Well we ended up spending nearly two weeks on the NE coast of Lombok getting the water pump sorted out. But, hey, there are far worse places to be stranded that Gili Lawan! During the days when we weren’t pottering on the boat we snorkelled on the reefs and explored the coast by dinghy and by motorbike. As the sun was setting we watched the flying foxes fly from Gili Lawan to the Lombok mainland to feed. The anchorage was fine with good holding in heavy black sand although the NE swell coming in from the Java Sea made it a bit rolly at night. The folks in the local village Menaga Reak were really helpful to us, providing us with water from their well and transport to the market and lots of friendly chit chat on village life. Our bahasa Indonesia is rapidly improving!
One of the most pressing features of our lay-up was the need to conserve electricity. Without the engine we couldn’t generate power and we had to rely on the solar panels and the wind generator to provide enough electricity to keep the freezer going. Unfortunately we were in the process of repairing the blades for Dumb-ass the wind generator (so named because he’s always pointing in the wrong direction!). Luckily we cook on gas but had no fan, no lights and had to shower on deck using a bucket – very romantic by candlelight!
On 17th May we left Lombok and sailed along the north coast of Sumbawa to P. Moyo, a hilly wooded island at the mouth of a large inland sea called Teluk Saleh. We anchored just down the coast from the Amanwana, a very exclusive resort accessed by sea plane or helicopter, or private boat for those in less of a hurry. Apparently the manager was keeping a beady eye on us with his binoculars as we pottered around the bay in the dinghy exploring the reefs. I’m not sure they were too pleased to see a couple of ferals on a yacht show up! However when we rocked up there for dinner they were very welcoming, the service was warm and personal and the food was excellent, we had a wonderful evening.
Our next stop was P. Satonda, an island formed by the top of a submerged volcano – a geologists delight. Basalts, tuffs, agglomerates and pillow lavas are exposed along the beach contrasting with incredibly white coral sand in the bays. The island is steep sided and heavily wooded with a hole in the centre. The crater lake is salt water not the vivid blue sulphurous cauldrons you see in photos of more elevated cones, but at least it’s only a 10 minute walk not a five day climb! We picked up a mooring in the SE bay and had a beautiful anchorage once the strong NE wind dropped in the evening.
The second day we were there Jane, our dinner companion from Amanwana, arrived in their sumptuous Grand Banks cruiser and anchored next to us. It was great to see her again, share a bottle of champagne and continue our chat from the previous evening. Cheers Jane!
We had a two day sail to reach Flores which was great and the boat performed very well, no problems. P. Banta is the first island you reach after you have left Sumbawa behind and entered the Sape Sea. We couldn’t resist stopping in this beautiful stretch of water and anchored at P. Banta for a couple of nights. We explored the island by foot and by snorkel and decided it was the wildest place we’d been so far! Deserted, windswept and barren but with the most incredibly friendly underwater life! The fish come and check you out! After a wonderful day of exploration we had a beach barbie, snuggled down by the coals and watched the moon rise.
The NW coast of Flores is sheltered by several small islands providing a quiet anchorage where the small fishing town of Labuanbajo has grown. The lovely white beaches on the islands as well as the proximity to Komodo Island have attracted some tourism. The bay is full of Pernisi Schooners which are used for tourist surfing and diving charters. There are a few small losman (hotels) and restaurants in the town.
Our favourite was called the Lounge where we found tapas and wine, comfortable sofas to relax in with live music when the musicians weren’t waiting tables! We met the second cruising yacht we have encountered since we left Thailand, it’s amazing that the Indonesian islands are so deserted! Funnily enough, Liberty and Mike on Wanderlust hadn’t seen another yacht for 5 months either and they were positively brimming with chit chat so we had a few drinks and a good rabbit on.
Talking of which I’ve been rabbiting on too long and probably should wrap it up now. Lots of love from both of us.