Monday August 10

The call to prayer was nice and distant this morning so only woke up briefly. Not much breeze so we had another motoring day.

Couldn't hear the sked this morning at all. We were headed for a small fishing village called Balurin on Lembata Island. As usual the current was against us all the way. To get into the anchorage we had to negotiate 2 reefs and slip in between them. Fortunately they were marked with buoyed flags and the visibility was good. all the charts were out so Google Earth came into its own again.

It was a well protected anchorage with a couple of moored local boats and a substantial jetty. The waterfront houses on stilts looked very ramshackle at low tide.

In contrast to the Blang Merang invasion of canoes, we were greeted and welcomed to Balurin by only one canoe with 2 lovely young men.

Drinks on board Gemini Lady for the 12 people in our little sub fleet. Denise and Peter off Reverie stayed for dinner.

Tuesday August 11

Only 12 Nm to go today so we waited for the afternoon sea breeze. We all arranged to meet onshore and check out the town of Balurin. We looked around the market and purchased some vegetables. It wasn't long before we were surrounded by school kids. They stayed with us for our lap of the village. We think the teacher let them out of class to come out to see us and practice their English. They were delightful kids, happy, curious, and full of laughter.

The local policeman and elders were keeping an eye on us strangers and our interaction with the kids. It was good to see. The whole town had a great vibe.

Back on the boats we went aboard Flomaide and I set up their computer properly for OpenCPN, AIS, CM93 charts and Google Earth Kap files.

The sail out was uneventful, just idling along under motor doing the washing and making water, when all of a sudden there was and almighty bang, crash and shudder throughout the boat. Lea thought we had hit something, I thought we had blown a gearbox. We shut down the motor immediately and all was quiet. Started the Port motor and I went into the Stbd Engine room to investigate. All appeared in order. Lea then twigged and realised that it was the washing machine that had made all the noise and vibration. It had tried to spin out of balance. The washing machine would not restart. Bugger!

Anchored off the beach just offshore from the village of Lewaling in 6M and clear sand. Nice!

Checked over the HF Rope antenna and found a break in it at a connector. Decided to remove the connector and hard wire the antenna to the feed wire.

Enjoyed a good swim and a quiet night.

Wednesday August 12

The HF was a bit better but still lacking in reception. We all met ashore again for a village walk. Booker from Tortuguita suggested we try and get the locals to cook us a dinner on the beach. They have done this in many other countries they have travelled and found it a great way to interact with the locals and inject some cash into the economy without having to buy crappy nick nacks, as Lea calls them.

Local kids with their teacher.
Health Clinic. While waiting for the doctor the ladies were spinning cotton for weaving.
Traditional weaving

This is a poor village but the streets were clean and everything was neat and tidy. It is predominantly Catholic with a smal Muslim population ( we still had to endure a fairly loud call to prayer at 0425). The houses were well made and some quite decorative.

Catholic Church
One of the more opulent residencies.

Ray and Shauna off Parlay had their language skills put to the test trying to organise dinner.

We blew up the SUP's and had a paddle around. Then I went over to Parlay and set them up with OpenCPN and all the trimmings.

We met onshore at 1800 and found that the village women had prepared a table full of traditional food. Mostly vegetarian with a small smoked fish for protein. Lots of dishes were variations of corn but the standout winner was a tomato salsa. We were surprised by the lack of spices and found most of the food quite bland. The presentation was beautiful in hand woven serving dishes and individual bowl made from coconut fronds, together with a spoon carved from a coconut shell.

A government tourism agent from the capital city of Lembata, Lewoleba, appeared at the end of the meal to find out what we were doing. Initially he was quite concerned as preparations for the reception of the other Rally (Sail2Indonesia) were still 2 weeks off. He encouraged us to come to Lewoleba and climb the volcano Ile Lewotolok and visit the whaling station at Lemalera.

We all thoroughly enjoyed the night and we all sang “Waltzing Matilda” as our parting thank you. They charged us 70,000Rp each and each couple added a bit more toward the completion of their Catholic Church.

Thursday August 13

We were up and off early before the breeze although not much is expected today. Parlay had their anchor caught. Ray had to dive to 25m to pull the chain out from under a rock. That delayed them for a while. Lea used the quiet motoring time to repair some more stitching on the clears around the God Pod. The current set against us as we entered Boling Selat but we had plenty of breeze and just powered on across Leba Leba Bay to the anchorage off Lewoleba.

The Tourism office was open for business even though the other Rally Fleet were not due for 2 weeks. We were given a schedule of available trips. We signed up for the Volcano walk.

Had a long walk through town with Rob and Russel off Marathon Lady and were soon accosted by a swarm of Scouts and Guides who were camped for a big Indonesian Jamboree. A street parade was being organised and there were kids everywhere. All happy and wanting to get photographed with us.

