Day 121, Year 3: Not Where We Thought We’d Be

Date: Hari Minggo (Sunday), Bulan Sèptèmber 7, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: No Wind AM; Windy, Windy PM; Current With Us Today!!
Latitude: 08 degrees 24.218 minutes S
Longitude: 116 degrees 04.371 minutes E
Location: Teluk Kombol, NE Lombok, West Nusa Tengarra Province, Indonesia

It’s tomorrow and we are not in Gili Air. As you must know by know, we do sometimes have to go where the wind blows us and that is what happened today. We left our mid-channel anchorage at 5:30 am after getting up every hour all night to do anchor watch. We were fine, but we wanted to make sure. There was just no wind this morning, so we didn’t even put up the mainsail. We just motored west. A boat from Australia, Harbor Lights, lost their prop in the Komodos and are trying to sail to Bali
without a motor. They are racers and not used to going slow, but this morning I felt terrible when we passed them just as the sun came up. They have been getting up in the middle of the night and taking advantage of the winds, but it didn’t work this morning. A boat named Glass Slipper from the US is accompanying them, and I talked to Tom of Glass Slipper on the HF radio this evening to see how they are doing. He thinks they will make it here tomorrow, but I’m not sure after the news I had to
give him. That ‘no wind’ syndrome ended just as we were going through the pass between Gili Air and Lombok. We went from no wind to 20 knots right smack on the nose. We did have a knot of current with us, but it will be a tough sail in a very narrow channel between shoals and reefs on both sides. If it were me, I’d head straight to Bali, but maybe the wind will be different tomorrow.

We talked to Jean-Pierre on Safina this morning and found out that the small Gili Air anchorage is just full of boats. There are a few moorings, which are taken, and now other boats have anchored in between. And the anchorage is very deep so if you do anchor there you have to put out lots of chain. So boats on moorings are touching boats at anchor when the boats swing. Add to that the fact that there was and still is 20 knots of wind blowing straight into that anchorage, and that was enough to
cause us to change our destination. We’ll get there, but just not yet. We are just two miles from the Gili Air anchorage and can see it from here. We are in a bay surrounded by pearl farms, but the bay has about 17-18 mooring balls which is great. So we are hopefully secure on a mooring ball and will stay here for at least a couple of days. Tomorrow we are going on a full-tilt island tour of Lombok and the next day we hope to hop on a local boat and spend the day on Gili Air. At that point,
we’ll decide what we are doing next.

We arrived here in early afternoon. While we were eating lunch in the cockpit, a young man came by in a pink spider boat but was polite enough to say he would return after we finished eating. Actually Mark met him in the bay as he was traveling over to Shirena. The young man’s name is Mohammed and he is the man to see for everything-trips around the island, diesel fuel, laundry, expeditions to the markets, and he even sells pearls. So Mark arranged to get diesel for Scot Free, Shirena, and Windbird,
and made arrangements for the island trip tomorrow. Gerry and Klinton on Scot Free spent the entire afternoon working on Shirena. Shirena is a new Bavaria, but new or not, the fiberglass housing holding the windlass (the absolutely necessary item that raises and lowers the anchor) had cracked badly in two places. Upon inspection, it was obvious why this had happened. The windlass was attached to the fiberglass housing with only very tiny bolts and with no backing to spread the weight. When the
windlass is pulling up 150 feet of heavy, heavy anchor chain plus a heavy anchor, there is a tremendous load on the windlass. Robert was afraid it was going to ‘pop’ right out. But with marine plywood from Windbird and fiberglass work done by Scot Free, we think that situation is under control

While Mark was on Shirena I finally realized what the strange smell was that I had been smelling all day in our aft cabin. I thought it must be coming from the engine room, but when I would open it and put my head in, the smell wasn’t there. I don’t know why we hadn’t figured it out sooner, but it was our batteries. They had overheated terribly and were in desperate need of water. The fumes were actually making me nauseous and it was then that I realized it was an ‘electrical’ kind of smell and
that cued me in to the batteries. Mark is actually still working on that problem as I am writing this log. I have mentioned before that the batteries are over five years old and need to be replaced. We have high hopes that this can wait until we reach Singapore or Malaysia and it will be much cheaper there, but we will have to baby them and fill the cells with water more often. They, too, realize just how hot it is here.

Lombok is a 90 per cent Muslim island and even though we are anchored off what appears to be a small fishing village with no apparent mosque, I have heard the call to prayer loud and clear three times since we arrived. So as I finish this log, I am once again hearing the call to prayer. It is a very peaceful and reassuring sound and one that we are coming to expect in Indonesian anchorages.

Yesterday was our daughter Heather and her husband Jed’s fifth wedding anniversary. So happy anniversary to Sam’s mom and dad. We hope you had a wonderful day.

