Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Episode 38 Indonesia - Rote to Kupang

Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures

For Episode 37 we had cleared back into Indonesia at Kupang and our friend Matt Simpson had arrived for a 1 month stay.
We traveled down to Rote Island to surf the famous left hand surf break called
T-Land at Nembrala.

Our location for this Episode of the Blog.

Our route for this Episode of the Blog.

Nembrala and it’s surrounding Islands.

Whilst Matt was here to experience an adventure onboard Lorelei, the primary thing was for Paul and Matt to get some decent sized surf.
For Matt’s first week at Nembrala (Episode 37) we had mostly 2-3ft waves with only 48 hours of 3-5ft.
It was the start of the season but we were hoping for some bigger swell.

Unfortunately week 2 (according to the forecast) was not looking good.
We had one small pulse of 3ft fun waves with no crowds and using the 7’4” funboards/mini-mals at the start of the week which was a lot of fun.
Paul spent one session riding goofy (right foot forward) on the small, clean and long waves and was surprised he could actually ride, do turns and pump down the face.

After the small pulse went though, it went flat so we looked for alternate options.

We took Lorelei south to an island called Palau Dana and found some surfers riding an outer break off the tip of the island.
They had come from Nembrala for an early morning session before the wind had come up.
The wind was already up by the time we arrived so we looked for anchorage to stay overnight.
We found a great place around the corner on a long white sandy beach.
It had the surf break at one end, a sand spit for kiting at the other end and a tall rock island only 2nm away for diving and spearing.
Great we thought, things are starting to look up….
So after lunch we loaded the kite gear into the RIB and Paul was going to give Lisa and Matt a lesson.
As we were running the lines out on the sand a group of guys with automatic weapons came down to talk to us.
As it turned out, Palau Dana is an Indonesian Military Base and is off limits to the general public.
They were really nice guys and were very apologetic but said we must go.
It meant no anchoring around the island as well and the rock island was also off limits.

We were pretty disappointed!!!
It had ruled out all the diving, spearing and surfing at the southern end below Nembrala and only left the three islands NE of Nembrala of Palau Do’o, N’Dao and Nuse a little further north.

We were starting to feel like we had sailed ourselves into a corner.
We were at the extreme SE tip of Indonesia and didn’t really have many other options for surfing without going 200nm west to Sumba which would have made it very difficult to get both us and Matt back into the wind to Kupang in a few weeks time.

So we set sail and headed to Palau Do’o.
We had visited there 10 days prior (See Episode 37) for some kiting and spearing so we tried our luck again.

Early the next day we did a full circumnavigation around the island in the RIB looking for promising spearing spots.
It turned out that the best spot was only 200m from Lorelei’s anchorage so we did a series of drifts parallel to the island.

The best shot of the day came from Paul who managed to get 2 Crayfish with 1 shot.

The following day we moved over to Palau N’Dao in the hope to scuba dive the local wharf.
We anchored Lorelei in between a stack of local fishing boats just down from the wharf.

We loaded the dive gear into the RIB and headed up to the wharf but it was the weekend and there were loads of locals of all ages fishing from the wharf.
One nice local showed us where the charter boats take the divers, which was further up towards the point so we went and dived there.

It wasn’t super spectacular but there was a lot of coral and loads of smaller reef fish varieties.
Matt lives in Micronesia and his Island has incredible underwater viz and amazing hard corals but it lacks the soft corals and schooling reef fish varieties, so for him it was something different and a lot of fun.

We both took our 60mm macro lens’s and Paul took a new Nikon DSLR body for its maiden trial. Matt had kindly brought it for us from the USA as Paul’s old one was playing up. Thankfully it worked just fine.

The one thing we did notice on the dive was the large amount of parasites living on the small fish.
We named the dive site after the Guns & Roses song “Paradise City” and instead changed it to “Parasite City”.
Take me down to Parasite City where the
weed is green and the fish are pretty…
(ok now that’s showing our age)

In the arvo Paul and Matt decided to head ashore and do a short stroll along the beach and have a look at the fisherman on the wharf.
The afternoon cloud formations were amazing and created a great back drop for the photos.

They found a nice man who was renovating a traditional fishing boat.

The wharf was full of people catching Yellowtail (we call then Yacka’s at home and catch them for bait – not to eat)

We noticed the piles of fish had no eyes.
Then we saw someone catch one and the first thing they did was suck the eyes out and eat them. Yuck!!!!

The locals had sticks as rods with a single small rope eye (made from a shoe lace) at the end.
The reels where a simple square block of wood.
It was great to sit and watch them cast and retrieve the line and could do it nearly as fast as if they had a proper reel.

