Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures
Welcome to Episode 37
KUPANG TO ROTE
For Episode 36 we had spent 3 weeks in Timor Leste before heading south down to Kupang to clear back into Indonesia.
We arrived at Kupang at 6pm on Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) and were greeted by an amazing sunset and the sun beaming onto the concrete buildings in on the Shore.
CLEARING INTO INDONESIA
We had changed sponsors for this 6 month stay in the country but it meant we had to do our own Temporary Import Permit (TIP) with Customs for Lorelei to enter the country.
So this time it meant 5 different government agencies to get cleared in.
With this in mind we decided to hire an agent to assist us.
It turned out to be the best decision ever!!!
Napa our agent was fantastic and is highly regarded in cruising yachtie circles.
He seemed to know everybody in town and was able to fast track all our clearing in processes for a minimal fee and “assistance donations” to each department.
Customs and Quarantine officials both searched Lorelei and it was by far the most thorough search we have ever had. They opened every cupboard and hatch and didn’t miss a thing.
Everybody was very friendly and the formalities took just one day and an extra trip the next day to pick up the TIP from Customs.
The view over the commercial port from the Customs Office
The only issue we had was trying to explain the volume of toys for just 2 people and in particular the 9 surfboards in the board rack.
They told us we are only allowed 3 per person and wanted to confiscate 3 but Paul’s quick thinking explained 3 were for Lisa, 3 were for Paul and 3 were kiteboarding boards and not surfboards.
Due to the US Dollar currency in Timor we did not refuel there and we were very low on both Diesel and Petrol (Gas) after months of virtually no wind.
We moved Lorelei over to a refuelling area and Napa organised a boat to come out with the fuel.
We took on over 1000 litres.
The refuelling beach on sunset looked great with the warm glow spreading over the sand.
The boys playing soccer on the beach in the late afternoon
Once the clearance and refuelling was complete, we could start to have some fun.
We linked up with Napa and his friend Max who became Lisa’s bike rider. They had a lot of fun together on the bike.
We did lots of trips with Napa and Max and they took us around town on the bikes to see the touristy things.
One of the highlights for us was the night markets which started at 6pm.
Every night they would close off 3 streets in the city centre and set up food stalls and eating areas.
The food was fresh, plentiful with all types of seafood, chicken, vegetables and even some meat.
We had one particular place that made awesome Satay Chicken Kebabs, Deep Fried Squid Kebabs and fantastic Avocado Smoothies.
An average meal was around $3-4 with drinks so needless to say, we ate there quite a bit.
On the weekend we did a big day trip and ventured out of town.
We went and had a look at the Peace Gong which has the emblems of all the provinces of Indonesia attached to it.
Morning Tea with Napa and Max
From there we headed north up to the white sand beaches and had a look at some beachside markets.
It was great to get out of the city and onto some open country roads for a great ride.
We had to go through a market area to get back to the main road. It was very tight on the bikes and our heads were hitting the sun cover tarps.
Crazy but fun!
The highlight for Paul was visiting a freshwater sinkhole called the Crystal Cave which was on the southern side of Kupang.
It was a long ride from the north side to get there.
We had to leave the bikes and get some young local kids to guide us into a forested area before we could descend down into the dark cave.
It was very slippery and thank goodness we had torches.
At the bottom was a stunning freshwater pool with endless underwater viz.
Paul was in photo heaven and spent ages getting some great shots.
The kids were amazed at the tripod set-up and thought it weird that they had to be very still for the photos as most were around 13-20 second exposures with a 10mm fish eye fens.
Above and below are two shots with the same location and exposure settings but with very different results.
For the top one, the kids sat very still while Paul ran around with a powerful dive light and illuminated the rock walls on both sides of the photo. It took about 6 attempts to get the light balance right.
The bottom photo was Lisa and 2 kids in the water and they held the lights below the water illuminating the underwater area. The green glow from the water reflected up onto the rock walls making for interesting colours.
In the afternoon we headed back towards town and stopped along the way to visit a large group of Monkeys that live along a 1km stretch of road.
They certainly were not afraid of people or the traffic as they sat right on the edge of both sides of the road.
They are well fed and as soon as a bike or car stops they are straight over to see what food is on offer.
They have no hesitation in climbing up onto the bikes and looking though bags.
Lisa had one doughnut left over from morning tea which proved to be a big hit. They stole the box and the paper wrapping and one monkey sat in a tree licking the icing off the paper.
