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S.E.Asia Cruising

posted Feb 7, 2012, 12:01 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 7, 2012, 12:10 AM ]

Here are some references we used throughout our travels in Indonesia.
S.E, Asia Cruising Guide
vol II
Includes anchorages and information for Indonesia, East Timor, Singapore,
West Peninsular Malaysia, West Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Palau
  by Stephen Davies and Elaine Morgan.

This book gave us a lot of information about the islands themselves, culture, the weather and tides and formalities . but the information about anchorages is a bit hard to follow at times . . .

101 Anchorages in Indonesian Archipelago

Reflections on Sail Indonesia 2011

posted Feb 2, 2012, 9:13 PM by Sue Norris   [ updated Jan 8, 2014, 10:14 PM ]

The journey from Darwin to Belitung, our last destination in Indonesia, was an amazing experience, one we'd happily repeat.

Here are our reflections and recommendations for anyone choosing to go on the Sail Indonesia Rally in the future. We hope that you find this useful.


  • The organisation of C.A.I.T. (essential piece of paper for yacht) was seemlessly organised by Sail Indonesia. http://www.sailindonesia.net

  • We had no trouble with officials in any of the locations we visited. Most locations did not even want to see any paperwork. In only a few places they wanted a copy of the CAIT and copy of passport . We were only asked for money in one anchorage (not an official one)

  • We took our passports to the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin (20 Harry Chan Avenue)for our visas and they held them for 3-4 days.

  • Clearing out of Australia in Darwin was painless. It was all done at the Darwin Sailing Club at Fannie Bay the day before we left. Customs and Immigration were there to process us even though it was a public holiday.

  • As soon as we anchored in Kupang Customs (3 men) arrived in inflatable dinghy and inspected the boat – declare everything, but as ships stores – they did not seem to mind. One asked for a drink (implied alcoholic) gave them water. They were happy. We needed to supply a medications list for Customs but no-one actually kept a copy of it.

  • Clearing into Indonesia in Kupang was very time consuming (2 hours) but there were a lot of us arriving that day, and you need many copies of all documents. But they were set up in one building and we just went from table to table.

          • Passports

          • crew list

          • CAIT

          • clearing out papers (of Australia)

          • ships papers (Registration papers)

          • medications list

  • A ships stamp is very useful (Indonesians love stamps. We stamped all copies of our documents with our ships stamp)

  • Wear neat, tidy dress when doing official business. We found our “Sail Indonesia” T shirts were good for this. We sewed a badge with our boat name on it. Many yachts had shirts with their boat names on which they wore for all official business. (We will have a few made up next time and wear them everywhere). Wear clothing ashore that is respectful of the Muslim culture – keep shoulders and knees covered, be modest (especially girls)

  • Everyone – including officials were cheerful, polite, and welcoming. We never felt in the least uncomfortable, much less threatened wherever we explored.

  • Clearing out in Belitung was as easy as clearing in at Kupang. Again you need many copies of each document.

  • Our visa extension was organised efficiently by Raymond Lesmana and his wife, Dewi and we felt that our passports were safe with them – 3-4 days. (Lombok-Bali)

  • Raymond and Dewi were always there to help answer any questions we had about the rally or the organisation. (Raymond is the Indonesian co-ordinator of Sail 2 Indonesia Rally)

  • Make sure that you have a few things that you can give as gifts to people such as the Regent – or his representative if the need arises. ( tasteful souvenirs of your home country) Some participants of the rally found this useful, especially if they went to some of the places where events were held but not many boats arrived.

Wherever there were rally events organised there were people to meet us and organise fuel, laundry, water and tours, hire cars, motorbikes, drivers etc. There was always somewhere safe to put the dinghy. Sometimes there were dinghy boys who would carry our dinghy up and down the beach when we wanted it. (they even bailed them out when it rained in Belitung) In some places there were dinghy docks or jetties and a number of boys there to help tie up. Some times there was a minimal cost and we didn't mind helping out for all that they did for us. Everyone everywhere wanted us to have a good time and leave with a good impression of their village/ regency/ island/country.


