Gili Bodo and Labuan Bajo. 08:27.6S, 119:52.2E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 17 Sep 2023 06:24

For a while now we have been travelling at the same time as a Greek boat called Filizi, sailed by Karina and Yorgo, and we are quite well matched for speed.  We can see their course and speed through AIS on chartplotter and this means we are making more effort to sail well in order to keep up!  We left Pulau Bonerate at 0515 for the 65 mile passage south to the island of Flores, but Filizi had beaten us too it and we followed them away from the island under motor.  We hadn’t expected much wind for this passage so were quite pleased to get sailing once we were clear of Pulau Bonerate.  With around 10 knots of wind from the east we sailed at 4.5 knots until midday when the wind died and we motored again for a couple of hours.  When the wind came back from the north east we got our cruising chute out again but had trouble getting it to set well in the conditions, and when the wind began to increase we had to bring it down and continued to our destination under main alone at about 6 knots. 

Everywhere you sail in Indonesia you find FADs (Fish Attracting Devices) like this.  They can be anchored in very deep water.  Some like this one have a solar panel and a light, but many are unlit which makes nighttime navigation interesting so we are avoiding overnight passages where we can

Teluk Linggeh, where we were aiming to anchor, had no charted dangers so we had been happy to approach in the dark but we were glad that Filizi had got in while there was still light as local fishermen were laying their nets.  Yorgo was able to talk us in so we didn’t get tangled.  The next morning we hadn’t intended to rush away, but the fishermen returned and indicated that they wanted to lay their nets where we were anchored so we were on our way by 0700.  We had been aiming for Teluk Bari, 12 miles away, but having got an early start decided to continue to the island of Gili Bodo another 13 miles on at the north west corner of Flores.  The anchorage here is in a narrow passage between patches of reef and doesn’t show at all on our chart so we navigated in using satellite imagery and by eye.  In these clear waters the shallows and reefs are clearly visible down to about 10 meters.  There were already several boats in the prime spots so we circled around until we found somewhere we thought was OK, though it was too deep to see clearly, but we heard some rock on the sea bed as we stretched our chain out.  It would do for now.

A satellite image of the reef and anchorage at Gilibodo.  We finally anchored in the light blue patch of clear sand by the lowest anchor symbol

As soon as our anchor was down we were approached by a young man in a local boat selling carved Komodo dragons and other local handcrafts.  There were 3 of these salesmen who seemed to stay in their small boats in the bay waiting for visiting yachts to come by, presumably until they had to return to base for more goods to sell.  Apart from them and the monkeys on the beach in the afternoon the only people there were us yachties.

Two of the local boats selling souvenirs at Gilibodo, and Ocean Lady with the island of Flores in the background

The reef was so close that we could snorkel from the boat and the water was even clearer than Taka Lamungan.  We were able to row our dinghy ashore: no need to get the outboard engine down. After our first night Ocean Lady left and we were able to grab her spot in clear sand and shallow water so we stayed another night and enjoyed the peace and quiet, and some Greek cooking on board Filizi!

These tiny hermit crabs were everywhere on the beach

The sad side of Indonesia – rubbish, particularly plastic, is everywhere

At least a dozen monkeys came down to the beach in the afternoon

More amazing snorkelling

Fishing village on an island we passed on the way to Labuan Bajo

We were now in need of fresh food and laundry, so the next morning set sail for Labuan Bajo.  At the western end of Flores Island Labuan Bajo is the hopping off point for the Komodo National Park, home of the dragons.  The bays around the city are full of traditional Phinisi boats, which are now fitted out to carry liveaboard tourists around the islands.  This makes for a picturesque backdrop to the city.  We anchored among a fleet of rally boats a couple of miles out of town, dropped our laundry at the resort and then caught the resort bus into town with Karina and Yorgo to have a look round and find something to eat.  The next day we hired a car and driver for a few hours to take us round the shops and local market.  It turned out to be an ancient pink van which had probably once been used as a taxi as it had seats all round the sides in the back.  The back door didn’t close and Sarah found herself with an uninterrupted view of the edge of the road and down the hillside as we climbed the hill across to town.  At least it had enough space in the back for 5 jerrycans of diesel, a new battery for Serenity, 3 of us and provisions for 2 boats.

Health and safety Indonesian style

Narrow streets in Labuan Bajo

A traditional fishing boat with Phinisis in the background in Labuan Bajo harbour

Apartment block with a sea view on the waterfront

Dinner with a view

Followed by the second ice cream of the day