Friday, 14 August 2015

Episode 40 Indonesia - Central Nusa Tenggara

Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures

Welcome to Episode 40

INDONESIA
CENTRAL NUSA TENGGARA


During Episode 39, we spent time in Alor diving & exploring and had travelled along the Eastern Nusa Tenggara Island chain.
 We had just arrived at Labuan Bajo – the gateway to The Komodo National Park.

Our location for this Episode of the Blog.

Our route for this Episode of the Blog.


LABUAN BAJO

Our first impressions of Labuan Bajo from Lorelei were great.
Loads of islands of all shapes and sizes offset by blue, clear and flat water.


We had found a great anchorage about 1km north of the main town in a quiet bay so we were away from the busy hustle and bustle of the main harbour and eliminated the need to have any contact with the Harbour Master.

When we went ashore our opinions changed pretty quickly.
The main wharf and harbour area was nice enough but walking up the main street wasn’t.



Due to Labuan Bajo being the main centre for tourism and access to the Komodo area, the town is a popular area for tourists.
Unfortunately the town does not reflect this and we thought it was poorly laid out, dirty, dusty and in a poor state of repair.
Considering the huge amount of money injected by tourism, we were expecting something a little better.
After being in the country now for 9 months we are very use to the types of towns in the regional areas but this was well below par.

The craziest thing though was the amount of dive shops in the main street.
We counted over 20 dive stores all with their own live aboard and day boat with signs plastered all over the street trying to get tourists in and get them signed up.
And this was just the dive shops…
That didn’t include the 30 or so booking agents for Komodo Dragon and land based tours.

Having worked in the dive industry and lived in areas with a huge diving culture (like Cairns) we are very used to the diving way of life, however we thought this was a bit over the top.
Paul put a photo collage together of all the dive shops to give you an idea of the enormity of it.


We decided to lash out for lunch and go to a seafood restaurant that had nice harbour views.
We had to order 3 times as they kept returning saying they had none of the seafood we ordered.
After waiting for over 75 minutes for our chicken meals, we walked out.

Treetops Seafood Restaurant – Nice views, limited seafood, long waits…

That arvo we went to the Komodo National Park Tourism Office and Immigration but both were closed.  It was a Tuesday….

We returned to Lorelei a little shocked at how the day had turned out.


The next day went from bad to worse when we went to immigration.
It was to be our 7th visa renewal in Indo.
And (surprise, surprise) the things that were required had changed yet again from the last renewal.
We won’t go right into it but what they wanted us to do was completely out of line and incorrect.
We were at a standstill and sought the assistance of our sponsor in Bali and our Agent in Kupang before continuing.


We tried to not let the first 36 hours get us down and decided to move on and start to enjoy ourselves and the area for what is was.
Sure enough, like most places we have been to in Indo, the local people were fantastic and very accommodating.

We met Joseph, a nice man who lives opposite the main wharf.
He organised a great berth at the wharf for our RIB anytime we needed it and we felt it was very safe there, day and night.

Joseph also organised to get Lorelei refueled.
We couldn’t believe we were bunkering again.
When we refueled in Kupang 30 days ago we expected the diesel would last at least until Bali and hopefully until Borneo in Nov but with the unseasonal westerly winds and currents, it wasn’t the case.


Day 3 of our Bajo experience turned out fantastic.
We hired Peter’s car and a local guide Matheius for the morning.
We went out to the local markets and did a large restock of fresh fruit and veg.


Then we went to a cave system called “Batu Cermin” or the Stone Mirror Cave system.
The cave system was awesome.
We had to have a guide and for most of the internal area, a hard hat.







Paul took his 10mm fish eye lens, tripod and our 2 large dive lights.
After practising in the Kupang caves, we were becoming confident with long camera exposures and using the dive lights to wave around and illuminate certain areas.
We are unsure of the name of the technique but it was working well and we were rewarded with some well lit shots of the large caverns.

Note Lisa and her light in the background


This shot below was a dual effort.
Lisa maned the camera and illuminated the foreground areas.
Paul sat still up high on the rock holding a light behind his back and waved it around to illuminate the background of the cave.



We found some cute little micro bats and flying foxes inside the caves.