Things that were readily available in Indonesia: (even in most of the smallest villages, although you might have to wait till market day in some)

  • fresh fruit and vegetables. The markets are the best places to get good fruit and vegetables at very reasonable prices. The best time to go is early in the morning when the produce is still fresh (no refrigeration). There is lots of variety.

  • Seasonal (we were there from August to end October) Fresh leafy greens – all can be cooked like spinach – (generally stirfried) and taste like it too – many different leaf shapes but all delicious. Carrots, pumkin, tomatoes, green beans, chokoes, onions (I found that the small red ones like french eschallots the best and most reliable) cucumber, cabbages, bananas (several different varieties) melons, papaya, pineapples, mangoes, ginger, garlic, tumeric root, spices, herbs (I must admit to not knowing what a lot of them were or how to use them). In the mountains of Bali there were wonderful mandarins. In some places the market is only in the morning, some places only once a week.

  • Most boaties washed fruit and veg when they returned to their boats with a very mild bleach solution to rid the produce of any insects or diseases (we don't know the conditions under which they were grown)

  • Fish was plentiful at most village markets, although the smell was something to behold - get there early!! Meat, other than fish was not always easily available. Occasionally we saw chickens but rarely beef (only in major supermarkets in big towns – then it was very expensive),

  • Biscuits, sweet and savoury, chips and nibbly things, noodles, rice, Asian condiments (chilli sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce), tinned fish, tinned corn, mushrooms, cooking oil (vegetable)

  • soft drink is readily available. coke, Fanta etc . . .
  • Some things that were harder to get were decent potatoes, especially in the smaller villages.

  • Some larger towns had imported apples, pears and oranges,

  • Toiletries and cleaning products were readily available even in small villages. Soap (solid and liquid), deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, toilet rolls (not great quality), tissues, serviettes, laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaning products of all sorts, disinfectant, bleach, washing up liquid, (No tampons girls, just pads) disposable nappies, face/baby wipes, handclean gel, bug spray/cream

  • pots and pans and plastic ware for cooking and eating were easily available, buckets, bowls, mops, brooms,

  • Fuel We had no problems getting fuel (diesel and petrol) from most towns (the villages only have small supplies and, although we felt that they would get us some if they could we didn't want to deplete their supply – they often relied on diesel generators for electricity)

    At event stops boat boys or organising committee would organise it for you, but sometimes the jerryjugs were not always full. Sometimes, though the service stations were quite a way from the anchorage (We did this in Alor and Labuanbajo, we found an efficient way to get fuel was to hail a friendly “bemo” driver and take our own drums to a service station and fill them ourselves, ensuring the quality and quantity. The drivers were only too happy to oblige in most cases. Fuel from the service stations was fresh and clean. From other sources we were never sure.

  • Clean, safe drinking water was also available in most towns in blue, sealed bottles (possibly 1 gallon). We didn't use these as we had enough water on board but I didn't hear of anyone who did who had health issues using them.

  • Don't expect to catch rain water to supplement you water storage. We had thought that our water catchment system on board would keep us in showering and washing water at least – we did not have rain between Queensland and Belitung, nearly 5 months – enough to fill a 20 l bottle anyway – only a few sprinkles. We needed lots of rain to wash tarps etc before we thought of capturing any. The air in Indonesia is dry, dusty and laden with smoke at this time of year.

  • Clothing and shoes available in markets at quite reasonable prices – but not great quality and sizes all small.


  • Alcohol is hard to get. In most towns beer (Bintang) is available in a few places. Wine is not. Arak (local spirit) is available in some places and in Bali and Lombok cocktails are made of this and are cheaper than using regular spirits, but you can never be sure of the quality.

  • If you are a wine drinker and use casks, buy them BEFORE you get to Darwin!! Only 2 litre casks are available there and are expensive. In some shops you can only buy 2 at a time. Bottles are OK but still quite expensive there. We recommend that you get all your wine before leaving Queensland, hide it away and don't drink it all before you get to Indonesia.  Duty Free spirits and expensive wine can be ordered and there are Specials organised through Duty Free company in Darwin.and delivered to the Sailing Club the day you check out. (They have some very good deals)

  • Tinned goods like tomatoes are available but quite expensive, beetroot is almost impossible to get.

  • decent cereal is hard to get.. It is quite expensive too. Could only get Weet-bix in a few places.

