August 26th: We left at 8:00am and ran the wing engine. It was flat calm, no wind and another sunny day. It felt good to be leaving Kalabahi, we are keen to get the water maker cranked up. It took an hour or so to get out of the long entrance to Kalabahi, we were following Elonnisa and Stormvogel, Oda & Moonbeam were a bit behind us. Once we got out into the channel and past a small island we hit a lot of current and eddies (whirlpools) AND we started going in circles! I was freaking as I thought we were going to get sucked down, however Robbie kept his cool and started the main engine and away we went. He just laughed but I got a bit of a fright, it was not a nice feeling. Because the wing engine is only a little Yanmar, 37 hp and it is offset on the starboard side. It tends to make the boat crab towards Port and harder to steer straight and even harder to steer starboard. It is primarily there as a back-up engine should the main engine fail. It goes about 5 knots per hour flat out. Robbie put the fishing lines out hoping for another Tuna. We continued our passage West, we had the waypoints for an anchorage on Pantar Island for the night. We arrived at the anchorage, Soul Sacrifice were there already. We went in and dropped the anchor but it was really deep and there was a fringing reef which we ended up very close to. We decided not to stay so left again, with the other boats following. We went a little further along Pantar Island and found a gorgeous little area about 100 metres from the beach, there was reef between the beach and us, and the water was beautiful and clear. It took us a couple of goes to anchor. There was a little village 500 metres further up, with the Mosque of course and Robbie did try to anchor there, but I said NO, please I am over the 4.30am singing noise they make every morning in the Mosques. So we found a nice little spot and the anchor held. Peter picked up everyone in their duck and we took Paul’s Moet and a few beers in and had a wonderful swim. Gypsea Rover turned up and they came ashore for drink. It was really lovely.
August 27th: We pulled up the anchor at 6:00am and headed out. We all put our fishing rods out but Moonbeam didn’t realise and actually caught up on Oda’s line. We wondered why they were so close and doing circles! We had a good passage, not a lot of wind so all boats were motoring most of the way. We decided not to go to Lembata and instead came into Balurin, on Lomblen Island. Almacantar were at the entrance, Juffa had got their anchor chain knotted and Steven from Almacantar and Stefan from Mediterraneo were helping Mike to free the chain. Claire from Almacantar gave us the run down on the entrance into the bay, which had reef on both sides of a narrow entrance. We carried on and anchored in the head of the bay which was also surrounded by reef. It was very calm. We got all boats safely anchored including Soul Sacrifice and Kiwi Blue who arrived also. We got bombarded with lots of local kids in Sampans and gave them lollies and pens Robbie went to get some petrol from the village. They call it Benzene. It is the local store that sells it. There are people smoking right next to where they are pouring the petrol. The guy also rips you off as his litre container is not one litre. It’s an interesting experience purchasing anything really.
Ken & Lil from Moonbeam invited us for dinner and we had a lovely night, Ken cooked Bolognese.
August 28th: We slept like logs and never woke until after 8:00am, we had missed the radio sched but caught up on the news from Peter. A few boats had left and only Elonissa and the 3 amigos were left. We decided to stay another day. Robbie took the ladies into town to get some fruit & vegetables, there was not a lot of choice but got some Bananas and Pawpaw. It was decided to do a pot luck dinner tonight with the 4 boats. Robbie is going to make the fried Banana’s that we fell in love with in Saumlaki.
We had a great night with lovely food, Elisabeth from Elonnisa made a gorgeous Tuna Salad with the fresh Tuna she brought, Heidi made beautiful Tuna patties which were a real hit and a potato bake, Elizabeth from Oda made a quiche, there was also fresh baked bread and the fried bananas. What a feast. We didn’t have a late night.
August 29th: Ethan’s 4th birthday today! We have been trying to ring and Skype with no luck. The phone and internet is intermittent at its best. We left Balurin at 8:00am for Kroko Island. Had a great passage, passed the volcano which had a bit of steam coming out the top. We arrived at Kroko Island at 1:00pm WOW this is the tropical island view that dreams are made of. A pure white sand islet with crystal clear aqua blue water and gentle lapping waves. I am in heaven! We anchored next to Diomedea but ended up too close so had to move and reanchor. Stormvogel dropped anchor and then decided to go to the next anchorage. Oda anchored quite near the reef with no problem. This is the most beautiful anchorage we have seen yet on all our travels so far. We got the duck off and went over to the island. I had a swim and sunbathed and Robbie went for a snorkel. There a lot of seagrass but also some coral bombies with loads of colourful fish. We had a couple of drinks on Oda and then went back to the boat and I made a Massama Curry.
August 30th: We spent the whole day washing the boat and making water. We have not been able to clean the boat since we left Cairns, so it was badly needing some TLC. It probably took us twice as long as it normally does to get it clean. Once I finished outside I gave the inside my normal weekly clean and it felt really good to have a spotless boat again. Diomedea had asked us for dinner so we headed over at 5:00pm and had a couple of drinks and then a beautiful dinner of lamb steaks on sweet potato mash and fresh green beans. It was the nicest meal we’ve had for a long time. We had a great night and ended up on the foredeck of Diomedea looking at the stars.
The weather in Indonesia is beautiful, we have had perfect sunny days every day, no rain and very little wind. Perfect Southern Star weather we say!