On our return to the wharf we were happy to find Joseph had found and purchased some fresh Cumi Cumi (Squid) at the fish markets for us.
 He had cleaned and bagged them up for us.

From there we rushed home, stashed the shopping, showered, changed and went to a child’s Catholic Baptism.
Peter, Matheius and Joseph were all going so they asked us if we wished to come so we gratefully accepted.

Hendrik and Maria were the parents and hosts (it was at their house) and are lovely people who own the www.gotokomodo.com travel and guiding business.

The priest was a really funny guy and the ceremony was light hearted with lots of singing, prayers and laughing people.



Lunch was plentiful and great.


In the afternoon the music kicked in, the singing started and so did the dancing.


Maria the host is an excellent singer

Some of the men in their traditional dress were happy to pose for photos with us.



Paul and Blasius got on famously and had a great afternoon together.
He gave Paul the traditional hat as a gift.


IMMIGRATION……….

The immigration saga ended very badly.
We had involved our Agent and Sponsor to sort out the issues.
They had sent emails to us and phoned us & immigration.
Agents were telling us to do one thing and immigration was requesting another.
We were the meat in the sandwich and didn’t know which way to turn.
We knew without a doubt that our agents were completely correct and what immigration was asking was wrong.
However when the agents are 100’s of miles away and Immigration are holding our Passports and threatening us with deportation, we had no option but to comply.
However it came at a huge cost as they were very angry that we had sided with our agents.
We were grilled, had stern talking’s to and were still threatened with deportation because we had offended them. 
Lisa took most of the tirade.
In the end at 7pm on a Friday night, Lisa was issued with our passports with a new 30 day visa.
We were told not to return, had been blacklisted and were not allowed back to Labuan Bajo Immigration ever.

We were shocked.
We had done all the correct paperwork, had arrived in time, smiling, happy and appropriately dressed for business. 
And this is how we were treated.
All because their interpretation of the law and procedures for yachts was different from all other immigration offices we had visited.
                                                           
By Friday night we were completely drained – emotionally, physically and mentally.
It had been a pretty wild few weeks.
Our friend Nathan was arriving at 9:30am the next morning and we needed to find some energy fast!


Welcome Mr. Nathan Evans

Nathan was also having his share of woes. The Denpasar airport in Bali had been closed on and off for days now as ash from a nearby active volcano was blanketing the area.
1000’s of tourists were stranded in Bali as the major carriers cancelled their flights.
At one stage we didn’t think Nathan would make it but they opened the airport on the Thursday arvo and he flew in Friday morning from Sydney (albeit a few hours late).
He over-nighted in Bali and took a smaller plane to Labuan Bajo on Saturday morning.

Paul went to pick him up from the airport and was amazed to see this super modern and fantastic looking airport just 5 minutes out of town.
It had been built for the Sail Komodo Rally in 2013.



It was so awesome to catch up with Nathan again.
Aside from Paul’s parents George and Chez, Nathan is the only person who has ever joined us whilst we have cruised full time on both Lorelei and our catamaran Purranha.
Nathan’s time onboard Purranha in 2002/2003 was probably the best weather we had in our whole 3.5 years of cruising on our cat.

An oldie but a goodie of us and Nathan 13 years ago cruising on Purranha.

Nathan onboard Purranha with a 55lb Cobia Kingfish and Coral Trout

We had lots of catching up to do and went out for lunch in town before spending the arvo on Lorelei drinking and chatting away.


On the way home from lunch we stopped in the harbour to show Nathan the traditional Phinisi Boats, many of which were set up as dive boats.



SCUBA DIVING KOMODO

Our routes through the Komodo National Park.

The next day was straight into the activities.

After doing a lot of research on the dive sites in Komodo, we surmised that it would be prudent to dive with a local operator, particularly considering there were now three of us and most of the dive sites had strong currents.

So we looked for a local operator to go with.
We had heard many good reports from other yachts about The Komodo Dive Center.
The other thing that they had in their favour was unlike most operators, they did not promote dive courses for beginners and instead the dive staff prided themselves on being excellent guides for advanced divers.
The boat only took 11 guests too so numbers were small.
We visited their shop the day before and they gave us a great standby rate so we booked on.

