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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
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
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