Visited the market and tried to bargain but they didn't want to move on price. Maybe they know we will just pay anyway.

Back to the boat for a quiet and early night before our 0200 start for the volcano.

Friday August 14

Onshore at 0200 with the crew from New Views. A large ship had come overnight and was leaving as we went ashore. Our boats were light up by the ships huge spotlights and shaken by their very load horn. We suspected our boats were making their departure a little more awkward than usual.

Our transport arrived. A tiny little Isuzu 2wd ute with a canvas canopy and 2 wooden bench seats in the back.

If the Main Road was anything to go by we were in for a bumpy ride but we were told “only 1/2 hour drive”. Very uncomfortable with no padding on the seats. The road soon turned to partial bitumen with sections of rough concrete and others of rocky dirt and started to get very steep. Nearly an hour after starting we came to a halt as the ute lost traction on a steep pinch and corner. We messed around for while here while the driver and guides chocked the ute with rocks and pushed. Lea decided enough was enough and got out soon to be followed by the rest of us. The boys all pushed and we got past that obstacle only to confront a bigger one a few hundred meters further on. Here, part of the road had been concreted. However, there was a 300mm step up from the dirt road to the concrete. I knew we would not get up that one and after trying to pack up the causeway with rocks and much pushing and clutch burning we gave up. Us boys were cut scratched, grazed, bruised and covered in dirt from trying to push the truck.

We passengers all decided to walk. We were at 300M and figured we must be close to the old abandoned village where the true walk begins at about 500M. As we climbed we got phone service and confirmed our position on Google Earth. The guides soon caught us and we pressed on the couple of kms to the village.

Our sunrise on the mountaintop timeline was blown by hours. We arrived at the old village at 0530. After a brief rest we started the real climb. It was relentless up and up. Graham and Julie bailed early and decided to go back to the village and wait. Brian and Maree stuck with us for another 45 minutes but they too found it too hard. They agreed to wait with the second guide.

Lea and I continued on with our guide Elias. He paced us very well with many short rest stops. He was a great guide with many years experience as a guide on Mt Kinabalu.

The walk got more difficult once we were past the treeline onto the lava fields and the smell of Sulphur was very strong. Lea wrapped her scarf over her mouth which seemed to help. The wind picked up and the clouds were funnelling over the top of the mountain and sweeping down the sides, giving us occaisional glances of the summit. Elias stopped and prayed to the ancient gods of the mountain before our final assent. At the crater rim it was blowing hard and cold. We stopped to put on warm jackets.

Checked out an open vent. I got a lungful and the sulphur just stings the throat and sinuses.

The clouds came and went so we got glimpses of sandy craters and sulphur stained rock formations and some stunted grasses.

Occaisionally the clouds parted to show the view down to Leba Leba Bay and beyond. Stunning landscape. “Lord of the Rings” type ambiance. We walked through the 2 craters then up onto the high rim before beginning our descent.

The walk back was even harder as going downhill on loose ground soon had the thighs burning. Picked up the others and had a rest back at the village. Elias explained a bit about the long history of the village and showed us a few precious artefacts including a Portugese Cannon, Elephant tusks and Ming Dynasty Pottery and of course the bridal “Moko”.

As we walked back down to the vehicle we met a local on one of the native ponies.

Walked back down to the vehicle which had been filled with rocks to give more traction. I asked for them to be removed now that we were back in but they wouldn't take them out. This made the return trip even more torturous, especially with my legs now starting to cramp.

We stopped off at Elias' home and enjoyed a lovely lunch of traditional food.

Finally back at tourism office, filthy dirty and exhausted I gave the tourism officer a serve regarding the standard of transport provided. Apart from the transport issue the walk was fantastic but Lea and I were grateful we kept up the running back in Darwin. It was a very tough walk.

Saturday August 15

Slept like the dead. Not even aware of another ship blaring its spotlights and horn. However, the 0425 morning call to prayer did wake us.

Used the fast internet access to finish a blog post then off to a traditional market for more supplies with the crew from New Views. Tourist officer said it was a 700m walk. 2 km later we arrive at a bustling market and have fun getting some fresh veggies. Again we payed too much as word got around we were there and they wouldn't budge on price. Graham negotiated to get 5 motorbikes to drive us back for 10000Rp each. Relief not to have to walk.

Left the anchorage at the right moon transit time to catch the current heading north. We certainly succeeded. Once clear of Leba Leba Bay we were sucked North through 2m rolling pressure waves .We had breeze and were enjoying tacking close hauled. Last tack was the tricky one as we wanted to enter a Chanel off to the west without getting swept past it. Entered the Chanel neatly and immediately ran out of wind so motored on with frequent reference to Google Earth Charts as normal electronic charts are not accurate enough in these waters. Visibility was great though and with Polaroid glasses the reefs and deep water were clear delineated.

 

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