  • Butter and margarine is not available everywhere, in some bigger towns we were able to get Meadowlea, Indonesian butter is sold in plastic bags and stays solid in 30° I am not sure how. It has a slightly strange taste but is OK for cooking.

  • Flour, especially Self raising flour is hard to find

  • Dark chocolate is not easy to find, milk chocolate is easier but still not everywhere.

  • Make sure you stock up on any boat parts you might need. They are hard to source in the parts of Indonesia we went to and the language difficulties trying to explain what you want makes it even harder, particularly consumables. It will always be the way that you will need what you do not have a spare of. (We had issues trying to get parts for alternator in Kupang)

TRADING or Give aways ( from our perspective)

The people in Indonesia, in general, are quite poor, t shirts and children's clothing were always well received.

Kids liked caps, tennis balls, soccer balls, lollies and lollipops were popular (but keep in mind that Ramadan is likely to be in progress during part of your visit, and they are not allowed to eat between sunrise and sunset),pencils and paper (although if these are given out to kids in dugouts they are not going to get home in one piece – we found it better to give this sort of stuff to schools which have very few resources).

Adults liked sunglasses, goggles/ masks for diving, hats  English/Indonesian dictionaries (buy them in Indonesia for a few Rupiah but are like gold to people who are desperately trying to learn English. Adults liked these) tarps of all shapes and sizes ( they are used in buildings and for sails on fishing boats) rope, (The things we were asked most for were hats and sunglasses)

We did not have too much of an issue with people asking for stuff, - kids mostly – but they were often happy with a photo – you don't have to print it – just show them on the screen most of the time but if you can, print out and give them ( adults appreciate this more than kids do as you can imagine).We rarely saw the women but occasionally men and often children.

We found that if you have something to trade it was better than giving – others following you will appreciate it. They will often trade fish, coconuts, bananas – even if you don't keep them.

Near Komodo men in boats would come to the anchorages to sell carvings, pearls etc, They had notes of recommendation from other yachts saying they were good and fair salesmen and they like to bargain hard. We did buy some things – it is hard not to.

Bargain for things that do not have a price – especially in the markets, although things are so cheap and they are struggling, sometimes it is not worth it for a few cents. (We didn't bother for fresh produce especially if we knew we were getting local price) More expensive things – or if you feel that you are being “ripped off” by all means . . .crafts and souvenirs definitely – bargain away.


  • Participate in the Sail Indonesia events. They go to a lot of trouble to put these events on for us. The speeches are often long, but we are being welcomed into their country. Make the most of the opportunities available.

  • Spend time to “chill out” We found that we had sensory overload at times and needed time to just do nothing and have a  day off – go for a swim, snorkel, dive, read a book, scrub decks whatever – just have time to yourselves. Even a day or so makes all the difference. Everyone in the rally felt they needed time to do this . . .

  • Visit villages that are not on the rally schedule. This is the “real Indonesia”

  • Make a visit to a school, village ones are small and the best fun. We enjoyed the school at Waimalung ( Anchorage the best. One of the teachers is a tour guide (Mr Paul) and is the English teacher as well – so his communication skills are better.


  • Taking care of yourself!! It is important that you clean any type of wound thoroughly – especially coral scratches or grazes! We knew of at least 4 members of the rally who were hospitalised due to infections of this sort.

  • We were careful not to drink the local water or ice, particularly in the more primitive areas. Cold drinks/bottled water were safer and we only ate in establishments we thought looked clean. Eat only freshly cooked food. We had no trouble with “Bali belly” not many people did. Just be careful of what and where you eat.

  • The water is generally safe to swim in most places away from the towns. We did end up wearing wetsuits because of clouds of little jellyfish that stung like midges, but didn't itch once you were out of the water..

and into Malaysia . ..

posted Oct 28, 2011, 1:49 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Jan 8, 2014, 10:27 PM ]

2 days later we were crossing the Equator. The morning dawned as the brightest and clearest we had had for weeks . We crossed the line at 8:30 after counting down for what seemed like hours. From the time we were 60nm due south of the Equator – 00°59'. A nautical mile is 1 minute of longitude at the Equator. We were there. We were on a northwest tack so it was going to be further. It took all night. We opened a bottle of champagne, kindly given us by friends on the Gold Coast, and toasted being in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Celebrating crossing the Equator October 17 2011
there it is  -  the EQUATOR

The sun had been to the south of us for a few weeks by now – a strange feeling!

