We sailed to Rinka Island, one of the Komodo Islands in Indonesia, home of the famous Komodo Dragons. Our cruising guide mentioned that the dragons are the most active and scary early in the morning so we were ashore by 0600 hrs. These dragons are not in captivity, they are not fed by the wardens on the island, so can get quite aggressive when hungry. We are accompanied by a guide carrying a long stick to protect us if necessary, and in fact one did get a little feisty.
Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world, reaching up to 3m. They are carnivores and can move very quickly to catch their prey, which die quickly from the toxic bite. They are also cannibals and will eat their own babies, so as soon as the babies hatch from the egg, they scamper up a tree to escape their own mother.
As we wandered around the island, we saw dozens of them, on and off the paths. We were never really at ease, always looking behind and jumping at every sound. At one point, two males started fighting near us and all of a sudden one of them dashed off towards us at lightening speed with his foe right on his tail. Our guide just about had a heart attack as he tried to protect us with his long stick. Seriously, he was more frightened than we were at the closeness of this event. He later told us that a year ago the same thing had happened and a young girl was killed.
Our next stop was Lombok, 60 nms away. Sailing between these islands can be quite treacherous with the strong winds and currents that funnel through the narrow channels. My entry in the log read “We endured one of our worst nights at sea ever. All night long, short steep waves caused by 40 knot winds and strong counter currents, crashed over the boat and into the cockpit, coming from all directions”. It was horrendous. We were racing along at 7 knots under triple reefed main and staysail, anxious not to arrive before sunrise at the reef – strewn entrance into the anchorage.
At first light, we dropped anchor in a very protected bay, where the broken remains of a small marina were the first signs of the devastation of the recent earthquake, just 6 weeks before.
A tour of the island showed the extent of the devastation which prompted a group of cruisers to offer to help rebuild one of the school’s classrooms. We had to learn to build in their traditional style, using bamboo as the main structural pieces and lashing it together with hemp line.
The local people were delighted that so many boats had come to visit. It was very humbling that these people who have lost so much but who insisted on serving us a traditional meal and giving us a display of their music and dance.
Many of us sailed on to Bali, but a few yachts stayed on until the official opening of the new school room. So satisfying to have been a small part of this project.
Not only are we happy to visit Bali but our kids, Francoise and Loic, are flying in here to join us on board Mai Tai for a couple of weeks.
Lovina, is a small city on the northern coast of Bali and away from the busy more touristy areas to the south. It was the perfect anchorage to stay while we visited the beautiful island of Bali and enjoy all the festivities of the 3- day Lovina festival.
Loic and I participated in a cooking class, then we were hosted by the local government and tourism to a big gala dinner as a farewell and thank you for visiting Bali.
Our next island, Bawean, is over 200miles to the north.
The lovely little island of Bawean was a 3 day/ 2 night passage from Bali, and Francoise and Loic proved to be excellent crew, allowing Lane and I to get plenty of sleep.
Bawean gets very few visitors, so as we came ashore we were welcomed by members of the Indonesian tourism dept and managed to hire some motor bikes for the day to tour the island.
We found this small island was one of so many contrasts. There were beautiful Mosques in every village, thatch houses on the rice paddies, restaurants built on stilts over the sea around the coast, and beautiful homes that reflect the era of the European days.
We could easily have spent another couple of days here, but we have an exciting trip booked at our next destination in Kumai, on the island of Kalimantan (Borneo). A jungle river cruise to see the Orangetuns.