Tuesday 13 September 2016

Wanci and Flores 4 Aug - 27 Aug

Wanci and Flores 4 August – 27th August 2016

From Banda Neira we sailed directly to Wanci on Wangi-Wangi missing out Namrole which should have been our next stop. The three day sail was again a little rough but at least we had no more rain after we had just managed to dry out the boat from the last deluge. We arrived at 10am in the morning. 

Wanci 7 August -10 August

Wanci can be a difficult anchorage to get into and we were met by the harbourmaster Gino who guided us in. In the evening was our first welcome ceremony, with speeches in Indonesian without an English translation. They provided some traditional food and some dancing but it seemed to be a celebration for something else (not sure what) which we had been tagged on to. We were still tired after our sail and broken sleep for three days but I did catch up on some sleep at the ceremony despite my best efforts to keep awake (and Catherine nudging me every two minutes).

Girls awaiting their suitors
Parading round before the start
I attended the Match Making Ceremony with the other rally boats the next day while Catherine stayed in bed after putting her back out lifting the dinghy engine. Traditionally, the ceremony is held once or twice a year and the unmarried girls dress up and sit in a big circle while the boys walk around, deciding who they want as a future bride. A boy shows interest in a girl by buying a drink from her (coke or sprite nowadays) and if she likes him she gives him a gift – then it is a match. To signal that they are now a couple, they sit on a big swing in the middle of the festival which announces to every one of their intentions.

The Mothers
While the festival carries on to this day, it has become more of a day out than a serious attempt at match making since boys and girls do now mix at schools. Nonetheless, there were about 2000 people attending the festival with the mothers enjoying the event as much as the girls and boys who still acted out the ritual. I managed to get engaged five times during the event, as the girls were very keen to come and offer drinks to me (for a fee it has to be said) and we were all treated like celebrities with everyone keen to have their picture taken with us.

The following day I went shopping while Catherine was still incapacitated on the boat and I took one of the young guides with me. Her English was very good and she acted as my interpreter, selecting the fruit and vegetables and agreeing the price. All I had to do was hand over the cash - easier than shopping with Catherine.

In the evening we had Mike and Sue from Lusi over for drinks before we all headed to the night market to find something to eat. There was only café open and only one item on the menu - a chicken broth with an option of rice wrapped in palm leaves and a hard-boiled egg. We sat with the locals eating the delicious soup. £2 well spent.

The next day we set off for Hoga, one of the top diving sites in the world.

Hoga 11 August – 14 August

Hoga was not on the itinerary but is supposed to be one of the best dive sites in Indonesia if not the world and only 30 miles away from Wanci. So like many of the other boats we sailed there just to spend one night and do some snorkelling. We arrived too late to swim that night but the next morning we took the dinghy round to the main reef. It was probably the best place we had snorkelled for the variety of fish and coral anywhere we have been. Huge schools of fish and many that we had never seen before including a large Lion fish. The water was very warm and clear and there was no way that we could leave the next day so missed out the next official stop on the rally and spend the time there.

Part of the Scientific Centre
Jetty overlooking the Scientific Centre
We walked around the scientific centre on the island where mainly British scientists and marine biologists spend 3 months each year studying the reef. I can see the attraction for the scientists, an idyllic island in Indonesia, fantastic diving but not quite why it should be a British site - when we left England we did not seem to have many coral reefs.

In the evening we had drinks on Soul, one of the large catamarans in the fleet, and all the 10 boats in the anchorage enjoyed a night together. This is where Cats are ideal and 20 people on the boat did not seem crowded. As is customary, each boat takes some food to share and their own drinks which makes for a good variety. To cap it all, as the sun set we saw the green flash just as the sun set and it drew a large cheer from all those on board. A rare event which very few people had seen before including us.

The next day we arranged for the three remaining boats to go snorkelling  and then to the resort on the island for lunch. With no guests in the resort we took the kitchen staff by surprise with eight people for lunch but they turned out a great lunch with noodles and fresh fish. We did however drink them out of all their beer but then they only had six bottles in stock.
Backdrop to Kroko Island

We set off the next day to go to Kroko island, another non-official stop but one the pilot guide suggests as a must do. We arrived the next morning at a very scenic anchorage with towering volcanos providing a backdrop with isolated sand spit just in front of us.

Kroko Island 15 August – 18 August

The first day it was just us and Max, a 54 foot Amel, and we joined Herve and Corinne for a coffee in the afternoon after an abortive attempt to find some good snorkelling. Herve is a born story teller with a common theme – bru  A very entertaining afternoon.
shes with Customs Officials in various countries. The French seem to be targeted by Customs since it is assumed they must have lots of wine on board – which is true of course.

Playing Finska
Arriving at the sandspit for the BBQ
The next day, we were invaded by another 10 rally boats in the anchorage which the pilot guide suggested had a limit of four boats. All anchored without any problem and that evening we had a BBQ on the sand spit together with a game of Finska (a sort of skittles) which by co-incidence we had played in Belgium with our children a few months earlier. We lined up a girls vs boys team which has to be said was won by the boys by a wide margin, mainly by a few lucky throws rather than any skill. After being treated to raft of songs accompanied by the ukulele and guitar and salad with sausages cooked on the fire we finally left at midnight to go back to our boats under the full moon. What a great night.