The females and the smaller ones were harder to get close to so Paul changed to a zoom lens and got some shots of them and close up pics of their faces.
The monkeys don’t like up close direct eye contact as it is a sign of aggression. It did make for some interesting photo opportunities though.
After a while they became comfortable with Lisa’s presence and she was able to sit with them.
As the food ran out and their attention span waned, they went back to sitting in the trees and preening each other.
As the sun started to get lower in the sky, the light filtered through the trees and Paul managed to get some good photos with the one below being his favourite of the monkey session.
On the way home we stopped on a hill and had a look at the Maritime College and the ferry terminal.
We liked and trusted Max and asked him if he would like some work helping with the maintenance on Lorelei.
He is self employed and jumped at the chance so Paul and Max spent a full day polishing the stainless steel from bow to stern.
It was a huge job and both were completely stuffed by 5pm.
Stopping for a Green Curry Chicken Lunch
MATT ARRIVING FROM MICRONESIA
On the 14th May (one week after we arrived in Kupang) our friend Matt Simpson flew in to join us onboard Lorelei for 1 month.
We first met Matt (Junior to his friends) in Majuro in the Marshall Islands through a mutual friend. We were all on holidays but we vowed to meet Matt in few months time at his home of Kosrae in Micronesia.
Well that turned into an amazing month at Kosrae and he spent a lot of time showing us (and friends Ben and Wendy off Just Magic) around his amazing island home.
We liked it so much we returned again the following year and to date it is the only place we have visited twice….
So we agreed to return his amazing hospitality one day and finally that chance had come true.
Like us Matt loves his water sports and he is a keen spearo, diver, SUP and a very good surfer.
It took him 3 days and 3 flights to get from Micronesia, via Guam, Taipei, Bali and onto Kupang all the while dodging Typhoon Dolphin which had just gone past Kosrae and was heading directly for Guam as a Cat 5.
He nearly didn’t make it….
Paul went to the Airport to pick Matt up.
While he was waiting, Paul found a great monument for the Komodo Dragons.
When Matt arrived he had a few extra boards under his arm.
He had stayed the night in Bali with friend and pro surfer Mikala Jones and he gave Matt 2 extra barrel boards with quad fins & flex tails to try out.
The first night we took Matt to the night markets for a big feed of Satay Chicken, Prawn and Calamari Skewers.
The next day we were up at 6am to get underway south to Rote.
The sunrise was great.
We had to transit through a passage and past the commercial port area.
On the way through we saw a large commercial vessel that had run onto the reef and was on fire.
Sadly when we zoomed in on the photos later that night, it appeared that there were cattle in cages on the deck.
The wind picked up early and by 8am we had a single reef in and were flying along in the flat passage doing 8.5 knots.
Towards the end of the passage we had to skirt around a large area filled with 1000’s of surface floats that looked like a pearl farm.
Once we hit the open ocean it all changed and we had some large 2m+ waves but were still flying along in 20 knots of wind.
Fortunately it was only a 10nm hop across to the protection of Rote Island.
In the lee of Rote Island we hugged the coast and rocketed down in smooth offshore conditions.
We passed some beaches with unusual rock formations on the water’s edge.
We arrived at our mid way stop in a small protected bay near a town called Baa at 2pm.
In the arvo we were both busy making water, cooking and cleaning but Matt was stuffed and soon fell asleep on the couch.
The next morning we were up early and went for a kayak/SUP.
We had seen a large sea cave on the point of the headland and we wanted to have a look at it.
But what we found was a labyrinth of tunnels, channels, caves both in the water and on land to explore.
Further into the bay we found a great mangrove area that was a lot of fun to paddle through.
We got underway at 10am but the wind was directly behind us so we gybed over and headed out to sea before gybing back again and rounding the final headland and island before a 7nm punch down to Nembrala.
Negotiating the small coral lined passage between the island and the mainland was a bit hair raising.
NEMBRALA, ROTE ISLAND
We arrived at the anchorage at around 3pm. It was a great spot with offshore conditions in the trade winds and just inside from the area’s most well known surf break T-Land.
It took 3 attempts to anchor Lorelei as the anchor just would not set in the reef bottom.
We could see people out surfing so we broke out the boards, fins and wax and got everything ready for the next morning.
We had a fantastic sunset as a local fishing charter boat was returning to the anchorage.