In the past, whenever we have looked for the sun it has been in the sky to the north. Now it was to the south of us. It was a bit disorientating for a while – where is north? Especially when there are no landmarks . . .

An hour later we were anchored at the small island of Kentar where we, along with several other yachts held our Equator crossing party.

There was just over 100 miles to go to our destination so we decided to stop half way. We dropped anchor at a beautiful unnamed island 50 miles from Kentar and Singapore. It was one of the prettiest anchorages we had been to. It was a tropical island paradise – no people – just palm trees, white beaches and bright green forest. It was very calm and restful. 

The next day we lifted the anchor at 4:30 am to get to Singapore strait at a reasonable hour, to get through the strait in daylight and anchor on the other side of the tanker anchorage in shallow water in Malaysian waters before it got dark. We did all that. Crossing the strait was the most stressful sailing we have done for a long time.

This is an image of our chart plotter! The green triangles are ships. The yellow ones are ships. The black dots are anchored ships - Singapore Strait

There were over 600 ships on our AIS system and the navigation software was having a hernia trying to calculate their position in relation to us all the time. In the end we resorted to good old eyeballs, dodging, ducking and weaving between ships that were 300m long and 3 times our width going 2-3 times faster than us.

And then there was the thunderstorm threatening to hide the ships from view. Fortunately we had a few drops of rain and a few spectacular lightning strikes but there was no downpour where we were anyway. We dropped the anchor at 5:30 and celebrated arriving in a different country.

We arrived at Danga Bay Marina, Johor Bahru, Malaysia, on the 20th October and were very excited to see our friends, ones we hadn't seen for over 18 months. We celebrated with chilled champagne after we had tied up Lupari2 and turned off the engine. It was a good feeling!

From the Gold Coast, Queensland we  sailed over 4000 miles in 6 months. Lupari 2 has looked after us  well even though her engine was not all that well, and we had to change alternators 3 times in the last 6 months.We are looking forward to resting ourselves and our tired boat, in Danga Bay Marina at Johor Bahru, for a while before installing a new engine early in 2012.

It is definitely not the last that Indonesia has seen of the yellow boat, Lupari Dua(Indonesian for 2) that is for sure!

Belitung – Tanjung Kelayan Tanjung Pandan

posted Oct 28, 2011, 1:44 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 10:36 PM ]

Well we are about to leave Indonesia after nearly 3 months. The last week has been one of the busiest and most exciting of the whole journey. We have been treated like movie-stars. “Hello Mister, can we take your photo??” every few paces – not only kids but adults in uniform too.

Here at Tanjung Kelayan there has been a marine industry Expo which has coincided with our visit. The President of Indonesia was due to arrive and we had been invited to the official dinner, but his plans changed at the last minute.

Each year there is an expo like this one somewhere in Indonesia but this year Wakatobi and Belitung joined forces and our presence is part of the celebrations. The infrastructure that has been put in place is phenomenal. Plazas and entertainment areas, new roads to the city.

While we are here we have met the Regents from both regencies on the island, both passionate about their island and what it has to offer and want to improve the island's image to the central government and the world. That is why we are involved – to be ambassadors for the region. We are happy to tell the world about our fantastic experience here. We are the extent of the tourist industry at this stage.

We have had a busy schedule here – lunch with both regents in their respective towns, visits to a kite festival and a school, had dinner with the Regent of Belitung at the Expo site, and dinner with the Vice-president of the country, were honoured guests at the Official opening of the Expo.

We have had media coverage unknown anywhere else. We have had TV and newspaper reporters and photographers on board Lupari2 and a tribe of local school children.

Media crew aboard Lupari 2

The scenery here is beautiful, huge granite boulders and small islands. The water is warm and crystal clear over coral and seagrass beds between us and the shore. Turtles are seen grazing on our way to shore. This is the first white sand beach we have had as a dinghy landing. The island's vegetation is lush and green.

