Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Episode 36 Timor Leste

Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures

For Episode 35 we had spent the last month of our 3 months in Raja Ampat exploring the southern areas around Misool, doing some amazing kayaking, diving and quirky snorkel spots like The Bluewater Mangroves and Jellyfish Lake.
At the end we had spent 10 days in Ambon exploring and doing some world class muck diving.

When we told family and friends that we were leaving Indonesia and heading south to Timor Leste (formally East Timor) we received a lot of mixed reactions, mostly about our safety in Timor Leste.
Well it certainly has had a chequered past and interesting history but at our time of visiting (early 2015) it was a reasonably safe place to visit.

Our location for this Episode of the Blog

Our route for this Episode of the Blog

The Crossing 
Ambon (Indonesia) to Dili (Timor Leste)

We could sum up crossing The Banda Sea from Ambon to Dili in a few words but the most appropriate ones we can’t print so let’s just say -Terrible, Horrible, Testing and Arduous!!
If all passages were like that then we’d probably trade up to a motor home and stay land based….
We had heard some reports about The Banda Sea from other boats that had recently done the crossing and none of them were positive experiences.
As recently as 20 years ago the Banda Sea was a well known area for pirates but fortunately the surrounding countries have made an effort to make the area safer for transiting vessels.

We had to head SW and as we left Ambon we couldn’t believe our bad luck to have unforecasted SW winds. It had been NW-W for months and was changing to E-SE for the coming trade wind season and either direction would have been fine instead of on the nose.

By 10pm the wind had swung to a light SE wind and it was all sails up and sailing nicely.
The first storm hit with a vengeance at 2am. Paul was asleep and Lisa had the wind go from 8 knots to 30 knots in seconds.
Lorelei was massively overpowered and even with the helm hard over, she was still rounding up into the wind creating even more wind over the boat.
Paul was up in a flash and running around the bouncing decks nude and in blinding rain with decks awash trying to ease boom vangs and sheet ropes on the main and mizzen so Lisa could get some steerage back and get us going downwind.
The storms continued until daybreak so we both stayed up and consequently only had a few hours sleep each for the night.

We have found transiting SE Asian waterways at night to be risky as there is such a huge amount of debris and junk in the water. Just before daybreak our luck finally ran out and we collided with a large 6m (20ft) long and 1.5m (5ft) diameter derelict steel pontoon. It just missed the bow and smashed into the side of Lorelei about 2m/6ft back from the bow. It was a really hard hit and left a nasty mark that was back to bare metal. It bounced off but reconnected about ½ way along the hull and made a series of long scratches towards the stern. The hull was intact though so we pushed on.

This photo we took 5 months ago but it was an identical pontoon to this one.

 This photo was taken of another one week before we hit one by our friends
VK and Michaela on the yacht La Gitana

At 2pm the next day Lorelei was motoring along with no wind and no swell when she was sucked into this crazy circular whirlpool style vortex.
The water was rough like it was a 60knot gale with really short and ugly steep waves. Lorelei was ploughing her nose straight into them.
It took Lisa (Paul was asleep) over half an hour to cover just 1nm with full engine revs to escape the pull into the centre of the vortex. All the while with clear skies and no wind.
Lisa said she’s never seen anything like it in her life.

That night the storms started right on dusk and continued until daybreak.
It was a terrible night.

At 10pm it just started pouring with super heavy rain and continued until 3am. We had visibility down to only about 50m and just hoped there were no other boats in our path.
Like the first night, it was both of us on watch to handle the storms and squalls. We were in full wet weather gear but were still drenched, cold, hungry and tired.

The morning of day three was ugly!
The storms and overcast conditions still persisted and the seas were rough and very uncomfortable.

If we kept on going we would reach Dili at around 10pm and we did not want to enter the harbour at night. We had to transit down past an island called Palau Wetah and after a little research Lisa found a protected bay to safely anchor in. By 3pm we were anchored up and had crossed the Banda Sea.

We spent 2 days cleaning up below, doing all the washing and repairing the hull.
Fortunately the scratches down the side mostly buffed out and only required a little painting.
The front mark from the initial impact required some sanding, primer, filler and top coating in Dili but came up just fine.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a 100 times –
We love our big strong steel boat!!!
That sort of impact on a timber boat or du-flex panelled composite catamaran may have put a large hole in the hull or on a fibreglass boat would have done a lot of damage to the gel-coat that would have required costly repairs on the hard stand.