Dacing the night away
Once we found the right spot for snorkelling it was very good although you had to put our experiences of Hoga out of mind to appreciate it. It was such a lovely spot we stayed another night and were invited over to Wishful Thinking the next day both to celebrate Mike’s birthday and play some competitive Crib. After Ginny and I had been beaten by Mike and Catherine we were treated to home-made bread and fried squid for lunch bought from the local fishermen.

We all met on the sand spit for drinks that evening and with a certain reluctance left the next morning.

Maumere 20 August – 24 August

On the way to Maumere we stopped at two anchorages -Tanjung Gedong and Pulau Besar. As is usual we attract a lot of attention from the locals. As soon as you anchor, or even before, wooden canoes will be paddling out to your boat to see what you have on offer. They are mainly children and some will have something to barter even if it is only shells but others just looking for a gift. At Tanjung Gedong there was a lot of this and our supply of pens and notebooks (highly prized gifts here) was severely depleted.

We had stopped at Palau Besar, a small island, expecting to see a small stilted fishing village as is fairly common along the coast. However a few years ago they had been struck by a tidal wave and most of the village had been damaged. A new village had been built further inland by the government and we could see it in the distance. It was a ghost town they had not taken into account that these people were poor fishermen and it was too far from the sea. Most villagers had moved back along the coastleaving a ghost town behind them.

Maumere 20 August – 24 August

Provisioning in the market
We arrived at Sea World, a resort 5 miles from the town of Maumere which hosted the rally for three days. With rumours of a supermarket in the town, the next day a group of us took taxis to the supermarket and then onto the local market. It was the best stocked shop we have seen since we arrived in Indonesia and managed to stock up on a few things but our expectations did not match the reality – long time since we had seen anything resembling a proper shop. The market however was better and we managed to buy all the fresh fruit and vegetables we needed for the next week.

Dining on the beach
Local dancers
The gala dinner and welcome ceremony was very well done with tables laid out on the beach and a buffet of delicious local food. This was accompanied by traditional music and dancing where once again we were encouraged to join in. I have never let a lack of rhythm stop me and that night was no exception but Catherine did well. There was also a parade of traditional costumes from the different areas around that regency. Stunningly beautiful as were the girls although I was later told that they were lady boys. Not sure if I believe that.

Cruisers joining in with the dancing

No idea what day of the week it was but the next day we decided it would be a Sunday – no boat jobs, no provisioning, cleaning or sorting out the boat. We spent the day on the boat, relaxing and reading until the evening when Peter and Kim joined us for a drink - we had last seen them in Port Douglas in Australia awaiting parts for their autopilot and had only just caught up with the rally again. They are great company and it would  be the last time we would see them as they are staying in Flores and leaving their boat there. They will be sailing in Indonesia six months each year over the next 4 years, spending the rest of their time back in New Zealand. What a great idea and it set us thinking about how we could do that – leave the boat in Thailand and spend six months in the UK and six months back on the boat, maybe completing our circumnavigation in six month chunks. It has given us something to think about.

Maurole 24 August – 27 August

Quite a smart shop
Main street in Maurole
Maurole is a large village but interesting, mainly small shops and a traditional market. The following day we took a trip to Kelimutu National Park where three coloured lakes are formed in the cauldron of a volcano starting at 6:30am for the three hour drive. We declined the offer to go with the first group leaving at 4am which was just as well since we had to re-anchor the boat before we left as the wind had changed.

We drove along roads that were good in places but with big pot holes and unmade sections which made it slow and very bumpy at times. It was good to be able to explore the interior of the island and as we got higher so the rain started. We arrived at entrance to the National Park at 9am and it looked like the rain had set in for the day and we could not walk the final 800m up to see the lakes. However the group of 20 of us decided we had come this far and we would take the risk that it might clear and by the time we set off on the walk, the cloud had lifted and we had sunshine.

Two of the lakes
One of the more inquisitive monkeys
The lakes are supposed to change colour, depending on the amount of oxygen in the water but all we saw was two lakes with green water with some steam rising out from the heat of the volcano and the other darker blue lake. Unfortunately not the red lake that was in all the literature. Pretty enough and we also saw our first close up monkeys who showed little interest in us as we walked past. Just before we started back down along the track, the clouds once again descended, obliterating the view and it rained all the way down.  We were in high spirits since the journey had not been wasted and we stopped on the route back for lunch in a restaurant nestled among the hills.

We arrived back at 5:30, exhausted after our day of travels and I had to change the gas bottle to the one I had bought in Australia to make some tea– in theory all I had to do was changed the connecting lead since the new bottle had a different fitting - a two minute job. Two hours later we still did not have any gas after I had fixed two of the three gas leaks in the new hose accompanied by a lot of bad language.  It was late by this time and I gave up, too tired to do anymore or go to the final gala dinner. So with no gas we had cheese and biscuits for dinner.
Final provisoning in the market

Refreshed in the morning I remade the final connection with the aid of a jubilee clip and it sealed. By this time the anchorage was becoming a little rolly, just like its name, and the next morning many boats upped anchor at dawn as it definitely had become “Maurole”.

All that was left for us was to go ashore to the market for a small amount of provisioning and we were off to Riung

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