Best of all their boat was moored in the next bay north from Lorelei and they had to drive right past us to go to the main wharf to pick the guests up.
So they simply stopped on the way and we loaded us and our gear on.



It took 90 minutes to get to the sites so we all relaxed on the top deck or hung out and took photos.




They first day we dived 3 sites around the central part of the National Park.

The first 2 dives were screaming drift dives which we great fun but made it a little hard to take photos.
Lisa left her camera in the boat for them.





We had some thumping big fish overhead including large GT’s, Blue Line Trevally and Long Nosed Emperor.
The 2 photos below are of the same Long Nose Emperor as he swam around Paul changing colour.





In between dives we would normally moor in a nice protected bay on one of the many islands.
Because you cannot anchor, boats would raft up or tie off the back of one another.



Lunch on the boat was great with enough room to eat downstairs at the table.


In the arvo we dived one of the premier sites called Batu Bolong.
In the world’s Top 100 dives list, Batu Bolong comes in at No.26.
It is a round volcano style pinnacle.
With the normally strong currents you dive on just one face and zig-zag up and down but the current had slowed during the dive and we were able to swim right around which is unusual.
The guides liken the dive to swimming in a fish bowl or aquarium.
It was an incredible dive with lots to see and millions of fish both large and small.






Lisa took her camera on the dive and got some great shots including Pygmy Seahorses and Leaf Fish.

Pygmy Seahorse.











By the time we got back to the wharf the sun was setting putting a dull glow over the scores of boats in the harbour.


We got home, charged cameras, ate and flaked into bed stuffed.
We were still stuffed when the alarm went off at 5am….

The next day we were going to Komodo’s premier dive locations which were at the top of the National Park.
It was going to be a long trip of 2+ hours each way so they picked us up an hour earlier that day.
We only had 6 guests onboard for the day and all were very experienced which was great.

The 3 of us having a sleep on the boat waiting for the
other guests to arrive.

The packed wharf at daybreak.

The equally packed harbour at daybreak. 

One thing we thought was excellent on the boat was the quality of the dive briefs. We think they are the most comprehensive briefs we have experienced outside of Australia.
And they need to be.
With huge currents, up & down surges, many things to look for and specific routes to take it makes for a detailed briefing.


We did the first dive at a pass between 2 islands called The Cauldron.
It is known to have a strong current but for our dive the current was mild making for a slow and incredible dive and one of the best we have ever done.
We saw Manta Rays, Sharks, loads of fish and some unusual small creatures.
Lisa was in macro heaven and we had Frogfish, Pygmy Seahorses and a first for her, a Pink Leaf Fish.
We were so excited. It meant we had now seen and photographed every Leaf Fish colour variation.




L: Frogfish   R: Pygmy Seahorse just 4mm long.

Paul was able to get some fun shots of the Leafies too.

There are 4 Leaf Fish in this Photo – 2 White, 1 Yellow, 1 Pink.
Can you see them?? Lisa is photographing one....


Nathan with the coral on the edge of the cauldron.

                                                   
Odi our awesome dive guide

We stopped in a beautiful bay in between dives.


The 2nd and 3rd dives were also fantastic and we did Crystal Rock and Castle Rock which are both isolated pinnacles.







Lisa was also rewarded with some great macro opportunities at these sites.



A Sea Spider only 10mm long



Nathan with some huge Barrel Sponges





By the time we got back to Lorelei it was well after dark.
The crew had worked hard during the day to make it one of the best days diving we have had whilst cruising.
The boat didn’t run the next day (the crew had done 16 days straight) so we didn’t dive.

Huge thanks goes out to the crew and also the other guests onboard who were happy, friendly and made it a fun couple of days.
We would highly recommend Komodo Dive Center.
They don’t have the biggest or flashest day boat (and it’s certainly not the worst), but they do have smaller guest numbers, fantastic boat crew, excellent dive guides and briefings.


It was just as well we hadn’t planned to dive the next day.
It was an overcast day and it rained.
Additionally, just like our friend Matt did just 2 months prior, Nathan became sick with a fever on the 3rd day and was bed ridden for 36 hours.

So we let him sleep and spent the day installing all the new bits and pieces Nathan had kindly brought for us from Australia.
We had a new depth sounder/fish finder, engine room blowers, winch spares, new kitesurfing bar & lines and Nikon camera parts.