080907 Day 121 Lombok, Indonesia–Gili Lawang to Teluk Kombal

Day 120, Year 3: Anchored in the Middle of Selat Sungian, W Coast of Lombok

Day 120, Year 3: Anchored in the Middle of Selat Sungian, W Coast of Lombok
Date: Hari Sabtu (Saturday), Bulan Sèptèmber 6, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful Day; Wind and Current Not Going Our Way
Latitude: 08 degrees 18.151 minutes S
Longitude: 116 degrees 41.168 minutes E
Location: Gili Lawang, Lombok, West Nusa Tengarra Province, Indonesia

I never thought I would ever be in Lombok. In fact, I had never heard of Lombok until last winter when we were home staying with our daughter. Her good friend, Pax, traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and she shared with us her travels in Lombok. Well, now we are here, although it was a bit of struggle today sailing against wind and current. No one has figured out how to predict currents here. We have a whole book explaining this and a whole fleet of experienced sailors who have the same
book, but none of us ever seems to get it right. Jean-Pierre on Safina did figure out the currents in the Komodos, and for that we were so grateful. But in all other instances, we know of no one who has timed things just right. We are anchored in the middle of the pass tonight instead of tucked in behind a reef with Scot Free and Shirena because we think we need to leave here very early in the morning to beat the strong negative current. And we just don’t leave tight anchorages where you have
to pick your way through the reef unless there is daylight. We’ve come too far to take chances now. We also wanted to stay out here so we could watch the current. If it is raging at 5 am, then we’ll stay put. But if not, we’ll take off. We’ll let you know tomorrow night whether or not we were right about this one. We have this ‘scientifically’ figured out. I have a floating key ring hanging off the side of the boat and we are watching it to assess the strength of the current. Our kids used
to do this for us when we sailed in the Chesapeake Bay on our first sailboat. One would throw a wooden matchstick off the front of the boat and yell, “Mark.” The other had a stopwatch and would time the flow of the matchstick to the stern of the boat to determine our speed or the speed of the current.. It worked. So where are your kids when you need them?!!

So the next stop is Gili Air. I first heard of Gili Air when I read “Eat, Pray, Love” and the island sounded wonderful. Hopefully we can let you know about that tomorrow.

080906 Day 120 Lombok, Indonesia–Gili Lawang

Day 119, Year 3: A Day in Pulau Medang

Day 119, Year 3: A Day in Pulau Medang
Date: Hari Jumat (Friday), Bulan Sèptèmber 5, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful Day, Very HOT
Location: Pulau Medang, Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tengarra Province, Indonesia

I love hot weather and will never complain, but I will say that things are getting hotter. The temperature here is about the same year round, somewhere around 84 degrees F, so I don’t know why we feel it is getting hotter as we head west. It just does. Some cruisers have taken to sleeping in the cockpits. We are not there yet, as it does cool down at night and we have great little fans. With those, we would not survive, so I sure hope we have no fan malfunctions. Today was made even hotter
by bread and granola baking. But those are essentials in our diet, so some days just have to be dedicated to “hot boat.”

We made contact today via cell phone with one of the tour agencies in Borneo. A young man named Gilang has a company called the Prince of Kumai Eco Tourism Organization and we reached him by cell phone today. We had emailed him earlier and gotten no response, but when we talked to him we found that he actually uses a different account for his daily email. The one we emailed was something he only checks once in a while. But the good news is that we are going to be able to reserve our river trip
on the island of Borneo to see the orangutans. Since our son Justin and his wife Jo have to fly out of there and back to Bali to connect with their flight back to the US on October 14, we needed to be sure we had reservations. Since everyone in the rally will be on the same time schedule, I was afraid to wait until we got there to take our chances on a tour. Seeing those orangutans was originally one of the main reason I signed on to the Indonesia tour, so I sure don’t want to miss them. I now
realize that there are many, many, many wonderful reasons to tour Indonesia, but it didn’t look that way from afar to me. I think I must be blind.

Mid-day we went ashore with Robert and Tina of Shirena to walk the white sand beach here. Mangroves intersperse themselves with the sandy beaches. Just behind the beach there are areas that look like they might be fish farms. The land is divided like in rice paddies but salt water is brought in from the sea. So all we can figure is that they are raising fish. When we walked further, we came to grazing land under the palm trees for goats and cows. Eventually we got to the land at the end of
the point and could see the light house on the north side of the island. It was a nice walk, but a very hot one. Next time we’ll do this in the early morning or late evening and take water. We are slow learners.

There are now fourteen boats in this anchorage and all of us are headed to the same place-Gili Air on the northwest coast of Lombok. There’s not room there for that many boats, so we might have to do some juggling. First we sail to Gili Lawang on the northeast coast of Lombok tomorrow. That is about 45 nautical miles from here. We will spend the night there if there is room in the anchorage and continue on the next 45 miles to Gili Air the next day. If there is no room at Gili Lawang, I guess
we will overnight it to Gili Air. We are hopeful that we will be able to anchor at Gili Air and spend two or three days chilling out (activity wise, not heat wise). Gili Air is a major tourist destination. There are no cars on the island and you can walk the entire perimeter morning and evening. There’s great food at very little cost and beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise water. There is snorkeling, but very little coral at snorkeling level. Cyclones and global warming have destroyed
the shallow coral but they are trying a new process to get it growing again. I guess we will just have to get there and report on the real conditions first hand. After spending a couple of days in Gili Air, we will move about three miles to coast of Lombok and do some inland touring. On September 13th we will attend the Lombok Sail Indonesia Rally welcoming ceremony and then head off to Bali. Time runs through our fingers like water.

