hitting a floating FAD. These are Fish Attraction Devices or more accurately; floating bamboo rafts about 4 metres long with a tripod mast affair holding up a small display of dried grass. I think the idea is that fish are attracted to the raft and take up residence underneath. Then periodically, no idea how often, the local fishing boats find them, no idea how, and launch canoes to fish around the FAD. We saw a fishing boat, about 80ft long, hanging off one today; this was at least 50nm from the nearest land. The chances of hitting on at night must be quite high as we counted eight of them during daylight.
Hoga Island was great, three dives and lots of snorkelling. Maybe some of the best dives we’ve done as we saw fish and coral that we haven’t experience before. The last dive trip with myself, Glor and Colin was interesting. First an attempt on the ‘Outer Pinnacle’ had to be aborted as the current was too strong. So move on to the ‘Inner Pinnacle’, 15 minutes along one edge then cross the pinnacle at about 12m to go back along the other side. Almost back and the current kicks in, we look up and luckily there’s the dinghy. Next time I think we’ll take a boat person as floating off in the current to a deserted island to spend my remaining days, maybe alone with Colin, wasn’t in the plan and invokes some interesting images. I have no desire to discover if the rumours about sheep farmers are true.
The most amazing experience at Hoga was crossing the bay to visit the stilt village. Two dinghies set out with nine of us onboard. Typical boatie planning had the tide low so it took us ages to find a way across the reef to the village. Before we got to the stilt village a group of about 25 teenage boys on a 20ft local boat waved out so we headed over to see if they needed a hand. The difficulty with understanding the language was overcome when one of the boys came up from hanging over the stern with the prop in his hand. So we gave them a tow back to their village wharf, seemed a hugely amusing episode for the boys, all laughing and practicing their ‘hi mister’ on us. After a walk around their village we continued on to the stilt village. Now this was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Built out on the water, the foundations for each house are constructed on a coral footing. It must take hours and hours of manual labour to first gather the coral and then transport it by canoe before piling it up on the seabed until a building plot is constructed. Then the house is then built on stilts rammed into the coral. The sea flows around each house and wooden walkways are construed, like streets, to join the houses. I’d guess there must have been about 500 houses in the village. The villagers, Bajo people, live on fish and rice and for a treat sometimes a side dish of seaweed. As we walked down Main Street, a little like walking down the back alley in Coronation Street except the house doors are wide open. All the people are welcoming and the young kids cling on to us. The young girls are the most stunning looking, even more so than the Indonesians. We have to keep reminding ourselves that Indonesia is made up of multiple countries and races.
We spent six nights anchored off Hoga Island, visited each day by locals in canoes. Most utilise an inverted triangle sail to help get around. Once they get close they fold the gaff up to the mast and lift the mast out, lay it down in the canoe and then start paddling. One particularly persistent guy arrived each day with his wife, baby and two year old kid on the canoe. It’s a tough life paddling hours to sell the odd banana.
Good band practice one night, 11 onboard Scally for drinks and shared dinner. A German couple off another FP cat brought across song books for everyone, “you will all sing now”, great fun really. Sounds a bit like being in church except everyone was enjoying it and having a good time. I wonder if opening a bar in church would lift the mood of the congregation, only a thought.
The consensus on Glor’s theory on underwater volcanic activity, mentioned in the last update, is that she’s correct, spooky hey!
Paul & Glor – SV Scallywag
07 03’23.62 S, 121 34’11.87 E
12-08-29 09:23:01 +0900 +0000