We watched a fishing boat unloading large bags of Long Toms.
If they were lucky, the wharf fisherman would sometimes catch one too.

As we left the wharf we were going to return to Lorelei but we spied a colourful house and we decided to take a look.
Behind the house was a hive of activity and a lady invited us around the back to have a look.

There was a bunch of people all filleting the Long Toms.
They had a production line going and were getting them ready for export to Hong Kong, which was the villages main source of income.
Once again we noticed all the eyes gone but it was like a game of snap when one turned up with an eye still attached.

One of the young guys there was called Sam and spoke reasonable English. He took us around a small section of the village to say hello to the local people.
We had a small group of local kids also follow us around.

They were all very friendly and we watched many ladies working on their back-strap weaving looms and another fixed timber loom we had not seen before.

We had to fast track a few areas to get back to the beach by dark.
We were glad we did as the sunset was amazing.

Paul and Matt’s 40 minute walk turned into a 3+ hour marathon village tour!!

We moved on again the next day and went around to the more protected side of the island.
There was a lot of reef and Paul stayed on the bow looking for shallow bommies.

We found a small anchorable patch on the end of the island that was just off the back of the reef and right next to a potential left hand surf break (if we ever got any swell….).
The headland was very rocky and had what we thought was red earth behind the rocks.

Paul was very busy with boat issues (more on that later) so Lisa and Matt decided to go kayak spearfishing.
They found very good terrain with lots of caves, bommies and sand gutters. They got home at sunset with a good feed of reef fish for dinner.

We really wanted to go ashore and check out the unusual red earth but there was a fringing reef around the edge of the island so we had to wait until high tide to get over the reef and in towards the beach.
The island was rocky and made for tough walking.

As we got to the end of the island we realised the red colouration was not from soil or sand but was actually a small pink flower.
The ground was covered in millions of them and from a distance gave a red appearance.

The walking got easier along the shoreline and we found some man-made rock structures.

We returned to Nembrala on the Monday night to be ready for the weekly Tuesday markets which start at sunrise.
We were a little late the week before and missed a lot of the good stuff so this week we made sure we were there nice and early and were rewarded with a great variety including avocados, prawns, lots of F&V and even a  live chicken!!!

This is what Lisa’s Chicken turned out like after she plucked & gutted it. We had a great baked dinner that night.

For days we had waited for waves but still it was dead flat and really windy. It had been over a week since we had surfed and we were all getting a little anxious to get the boards out again.

Thank goodness we had great internet coverage and Matt was able to do some work and research for his Micronesian businesses.

The past week had also been a terrible week onboard for boat dramas.
There just seemed to be problem after problem for Paul to tackle and it was by far the worst string of issues we have ever had onboard in all our years of cruising.
Here just a small sample of what happened:

The Canopy roof tore in a violent wind gust.
Our starboard Genoa sheet winch seized.
We tore one of the kayak covers while putting it back on.
The freshwater pump wouldn’t prime even after we replaced the filters.
Paul replaced it with a new larger pump but still the same issue.
The depth sounder still wasn’t working properly even after we rewired it.
The desalinator HP pump was playing up.
Paul’s fan in the bedroom broke.
Paul’s managed get his old Nikon underwater camera body going again
 – for just 5 minutes….
Paul dropped his paddle board and took a chunk out of the new paint job.
We broke 4 speargun rubbers in 3 sessions that Paul had to fix.

And on and on it went……  ARRRGGGHHH !!!!!!!

We had been watching the forecast of a large pulse of swell that had formed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Sure enough the forecast was right (although about 12 hours late) and finally after a week of no surfing, the waves started to pick up.
Fortunately the tides were perfect too and it meant low tide was at 8am meaning surfing from 6am to 10am was the best.
It kept us out of the heat of the day and the persistent wind which kicked in everyday at around 9am.

The first day of the pulse was a fun, clean and long 3ft swell and fortunately the crowds were low compared to the previous pulse
 (at the end of Episode 37).

That night we were really pumped for the following day but were very disappointed to find a very windy and blown out 2-3ft all day.
We didn’t even surf. Where was the swell????

The next day (Sunday the 7th July) it hit with 4-6ft clean waves.
We had a blast on our favourite peak and had only a few people on it, most of whom we knew.
We caught many waves each and surfed for almost 4 hours.

By 11am the wind was up. It made for some great photos with the wind blowing the spray off the back of the waves.

There were a lot of boats with surfers and photographers and sometimes it got a bit busy and silly in the line-up.

The biggest chargers of the day award went to 2 tiny Japanese ladies on bodyboards who were cracking onto the sets all the while grinning like Cheshire Cats.

