Monday 30 September 2019

September Newsletter

News from the Crew of Matilda
September  2019
Moonshdow sitting ever so peacefully at anchor in Damo Bay, Flores, Indonesia.
Ships log 
  • September 3: 20.9nm's to the atoll - Karang Makaser. Picked up a mooring at 08 31.62S, 119 35.16E in 18.2mtrs.
  • September 4: 20.3nm's to Labuan Bajo, Flores. Anchored at 08 30.38S, 119 52.41E in 18.2mtrs.
  • September 10: 21.1nm's to Gili Bodo, Flores. Anchored at 08 22.15S, 120 00.92E in 22.1mtrs.
  • September 12: 13.6nm's to Bari Bay, Flores. Anchored at 08 21.76S, 120 08.03E in 17.7mtrs.
  • September 14: 32.8nm's to Lingeh Bay, Flores. Anchored at 08 16.60S, 120 36.02E in 14.9mtrs.
  • September 16: 31.8nm's to Damo Bay,Flores. Anchored at 08 23.44S, 121 00.04E in 9mtrs.
  • September 18: 9.2nm's to Riung, Flores. Anchored at 08 24.588S, 121 01.698E in 10.4mtrs.
  • September 22: 37.7nm's to Ciendah Bay, Flores. Anchored at 08 36.36S, 121 31.41E in 12.1mtrs.
  • September 23: 32.9nm's to Batu Boga, Flores. Anchored at 08 27.625S, 121 56.635E in 20.4mtrs.
  • September 24: 34.9nm's to Maumere - SeaWorld, Flores. Anchored at 08 38.04S, 122 18.49E in 18mtrs.
  • September 26: 47.4nm's to Gedong, Flores. Anchored at 08 04.69S, 122 50.68E in 14 mtrs. 
  • September 27: 32.7nm's to Kroko Atol (out the front of Adonara Island). Anchored at 08 14.55S, 123 19.35E in 25mtrs.
  • September 30: 26.3nm's to Pulau Kawula - Balurin. Anchored at 08 14.35S, 123 42.53E in 20.5mtrs.
This is what Indonesia is all about, meeting local characters and this young lady and her brother were very entertaining.

Crew log:
September saw us still in Labuan Bajo (LB) waiting for our passports to be returned with our visa extension stamps so we could commence our 200 nautical mile journey along the island of Flores. The visas took much longer than we expected but we were grateful to have our passports back in hand by September 9.

Yes you read it right, they are promoting smoking - We could not work out why.

Finally after 9 days our Captains are all smiles. 

While we waited for our passports both crews decided not to sit around the bay at LB but to go and try our luck in picking up a mooring ball in an atoll. A remarkable thing happens with people who meet in anchorages. When we were at anchor at Loh Serau, Komodo Island we watched another yacht come in and drop his anchor not far from a large coral patch. We went over and pointed out the patch, then invited him to drop his anchor quite close to Moonshadow and Matilda. The Captain was thrilled to drop his anchor in a safer place. It’s quite reefy in that bay and incredibly deep not far from shore, 30+ mtrs and drops rapidly making anchoring a little tricky. Later that afternoon he dropped by and on a scrap of paper gave us a waypoint to an atoll with 4 moorings. Being brave, we took off for the atoll.

A local dive boat passing us by the exposed reef.

Yep more sail repairs for our poor main sail.
Sitting inside a coral atoll is hard to describe to those who live on land. Firstly to get in we had to enter the atoll via a narrow break in the reef. To navigate in we used Google Earth charts with Open CPN on our chart plotter, which is an amazing tool. It allowed us to see the reefs we had to navigate to get to the atoll and then to enter the atoll. We simply would not have been able to navigate without Google’s help.

Looking on from Matilda's bow it was easy to see the difference in the water colour.
Once inside we both picked up one the four moorings. Not long after we were all settled we took off in the dingy to go snorkeling and exploring. The atoll has a small island in it so we buzzed around that then jumped in for a snorkel. The outgoing current was very strong, and I don’t think one of us hardly kicked our flippers. We just hung onto the tender steps and line and drifted over the coral. The protected reef offered beautiful corals and loads of fish. It was a great snorkel.

Moonshadow on her mooring in the atoll.
At low tide the reef showed itself, giving off a very pungent odor. It’s a surreal feeling floating in near 20mtrs of water, yet not far from you is a near complete circle of exposed reef. Outside the currents where fierce forcing water onto the reef creating a great show of white water.