Granite rock formations at Tanjung Kelayan

Belitong Island is part of the island group called Belitung, which includes another larger island and a few smaller ones. The main industries here are mining(tin, kaolin, bauxite and other minerals), palm oil, and white pepper. (Have you ever wondered where the name Belliton in BHP Beliton comes from?)A lot of the forest has been cleared for mining and the plantations of palm oil trees. The regents hope that in the future there will be processing plants here rather than sending the raw materials to Java. (this is the story for many of the regencies we have been to throughout Indonesia)

It has been a fantastic time for us, although tinged with sadness that the rally is finally in its last stages. We have made some good friends and shared in some wonderful experiences while on the rally.

Next stop the Equator and on to Malaysia. . .

And on to Belitung . . .

posted Oct 28, 2011, 1:42 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 10:42 PM ]

Belitung is a long way from Bali – nearly 600nm. We planned to stop at the island of Bawean 230miles and 2 days away. This island is in the middle of the Java Sea and many rally yachts used it as a stepping off point to go to Kumai on Borneo. It was a quiet and peaceful anchorage in a large bay. A substantial town was just around the corner – a short dinghy ride away over the coral reef flats and rubbish. The town was very interesting. I don't think they see many tourists there – it is a working town. The people here are largely fishermen and they process fish products – clay pots full of fish and salt that they heat on fires and store. There were bales of tobacco leaves in sheds too. One shopkeeper pulled us inside his shop and sat us down to have a chat. He asked many quite personal questions but we think he was just trying to find out what it was like to live in Australia. When we told him about the comparison in fuel prices he was surprised. It was informative for us too.

We stayed 2 nights at this anchorage and then we were ready for the next 3 days at sea to Belitung. The sailing was easy. There were many hazards in the way of ships and fishing boats that kept us awake at night and added excitement to our lives at sea.

Many ships use the Java Sea travelling from Singapore to other parts of the world. Most of them seem to be on a collision course with us when Greg is on watch. Our technology is very useful in letting us and them know we are there. The AIS and radar confirm how fast they are going and when we will collide. We hope not to. Sometimes they come quite close though.

Ships going every which way. Grey box - our details. Yellow box details of one of the ships

On my watch we get the fleets of fishing boats – one night there were hundreds of them surrounding us. They were fishing for stingrays and cumi-cumi (squid) with very bright lights and were easy to see - we just steered through the middle of them. The experience was awesome – we only had to change course once or twice of them when they were less than ½ mile away. Fortunately when they got close they showed on the radar. It looked like a piece of fruitcake so many spots on it.

The anchorage at Tanjung Kelayan was a welcome sight . ..

More Bali

posted Sep 25, 2011, 9:27 PM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 10:48 PM ]

We have been in Bali a week and we have probably seen more of this island than any of the others.

We are anchored at Lovina, a collection of villages west of Singaraja on the north coast. It is an open anchorage and, because of this it can get a bit rolly.

While here we did a dive tour to the wreck of the USS Liberty which was torpedoed during WW2 by the Japanese. It was run onto the beach at Tulamben where it stayed until the volcano Gunung Agung erupted in 1963 and the resulting earthquake moved it further out into the sea. It is now a major dive tourism attraction in this part of the world. It proximity to the beach enables divers of all abilities from snorkellers to experienced deep water divers to experience something special at their level. The wreck is only metres off shore and at its shallowest is just below the surface. The entire wreck is covered in coral and is a haven for schools of fish and other reef creatures. In some places it has collapsed and divers can swim through it.

The package we were offered was excellent value at € 40. This included the bus trip (2 hours each way), 2 dives, dive gear, air bottles, lunch and a dive master/guide through Malibu Dive Centre at Lovina.

We have been entertained every night with traditional dancing and music from cultural groups from the surrounding areas, which we have enjoyed and it is interesting to see the difference in the culture as we have moved from east to west through Indonesia. We visited therapeutic hot springs nearby and attended a bull racing event. The bulls are harnessed in pairs and raced – although the racing is more like a dressage event. The bulls are groomed and made to look beautiful and the “racing” is more about rhythm, posture and handling of the animals than about getting from point A to point B first. It was an unusual but thoroughly entertaining event.