For the final 50nm stretch, it was much nicer and we sailed through the Indonesian/Timor Leste border.

We past a huge lookout tower on a headland and had an Indonesian patrol vessel come and say hello and take photos. They were very friendly guys which was nice.

The surrounding islands had lots of green grassy areas which is very different from northern Indonesia.

Coming into Dili harbour we could see the famous statue of Christ on a nearby headland.

We were anchored up by 2pm and by 5pm we had completed our clearance into Timor, gone for a walk and went to the supermarket.
Clearing in had taken less than an hour – a stark contrast to the 2 days it was for us to clear into (and clear out of) Indonesia.

Paul putting up our smaller than usual Timor Leste flag

The supermarket was just awesome!! All the western and Aussie things we had not seen for a long time were there.
We were like kids in a candy shop…

The only downside – Timor Leste’s currency is US Dollars and with the current rate at around 0.71c, it made buying things around 1/3 more expensive.
It was a bit weird using an Australian ANZ ATM that dispensed US Dollars.


In 1642 The Portuguese took Timor from the traditional system of local Chiefs.
The Portuguese took little interest and did not develop the country.
Their main interests were Sandalwood and Coffee.
In 1941 Australia sent a small Commando force to help defend Timor against the impending Japanese invasion of WW2.
The Japanese took Dili and the locals with the Aussies engaged the enemy in guerrilla warfare. The cost in lives to the Timorese people was immense with over 50 000 killed.
Post WW2 the colony reverted to Portuguese rule.
In 1974 the coup in Portugal meant the Portuguese sort to discard its colonial territories which included Timor.
A brief civil war started and several political parties tried to seize power.
In Dec 1975 Indonesia launched an attack on Dili.
It took 4 years for the Indonesian’s to gain full control over East Timor.
The atrocities that occurred against the Timorese people between 1975 and 1979 are shocking and by Dec 1979 over 155 000 people (one third of the population) had died in the hostilities and the ensuing disease and famine. Over 300 000 people had been put into concentration camps.
Indonesia managed to do this without any intervention from the international community.
On the 12th Nov 1991 a group of mainly young protestors had gathered at the Santa Cruz Cemetery in Dili to commemorate the killing of an independence activist. It was a peaceful gathering.
The Indonesian Military surrounded the cemetery and open fired on the protestors. Over 270 died in the massacre, 250 more disappeared and another 250 were wounded.  The event was filmed by international journalists and was aired around the world.
The shocking footage made world headlines resulting in the international community becoming sympathetic to the East Timorese independence cause.

In 1998 Indonesia’s new Prime Minister announced a referendum for East Timorese autonomy.
East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence.
However the guerrilla warfare did not stop as rival factions still strived to gain power.
In 1999 the UN stepped in and Australian forces arrived along with foreign aid to help with stability and to re-build the country.
To this day the foreign aid is still a very real presence and rallies and the occasional skirmish still exist.
The city is still being rebuilt but much has been done over the last 10 years. There are only a few reminders remaining from the old war torn capitol.
By what you do see everywhere is high security fences topped with razor wire and a high level of security.

  Timor has some well established exports in Beef, Vanilla and the largest being Coffee. Mega coffee chain Starbucks exclusively uses Timor Coffee.


Exploring Dili the capitol of Timor Leste is a heap of fun!!

Dili from the air

The Water Police encourage yachts to leaves their dingy’s out the front of their area which gives added security and a little piece of mind.

The main boardwalk area along the foreshore is modern, clean and very reminiscent of Cairns.
The major hotels and Government offices are located along the strip and also look fantastic.

However, go 2 streets back from the foreshore and the image changes.
The streets are dusty and the buildings older and more similar to the larger Indonesian towns we have visited.

At one end of the foreshore we watched an Indonesian fishing boat unloading their catch and there is a great daily local fruit and vege market.

For us the issue was which language to use in Dili as there are 4 common languages.
100% of the people speak the local language called Tetun
80% Speak Portuguese
60% Speak Bahasa Indonesian
40% Speak English.
In the end we used a mixture of Indonesian and English.