White water coming in over the reef with the next reef clearly visable in the background.
At dusk we had the most beautiful sun set over Komodo Island all to oursevles.

After a day and a half we had to go back to LB to collect our passports, do a final provision and we ate once more at the Burger Time café before continuing our trek east along Flores. We were thankful that the currents were not as nasty as those in the straits around Komodo and Makassar Reef. At one point we were literally going backwards, then sideways and our chart-plotter showed us we had a 90 degree angle at one point, however we did clock 10knots over ground which is incredible for us.

Excuse me...........

Our speed log showing us doing just over 10 knots with few rev's on our engine. An amazing current.
During our original passage planning we knew that Flores would offer easy days sailing with wonderfully calm anchorages each night. We were not wrong. Our first anchorage was only 20nm’s east of LB at Gili Bodo. A small island with a large patch of sand between two reef systems which you can anchor on. It was so calm we decided to stay another day and do some boat jobs and chores. A late afternoon snorkel proved how beautiful this area is and Bruce got some great footage of the coral and fish.

An amazing shot as the sun just kisses the ocean as it sets over Gili Bodo.
Next day we had a very quick motor (no wind) around to Bari Bay. This anchorage has 3 positions to choose from. A is out the front of a small town, but we didn’t feel like being massed in children so we kept going to B. This anchorage was exposed to the swell and we got our anchor stuck and then while hauling it up, we snagged the chain as well which was very upsetting. 

We felt pretty bad about this but glad we got our anchor back.
After retrieving the anchor & chain it was no surprise we moved on from there and went deeper into Bari Bay to anchorage C, turned out to be a great choice. This anchorage is behind the island of Longgo and if you have ever been in the back waters of Cowan Creek, Sydney NSW that is what is was like. Dead still and so quiet, it was magic. We spent another lay day here snorkeling, buzzing around in the tender and tackling the never ending boat jobs. At dusk we watched 1000’s of fruit bats fly overhead on their pilgrimage to find dinner. What a great sight that was.

A local fisherman in Bari Bay, his balance was 10/10.
From Bari Bay we went to Lingeh Bay and for the first time we recognized how much we have grown as sailors. Back in 2016 we came into Lingeh Bay but chose the safer (to us) but more exposed anchorage at that time. The guide book showed there was another anchorage in the bay but behind a reef – in 2016 this was just way to scary. Now 3 years later in we went without hesitation. Our experiences of navigating reef with the assistance of Google Earth overlays in Open CPN has changed the way we view anchorages. 

Moonshadow also using Open CPN had no issues coming in behind the reef (which is visable in this shot).
For our effort it was dead flat calm behind the reef and tucked up tight behind the headland we had no wind. Not long after being at anchor a few young men came out to say hi and see if we had anything for them. We gave them some tennis balls, exercise books and pencils which they were very happy with. 

A couple of young lads very happy with their stash.
The full moon rising here behind the headland was a spectacular sight. 

Hows this for a treat....the protection from the hill gave us such stability I could grab this shot.
After another easy day at anchor we made our way to Damo or Damu Bay depending on which chart you read and stayed for another couple of days. This was dreamlike being in here as it’s a complete backwater once you navigate the reef outside and then the reef edges as you go in behind the island of Untelue. Sunsets and sunrises where unreal. 

Early morning sunrise....

Moonshadow was never far away from Matilda, they kept a keen eye on each other.

Margie & Jeremy enjoying a ride in the tender.

A very happy local fisherman.

This place was like glass. The only other time we have seen such still water was during a road trip to Tasmania.
Next day a quick trip in and out of yet more reef and into Riung. In 2016 the sleepy town of Riung made a huge impression on us and this time it was even harder to depart. The locals here welcome you like family, they greet you with such excitement it’s wonderful, and their generosity and help is overwhelming. 

This is the main street of Riung, complete with free roaming stock.

One day while enjoyinga cold Bintang (beer) we watched the launching of a new fishing boat.

The view from our cafe.
We refueled both boats here with several helpers and spent some time with our friend Armando. Since our last visit he had met and married the love of his life, Maxime who is Dutch. Margie and Maxime really enjoyed sitting and chatting all things Dutch. 

A young girl watching us walk around her town, and giving a lovely smile for the camera.

This chap requested me to take his photo while Bruce orgaised the diesel. He wasnt that serious when the camera was  down, he actually had a lovely smile. His wife in the background has her whitening cream on her face.