We hired a car for a few days and took a trip through the high volcanic interior of Bali. Here we wound our way uphill through rainforest to cooler coniferous forest and then short grassland which had seen recent volcanic activity. Here we drove to Kintamani where we visited a Hindu temple and had lunch overlooking the crater lake, Lake Batur. From Kintamani, on the edge of the crater we could see Mt Batur and Mt Agung, the highest mountain in Bali and the holiest place on the island. This area is a very important market garden area for Bali. Lots of gardens here grow a multitude of fruit and vegetables. The volcanic rock is also quarried for use in concrete statuary so common in Bali.

From here we drove to Ubud, the cultural and arts centre of Bali, passing through a number of villages which specialise in just one type of craft, e.g. Silver work, wood carving, bone/horn carving etc . . . By the time we arrived at Ubud it was getting late so we found a cool hotel, the Puri Padi, with a pool and hung out at the pool until dinner time. The air was cooler here and very pleasant.

The next day we were out to shop and look at what Ubud had to offer. There were so many little shops selling all sorts of arts and crafts and clothing. We spent the day wandering along the streets entering little shops and looking at their wares, testing our bartering skills hoping to get a few bargains.

Early afternoon we left and began our journey home. It was a shame we could have not spent longer there – there is so much to see and experience. On our way home we stopped at Bali's Botanical Gardens at Bedugul where they have an amazing collection of orchids – unfortunately many of them were not in flower. And then our return home was between 2 more crater lakes, lake Bratan and Lake Buyan.

Then it was on down through the conifer forest and rainforest, past the waterfall at Gitgit and on into Singaraja, the closest city to Lovina and our ship.

Bali is not all tropical gardens, beach, surf, and terraced rice fields. There was a starkness in the high country which was surprising. Not everywhere is lush and green, particularly at the end of the dry season. We have enjoyed our stay here. We have not experienced as much the hard sell of the locals in other parts of the island.


posted Sep 18, 2011, 12:20 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 10:49 PM ]

We are anchored at Lovina on the northern side of the island. It is not as touristy as the south apparently.
We have noticed suddenly the change in culture and identity of the people from being largely Muslim or Christian, now there is a large Hindu influence. There is the smell of incense in the air and shrines and temples everywhere . .  It is a much more colourful place than anywhere else we have been, and cleaner too.

The Gili Islands

posted Sep 18, 2011, 12:14 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 10:51 PM ]

The Gili Islands are 3 small islands off the NW coast of Lombok. They have become tourist dive meccas with luxury resorts and dive shops to cater for the budgets of almost anyone who would like to go diving at almost any level. Each island has its own character, restaurants and dive sites.

We spent our time on Gili Air, which is surrounded by fringing reef and a protected lagoon surrounded by reef, which provides a safe anchorage on the eastern side. There are moorings to be had here for $5 a day.

POSITION: S 08º 21.917

                 E 116º 04.957

In total there are about 20 dive sites around the 3 islands. We went to 4 of them – each very different in their character and the sorts of marine life that inhabit that area. The water is generally clear, although there are quite strong currents between the islands.

The dive shops here have agreed to a standard price for dive tours and courses and ther all do internationally accredited courses – e.g. PADI or SSI for $ US 350

There is a range of accommodation from backpacker to luxury resorts on each island.

Restaurants serve both local and international food – at reasonable prices

Drinks are reasonably priced – Bintang 620 ml 25 000 Rp ($2.50) Pina colada 50 000 Rp ($5)

There is no motorised transport on the islands. Getting around means walking, hiring a bicycle, or getting a cidomo (horse cart) which is the best option fo carrying heavy gear. The roads are all sand but in front of some of the resorts there is a small paved section to reduce the dust level.

Coral reefs, the gentle hiss of warm tropical ocean water (28º) breaking gently onto white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees . . . PARADISE !!

Komodo to Lombok.

posted Sep 8, 2011, 5:30 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 10:56 PM ]

We left Labuanbajo and headed for North Komodo hoping to see an infamous dragon. The scenery was stark but very spectacular. Very few trees grow on these islands. Only a few palm groves where there is a stream bed and mangroves around the ends of bays in the shallow muddy tidal flats. In this bay there were 2 moorings and we were lucky and early enough to pick up one of them. We went snorkelling around the reef and saw many wonderful fish amongst the beds of staghorn coral.