On the Monday morning it had dropped a little in size but it was very clean with great long waves with a very good shape.
We surfed again for nearly 4 hours and must have caught 30-40 waves each.
It was by far the best session we had so far for the season.
Thank goodness as it was Matt’s last full day onboard with us.

That night we enjoyed Matt’s last sunset onboard.

By Tuesday morning it was back to 3ft but it was sucky and fast and made for some very whackable sections.
It was Matt’s last surf with us so we made it a good one.

At lunch time we loaded up the RIB with all Matt’s gear and headed ashore.

Jenet at Lualemba Resort had kindly organised a car to take Matt to the airport so he could fly back to Kupang.
It was very sad to see him go after 3 ½ weeks onboard.

Last Drinks….. Lualemba Resort

Whilst we had an awesome time with Matt we felt a little bad about the size of the waves we had during his stay.
We rode some awesome waves and it was a heap of fun, but not the
6-8ft triple overhead and full stand up barrels we were hoping we would get at least once or twice during the 4 week window.

The next morning we woke up to find Jack the Toad anchored next to us.
We were very excited.

We first met Harry and Hayley back in 2012 in New Caledonia and have bumped into them at a few different countries.
We spent the surf season and Christmas in 2014 with them in Pohnpei, Micronesia which was a heap of fun.

It was great for Paul to have someone to surf with when it got bigger.

We also caught up with fellow Aussies Cameron and Narelle.
They were staying at Lualemba for nearly a month so we had them out for drinks one night on Lorelei.

We enjoyed some great sunrises as the sun came up over the island.

When the next swell hit it wasn’t as big as expected and only stayed for about 48 hours.
We could simply sit on Lorelei and watch the waves and just head out when it looked ok.

Lisa came out and surfed T-Land with Hayley which was her first time on the break. It was a little too big for her but she still managed a few waves from the shoulder.

That arvo the lagoon bommie behind Lorelei started to break.
There was no one out so Lisa thought she would try to get a few waves.
Paul took some photos but it was looking directly into the sun making it virtually impossible to get surfing shots.
He did however get some quirky silhouette shots.

That evening we took some shots of the lagoon bommie breaking with the sunset in the background.

The next morning there was no wind so Paul, Hayley and Harry piled into our RIB at 6am and went 2nm north to surf Sucky Mamas which is a right hander.
It was only small and glassy but the waves were all over the place making getting in the right position for the take-off a little difficult.

We had a rain cloud come over and give us a small dousing.
It was the first rain we had seen in weeks.

When the swell died we got stuck into the chores to get Lorelei and her woes back on track.
We spent a full day doing all the sewing fix-ups. That included the canopy which had to have the big rip repaired, 2 sides re-enforced and the back leather rub strip repaired and re-stitched.

We also took some time out from work and in-water activities and did a full day trip on motorbikes up to the biggest town on Rote Island which is called Ba’a.
It is over an hour by bike so on the way we took some smaller side roads into the more remote farming areas and villages.

The first few villages raised cattle and water buffalo.
Being the dry season and not much rain for the past 2 months, the area was very dry and the grasslands mostly brown.

We did see the occasional area with dams which had greener pastures.

Some of the farming houses made for great photo opportunities.

As we headed for the hills the vegetation became thicker with the roads sometimes covered right over with foliage.

Further up into the mountains the cattle roamed freely around the homes rather than being in paddocks.

Up in the mountains we started to see rice paddies.
Some were dry and others were wet.

As we were riding through one small village we spotted a mobile rice
de-husking machine that’s was operating on the side of the road.
The local villagers simply gave the un-processed rice to the men who returned it in 2 bags – one with the freshly husked rice and the other with the milled up husk which they use for feed for the animals.
We saw many of these machines during the day.

Going down into Ba’a was great on the bikes as it was a steep and winding road.

We stopped along the foreshore for lunch and found a great little café/restaurant.
We couldn’t work out why all the eateries were vacant until we found out that it was the first day of Ramadan and the town was predominately Muslim.
Fortunately the owner was a great guy and was still happy to cook for us.

Before heading back we stopped at the local lighthouse for a look.

On our return we passed the local Government buildings of which the main one has a large steel structure on top to resemble the traditional woven hats that are unique to the area.

On the way home we took a side road that was rough and bumpy but much more scenic.
As we came over a ridge we spied a group of men wearing their traditional hats and riding horses. We quickly parked the bikes, grabbed the cameras and got the shots. They were very excited to see us too and were happy to pose - when the horses co-operated.