Finally! A bottom profile again after both our depth sounders died

Paul installing the new engine room ventilation blowers

Additionally Paul’s brother Rod (who is also close friends with Nathan) slipped Nathan 10 blocks of good old aussie Cadbury Chocolate to bring with him for us.
We were very happy…. YUM!!!


When Nathan was better we left Labuan Bajo.
We sailed to an Island just outside of the National Park Zone called Palau Sebayur.



On the way we passed a small island that had a village which was unusual as most of the islands are uninhabited.



At the anchorage the water was very deep right up to the reef edge so we tied up to the only mooring a bay. We were surrounded by 3 islands and some great rock formations.



We had a relaxing arvo swimming and drinking.



At sunset we had a Phinisi Dive live aboard sail out of the bay under the setting sun. It made for great silhouette photos.




That night we feasted on fresh salt & pepper squid in the cockpit and had a fishing contest.
Paul and Nathan both lost as it was Fish 3 – Paul & Nathan 0.
We were getting smoked on some big fish that we had no chance of turning – even with 50lb braid and big bait runner reels.

The next morning we decided to climb to the peak of Palau Sabayur.
The sun was behind us and casted a great glow over the bay where Lorelei was moored and the surrounding islands.
It took 2.5 hours for the round trip up to the peak and back.

Paul took his tripod and got some fun panoramic shots.

¼ of the way up.  Note Lorelei in the bay.

½ way up

¾ of the way up


The view from the top looking NE
  
The view from the top looking SW

On the return trip, Paul managed to get some shots of us hiking back down.


Note Nathan sitting on the rocky outcrop

From the peak we could see a couple of nice isolated pinnacles off the main reef edge that looked good for spearfishing.

In the afternoon we went out spearing. We tried a few different spots and saw turtles, sharks and trevally but no decent eating fish.




KOMODO DRAGON TOUR – RINCA ISLAND

Whilst the diving is incredible in Komodo, the main reason tourists visit the area is to see the legendary Komodo Dragons.
For Lisa, this was one of her “Bucket List” things to do on our trip.

Even though there are Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island, the best place for tourists to get a Komodo Dragon experience during trade wind season is on the smaller Rinca Island which is between Komodo Island and Labuan Bajo.


We arrived at  Loh Buaya Rinca at 9am to find a hive of activity with over a dozen day boats already there and 6 or 7 liveaboards.

At 10am we started to head to the main wharf.
It seemed like the first wave of tours had finished and many boats were already leaving.
The wharf was still packed though.


We hopped onto the wharf to find a female Long Tailed Macaque (Monkey) sitting on the wharf railing holding her baby.


As we walked up from the wharf to the ranger station we spotted a 2m long Dragon crossing the path.



The ranger station was well set-up with a few offices, kiosk, souvenir shop and small resort.
After paying for a tour, we were surprised to get a private guide for just the 3 of us.
We were very happy as we saw many other very large groups heading out.
Our guide named Boonie was very experienced and knowledgeable.

First we had a look at a few larger dragons which were around the Ranger Station area. One had been marked with red paint as it is aggressive and had bitten 2 tourists in the last 4 months.






From there we hiked into the interior and started our search.

On the way we saw many monkeys running around on the ground and sitting up in the trees.


We had been told it was mating season for the Dragons.
It had its good and bad points.
The downside was most of the large males were out chasing females and were hard to spot.
The upside was the females were busy digging large holes to deposit their eggs.

With just 4 of us we were able to divert off the main track and quietly hunt though the dense bushland.
After only a few minutes Boonie had found a large female digging her hole.
We had to be very quiet but were able to get up close and watch.




Well it wasn’t only mating season for the Dragons….
The monkeys were certainly getting their fair share of the action.


We hiked well up into the hills. The area was very dry but the palms were huge and looked awesome.



As we were going down through a small path in the rocks, Boonie spied an old female that he knew well hiding in the shade.
We were able to sit with her for a long time and had morning tea while we watched and took photos.
She kept sticking her tongue out and Paul was able to get a few great shots.