August 31st: Went for a Kayak double up around the anchorage. Back to the boat for lunch and then went for a drift snorkel with Stefan and Meika from Mediterraneo in the channel close to the anchorage. It was amazing, lots of beautiful corals and colourful fish, a moray eel and Stefan saw a black tip reef shark, the first shark he has seen in Indonesia. He has done about 8 dives and lots of snorkels and seen no sharks. I guess they (the locals) eat them all. The fish are pretty much hammered everywhere we go. Lots of fishing nets and locals in Sampans fishing all night. We came back to the boat and relaxed, I read the Rocket Boys. We had sundowners on the island at 5:00pm which was stunningly beautiful, the sunset was a lovely pinky orange colour and seemed huge. We met a couple, Vicki & Alan, from Nelson who had just arrived into the anchorage, and are travelling on their own, on their Yacht, I admire them, I would not like to be doing this on our own. Two of the boats on the rally have gone solo, and both have had issues, one boat got broken into – smashed window and electronic gear stolen. The biggest problem of course is the broken window. Another boat on their own got boarded by locals but I don’t know the full story. Most nights we anchor, there are at least 3 of us (the “Star alliance” as the other rally boats call us, – Stormvogel, Oda and Southern Star)
Back to Southern Star and we cooked steak and Potato gems and I made a tomato and red onion salad with balsamic vinegar. I am now severely depleted of fresh supplies. Two oranges, some onions, beans, celery and banana’s is about the stock I have on hand. Will be able to make do until we reach Maumere where I believe is good provisioning. We have tons of tinned stuff and I have frozen veges, we won’t starve but fresh is best! We just spoke to Tony and Janet, Robbie’s friends from Liverpool and we are very excited to hear they are joining us in Bali on 9th October!
September 1st: We upped anchor at 8:00am and heading for Flores Island. Bit sad to leave this beautiful spot, but more adventures await us! We had a good trip but the first couple of anchorages were not good so we continued on and ended up coming into Nanga Gete just on dusk, where Diomedea was anchored. Nice bay and quite calm. We had sundowners on Oda which was very pleasant.
September 2nd: After the morning radio Sched, started my morning exercise with Andrea. She has a lot of Pilates equipment and a lot of knowledge so we set ourselves up on the top deck and completed a course of exercises. Was really good. We went and had a walk through the village. I took a heap of stickers for the kids and was totally inundated with kids wanting more. We met the English teacher and he took us for a tour. We saw a cashew nut tree. The fruit drops to the ground when they are ripe, they are encased in a hard green shell, which is poisonous as Robbie opened a green one and then had to find some water to wash his hands. The locals sell the nuts.
September 3rd: Another exercise session this morning, it’s getting tougher each day! We pulled the anchor up at 11.15am heading towards Maumere. We anchored up at Dambilah, negotiating through a narrow entrance between reefs, where Mediterraneo was anchored. A beautiful spot, surrounded by reef so nice and calm and the water is beautiful colours. We took the duck and went around the island behind us, through a lagoon to the main village. Oh my, we wished we hadn’t of gone. Where we landed the duck was a beach at the edge of the village, and it is also the local’s toilet spot. It was disgusting. However, we were met by a large group of very enthusiastic children so we went for a walk with them through the village. It was quite crowded but the structures were quite permanent, concrete and iron mostly. A lot of rubbish and we saw lots of goats and chickens. There was also a small turtle in a bucket of water, very sad, it was on the menu for someone. We don’t see a lot of turtles. (In fact we don’t see a lot of anything, they really hammer the fishing to the inth degree. It won’t be long and Indonesia will be fished out.) We were happy to leave the village, it was depressing for us as it was smelly, dirty and a lot of rubbish both on land and in the water. We ticked back to the boat very slowly in very shallow water. We had sundowners on Diomedea and then Meika & Stefan invited us for dinner for Mahi Mahi which he had caught the day before and he grilled it on the BarBQ and it was absolutely delicious.
September 4th: Andrea and I did our exercises on top deck of Southern Star, Meika from Mediterraneo joined us this morning. Was a hard work out, Andrea is getting tougher every day! My muscles are really feeling it now. Robbie had his scuba gear on and cleaned the bottom of the boat while we exercised. With the warm water things are growing very quickly & if you leave it too long it’s too hard to get off. We upped anchor around 8.30am for Maumere. Was a good trip and we arrived at 12.45pm. It’s a lovely bay and the water looks really clean. There is a Hotel/resort in the bay called SeaWorld Resort and there was happy hour from 4pm to 6pm and all the boats that had arrived were there. We were actually able to get a bottle of cold wine for 38,000 rupiah so that was a nice change. Have not been able to buy wine anywhere else, except Saumlaki and that was 90,000 rupiah or $90 a bottle, which we declined.
September 5th: Got woken up early the guy arrived with the diesel for us. Only need a little bit so using Per’s empty containers and the locals are filling them and bringing them to the boat for 9,000 rupiah per litre, or .90c per litre. Pretty good service. Only 4 ladies for our exercise class today so we went into the beach and went for a big walk instead. The water is really clear and clean so we decided tomorrow we would do exercises and then swim. Rushed back to the boats for breakfast and showers and then back to the beach and into the taxi into town for provisioning. Myself, Heidi, Elizabeth, Meika & Stefan. Went and topped up phone with credit, withdrew $ from the bank, had to do about 6 transactions, Roxy’s and was not too bad, no fresh food but was able to get a few bits and pieces, Kikkoman Soya Sauce, Tim Tams!, and some crackers and toothpaste. Not a lot of Australian brands but it wasn’t too bad. Did get some ice-cream, AND had a magnum after the shopping! Back to the boat for a rest.