Late in the afternoon we took the dinghy ashore and walked up to the grasssland behind the beach in the hope of seeing a wild dragon. We saw deer on the hillside, evidence of wild pigs and monkeys but not a hint of a dragon.

The next morning we looked around the shoreline in the dinghy but only saw a few pigs rummaging around on the shore.

Maybe we are destined to not see dragons. . .

Next stop was Banta Island where we struggled with ugly currents for hours before finally arriving in a quiet, sheltered anchorage. We anchored in 18 metres and could see the anchor on the bottom. Again we went snorkelling around the reefs. Here all the coral was brown, but healthy living coral, all shades of brown and all shapes. It was unusual but quite beautiful.

Early the next morning we left he Komodo group and headed for our next overnight anchorage on Sumbawa.

Wera is where there is a local wooden boat-building industry. Two large wooden boats were being built on the shore using traditional boatbuilding techniques. It looked quite interesting but we were eager to get on our way.

The next leg was to Lombok, and would take over 24 hours. The trip was frustrating -wind up - sails set - engine off - wind dies - engine on - wind up from a different direction. This pattern lasted for most of the 36 hours we were at sea. As we were passing the north coast of Lombok we saw 2 yachts anchoring near the shore so we headed there too and anchored just on sunset – we weren't going to get to Medana Bay before dark. It was a rolly anchorage but not bad holding in a reasonable depth. The next morning we left early to sail the last 20 miles to Medana Bay Marina, picked up a mooring and hung about.

We took a short trip to the local market village by horse cart (cidomo) but beside this it feels like we are finally arriving in the 20th century as we move further west. The poor little pony was not used to two rather large white people in her little cart and struggled to trot, let alone canter which is what her handler would like her to do. She seemed very relieved for us to get off.

Lombok is very mountainous and has the 3rd highest mountain in Indonesia, Mt Rinjani. It is the second highest volcano at 3726m. Most of the island is covered in thick forest, much of which is being cleared for palm plantations to produce palm oil for biodiesel. There is a large city, Mataram, about 30km away from Medana Bay and nearby are the famous Gili islands. These are 3 small islands near the coast which are famous for their diving. Resorts have been established there to cater for the dive tourists.

We are now on Gili Air, one of the Gili Islands, doing an open water dive course.  . .We are very excited about it.

Riung – Labuanbajo

posted Sep 8, 2011, 5:21 AM by Sue Norris   [ updated Feb 3, 2012, 10:58 PM ]

We decidede to take our time to do the 90 miles from Riung to Labuanbajo – so we plotted 2 stops. The first was at Ringgeh where we were inundated with children in canoes wanting stuff the minute we arrived. It was quite uncomfortable and we all hid downstairs – some played loud classical music to try and discourage them. This was the first time we had been so hassled with the locals. Usually they come out gradually just for a look. Some bring things to trade – fish, bananas, coconuts etc. the kids just want to practise their English. We were relieved to leave here.

The 2nd anchorage was at Gili Bodo, another tricky anchorage where another crew helped guide us in. This was a beautiful spot, with wild monkeys running around on the beach, no human habitation and the most spectacular coral we have seen so far. It was so colourful and healthy. The water was extremely clear and the fish were abundant and brilliant. We decided to stay only one night here, although others spent an extra day.

So on to Labuanbajo. This is an interesting port town servicing the western end of Flores. It is also the stop off point for people coming from all over the world to go diving and experience the Komodo islands. We hope to do the same. They have hotels here, tour operators by the dozen – it is a foretaste of what to expect from now on – Lombok, Bali etc.We can get provisions here, although it is not a rally stop, over 30 yachts have come here to partake of dive tours and tours of the inland, which is very spectacular, but the tours are very expensive. 

So now we are about to leave the amazing island of Flores. It is so varied and had so much to see and do here. We would love to come back and spend more time exploring the inland, volcanoes, mountain villages etc.

The island is 400 km long but the road that traverses it is 700 km. It takes several days to travel the length of the island because the roads are not always in the best of condition, but there is a regular bus service from one end to the other.

We are yet to see a dragon but on our way westward we will stop off at Komodo and hopefully find a dragon to photograph.

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