All around the city and its outskirts are people walking with poles adorned with food for sale.
It is anything from fruit and vegetable to raw or cooked fish and even live chickens.

The one thing we noticed was the large number of monuments around the city. Most have been donated or erected by other countries who have offered support for Timor Leste in gaining their independence.

One of the most famous monuments is to honour the people killed in the Santa Cruz Cemetery Massacre.

Whilst its not really a monument, there is a great lighthouse on the point at the southern end of the port area.

Dili Lighthouse at 6:30am

The other thing we noticed was the huge number of expats here and particularly Aussies with the Australian Federal Police and other aid programs.
Whilst Australia gives a lot of aid to Timor Leste and most Aussies are very welcome, there is the occasional exception.
We found this sign printed on many street corners….

In light of recent events, we wonder how long before we see this in Indo.....

We watched some great sunrises and sunsets over the Dili Port area.


Timor has a range of diving around the capitol of Dili, along the shoreline east and west of the capitol, at the conclave and over at Atuaro Island which is 8nm from Dili.
Whilst there are some nice coral dives, wall and pinnacles, for us the attraction was the black sand muck diving in the area.

The most popular black sand macro dive site in the local area is called Tasi Tolu which can be dived by walking in from the shore.
This site has a bit of history as it was saved from destruction by the President, Jose Ramos Horta.
On the land behind the dive site area are 3 large water pools that in the monsoon season overflow with water. To combat the overflow, construction of a drainage ditch began that would drain the water onto the Tasi Tolu dive site and effectively destroy the sites macro habitat.
The local dive businesses rallied together and put their case forward to the President. The government was really trying to promote tourism to the area and realised this was a major attraction for the divers so the construction was halted and the drainage was diverted to another area.

The Tasi Tolu dive site is the beach at the far left of the photo.

For our first dive there we geared up and jumped in but after just 10 minutes a cold water thermo cline hit us which brought in a sand storm that reduced the visibility to less the 25cm.
You could not see your outstretched hand.
Thank goodness Lisa was close to Paul and we were able to link arms and swim back to the surface.

With ¾’s of a tank left each, we decided to head back towards the Pertamina Pier which is the local fuel tanker pier which can be dived when no ships are there.
It is a long pier and the sand & debris on the bottom around the pylons holds all kind of small and unusual critters.
Thankfully the viz was better and we were able to do a 75 minute dive.

The Pertamina Pier

The next day we tried Tasi Tolu again but this time we got 14 minutes into the dive before the sandstorm hit. We then surmised in was a current/tidal thing and decided to abort again and retry in a few days time.
Back on the surface the wind was already up and we had a 5nm punch back into it to get back to the harbour. It was not a good morning and we only got 1 or 2 decent photos each.

A very unusual Crab which was about 20cm diameter.

A small Soft Coral Crab


One of the main reasons for visiting Timor Leste was so we could visit the Indonesian Embassy and obtain a new 6 month visa for the up-coming winter surf season.
The first day we arrived at 2pm only to find out The Indonesian Embassy only accepted visa applications from 9am till 11am and they only issued a certain number of applications each day.
Consequently people arrive as early as 6am and line up on the street so they do not miss out.
We also discovered the paperwork was different to our last Indo visa application in the Philippines and this time we needed passport photos with a red background (which was catching a lot of people out…) and an additional hand written letter of why we wanted to go there.
We could not get a straight answer as to what language they required the letter so we wrote one in Indonesian and one in English each.

The next morning we were up at 5am to head to shore but it was raining and the idea of standing out the front on an Embassy for 3 hours in the rain was not appealing so we went back to bed and tried again the next day.

We got there at 7am to find we were already no. 42&43 when we registered. We had only just made the cut-off. We spoke Indonesian to the guards and had a good laugh with them.
They told us to come back at 9am but we showed up at 8:40am and even though there were many locals waiting outside, the guards spied us and ushered us in which we were very thankful for.
 We were given numbers 3&4 to visit the visa official.
Fortunately at 7am the guards double checked our paperwork and put it in the exact order the lady official likes so it was a breeze and we were in and out by 10am and told to come back at 2pm in 2 days time to collect our passports and visas.

