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Friday, October 22, 2010
Little by little our armada was reduced from the time we left Kupang on Wednesday as various groups of boats headed for different destinations. Indonesia is a HUGE country with thousands of islands spanning as much territory as the distance between Texas and California in the U.S.A. It would have been impossible for the fleet to vacate the entire country in 48 hours. Everyone planned his or her destination around avoiding built up areas where customs officials might be stationed. Technically we, the cruisers, were legally in the country, but our boats weren't. We planned our first overnight stop on the island of Rinja or Rinca, which is situated between Flores Island and Komodo Island. As you can probably guess from this last name, we were in search of the komodo dragon.
One incident which was very off-putting, especially since it was due to my carelessness, was that we ran aground on the south shore of Rinja. Unfortunately I was too complacent as we had not seen any other vessels in days and since we had been using auto-tracking en route, vigilance had not been necessary. Unfortunately, this time the autopilot was simply on AUTO and this does not compensate for sideways drift, just alignment of the boat. I was very involved in a difficult knitting pattern and did not look up until we were ashore on rock. Fortunately, there was no surf and the only damage was cosmetic, butit will definitely be the last knitting accident we have!
Rinja is absolutely delightful. The anchorage was so huge and had so many little bays that a dozen of us were hardly aware of any other boats nearby.
Peaceful, beautiful Rinja with lovely sand beaches everywhere. But don't go walking on those beaches, especially with small pets!
We shared our little bay with the "Moonies"- MOONBEAM, MOONSHADOW and MOONSHINER, as well as LAROOBA and TALISMANO. The water eas so inviting I was all set to jump in for a swim when suddenly an enormous school of LARGE fish began leaping out of the water all around us. This went on for about fifteen minutes. Obviously something even bigger was chasing them. I quickly decided against going for a dip and had a shower instead!
When MOONSHADOW arrived in the afternoon, they were short of fuel and water. MOONSHIBER offered them fuel and then they came alongside ANGEL for a water transfer.
You have plenty of time to get to know your neighbours when you are using a low pressure hose to transfer water.
We kept a lookout for large lizards on the beach- in vain.
Later in the afternoon everyone dinghied over to ENCHANTRESS in the next bay to plan our departure the next day. The channel between Rinja and Komodo is notorious for very strong currents which become even more formidable when a tidal current is added to them. Timing is very important. Many odf the others in that bay had already spotted a komodo dragon and told us their tales. Steve from ASPEN runs every morning. He had done so that motninng, but paused to pull ashore an animal skeleton floating by. Someone later that dmorning watched as a 4 metre long komodo dragon pulled it along the beach for a snack.
I was SOOOOOO disappointed that we would be leaving without catching sight of a dragon when, just before hauling up the anchor, Dick fromMOONSHINER reported a very large lizard on the beach behind their boat! We could see it with binoculars, but we were too far for a good photo. Accordingly, these shots come courtesy of MOONSHADOW.
Komodo dragons are extremely large (about 4 metres in length) and very aggressive lizards. They are the top of the food chain in the islands of Flores, Rinja and Komodo. They can swim and they can travel on land at speeds of up to 30 km for a short distance. They are truly magnificent to see and I am so glad we managed to observe one before we left on our headlong rush to Bali.
We managed to hit the current in the channel at the optimum time. We, who usually motor at about 5 knots were zooming along at twice the speed while travelling with the current. Where the tidal and regular current met there were eddies everywhere. As we neared this cruise boat, the two currents were spilling over each other in what are called overfalls.
You can see the overfalls in the foreground.
MOONSHADOW and ANGEL decided to keep up the brisk pace we were experiencing and stop over at Pulau Medang at the northwest corner of Sumbawa for a few hours- just enough for lunch and a good swim. What a welcome break from motoring it was. It was marvellous to really exercise and see some lovely coral and sea creatures for a change. I even found a couple of lobsters on my travels.
MOONSHADOW at anchor at Pulau Medang, Sumbawa.
Even with the break, we managed to catch up with the rest of the group before they reached Gili Air in northwest Lombok.