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02 November 2009

Kupang to Komoda - Home of the Dragons

Hello Again

As I said in our last post we had to say good-bye to Brigitte in Kupang. With a heavy heart we sadly took her out to the airport for her 6.30am flight yesterday morning. She flew on Lion Air where the slogan is ‘We Make You Fly’ then Alec and I headed back to SHAMAL and as we watched her plane fly over we upped anchor and set sail for a Komodo about 250nm away where we will see the famous Komodo Dragons. Brigitte has not seen all the lovely places we are yet to visit, but we did a quick run out to an Island just 5 miles off Kupang on her last night so she could have a swim in cleaner waters.
As I am writing this we are sailing up the Sawu Sea about 10nm off the southern coast line of the Island of Flores and can clearly see the chain of Volcanic cones which are quite spectacular. Some are a perfect cone shape. One has a little puff of smoke coming out every so often. The sun is once again setting turning the sea a golden pink colour. Dolphins are jumping in the waters just in front of us silhouetted against a golden red sky. Quite beautiful. We have never before seen so many different types of “local” boats. From dugout canoes with single or double outriggers to large planked vessels of all shapes and sizes. I have taken tons of photos.

As most of you will know Ch16 on ones VHF radio is the emergence channel or the channel by which you make contact with another boat or station and then move to what is known as a working channel to talk. No not here in Indonesia. Ch16 is the chit chat channel. The other morning someone came over with meow meow and answers came back in Indonesian which just encouraged the caller to carry on with their ‘cat’ calls for half the morning!

Sat 17th Oct. We arrived at Loh Liang on the Island of Komodo after a 2 day and 10 ¾ hour trip from Kupang. As we sailed into the bay it reminded us so much of Oman. Stark mountains dropping into the sea, with just the odd bit of green vegetation. The sea conditions were also very interesting with some of the roughest waters in Indonesia especially when you have wind against tide. The waters are quite deep here so the National Park has put in mooring buoys and we were able to tie up to one. We woke the following morning to someone calling out to us. It was one of the local squid fishermen who had left his boat and come over to us with his young son in his tender – a huge piece of polystyrene – to sell us baby squid. We paid with tea, and old pair of Alec’s sandals and a couple of dollars. There must of been about a 100 or so of them each only 3-4 inches long. I put them into the top of the freezer and later that day yes we cleaned each and every one of them. It took us a good hour!!!

But in the morning it was off to see the dragons in the Komodo National Park. We had a very interesting morning doing one of the short walks into the very dry forest with a guide which one has to have with one at all times. He carries a long stick to protect both you and himself, and, yes they are quite big, the largest being around 3mts long and weighing up to 100kg. They have a keen sense of smell being able to smell prey from a kilometre away, only eat dead meat, are cannibalistic, and are top of the food chain here, so look out humans! I took lots of photos and was very glad about the ‘zoom in’ on my camera!! It really was a most interesting morning but very very hot, so in the afternoon we took SHAMAL out to another small Island and there we went snorkelling in beautiful clean clear waters which was just lovely. Water temperature just perfect and lots of fish and corals to see. We went back to the Park that night for our first Indonesian meal. Very nice too.

The next morning we were awake just after 5.00am so Alec suggested we go back for more dragon spotting. We did a longer walk and this time Alec and I insisted we carry sticks as well. We saw even more dragons along with Timor deer, wild pigs [dragons main meals]and numerous birds. Then our guide invited us back to his village for coffee. The village houses are all built on stilts, not only to keep them cool but also to protect them from the dragons. We met the whole family and half the village. The children are just delightful and a group of them either swam out or took a canoe, and yes the kid with the polystyrene tender also turned up, to say good bye. Another fascinating experience.

Will sign out.

love to you all

The Admiral and the Captain

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