Sailing Story - Alor Island to Flores

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    Alor Island to Flores, Bone Rate

Swapping a snorkle set for a basket of Ubi...
    We left Alor Island before first light and had a great run with the tide and managed to avoid collecting fishtraps and fisherman along the way, then sailed on to Lomblen Island. We failed to find the gap in the reef so we anchored where we could and left early the next day.

Next we found a gorgeous anchorage on the far north-western tip of Flores. It’s behind a small knobby peninsula along a relatively straight coast and the depth of water went from the classic over 1500ft to 2-300ft until almost to the shore.

A lovely man called Josef came to sell us some vegetables and asked if we had any glass. To explain he showed us his diving goggles which he had hand carved from wood to fit his face but the glass was cracked.
    We had none on board so Mikes daughter gave him a snorkel set before we left and he supplied us with a basket of Ubi (which is like a sweet potato in some parts and tree root in others) and we purchased some timber intended for a table in Whimoway one day.

    The crew went for a stroll to the village and were given homegrown mungbeans for sprouting whilst we were directed to a spring on the beach and met some young men who shared their fresh fish in exchange for a cigarette.

    These people have next to nothing but do not hesitate in sharing or just giving. We found this hospitality was the general rule throughout Indonesia, maybe less so in the more populated areas where we met the occasional scammer but that’s human nature!

    Next stop, Besar Island, an anchorage recommended by cruising notes if you can make it through the reef!

The sun was high in the sky and I was up the mast so the entrance was relatively drama free. The local fisherman watched us arrive and cheered us when we got in; we were hoping they might help guide us but not so!

Mike went to visit them and ended up helping them fix a fuel leak. We had hoped to dive here but alas the reef has been bombed to oblivion.
    We later found out that another island very close, which we had passed on the way, had brilliant diving and had been split in two in 1995 or so with an earthquake which had destroyed most of Maumere town with the tsunami that followed.

    The next anchorage was in front of two dive resorts about 2 kilometres away from Maumere town. This was the first time since Babar Island that we had seen any “long noses” as they call us. We ran into a lovely French family on SV Astrolabe whom we had met in Darwin previously and there were a few Dutch guests at the resort.

    The locals blame the increase in local airfares to Flores for the decline in tourists and Bali I suppose. It was sad to see it so quiet but we also found the staff to be not very interested in us and definitely not as friendly as the Indonesians we had encountered on the outer islands.

    We treated ourselves to a western style dinner and were entertained by local musicians. Our crew left us here and the following day we shared a driver and car with SV Astrolabe to the three coloured lakes of Kelimutu, our first inland trip.

    The lakes were a sight in themselves but the journey there was our highlight. We travelled through amazing hill country dotted with villages whose houses were clad with highly colourful bamboo lattice, some hovering over cliffs, some hiding in steep gorges.

The last village before climbing to the lakes had fields carved by hand to form rice paddies and fresh rocky streams and the smell of the hill country reminded me of home.

On returning to Whimoway we found we had left the toilet valve open and water was lapping around the motor!
    We couldn’t believe that it happened the only time we had left the boat for a day. Hence our starter motor played up and even though Mike pulled it apart and cleaned it several times, that problem was not sorted until we reached Macassar, Sulawesi!

    We fueled up in Maumere and had a laugh as a man teased me when I turned up my nose at some food and laughed with Mike that I might have thought it was dog! I went for the noodles!

    Unfortunately I do not have a lot of photos of this trip as my camera was faulty. Next we motor sailed to Bone Rate in the Tiger Islands as we did not trust our starter motor and there are many reefs in this area.

    It was a good decision as the next time we went to start the motor it refused. It is difficult to anchor here but we were invited to raft up to a large trading schooner then, when they departed, we managed to get our anchor to hold in about 70ft of water.

    Bone Rate has a long history as a boat building port and the houses are all on stilts and resemble boats themselves. Once again the streets are swept clean. Boats of all sizes cram the whole beachfront including some as big as I would imagine old galleons to be.

One exciting event was the locals bombing the reef right ahead of our boat, then netting thousands of tiny little fish. The worst of it was that one of them was in the water at the time!

After Bone Rate we traveled about 10nm's to Kalao island just north and anchored again just off the reef and did some snorkeling (this reef was not bombed).

Bombing of reefs is a tragedy. Someone obviously had a brilliant, shortsighted idea to make some quick money and now these places are devastated!
We ended up dragging here a few times so then headed to the northern tip of the island where we anchored on the edge of a reef in about 15ft and were able to see massive plates of coral of all colors from the boat, definitely a great place to return to.

Next day was a short hop to Benteng Island. C Map is not to be used here, rely on your sounder but once in it is a very private spot for rest and relaxation.

Tiny Jailamu Island put us on the edge of the reefs in preparation for our next leg. This Island was uninhabited bar a coconut grove and was surrounded by reef. On the western tip Mike described massive plates of untouched coral of an area of about 50 acres or so complete with two little day huts perched on a small sand spit.

Our next leg was to Macassar on Sulawesi Island, Indonesia.

Map Of Alor Island, Flores and Bone Rate