On the return loop we had a small female Dragon walk out of the bush and across the path. As she spied us, she stopped and put her head up before continuing on. Paul had about 5 seconds to get the shot – and he did.



They put lots of Timor Deer in the park as food for the Dragons.
We were able to see a few of them relaxing in the shade.


When we returned to the Ranger Station, we relaxed and had a drink at the Kiosk.
After listening to many others talk about their tour, we realised we had done really well and had seen many more Komodo Dragons than most.
We surmised that having a small group of just 4 people including the guide was the key.

When we returned to the wharf, there was a local family throwing bananas into the water towards 2 Monkeys which were hanging in the mangroves.
We watched the monkey’s antics as they jumped from the mangroves out onto rocks to get to the floating bananas.




We saw one monkey jump into the water to retrieve a banana.
It was funny to see the other one holding its tail for security in the Crocodile infested waters.


It sat in the mangroves, soaked but happy to eat its reward.


By the time we got home it was mid arvo and once again, we were stuffed.
So we decided to stay in the inlet for the night before continuing further south the next morning.


EXPLORING RINCA ISLAND

We motored 15nm around the top of Rinca Island and half way down the west coast.
We had read about a fantastic bay in the area that had beautiful beaches, monkeys, dragons and protection from the increasing SE trade winds.
The topography also looked amazing and we spent the day and one night there.

We went ashore mid morning armed with cameras in the hope to find some more wildlife.


Just as we hit the beach, a large male dragon walked across the water course and along the beach.



Lisa was taking no chances and took a defend stick with her on the walk.


She also found a deer’s skull and evidence of where the Komodo Dragons had eaten it.


Paul climbed a little way up the slope to get a better view.


After our walk we had a swim.
The sand under the water was very soft and if you put pressure on it, it would release heaps of bubbles. It was like walking around in a spa bath.



After a jam packed few days we were feeling a little lazy after the swim.
Some more than others…...


In the arvo we ventured ashore again.
This time it was spring low tide making for lots of exposed sand and rocks.
We went to a different beach this time which was in the next bay around from Lorelei. It was black sand rather than the white sand of the first beach.



Nathan spied a very large male Dragon coming out of the bush and onto the beach.
It was by far the biggest one we had seen and we estimated him to be around 3m/10ft in length.
We could see fresh scars and blood on its neck and body from fighting with other males to gain the right to mate with the females.
Paul went up close to take photos.
It was unusual that it appeared not to show interest in Paul when he advanced but would rise up and show a lot of interest when Paul turned to retreat.
They are known to attack from behind and after a few times going forward and back, Paul retreated to the safety of the rocks – not wanting to tempt fate and a little intimidated by its large size.



We stayed until sunset hoping to see the monkeys up close.
We could see large amounts of them at the other end of the beach but they would take off when we got too close.

The sunset was fantastic.



Overall we had a fun time in Komodo.
The issue from a yachtie and tourists point of view is the fees for entry into the Komodo National Park.
They have recently risen and are now very expensive.
With Nathan on board the daily fee was over A$80 a day and that was for no activities or benefits - just entry fees for us and Lorelei.
Add scuba diving, going ashore, tours, camera fees, etc and the pries increases further.
Its a real pity as there are scores of beautiful bays for yachts to explore - just most cannot afford it.
So far it is the most expensive place we have visited for fees on a daily basis.


TRAVELLING TO SUMBAWA

We took off the next morning for the 99nm run west to Sumbawa.
We decided to split it into 2 days of 45nm and 54nm.

The first day was very challenging.
We first had to cross the passage between Rinca and Komodo Islands.
The current was brutal heading south.
We had Lorelei’s bow pointing over 45 degrees from the direction we were heading as we crab crawled across the passage.
Fortunately our speed along the rhumb line didn’t really drop.

It was really rough with the currents working against the wind.


Around the bottom of Komodo Island was fine but the place looked like Jurassic Island - very rugged & remote.
Things came to a screaming halt (literally) when we rounded the rocky headland and entered the pass between Komodo Island and Sumbawa.
For the first time ever we actually went down to 0 knots whilst at normal boat speed.
We had no choice but to run with the current away from the island and crab crawl our way into the straight and hope the current was not as strong away from the land.
Sure enough it slowly subsided but it was a slow and tedious trip across.
The closer we got to Sumbawa, the faster we went.