The next morning we were up before the sun was and were surprised that there were already 12 surfers in the line up at only 10 minutes after the sun was up. Fortunately there is a large take-off area and the group was spread out over a large area.
The sunrise was awesome.
The surf was only small at around 3 ft but it was clean and there was no wind. We took small boards and junior rode a 6’1” and Paul took his fish.
There was a current that was wrapping around the point meaning it was a constant paddle to stay in position.
But above all else the biggest issue was sea lice.
Everyone was getting stung as the lice was congregating in the weed that was drifting through the area.
The warm glow of sunrise on an already crowded line up
The local Indo kids here surf and whilst they are skinny and lanky, they certainly know the break well and have a blast ripping up the smaller but fast inside section close to the rocks.
We decided to do a morning and arvo surf each day and keep out of the sun for the hottest part of the day.
So for the first day we made Sushi for lunch.
When Paul had gone to the airport in Kupang to pick up Matt, he stopped at a place called Oebobo on the way to pick up some avocado’s which are well known in that area. We had only a 50/50 success rate with the quality of avocados in Ambon and Timor but these ones were perfect so he purchased 5kg’s of them.
We pigged out on them for days and used a few for the Sushi.
In the arvo the swell picked up as it was forecasted. It went to 4ft and was clean but it was the first decent swell for over 10 days and all the tourists were making the most of it. We counted 60 surfers in the water when we arrived at 3pm. It was a very crowded but we broke out some bigger boards (a 6’3” & 6’5”), got aggressive and managed to get a few great waves.
Fortunately the current had stopped and the lice had gone.
The majority of surfers were older guys from Australia in a few groups so the vibe was pretty good.
Even the pro photographers had turned up.
The next morning we were up at 5am and were in the take off zone by the time the sun peaked out over the hills of Rote.
It was pretty busy still but we had our little sweet spot for take offs and we all got some excellent waves. Paul and Matt both got some long rides with big walls that we were able to get many turns in on each wave.
The current was there again and so were the sea lice. This time it was particularly bad.
By lunch time we were covered in bites from head to toe and Lisa was virtually bathing us in vinegar.
There are so many resorts/surf camps/losemans here that each have their own boat to ferry the surfers out to the breaks and even a few independent boats will run you out and back for 50 000Rp ($5 aus).
On the way back to Lorelei we stopped to watch 3 local sailing canoes sail past Lorelei, then us in the RIB and out past the surf break to go fishing.
In the arvo we decided to take advantage of having the RIB and headed 3nm north to another break called Sucky Mama’s to escape the crowds.
This is a fast barrelling right hander that gets better with some big swell.
It was a lot of fun and we were the only ones there but it just wasn’t getting the swell like T Land was and needed a bit more south rather than east in the swell.
We didn’t get many photos but Matt went back to the RIB first and took this shot of Paul with the strange glow of the setting sun.
We had a terrible night’s sleep from the constant itching of the sea lice bites and consequently had a slow start the next day.
Paul had to take an antihistamine tablet to sleep that night. It was the first time he had ever had to take one and it knocked him right out.
We looked out to T Land and even though it was good, there were only a dozen surfers out. We guessed they all had the same issues with the bites and didn’t want any more.
Each morning we would watch the crazy spectacle as the 2 local fishing boats arrived back into the anchorage at daybreak.
Waiting for them would be a flotilla of small boats and they would come up alongside the fishing boats even before they had stopped motoring. The people in canoes and not outboard powered boats would paddle like mad to get in front and up alongside. People would jump across and buckets would be tossed onto the deck all to get the best fish first.
There was lots of competition, yelling and shouting and by the time the boat had stopped and anchored it was all but over and most of the fish gone.
By 8am it was still light winds so we loaded up the RIB and headed south to another break called Boa in the hope it had no sea lice.
We didn’t know exactly where it was but found a sucky right hander breaking into a small but deep bay with a mooring right on the edge of the line up so we surmised that was it. We had a sea lice free surf.
It was too small for big barrels but it was still fun and best of all – no one else out.
Lisa sat in the RIB in a bay between the break and a headland that had some huge waves breaking down the side of it in into some sea caves.
Unfortunately she could only see the backs of the waves we were surfing and couldn’t take photos of us.
There were some nice resorts or houses on the beach which we did not expect considering the remote location.