2 days later when we had to pick up our passports we ran into dramas.
When it was our turn to collect our visas we were told that ours had NOT been approved.
We were required to see the Immigration Minister. Problem was we were not dressed correctly as we needed pants, dress shoes, collared shirt, etc….
That meant heading back across town in a cab, back to Lorelei, change and back again. 2 hours later where are sitting in a waiting room with 20 people and 10 chairs.
After an hour of waiting we were able to see the minister.
He had lots of questions about our itinerary, change of sponsor from the previous 6 months, why we had so many destinations on our CAIT, minor issues with paperwork, etc, etc…his biggest concern was that we understood the offialdom process and once we assured him of this he was happy.
After 30 minutes of explanations we were able to get approval and 1 hour later we had our visas.

MORE DIVING – well sort of…

With the visas completed, we could relax and start to enjoy ourselves again, or so we thought…

With some nice weather forecast for only a few days before the wind kicked back in, we decided to try our luck at diving again.
Paul was having camera problems and was using our back up Nikon body but even it was playing up so for him it was a little frustrating.

We went back to Tasi Tolu.
There was no wind, the sun was out, the seas were flat and it was a magical day. We had high hopes.
At the dive site the water looked blue and the tide and time of day was different from the last two attempts at diving there.
Unfortunately when we got to 11m depth the viz went from 15m/50ft to 0.5m/2ft as we swam directly into the underwater sandstorm again.
We were so disappointed.
6 minutes after leaving the surface, we were back in the boat.
For us it was “3 strikes and you’re out” we had vowed not to return again.
We had motored our Rib over 36nm going there and back 3 times and we weren’t going to do it again.
It was such a pity as the site has so much potential and we had seen some fantastic photos on the web from the area.
We went back to the Pertamina Pier again which was on the way home but again the viz was terrible but we dived anyway and Lisa took a few shots but Paul didn’t even turn his camera on.

So that was it for Timor diving and we sadly washed and packed our gear up and disassembled the cameras.

We possibly could have had some better diving experiences with local knowledge or further up and down the coastline by going in the car with a dive shop but with the current US vs. AUS dollar exchange rate, it made shore diving with the dive shop an expensive exercise and much more than we were prepared to pay.
It would have been $155Aus each for a double shore dive.

So we went out for lunch and drowned our sorrows in a bowl of Wonton Noodle Soup.


After learning a little about Timor’s history, we really wanted to visit the 2 museums in the town centre.

The biggest one was the Resistance Museum which documented the history of Timor’s fight for independence, with a lot of information about the atrocities from 1975 to 1979. By the time we finished we felt sick after learning about what really happened to the local people. It was very sobering indeed and sad to think we were 8-10 years old when it was happening and not so long ago.

The Resistance Museum

The Xanana Reading Room

We found an area dedicated to Xanano Gusmao who was the resistance leader and long serving Prime Minister until February this year.
Whilst he does not like to be called it, many refer to him as the Nelson Mandela of Asia. The story of his fight for independence, exile, jailed in Indonesia and then Prime Minister is an incredible read.

This was Xanana Gusmao’s car which was ambushed, fired upon and attacked in 2008. This followed a pre dawn attack on the President Jose Ramos Horta’s compound that left him seriously injured and rebel leader Alfredo Reinado dead.

We went for an afternoon walk along the foreshore and backstreets and found a possible source of our terrible diving viz.
Tonnes of dirty brown water was pouring down the drains and out into the sea. We were horrified to find the local kids happily swimming in it.
And this was before the rainstorms hit!

Whilst we did eat out occasionally we found the food expensive for what it was (compared to Indo and Philippines) so we mainly ate onboard.

Lisa’s orange fish with our $2 bottles of Nutmeg wine we brought in Siau
(Northern Indo)

We did however find some smaller restaurants just out of the city centre that had good food for a half-decent price.

Lisa at a great little Thai Restaurant

One morning we woke to find a large fire in the city centre and later found out it was a retail store.
We watched from Lorelei as it burned sending huge amounts of black smoke high into the sky.

