Sailing Story - Pilot Whale - Damar Island

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    Damar Island to Alor Island

A couple of surprises
    From our approach to Damar Island we were amazed to see an active volcano spewing yellow sulphur guarding a protective bay which was surrounded by lush rainforest dripping into the sea. It still remains for us as the most impressive place we have sailed into thus far.

We were guided behind the reef by locals and told where to find the best of the two Harbour Masters and all seemed well!

The Harbour Master happily accepted the paperwork and we conversed with locals as they canoed out to greet us but then a man arrived in army greens with a note suggesting that we contribute funds for Indonesia Day.

We tried to decline but he wouldn't leave, then he eventually accepted our final offer and departed.

    The next day Mike and I wandered through a beautiful village at the foot of the volcano which appeared to be carved out of stone. The people were so friendly, the village swept clean and cloves of all colours were laid out to dry on concrete paths.

    Then a man told us that the Polici were onboard so we hurried back and were confronted by three crabby gentlemen, one of which sported an M16 automatic rifle.

    They boarded without welcome and demanded our paperwork from the crew and were quite rude and confronting. One was the real Harbour Master from the main village on the south of the bay and he was annoyed. The young man with the gun constantly pointed it at us and clicked the safety on and off and made some remark about Australians putting Indonesians in jail!

    Finally after mentioning Ari’s name, the chief of Babar, they took off with Mike to shore. I was quite distressed until he arrived back and told us that the guy was actually nice and even helped him to buy some cigarettes!

    We had put the Harbour Master offside, firstly as Damar Island was not on our cruising permit, and secondly because we were actually directed to the wrong Harbour Master in the first place.

We all then took turns to explore onshore and purchased some fruit and left the next day. We had a great days sail to Wetar Island but again needed to find an anchorage quickly so headed to a mouth of a river and dropped in sand.

The river allowed us to wallow in fresh water and some locals came and sold us fresh mandarins and honey. They came aboard and accepted cash then we gave them some glass jars, bottles and hats.

    We attempted a barbeque on shore but the cryvacced meat was off! Most disappointing! On the far west of Wetar is an anchorage with hot springs, the villagers there have come from Sulawesi and farm the area with the help of Water Buffalo.

    The springs were low but we got in, but ended up with eye infections which we cured with chamomile tea courtesy of our crew.

    Next stop, Alor Island.

    The chart described messy water at the entrance but we have never seen anything like it. Black as ink swirling pools and waves created purely out of fast water colliding from several directions, it was awesome! At one stage we were barely doing one knot and that was sideways towards a rocky island.

    After what seemed hours we made our way through and once again thanked our holier than holy at times, Perkins motor!

    Another treat was that a bunch of pilot whales, that no doubt like the local fisherman, came to watch us and see if we made it through.

    The main town, Kalabahi, was very interesting. Its inhabitants are a mix of Christian and Muslim, along with a tribe of Buddhist's who still live in traditional ways in the centre of the island. Here we found a friendly Harbour Master, markets, shops and banks and a huge statue of a warrior reputed to be a hero around here.

    Mike met some Swiss tourists who had just got off the ferry. They were horrified that they felt they had arrived at "the end of the earth". Imagine their reaction if they arrived at Babar or Damar islands, where there are little to no facilities at all.

Map Of Damar and Alor Islands - Indonesia