When we got back we consulted the charts and realised we were actually surfing a break called Peanuts and not Boa which was further down the coast.
That afternoon was another crowded and hectic arvo at T Land.
However we had our favourite little spot on an inside section that produced great waves when the big sets came through.
We each got over a dozen good long waves.
The next day was the new moon and brought with it spring tides with a super low at 6am and 6pm and a very big high at noon.
So we slept in and hit the waves at 8am – 10am for a mid tide session.
It was a little smaller so we broke out the big boards.
Paul took his mini-mal and Matt took the SUP. For Lisa though it was still too big.
We were pretty amazed at the size of the waves Matt was pulling into on the SUP.
However it is his old SUP that he sold to us when we were in Micronesia and he also has an identical one at home so he knew it well.
There were only 7 people out including 2 ladies and it was a great fun vibe with us all laughing, chatting and egging each other on.
With the noon super high the waves all but disappeared so we decided to go ashore for the first time and explore Nembrala.
It certainly was not what we expected and the place was pretty quiet.
We saw lots of seaweed on drying racks along the foreshore.
A local lady trending to her fresh seaweed and preparing for drying
They will find anywhere to dry the seaweed.
This old boat made a great option.
There was a lot of open area and cows, goats and pigs wandering freely.
We couldn’t find anywhere to have a local lunch and even the expensive surf resorts all needed prior bookings for meals.
We checked out a few of the resorts which were mostly facing out to the surf break.
In stark contrast to the nice resort buildings, the local homes were a lower quality.
We found most of the homes and all of the resorts to have a coral/rock wall fences erected around them. The local homes fences were not concreted together and instead the rocks were just balancing.
There was one place that sold the local woven material (like Tais from Timor Leste).
The view back out to Lorelei looked very busy with many smaller local fishing canoes and the surf charter boats.
When we returned to our RIB we saw an exposed shipwreck buried in the sand.
In the afternoon with the dropping tide, Paul and Lisa decided to take the SUP and a kayak over to a shallow reef patch in the centre of the bay that has some great waves on it when the swell direction, size and wind are all just right.
It was bigger than it looked from Lorelei and Lisa had some hair raising moments both going out and surfing in on the kayak.
Paul got pounded a lot as it was the biggest waves he has ever been in on the SUP. He did get a lot of waves as well.
EXPLORING PALAU DO’O
When the swell dropped below 3ft we decided to leave Nembrala and head out to the outer islands.
We had planned to go to Palau N'dao but we decided to skirt around the back of Palau Do’o to have a look.
Palau Do’o is a small and beautiful uninhabited sand island with clear water, fringing coral reef and a shallow protected side from the swell.
What more could you want? So we decided to anchor there instead.
As we were anchoring a Manta Ray swam past closer to the shore.
Within minutes we were over the side with our snorkelling gear.
But it was short-lived!!! Lisa was getting terribly stung by sea lice (she is allergic to them…) and Paul was getting stung badly too.
Fortunately Matt was still assembling his freediving fins and didn’t get wet.
We had to bathe Lisa in vinegar, give her an antihistamine tablet and put her to bed.
Matt had a tummy bug and was also not well so we were not off to a good start for our remote island adventure.
Fortunately in the arvo (after Paul cooked lunch) both came good and we loaded up the RIB for our first SE Indo spear fishing sortie.
The current was flying at 2-3 knots enabling us to do long drifts down the side of the island.
Lisa was able to swim along with a Manta Ray which made her very happy.
Matt is a very good spearo but has only speared in his home waters of Micronesia and The Marshall Islands. With the many different fish species here he was having a blast.
The difficult thing for him was knowing what fish were good eating and which ones had ciguatera poisoning risks.
It was a little weird for him as we were swimming straight past fish that would be prized in Micronesia and vice-versa.
We finished up with a few great eating reef fish for dinner with Matt spearing the biggest one.
The next morning Paul was up before sunrise (while the 2 tired sickos slept in…) and took some sunrise photos.
He was experimenting with the sunrise reflections in the cockpit windows.
We went for a walk on the island after breakfast.
We found turtle tracks and places where they had dug holes to lay eggs.
There were lots of birds and hundreds of snake tracks all over the sand.
We found a series of small thatched fisherman’s huts under the Pandanus Trees.
The fisherman had just arrived with their catch and we helped them carry their boats up the beach.
The fisherman had a lot of fish drying on open air racks.