It took almost an hour before we heard the first fire trucks arriving.
By midday it was still blazing and not under control.
Fortunately at 4pm it poured with rain but it was still smoking at 7pm and smouldering at daybreak the next day.
Two days later we went and had a look at the damage.
The store and surrounds was a burnt out mess! There were many people helping with the cleanup outside and inside scores of people were sifting through the debris trying to find anything of value.

The storms persisted and we would wake to a fine day but by 2pm the clouds would roll in and by 4pm it was pouring.
We were supposed to be heading away from the monsoon season, not into it!!

Hunkered down under an awning as it poured with rain


Well if we thought the weather in Dili was bad, that  was nothing compared to what was happening back at home.
We hopped on Facebook one day to see these incredible pictures of our home on the NSW Central Coast being pounded by fierce storms. An unseasonal low had formed off Sydney and was pushing into a large high creating an intense weather pattern that was the equivalent of a
category 2 cyclone.

It created huge surf and destructive winds that caused widespread damage.
Tens of Thousands of homes and businesses were without power, many for up to 10 days.
For us no news was good news on the state of our home in Terrigal so we think it is OK. There are some advantages of having a house on a steep block on the side of a hill!!

This photo is taken in front of Paul’s brothers house

The front yard of Paul’s parents house

and their backyard……

Terrigal Beach – not far from our house

Terrigal Haven and Point – our favourite local surf break out of control


With the marginal weather around we tried to make the best of it.
We found a great movie Cinema at Timor Plaza and were able to see
Fast & Furious 7.

We also got stuck into the onboard chores and did a full food audit before our reprovisioning.

Paul also got out the sewing machine and did some repairs and made some new covers for our fenders. We made 2 different types (4 of each) and we’ll see which ones work the best.


We were sad not to have participated in the Centennial ANZAC Day at home in Australia. It was one of those rare days when we really wished we were at home with family and friends to attend a dawn service.
Our thoughts were with our families who had fought in the wars and Paul’s late Grandad who was a POW.
We listened to the live broadcast from Gallipoli on the radio and saw many photos on Facebook.
We were proud of Paul’s cousins Nigel and Wade and their kids proudly wearing Grandad’s medals.


Timor Leste’s premier sporting event is a 4 day MTB event called the Tour De Timor which is held in September.
Despite this we could not seem to find any info on MTB trails in the area.
We tried the net and asked the local bike shop but neither were much help.

So for our first ride we rode out to the Statue of Christ. Which is 10km from Dili.
It was sealed road most of the way and passed some great white sand beaches and lots of restaurants, smalls resorts and cafes.

Note the Christ Statue in the background

To get to the statue we had to climb about a 1000 stairs and were crazy enough to take our bikes up.
All along the path there were biblical scenes made from copper that started from when Jesus was condemned right up until his resurrection.

The lookouts on the way up were amazing.

The Christ statue (called Cristo Rei) at the top is 27m /90ft tall (excluding the globe) which makes it one of the tallest Christ Statues in the world. Unlike many others made from stone, this statue is made from Copper and was a gift from the Indonesian Government.
It was a challenge taking photos with the sun behind the statue.

An aerial view of the statue

We are not sure how many people have ever had their photo taken with their bike at the statue and we think there would not be many.

We had morning tea at the top overlooking Dili and the bay.

The way back down was wild and fun and we could ride the stairs most of the way down.

On the way back towards the city we found a timber furniture store that had an amazing full size Harley Davidson Motorbike all made from timber.

We saw lots more monuments during our ride including some interesting signposts.

Once back in the city we headed inland to check out the Santa Cruz Cemetery to see where the massacre took place.

The cemetery is a little different from others we have seen as it is full of colour and jam packed with crypts of all different sizes and shapes.
It was very interesting to walk around.

Across the road from the old cemetery is a new cemetery with a section dedicated to the massacre.
There is a large but basic monument in the centre adorned with the Indonesian logo and flag.

On either side are 2 large areas with hundreds of graves that is a little disturbing to see.

On a lighter side, when we got to there the local grounds keeper said we could not bring our bikes in but happily let us leave them against a tree inside the grounds.
It was only 10am but he was drinking and already a bit intoxicated.
As we were walking around the graves we spy him riding Lisa’s bike around the grounds giggling like a kid as he bounced along on the dual suspension system. It was pretty funny.