Our diesel guys, and they were very happy.

The local kids thought Bruce was a hoot.

Bruce helping our diesel delivery boy go under the chain fence (it had no clip to undo).
While at Riung one day Bruce and I noticed a lady doing traditional weaving on her loom in her front garden under a tree. We both felt intrigued as she was putting on the finishing touches to a lovely piece of fabric. After asking her the price we felt the AU$60 was well worth her effort. One piece takes her a total of 3 months to make from spinning, dying and weaving the piece. Her family were thrilled to have their photos taken with us.

The lady who did the weaving is next to Deb and the other lady is her Mum.

Naturally the men wanted their own photo with Bruce....Note the chicken in the arms of the guy on the far left - its dinner.

She was so proud she wanted me to photograph her at her working station (note the rubble behind her).
One special afternoon Armando bought out his guitar and handed it to Jeremy. We all love listening to Jeremy play and what a treat is was having Maxime sing for us, while Armando played ‘Hit The Road Jack’. Maximes voice was like an angel’s. Thanks to Jeremy, here is a video for you to enjoy.

We are proud to support Armando and Maxime in their business venture to operate a lovely cafe and guest house in Riung. Their business premise was spotlessly clean, friendly and full of laughter. If you happen to go to Riung look them up on Google or Facebook at:

During our stay, Armando and a driver took us to the town of Mbay for some provisioning and to find a working ATM as the only one in Riung was not working. The drive in was interesting as some of the roads along this stretch of Flores are in very bad shape. Even one of the bridges we needed to cross had collapsed so we had to detour and drive over a shallow river. Life is never boring doing what we would consider simple tasks when your land based. Getting to an ATM and local shops took us just over 8 hours.

Armando getting in a snooze on the way back.

Margie with some local kids.

Bruce and Armando with some local lads at the street market.

We spotted Armando's Aunty 

Our crossing complete with local ladies doing their washing,,,,

More local lads at the market, Bruce is in the background buying bananas.

I don't think Bruce will get this when he is in Coles next....hahaha.

The street markets were so colourful.
Leaving Riung meant we were now on a mission to get to Maurmere for our next visa extension. Our stops included Ciendah Bay which had the most incredible amount of squid boats in its harbor. Batu Boga was a real treat. We were in a collapsed volcanic crater which created the most unreal surroundings. Then onto Maurmere for the visa extensions. 

As we were coming into Batu Boga we laughed at the birds resting on a local FAD.

Matilda entering the bay at Batu Boga. This anchorage was in a crator.

Moonshadow coming into Batu Boga.
As it turned out our stay in Maurmere was fabulous. The anchorage out the front of SeaWorld was very well behaved which was great, because we were all a bit concerned the north east swell would be coming directly into the anchorage creating a revolting roll, but it did not giving us calm conditions for our stay. A couple of locals came out to see if we needed any fruits or diesel, which we did. This was a bonus as it freed up some weight of our later purchases at the market. 

The anchorage at Maurmere.
The visa extension process was brilliant at Maurmere. Once our anchors were set, we all took off for a bemo (local bus) for the Immigrassi office. These bemo's are so much fun, everyone crams in. We made it to the office with about 1/2hr to spare before they closed. We were able to complete our forms, then gave us our bills and were then told to return close to 4pm the next day - the next day!!! 

Happy Captains at the Maurmere Immigration.
The local market was a busy place.
We all left Immigrasi feeling very happy, and then a local bloke pulled up and yelled out 'taxi'. We agreed on a price and he drove us back to the SeaWorld resort. On the way he told us he is a local guide and is quite busy. We were not surprised because he spoke very good English and he was very informative. He offered his services the next day, again we all agreed on a price (AU$50) for him and his car for as long as we needed him the next day. Once back we had such a good afternoon we all decided to celebrate with drinks and nibbles at the SeaWorld Resort and watch yet another remarkable sunset.

Sunset at Maurmere.
Next day after a morning of yet more boat jobs and laundry we meet our driver and took off. We had a fabulous day consisting of dropping into a local BNI bank to use their atm and to pay our visa extension bills. We were quite surprised how busy the bank was inside and we were the only foreigners. Eventually this got the better of the door guard and he came over and asked us what we were all doing there. After explaining our position we got the royal treatment and were ushered into a 'private' booth to pay our visa extension bills. The funny thing was just as we were leaving all the power went out in the building and then the fire alarm went off. It did look a bit suspect as the only westerners left the building with all the alarms ringing!!!