We finally made it to an isolated little bay on the east side of Sumbawa at around 3:30pm.
There was a small but clean little fishing village tucked into the corner of the bay.


We were so paranoid about pushing current and arriving late the next day so we got up at 3am and were underway before 4am.

The wind was up so we set sail straight away.
It was Nathans first time sailing at night.


As luck would have it we had current with us most of the way and we averaged over 7 knots.
We passed a headland with a very remote stilt house on the rock face.


As we headed into the bay from the deeper water our speed slowed, so we swapped trolling lures from skirts to bibbed lures.
The change worked and 20 minutes later Nathan had landed his first Spanish Mackerel.


LAKEY BAY, SOUTH SUMBAWA

With the faster boat speeds, we arrived at the Lakey Bay anchorage just after noon and a lot earlier than expected.

It took us 4 attempts to get the anchor to set in the rocky bottom but we were still not overly happy with the exposed and rolly location.
However it was right in between the 2 excellent surf breaks of Periscopes and Nungas, allowing Paul and Nathan to have an arvo surf at Nungas.


Nunga’s Surf Break

The next day it was straight into the surf.
We surfed the famous right hander called Periscopes for 2 hours in the morning.
It was really good.  Not sure if it was the waves, the low crowds or the 3 stunning blondes surfing in g-string bikinis that made it great…..

Periscopes Surf Break


 In the arvo we took the dingy over to Lakey and anchored in the channel.
We surfed Lakey Pipe first which as the name suggests is a sucky left hander that is a hollow barrel.

Lakey Pipe Surf Break

When the tide got too low and the reef became exposed, we paddled over to the area’s most famous break Lakey Peak.

Lakey Peak is an A-frame peak that breaks both left and right, although the right is suckier and shorter while the left is longer.

Lakey Peak

Lakey Bay from the Air

Lakey Peak is the sight for the annual Rip Curl Grom Search contest and there are two large viewing/judging towers on the reef right in front of the peak.


The local kids that surf there are really talented surfers.

This young local must be sponsored by Hurley as every time we saw him paddle out he was in Hurley gear and had Hurley stickers on his board.

Lakey Rights

Lakey Lefts

After 5 hours of surfing we ate dinner, enjoyed a great sunset, and flaked into bed stuffed – again….


The next day was the half-way point for Nathans stay onboard with us.
It was also the smallest forecasted day for surfing for the next week.
So with that in mind we decided to take the RIB ashore and explore the area.


It was a nice view looking up and down the beach.


We walked up to Lakey Bay to have a look at what it had to offer.

We noticed that the locals also harvest seaweed just like they do in Rote.


There was a lot of accommodation options for visiting surfers from 4 star to basic losemans.


We met lots of nice local people with most speaking reasonable English.

On the beach in the centre of the accommodation area was a large concrete 3 story viewing platform looking over Lakey Peak and Pipe.
It made for a great place to take photos from.


Note the platforms out on the reef in the background

We saw a novel use for an unused boat – a new restaurant.


For lunch we stopped at a local warang for a great lunch (A$10 for the 3 of us including drinks) before heading home and another 2+ hour session at Periscopes in the arvo.
It was only small  at 2-3ft but we had fun riding short fun boards and taking turns with Nathans new 5’10” quad fin.


That night there was a large fire onshore that was burning up the side of the mountain. It burnt for 3 days at various levels if intensity.
On the fourth day we noticed they had started water bombing it with a helicopter.


According to the forecast the following day was supposed to be 20 knots of wind and we were ready to break out the kite surfing gear.
We were surprised to find the wind was virtually nonexistent all day and the surf small.
So in the morning Nathan and Lisa took a kayak and SUP over to Nungas for some fun in the small waves.









We surfed Periscopes from 2pm until 4:30pm and were really surprised to be the only ones out.

At 5pm we went in for dinner at a small bar called Ali’s Bar which is out of the main tourist area and overlooking Nungas surf break and the small bay Lorelei was anchored in.


Ali and his wife Wati are the nicest people you could meet and are great hosts.
The drinks are cold and the view of the sunset is amazing.




