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Alor Island to Flores, Bone Rate
Swapping a snorkle set for a basket
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
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
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
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.
Of Alor Island, Flores and Bone Rate