They simply butterfly the fish, gut them and leave them to dry.
For those that can remember back 2 episodes, we had a terrible issue when all four of our main scuba tank valves were very poorly serviced/repaired in Sorong and we were unable to use them.
Fortunately we were able to contact Doug from Nautilus Dive Resort in Kosrae and he was able to order 4 more for us and pass them onto Matt who brought them with him.
We were able to fit them and fill all 4 tanks that afternoon and were very happy to have all 4 in operation again.
For the late afternoon the plan was to go spearfishing again but the wind had come up making the water surface choppy.
Lisa was tired and Matt was still sick so cancelling was an easy choice.
Instead Paul decided to go kiteboarding.
It had been over 12 months since Paul had been kiting. It was not that he didn’t want to, but after nearly a year in areas close to the equator and very low winds, there were just no opportunities to kite.
There was a great sand spit off the point of the island that was a perfect rigging and launch area.
Paul was given a new Liquid Force bar as a present from Pete off Downtime over 6 months ago and it was the first trial run.
Paul thought it was awesome with much more power/depower scope than his Cabrinha Bar. THANKS PETE !!!!!
Paul was still kiting as the sun was setting and it created a golden glow over the water and the beach.
We had planned to scuba dive under a jetty on a nearby island the next morning but by 8am it was already bumpy and windy and getting stronger by the minute.
Reluctantly we left and motored into it to get back to Nembrala and a much safer and secure anchorage.
Lorelei was covered in salt water from the waves by the time we arrived.
It must have been strong because when we arrived, T-Land was blown flat by the powerful offshore wind.
So with it blowing dogs off chains, no swell but beautiful sunny days, we decided to do some land based activities.
Going ashore at low tide was a little harder than the spring high from last time. This time was had to dodge the hundreds of exposed stakes used for the seaweed growing.
We went to visit David and Jenet at Lualemba Resort who were very welcoming and had a fantastic restaurant that we were able to eat at anytime.
They organised 3 motorbikes for us for a day and we did a full day riding around the southern end of Rote Island.
It turned into a huge day and we travelled to a lot of places.
First we headed south along the sea side and visited a few beautiful beaches and bays.
We found a secluded mangrove lined bay that looked really inviting for a swim but were warned not to as there was a crocodile risk.
Further south we went though some small but very clean villages with smiling happy people and kids all running out to wave hello and get
We found these Bintang beer bottle monuments near a church.
The second we think was a Christmas tree.
Just down at the southern end we found a beautifully green coloured bay with a huge concrete wharf that has never been used as it was built in the wrong shape for boats to tie up, still dries at the end at low tide and the bay is completely closed off at the entrance by the local people’s massive seaweed farming set-up. Talk about a white elephant!!!
The 10’s of thousands of stakes and floats in the harbour
entrance used for the seaweed production
entrance used for the seaweed production
From there we headed up into the hills where the villages were more traditional with leaf houses and thatched roofs.
We saw rice being dried and many people weaving.
On the way back down the mountain we found a large quarry.
The amount of animals we saw was amazing with many of them on the road, particularly the small piglets who always seemed to run out in front us while riding along.
We had up close experiences with goats, cows, water buffalo, horses and pigs.
Matt wondering how to get the big bull off the road
- after Lisa already chickened out…..
- after Lisa already chickened out…..
We saw loads of goats on the roads at many places
We returned to Lualemba Resort for lunch before headed north for the late afternoon.
We followed a rough beach side track and found some long beaches.
We had to cross a few dried river beds which turned into a fun experience.
We headed away from the coast up into the farming areas and were on top of the open plains with stunning views and amazing open glasslands.
We had a fantastic but fast ride back to the resort along a two lane main road which was an awesome way to end a fantastic days riding.
When we returned to the resort, our neighbours on the yacht next to us were having some drinks so we joined them until sunset.
As we returned to the RIB’s in the harbour we spotted the larger pigs digging through the sand with their snouts.
So that’s it for this Episode of the Hog Blog.
It’s pretty fitting that we close with a picture of a pig.
We will continue to stay in the general area of Nembrala and the surrounding islands for at least another 2 weeks with Matt and will divide our time between surfing, spearing, diving, kayak/Sup and exploring on the land.
However surfing takes first preference and everything else will revolve around the pulses in the swell and the wind direction for surfing.
Cheers for now.
Matt “Junior” Simpson