Ali had told us that due to the unseasonal light west winds, the Bali airport was closed yet again due to the volcanic ash. It may have been a contributing factor as to why there were so few tourists at Ali’s, in town and in the surf.
We certainly were not complaining!!!

Paul, Ali and Nathan

Wati’s food is superb and probably the best food we have experienced in Indo.
Her spring rolls are the best we have ever had.
Needless to say, it became a regular spot for us to eat and hang out.


Getting home was quite funny.
We had left our RIB (with the large outboard) on a roving anchor in deeper water.
We checked it at 8pm to find it high and dry.
We waited at the bar until 9pm (and drank more) until the water was just lapping under the hull.
We dragged it in and proceeded to paddle over very shallow reef,
all the while avoiding fisherman’s nets and breaking waves.
The fact we were slightly intoxicated (some more than others – Nathan) and had no torch didn’t help.
However we did make it home – eventually…..


By the weekend of the 8/9th August we were closer to neap tides and the tides had advanced forward so that the high tides were now 6am and 6pm.

It meant we could get out for dawn surfs for the first time since we had arrived.

So at 5am on the Saturday morning we were up and in the water at Lakey Peak at 5:40am.
We had 3 waves each before the sun came up or other surfers had paddled out.
Jumping off the RIB was a lot easier than walking over the reef in the dark which is what everyone else had to do if they wanted first waves.


Each day the local fishing boats would come into the bay to anchor up and rest before heading out again at 5pm.
Saturday seemed to be unusually busy.


In the arvo the swell started to build in size so Nathan decided to try his bigger board.
He was about to swap his fins off his smaller board but Paul offered him a set of new carbon fins to try.
“They’re sharp” Nathan said.  “Harden Up” Paul said.

Two hours later Nathan comes home with a nasty fin chop to his hand….


Rather than having a windy arvo, it glassed off and the waves were great.
We were cheering!!!!

So were about 2 million Aussies that night as The Wallabies beat The All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup Rugby Union.
It was the first win against them since 2011.
The next morning we received this awesome photo of our friend and spearing partner Greg Holmes (with fellow prop & QLD Reds team mate James Slipper) with the trophy.
What a really proud moment!!


We surfed again at dawn on Sunday and it was fun but the wind was up by 8:30am making it a one surf day.
Lisa wasn’t feeling too good and wanted a quiet day, so Paul and Nathan decided to hire motor bikes for the day and go exploring.


First we headed north up the coast and checked an alternate anchorage for Lorelei if required.
It was a quiet little fishing village with many boats in the water and a few larger ones being built.



This boat was over 15m/50ft long.




On the side of the road was a lot of small white bait style fish drying in the sun.
A lady walked around with her stick turning them over to cure both sides.
The drying fish covered an area over 75m/250ft long.



We passed a huge shed filled with sacks of dried seaweed which they were loading onto a large truck.


A typical house along the main road

Once inland the area is predominately farming communities.
The fields were a mixture of dry and wet as it was the dry season and the limited wet areas were from irrigation.

A panoramic view from a ridge we climbed.


Even though it was Sunday, there were many people working in the fields.



As with all the transport in Indo, we saw some amazing things on the roads.

That’s one packed bus!!!!


We spotted a bike that was doing slow passes through the towns.
The kids would see it coming and flock to see what goodies were on offer.
We guessed it was a Sunday only treat as there were loads of people having picnics and a family day together.


If you thought the front of the bike was busy, check out the back half…!!!

In the farming area we saw a few horse and carts on the road.


There were lots of other animals wandering along the roads too.




We returned to Lakey’s for lunch and Nathan found a great restaurant a few doors back from Ali’s Bar.

After lunch we headed south and decided to have a look along the coast road.
We checked the bay that Cobblestones surf break is located in.


We found lots of paddocks close to the water’s edge that had Water Buffalo, Goats and Cows.






We rode all the way down to where they were still building the tared road.
The view along the coast was great. It was remote and rugged terrain.



As we were parking the bikes back at Lakey’s in the late afternoon, a group of older Muslim ladies asked to have their photo taken with us.


By the time we had returned to the beach, the wind was up and the kite surfers were out at Nungas surf break.
We wanted to go out too but it was getting late and the wind was a little inconsistent.