By lunch time we were exhausted from the 33 degree heat so we had lunch in town and called it a day for riding.

The next day we were up early to go riding again.
This time we wanted to head in the opposite direction and headed down the coast towards the Tasi Tolu area.

It was chaotic riding through the city in peak hour traffic!!
In the city Lisa got a puncture in her back tyre.
It happens sometimes and when we checked it, it was an old tube that had done a lot of miles.
We had 3 spare tubes in our bike first aid kit which is probably overkill.
The issue was all 3 tubes were generic tubes brought in Micronesia.
15 minutes after installing the first one it blew again at the base of the valve.
Another 15 minutes later the next went and we were down to the last one.

So we headed straight towards the bike shop which meant going through the back streets.
In the labyrinth of backstreets we got lost but saw some interesting things.

We arrived in a small village area littered with rubbish and the pigs were roaming freely.

We passed an area where they keep the cows (this is in the city…) and even a small child with a pet Python that the young girls did not like at all.

Finally after a few more wrong turns we made it to the bike shop and were able to purchase 3 of the Maxxis brand tubes which is our preferred brand as we use Maxxis tyres too.
Swapped it over and that was the end of our troubles.

Heading out of the city we went over a large bridge that goes over the river. There were scores of people, trucks and machinery working in the river bed. They were removing the smaller sized river base to use for building. They even had sieves of different gauges set up.

Out near the airport we went past a huge roundabout with a statue of Nicolau dos Reis Lobato, an independence hero and part of FRETILIN who were a left wing political party.

Once out of the city we headed to the Tasi Tolu area and climbed a few of the headlands.
The first headland had great views with a cemetery on top and grazing animals.

We headed down to the black sand beach for a look and found a roadside stall with the ladies cooking Satay Chicken kebabs which cost 25c each.

The ladies were too shy to get their photo taken

The second headland had great views looking back up the Tasi Tolu beach and looking further down the coastline.


On the way home we stopped in to have a look at the Tais Market.

Tais is a traditional cotton cloth which is weaved by the Timorese women.
The technique is passed from generation to generation and is considered an integral part of Timor culture and heritage.
The markets have about 20 individual shops where you can browse without too much pressure to buy.

You can watch the ladies actually weaving the Tais.
Some stores even convert the Tais material into bags, cushions or jewellery.

This lady named Augustina made our Tais for us and did a terrific job.

Best of all, some of the ladies can make custom pieces and we ordered one in the traditional Timor Colours of Red, Yellow, Black and White with the word Lorelei woven into the material.
It took Augustina 2 days to make it and cost $25.

Our 2 Tais.
The top one was our custom one and the bottom one we bought for $12.
 They are 1.2m/4ft long

By the time we got back to our RIB it was 4pm and we could hardly walk.
We had ridden nearly twice the distance as the day before and it had taken its toll in the 33 degree heat.

The next morning we could hear a lot of commotion onshore.
It turned out to be a rally of some sort and by the look and sound of it, a protest rally. We decided to stay onboard for the few hours it was on.


A day later the wind and swell picked up and it started to get really rough in the harbour. After 24 hours we were over it and decided it was time to leave Timor Leste.
It was also the day the Bali 9 ringleaders were finally executed.

So the next morning we head into the Harbour Master’s Office to give him the required 24 hours notice.
He told us that the next day (Friday, May 1st) is a public holiday in Timor and if we were to clear out we had to do it that day or wait until Monday.

We weren’t waiting that long so cleared that day.
Clearing out was a long process and it took all day.
It was a case of go to one office, get a document, take it to another office and get another document, take it to the bank and pay the bill, take the receipt back to office no.1 and get a new document to take back to office no.2…..  and that was just for The Harbour Master!!

However everybody was very helpful and the process was straightforward. Immigration and Customs only took 90 minutes.
At each place we were asked the normal questions of where are you from and where are you going next. The answers are Australia and Indonesia.
Well of all the comments that we received, not one mentioned the actual executions, instead they were all centred around the uproar the Australian Government was creating with withdrawing Embassy Staff, threatening to cut aid, etc…  it was very hard to know how to reply.