Imigrassi Maurmere.
Then it was off for a lovely lunch with our driver where we all enjoyed learning about his life and children. He had sold his home to put his kids through university which costs AU$10,000 per child for their 4 years of chosen study. He brought a cheaper house to do this and now works long hours to make up the short fall. It was a humbling experience listening to him. Then we went back to Immigrassi which proved a bit of bad timing on our behalf as the boss who had to sign off on our extensions had gone to lunch (we called in about 2.30pm). So the ladies asked us to wait as it would only be 20 minutes before his return. 2 hours later, still no boss so a quick scooter ride by one of the staff members with our papers in hand to the boss still at lunch for his signature and we were done. We never had a photo taken or our finger prints done here. A wonderful, quick and painless service at Maurmere. 

Jeremy waiting for our visa'a to be returned.
On the way home we got Moonshadow an Indo gas bottle and regulator. Then we all called into the markets and stocked up. Then our day and our time at Maurmere drew to a close. As we leave each place we all reflect on our time at each stop, wishing like mad we had more time to simply enjoy it and not be on such a mission each time we go ashore. Our next and final stop in Indonesia will be The Tanimbars and we must make a move so we are in place for the jump to Australia. It’s a fair distance to travel, being approx. 500nm's and the northerlies are starting to blow.

The team ordering a snack at Seaworld.
The morning we left Maurmere Margie spotted a huge whale, we think it was a Sperm or Blue Whale, it was huge. It was great watching the whale as it lazily made its way through the bay, what a treat. We made our way to Gedong which we had stopped at on the way up in 2016. It still felt odd being so close to shore as the bay is over 180mtrs deep until it reaches the shoreline where it gradually but predictably shallows to 40, 30, 20 and then 10 mtrs. We dropped our anchor in 14mtrs and Matilda settled back in over 40mtrs - amazing. 

Margie & Jeremy on the bow of Moonshadow (who is driving the boat?).

Sunrise as we leave Maurmere - Jeremy on the bow.

Gedong - these ladies were bringing down supplies for a water taxi.
To finish off the month we stopped at Kroko Atoll, OMG what a place. The atoll is out the front of Adonara Island, next to Lamalera Island and we were surrounded by 4 volcanos, 3 of which are still active and regularly puff out smoke. The atoll is fringed by reef with 4 small islands inside it. We went for a snorkel but sadly now the coral is just rubble with few fish to be seen. We did enjoy an afternoon on the only sand spit in the atoll with the crew and guests of a local dive boat, Seven Seas. It was interesting to hear the Australian owner’s story and lovely to meet his family. The sand spit was a very busy place with the locals who come out to take selfies as the sun set each afternoon. 

The sandbar at Kroko.

About 2 weeks before we arrived unfortunately a local trader hit the reef outside and was sunk.

The loss of the trader meant the locals had a wonderful 'free' source of timber etc.

Everysingle afternoon loads of locals came out to enjoy the sandspit.

The Seven Sea's phinisi dive boat.
As the month drew to a close it saw us leave the atoll via a natural gutter in the reef between two islands. It all looked fairly straight forward thanks to Google Earth. However, the current got a hold of Matilda and how we missed hitting the reef is a miracle. Our depth went from 24mtrs to the 1 meter alarm sounding in a few minutes. With hearts in our mouths and Bruce gunning the engine like I've never heard it roar before he was able to turn Matilda away.  It is the first time current has ever grab a hold of us like that before and we are not ashamed to say we got the fright of our lives and it took us several hours to calm down from the adrenaline rush. 

Moonshadow at anchor at Kroko.

Moonshadow dwarfed as she motors under the volcano Lliboleng standing 1659mtrs tall
Our very last day of September was spent at anchor in the natural harbour of Balurin on the island of Kawula. Sitting in the harbour away from the wharf we heard children playing, rosters crowing nonstop, live music, motor bikes, local fishermen puttering around and goats bleating - it was all very homely. And what a treat it was having sundowners in the cockpit watching yet another truly magnificent sunset over a volcano. 

Matilda entering the harbour of Balurin, Kawula.

The township of Balurin was very pretty.

Sunset over a volcano.
We are looking forward to what October brings us with our visits to Alor and our jump off point, The Tanimbars, and all the islands in between.

The locals at Balurin, Kawula were so intrigued they kept bringing out the kids to have a look at the two boats.