Lisa came ashore at 5pm and we decided to have dinner at Ali’s.


Within the hour we had 3 other groups turn up. By chance we knew them all and the 8 of us had a great evening talking, eating and drinking.

L to R: Joel & Jess, Lisa, Nathan, Joey, Hien, Doony and Dillon.

Wati’s kitchen – Wati and her staff cooking up some fabulous meals.

The swell was supposed to be increasing to 3-5ft on the Monday morning.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the case.
Nathan went and surfed Lakey Peak with the boys, while Paul and Lisa took a kayak and SUP to Nungas.
We met up for lunch at Nath’s new restaurant before he headed out for a massage to help get his back right, while we went for a walk.


Finally on Tues 11th the swell peaked.
It was expected to rise to 6-9ft but in reality it was 5-7ft.
Paul dusted off his big wave barrel boards for the first time in Indo.
We were first out again at 5:40am at Lakey Peak but within 20 minutes there were 20 surfers out.
 A couple of big bomb sets came through and broke leg ropes, snapped boards and wiped a few surfers out.
Within the hour it was back down to a dozen keen surfers and we all got a stack of waves.

It turned into an epic 3+ hour marathon session with over 25 waves each, resulting in the best surf of the year so far.


After a midday sleep we backed it up with a 2 hour session at the smaller Nungas left hander.
Lisa sat on Lorelei and took a few pics.

Nathan on the sucky inside section



Sadly Nathan hurt his back during the surf and that night he was in a bit of pain.
It was nothing a few beers and a great sunset couldn’t fix.
Or so we thought…….


Wednesday the 12th was like Groundhog Day.
We were out at Lakey Peak lefts by 6am but this time Nathan’s back was really sore and he only lasted 20 minutes before retiring early.
Paul surfed the rights for the rest of the morning but did manage to sneak a few lefts 
Nathan ended up on the massage table again that afternoon….

Nathan’s last full day was Thursday 12th.
We started early again by surfing Periscopes.
Lisa sat on the beach in a small bamboo hut and took photos of us surfing.
 Once again his back gave in after only 15 minutes.
He did manage 2 great waves though.

Nathan lining up for a barrel

Paul stayed out and got a stack of great waves before a group of French guys came out and totally ruined the fun vibe.




Crazy arrogant French antics!
Check out the Aussie in the barrel being dropped in on by a French guy with a go-pro in his mouth.

The French antics didn't stop Paul from getting some great waves.



What makes this pic so interesting?
Note the leg rope on Paul’s front foot as he surfs goofy (right foot forward)

Looking back to Lorelei from Periscopes

We were going to head to our favourite restaurant for lunch but with Nathan barely able to walk we decided on the next best thing –
Paul’s Sushi!!!!


It was a sombre afternoon as we helped Nathan pack his bags, boards and other toys in preparation for leaving the next day.

Friday we took Nathan into to Ali’s Bar at 9:30am to link up with his booked car to take him to Bima Airport for his flight to Bali.
We arrived at the beach to find a nasty shore break which made it really difficult to get Nathan’s bags and all of us ashore without getting soaked.


The pickup was at Ali’s Bar so Wati came to say goodbye too.



Ash cloud permitting he should be back in Australia on Saturday.

We had an awesome 3 weeks together – great weather, lots of activities, no major dramas and lots of laughs.


So that’s it for Episode 40 of the Hog Blog.

Our future plans for the next month are to slowly head west.
Areas of interest include West Sumbawa, South & West Lombok and eventually Bali.

Look out for Episode 41 “Lombok & Bali” in around 1 month’s time.

We had so many photos of Scuba Diving Komodo and the Komodo Wildlife that we have put together a separate page for them both.
They are available on the home page or here are the links:

SCUBA DIVING KOMODO
Click Here

KOMODO WILDLIFE

Cheers.
Paul Hogger
Lisa Hogger
& our guest Nathan Evans

PS. 
Whilst we wanted to put our immigration issue behind us and move forward, other people had other ideas.
Many people in the Labuan Bajo tourism industry were very angry at our treatment. Our agent was furious and the matter was taken further.

We found out that a report of the incident had made it all the way to the Director General of Immigration in Jakarta and he is dealing with the matter personally.



































































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