When we got back to Lorelei we saw that an Australian Warship called “Armidale” was docked at the wharf and was taking on Diesel before continuing onto Indonesia.
Not sure if that was a coincidence with all that had gone on in the past 48 hours or not.


We had an 180nm run to get to Kupang in Indonesia.
Fortuanately Kupang is on the same Island as Dili so all we had to do was follow the coastline down.
Timor’s boundaries continue for another 40nm south past Dili before it turns into Indonesian Territiory for another 40nm and then reverts back to Timor Territory at a conclave area called ‘The Occussei” which also covers around 40nm of coastline.

We had gained permission from Immigration to stop along the Timor coastline and at the Occussie.

So for the first day we travelled just 39nm.

In the morning the wind was light and we cruised along marvelling at the amazing coastline with the fog still in the valleys.

All along the way we passed many black sand beaches with lots of large water courses coming down from the mountains and exiting at the shoreline. Some were huge and had bridges going over them.

We stopped to anchor overnight in a rolly bay just inside the Timor Border.
The CMap charts of the area are a long way out.
We anchored about 200m offshore and the charts had Lorelei parked on the land.

The next day we had to do a large 70nm passage so we took off before daybreak.
We started in a glass out but by mid morning we had wind and current with us and were flying along at 8.5knots.
The mountain ranges with their brown hues looked very much like New Caledonia.

As soon as we entered Indonesian waters, we played dodge the FAD.
We must have passed 30 of them in just 10nm.

We had some very acrobatic Dolphins come and play in the bow wave.
They would take off out in front and do some really high jumps.

Paul went inside to get his pole-cam but when he returned the Dolphins had gone so we experimented and took some shots of us on the bow instead.

Later in the afternoon the countryside of the Occussi looked just spectacular with the sun on it.

That arvo we anchored at the Occussi.
Within 30 minutes of arriving we had a stack of locals on the beach wondering what in the world we were doing.
We had 2 guys paddle out and Paul explained that we were only staying overnight before moving on which they were just fine with.

For our final days travel we took off just before daybreak for a huge 80nm run to Kupang. It was one of the largest distances we have ever done in 1 day during daylight hours.
The sunrise was awesome.

We hugged the shoreline and as the day went on the wind strengthened up to 15 knots but it was offshore.
We stayed close to the coast and had flat seas and only a little chop which had us going really fast and healing quite a lot.

We anchored up at Kupang just before sunset.
The buildings along the shoreline looked great all lit up by the setting sun.

As the sun set behind us on Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) it brought closure to another episode of The Hog Blog and Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures.

It’s certainly been a month of ups and downs, good and bad - but that’s life.

We have a friend arriving in 2 weeks for the start of the surf season and the first stop will be Nembrala/Rote to surf the famous break known as
T-Land. That will all be covered in the next exciting episode.


Overall Timor was interesting and a bit of fun.
From a yachties point of view though it is a bit of a challenge.
In the monsoon (wet) season of Nov-April the wind comes from the north and would make Dili Harbour and the surrounding coastline exposed and open to the swell and wind.
Aside from the semi-protected harbour, there are virtually no other protected bays to anchor in along the coastline in both directions.
In the dry season of May-Oct it is supposed to be offshore and would be calmer but with all the dust and little rain, the boat and everything inside would be covered in dust.
Because we were there in the shoulder season we experienced both situations.
We would like to return one day but not so much for Dili and what’s 10km either side, but to get further up and down the coast and maybe into the interior.
The black sand beaches up and down the coast look amazing and have all the right ingredients for some great muck dive sites.
However it would need to be in the dry season and if/when the
US vs AUS dollar becomes closer to parity.
 The issue is though it coincides with the surf season….


Over the past few years we have watched the monthly views of our blog slowly increase.
In 2012 when it hit a 1000 a month we were amazed.
By early 2014 it was consistently over 2000 a month.
Last month (April 2015) we had our biggest month ever with over 3200 views.
It’s snowballing and currently the blog is averaging 100-150 a day worldwide which has us just astounded!!!!

So Thankyou everybody, particularly all the new followers that have contacted us in the past few months and given us lots of positive feedback.

Paul Hogger
Lisa Hogger
Yacht Lorelei

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