Indonesia: land of tasty food and great natural beauty

After sailing non-stop for eight days from Saumlaki, we anchored at Gili Bodo Island, 16 nm north of Labuan Bajo. This two-day stop was very welcome and we thoroughly enjoyed the snorkeling.

A colourful marine filter feeder, an Oxheart Ascidian, with its urn-shaped, hollow body with two siphons.
Atriolum robustum – colonial turnicates or sea squirts.

We arrived at Labuan Bajo well in time for Steve’s visit and to attend to more engine problems. We realized that the new battery that we had bought in Saumlaki had been destroyed, and we were battling to determine the cause of the problem. With the help of our former electrician, Benjamin from Fiji, who had previously re-conditioned the port starter motor and alternator, Pete determined that somehow elements of the engine electrical system had burnt out.  He replaced the engine fan (fortunately we had a spare on board) which had literally melted, and bought and installed a new relay and battery.

Pete hadn’t seen his son since we left Cape Town in January 2018, so we were very excited to have Steve on board and anticipated spending most of the ten days in the Komodo National Park. This turned out to be a very worthwhile area to explore, in spite of extremely strong tidal currents of up to six knots which were definitely attention grabbing!

The tourist boats around Labuan Bajo are beautiful, reminiscent of pirate ships.
It was a short but steep little hike up to the viewpoint of Padar Island. (Photo: Steven Barber)
Enjoying sundowners and the beautiful view. (Photo: Steven Barber)

Komodo dragons are endemic to four islands in the Komodo National Park only.  It is estimated that there are about 6 000 of these giant lizards left in the wild.  We did two hikes on Komodo Island and, even though they are shy during the mating season, we were fortunate to see a few of these magnificent carnivores, which are able to consume prey as large as horses and water buffalo.

A Komodo dragon uses its tongue to detect scent.
Komodo dragons are the world’s largest lizards.

At Turtle Point off Siaba Besar Island, we enjoyed some magnificent snorkeling. Apart from spectacular coral, the number of turtles was astounding. These gentle giants seemed accustomed to people, so we could enjoy them close-up. The only other place where we had experienced this was in English Harbour on Antigua Island in the Caribbean. However, for the first time we saw them sleeping on the bottom.

Swim with turtles to your heart’s delight.

In the meantime we had realized that our port engine problem was not over yet, after we lost another brand new battery! Pete and Steve spent about a day, figuring out that the cranking battery alternator had a faulty regulator which overcharged the battery and dried out the plates. Fortunately we could order a replacement alternator through a local mechanic and have it sent to Lombok.

Enjoying drinks with Steve at the Komodo Resort.
The sea life in Indonesia is magnificent.

After we dropped Steve in Labuan Bajo for his flight back home, Pete installed the new mainsail top slider, which Steve brought from South Africa.

Heading west to Lombok

From Labuan Bajo we headed west towards Lombok, stopping over at some delightful bays and visiting some interesting villages.

We did a sunset walk on Gililawa Laut Island.
Another beautiful Indonesian sunset at Monco Bay.
Moondust anchored at Banta Island.

On Sumbawa Island we found the people of Wera village to be quite skilled. The men built huge boats right on the beach while the women wove.

The boats are mostly held together with wooden pegs that are pounded in, then left to dry and finally pounded in again.  The hulls often have thousands of these pegs sticking out, prior to being trimmed. 
The local women weave some colourful cloths.
The people are extremely welcoming and this group of girls wanted photos taken with us.

From Kananga village on Sumbawa, we dinghied nearly 4km  to Satonda Island. It’s an interesting volcanic island with a large lake filling the caldera. As we hiked past to the beach, we became aware of high pitched squeaking and we were surprised to see a multitude of fruit bats roosting in the trees and periodically soaring into the valley.

Our trek to Satonda Island.
Standing on the rim of the crater lake.
Thousands of fruit bats on Satonda island.