By the time we got home it was 4:30pm. We were stuffed as we had ridden over 120klm in 7 hours.
It was spring tides that day and the tides were dropping fast and we were worried about having a stranded dingy on the beach, but fortunately we knew some of the local guys and they had moved it out for us a few times over the course of the afternoon.
We were very appreciative and they were happy with the pack of smokes (which are A$2 a pack) from us.

We got back to find the swell was starting to build again and the local canoes were going out for an afternoon sail to troll for fish.

That night it was a little rocky on Lorelei which meant the swell was definitely on the rise.

The tides were perfect with a 6am and 6pm low and a 12 noon high.
With the spring tides it meant the best times for surfing were 6:30-9am and 3-5:30pm which was just perfect and kept us out of the heat of the day.

We woke the next morning to epic waves at T-Land.
It was 6ft, clean with a light offshore wind that produced steep, long and fast waves that were just awesome.
It was by far the best we had seen it so far.

The sunrise created a nice orange glow over the waves

Towards the end of June we had to return to Kupang as our initial 60 day Visa was coming to an end and we needed to renew it.

We waited for the swell to subside and the wind to have more South than East before we tackled the 75nm NE run back up the coast.

We decided to split the passage into 2 days of roughly 40nm each.

We were up at 5am getting ready to leave but we encountered a snag – Literally!!!
We started to up-anchor and the chain came up fine but the anchor had become tangled in an old mooring rope and wouldn’t come any higher than just below the surface.
Paul had no option but to jump in the water with a knife and cut the old ropes away.
At least the sunrise was nice and the water not too cold….

The passage was pretty uneventful.
We decided to stop at 2pm at a nice inlet that had a wharf where the slow ferry to Kupang runs from.
Just as we were entering the inlet, the ferry was exiting.

At the entrance to the inlet were a lot of small Tuna schools.
We saw a local fishing boat attempting to run a net around a small school.
The fishermen were super friendly with big waves to us.

Note the 3 people in the water inside the net on the left.
They were splashing around trying to scare the fish into the net.

It was a very calm anchorage and the flattest one we had been in for the last 3 months.

The next morning was a 5am start again.
The sunrise as we were leaving was terrific.
It bathed the local fisherman in their canoes with a strong orange glow making for interesting photos.

At 9am we left the top of Rote Island for the 10nm crossing to Timor Island.
Even though it was still early the swell and wind was pushing though the passage making for a rough and bouncy but fast sail.

By the time we reached the protected pass everything outside was covered in salt – including us!
Once inside the protected pass we were able to rocket along in the flat water and sail past Kupang’s main commercial port and weave through the dozen or so bulk carriers at anchor.

We arrived at our anchorage at Kupang at 1pm and were pretty tired.

We are quite immune to the wailing sounds of Mosques now after having been in the country for 8 months, however that afternoon it just went on and on and on.
We then realized that it must be due to Ramadan.
By the time we went to bed at 9:30pm the mosques were still blaring out the loud wailing. 
It didn’t stop us sleeping though….

So that’s it for another Episode of the
Hog Blog and Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures.

Ironically we finish where we started last episode:
Anchored in front of the strange concrete buildings at Kupang,
the city with the most amazing sunsets.

The plan is to stay here for a few days to obtain another 30 days on the visa and try to get our next 3 month issue of our Temporary Import Permit for Lorelei from Customs.

We will also reprovision, refuel, wash Lorelei of all the salt and try to get on top of the list of things to service/repair.

We have a fantastic itinerary planned for July.
It’s to visit some awesome locations that we didn’t think we would get to this time around so we are very excited.

And that’s all before our next visitor arrives at the end of July….

So stay tuned for an even more jam packed Episode 39 next month.

Paul Hogger
Lisa Hogger

Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures.


So we are here during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
But aside from fasting, do you know what it is about?

The word Ramdan is derived from the ancient Arabic word Ramida which roughly translates to scorched heat, burnt ground and shortness of provisions.
The event centres around the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and
coincides with the moon phase.
It starts with the new moon (or crescent moon) and continues 29-30 days until the next new moon.

The annual observance is regarded as one of the “Five Pillars of Islam”.

The Arabic word for fasting is “Sawm” which literally means to refrain.
So its not all about not eating food during daylight hours.
It’s also about refraining from worldly excessive indulgences – smoking, sex, cursing, bad habits, bad & evil thoughts, actions and words, etc…
The fasting also gives people time to reflect on those who are less privileged than themselves.
Essentially it is a time to re-evaluate & clean up ones lives, thoughts, feelings and to purify the soul.
During this time people are encouraged to refocus their attention to their God.
Before and after sunset are a fantastic time to unite with friends and family share food and to watch for the rising of the crescent moon.
Whilst the sick, elderly and children are not required to fast, they can still join in with other traditions of this holy month.

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