080905 Day 119 Sumbawa, Indonesia–Walk on Pulau Medang

Day 118, Year 3: Arrival at Pulau Medang

Day 118, Year 3: Arrival at Pulau Medang
Date: Hari Kamis (Thursday), Bulan Sèptèmber 4, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful Day; No Wind and Opposing Current
Latitude: 08 degrees 08.665 minutes S
Longitude: 117 degrees 22.356 minutes E
Location: Pulau Medang, Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tengarra Province, Indonesia

We made it here to this little offshore island, but it was a bit of a struggle as we had opposing current most of the way. We had originally thought we would stop on the mainland of Sumbawa at the village of Kananga, but when I talked with Robert on Shirena early this morning, we basically tossed a coin and decided to travel on to the offshore island. We arrived here late in the afternoon, had a chance to catch up with Donna, Gerry, and Klinton on Scot Free, and have decided to stay here another
day if the weather allows it. Sometimes this anchorage can get quite a swell, and if that happens, we will leave. Otherwise, we will spend a quiet day here tomorrow and travel on to Gili Lawang, an island just offshore northeast Lombok the next day. By Monday, we should be in Gili Air on the northwest coast of Lombok. We are looking forward to our stay there.

080904 Day 118 Indonesia–Batu Monco, Komodo to Pulau Medang, Sumbawa Overnight

Day 117, Year 3: Overnight Passage to Sumbawa

Day 117, Year 3: Overnight Passage to Sumbawa
Date: Hari Rabu (Wednesday), Bulan Sèptèmber 3, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful Day
Location: Passage from Komodo Island to Northwest Sumbawa

We are motor sailing westward. We are underway but unsure of where we are headed. Depending on wind and currents, we might end up on the coast of Sumbawa at a village named Kananga tomorrow morning, or we might go a bit further and end up on the offshore island of Medang or even further and end up in the pass between Sumbawa and Lombok at Gili Lawang. So we are going where the winds and the currents take us. What a life!

I am the wildlife lover on this boat. Not that Mark doesn’t enjoy it, but for him it is more about people. However, when I just asked him what his most vivid memory is of our travels in Indonesia so far, he instantly said snorkeling on the bommie in Uwada Dasami on southern Rinca Island in the Komodos. Yea! I think I have a convert. We have just seen so many incredible things in our three years of cruising that it is totally overwhelming. The Komodos were wonderful, but still not quite up there
with the Galapogos. The Komodos had much better snorkeling than any place we have been in terms of coral and fish, but the Galapagos had snorkeling with seals and penguins and that is hard to beat.

The sun is setting as we now head west across the top of Sumbawa. We can see the outline of a mountainous coast but by tomorrow morning we will be near Rinjani, a huge volcano on Lombok. So there will be more beauty. But we may never pass this way again so I am soaking in the view of mountains and sunset.

Day 116, Year 3: Monco Bay for Another Day

Day 116, Year 3: Monco Bay for Another Day
Date: Hari Selasa (Tuesday), Bulan September 1, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful Day
Location: Teluk Batu Monco, NW Komodo Island, Indonesia

We spent a quiet day in Monco Bay. Shirena and Windbird are the only boats left in the southern part of the anchorage and Kayistiz from Turkey is still here in the eastern part of the bay with another boat that came in during the day. Scot Free left this morning. They went to Wera on the eastern end of Sumbawa where they build 100 foot wooden boats there using few metal fasteners, mostly wooden pegs. Mark was so anxious to visit Wera and watch the wooden boat building process, but both Safina
and now Scot Free have reported that it is impossible to leave your boat unattended to go into town. The local boys swarm all over your boat taking anything and everything they can get their hands on. We would have to bring everything we have on deck down below and it just sounds like too much trouble. So unfortunately we are going to skip Wera and do an overnight from here to a place called Kananga in western Sumbawa. There is a fairly prosperous little village there, so the locals don’t invade your boat as they do in Wera. Once there we will decide where our next stop will be. We certainly want to avoid the areas where there have been reported problems, but we would like to see some of Sumbawa if that is possible. Safina is hopping along the coast and will report to us each evening on the radio how things are going for them. That will help us in the decision making process.

Today was a snorkeling day. We snorkeled for way more than two hours this morning between our boat and Shirena and then went out to the eastern point again this afternoon. My favorite sighting of the day was a juvenile spotted parrotfish. They look so different from the adult version as they are white with a very orange head. The adult is a nondescript color and is whitish-yellowish topside. We saw lots of adult spotted parrotfish, but to see the juvenile was very special. We will not be snorkeling again until we reach Gili Air on the west end of Lombok, and we will miss it. Our time snorkeling here in the Komodos has been wonderful.

So westward we push with new islands to explore. Sumbawa is our next stop and is evidently beautiful. Once we reach Kananga we can report on that first hand.

080902 Day 116 Komodos, Indonesia–Underwater at Batu Monco