Lombok

Once we sailed on to Lombok, we decided to do a day-trip to visit the agricultural highlands. The valley below the volcanic Mount Rinjani is extremely fertile, with many springs from the mountain providing water for the variety of vegetables, rice and peanuts grown here. We hiked 3km through some amazing rain forest to two beautiful waterfalls.

Sendang Gila is the smaller of the two falls.
Tiu Kelep waterfall.
We had to cross the river a few times to get to Tiu Kelep.
Enjoying Lombok coffee with fellow cruiser Hürgen Rubow.
A roadside vegetable stall.
The fertile valley below 3 700m high Mount Rinjani.

At Mataram, the capital of Lombok, we managed to buy yet another new battery and stock up for the long passage home. We were relieved that, with only eight days before our currrent visas expire, I received my visa for Australia, which meant I would also be allowed on shore at Christmas Island and Cocos Keeling.

We had in the meantime learned that Madagascar was not open to yachts, which was a huge disappointment to me as it was on my bucket list. We explored alternative options and decided to head straight past the northern tip of Madagascar to Tanzania, which apparently offers some good cruising ground.

Bali

With a few days to spare we decided to take the fast ferry over to Bali from Gili Air. We stayed in Ubud, known as Bali’s art and cultural capital, at a delightful guesthouse and rented a scooter to visit nearby attractions.

Our guesthouse was representative of the Balinese architecture.

We found Bali completely different from the rest of Indonesia that we have thus far seen. The Balinese are mostly Hindu, gentle friendly folk, and they have a distinctive architecture and great food.

Some rice paddies along the way.
The Ulun Danu Beratan Hindu temple is situated on Lake Danau Beratan.
The Tegallalang rice terraces are simply beautiful.
A rice panicle from close-up.
Nestling high above the Tegallalang rice terraces.
Sharing the water of a coconut.
The Leke Leke waterfall.

Crossing the Indian Ocean

The new alternator finally arrived, with just days to go and Pete managed to install it along with the new battery, to enable us to depart Indonesia by our visa deadline, 11th August. Then we start the long passage (7500km) across the Indian Ocean to Africa, via Christmas Island and Cocos Keeling, where we plan to arrive in the cruising grounds of Tanzania by end September.

Indonesia has more than 18 000 islands and with only 60 days available, we have actually seen a very small part of it. We found Indonesia interesting and we really enjoyed the sea life, tasty food and friendly Indonesians, but for Pete the language difficulties (for technical issues), the lack of wind and very deep anchorages were a downside of sailing in this amazing country.

Our route through Indonesia.

11 Replies to “Indonesia: land of tasty food and great natural beauty”

  1. Hi Pete & Karin, what an amazing journey , your stories and pics are brilliant, can’t believe you are heading to Tanzania already, and will be back in Africa, fair winds and safe sailing, cheers chris & carol

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You really have had an amazing journey and sorry about the problems you have had with the battery. Hope you have a great time sailing to Tanzania and we look forward to hearing about your trip. Lol Sue and Ant

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like you had a relaxing time on the Island in preparation for the last long leg home . Glad you finally sorted the charging problem, wishing you a safe journey with fair winds .Love Roger and Lorraine .

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    1. Thanks for the good wishes. We hope the charging problem is finally sorted! Looks like you had a wonderful trip with the vintage cars recently. Looking forward to seeing you guys at home. Big hug to both of you.

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  4. Wow an amazing trip . I’m sure you know a lot about batteries and charger by now .
    Must have been great for you to see Steve . He must have loved those two weeks with you.
    Hope those sticky Dacron are ok .
    At least you have enough to keep you going. Hopefully you will not need to much .
    Love both your feed back all those videos are amazing.
    Wishing you both all the very best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for you feedback, Et. We used the dacron yesterday to patch a little hole in the jenniker and some tears in the sock, so we are extremely grateful for it! See you at home by the end of the year. All the best until then.

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