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Flores Island - East



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Larantuka was a stop that we had lots of discussion about making among the crew.  The concern was would we have enough time to make the stop and still arrive in Darwin on time for Dave and Dave to make their flights.  In the end we decided to visit this site of the original Portuguese colony.

The entrance up the straight was very pretty with resorts at the mouth, mountains rising 1000 meters on both sides and the banks lined with palm trees.   There are a few bars at the entrance that we played hide and seek with until we saw a 100ton freighter come out.  We went in on his reciprocal and had 14 meters of water under us.

Larantuka Beach.jpg (19489 bytes)

The towns people come down to the beach to greet us on our arrival.

The straight in front of Larantuka like many ports in Indonesia was either 14 meters deep or 1 meter deep.  This always makes for interesting anchoring.  Trying to take advantage of local knowledge, we anchored in the middle of a group of fishing boats.  We let out all 75 meters of chain and another 20 meters of rope to get a decent scope to handle the depth, current and tides.   Everything was fine until the tide changed and all of the boats did a dance.
The typical Indonesian fishing boat is a 20-30 meter gaff rigged wooden beast with a 5 meter bow sprit.  They attach them selves to the bottom with a bent piece of rebar tied to the boat with poly line.  Lots of windage and very little draft.

When the tide changed one of the boats immediate changed direction and took off aiming its bowsprit at the cabin on the other boat.  The crew on the target boat, got their engine going and moved out of the way, but the only place they could go was where Dragon's Toy was.  This forced us to start our engine and duck out of the both boats.  We had one bow sprit pass between the back stays and another one over the boom.  Miraculously, there was no contact.  After about 10 minutes the tide established in its new direction and everybody settled down again.

The town of Larantuka is a quaint little place with the friendliest people we met all the way across Indonesia.  Dave D. went on shore first to reconnoiter the town while Towlee and I packed up the boat.  After about an hour Towlee and I went ashore to look for Dave. 

On landing on the beach we were mobbed by a group of kids shouting "Hello Mister!" the standard Indonesian English greeting.  When they saw I had a camera, they started to ask me to take their picture.  Opening up the camera caused all sorts of pandemonium and the parents suddenly showed up wanting to get in the picture as well.  While I was getting everybody lined up for the snap, Towlee pulled out his video camera to record the scene.  The group obviously knew the difference between video cameras and still cameras because they immediately started to jump around and dance in front of Towlee's camera.  Landing at Larantuka.jpg (19094 bytes)

Capt'n discussing the finer points of dinghy design with a group of locals.

Towlee's video camera has a small screen so you can watch the playback.  When he rewound the tape and played it back the crowd watching themselves on the small screen couldn't stand up they were laughing so hard.

We left our new friends of the beach and set out in search of Dave.  It didn't take us long to find him.  As we walked up the street, I saw this large mob of children standing around spilling into the street, laughing and jumping up and down.  We were about 1/2 a mile away at that point and I turned to Towlee and said "There is Dave."  Sure enough when we came up to the group, Dave was sitting in the middle of about 50 children.  Every time he would ask one of them what their name was, riotous laughter would break out in the whole group.

About this time, one of the mothers (grandmother?) came along with a stick and started to swat at the kids standing in the street.  Not wanting to be the cause of kids getting run over in the street we elected to move on and see the rest of town.

In Dave's wanderings he had met a girl named Memeng.   Memeng had worked in Singapore as a maid for 2 years and spoke a smattering of English.  She instantly became our tour guide.  We wandered the extent of town, all 500 meters of it and settled for lunch in one of the local taverns.  Like most business, this one was owned by a Chinese family and served some very good Chinese dishes.   The most important part though was their beer was cold.  Most of the shops we stopped in during our travels had only slightly cool beer.  This was frosty cold.   Needless to say they had our business for the afternoon.

While we were eating lunch, a Dutch backpacker wandered in.   He had been touring Indonesia for 6 weeks and had just taken a bemo (mini bus taxi) into town.  He had come to see the mountains and the town.  He knew nothing of the town and had no idea of where he would stay for the night but figured he could find a room.  After what we had seen in Belitung, I had no desire to see the rooms in Larantuka.  Says something about what Northern Europeans are willing to live with vs Americans who want 5 star hotels everywhere.

Larantuka street S.jpg (18604 bytes)

This is view of downtown Larantuka at mid-day.  The shops all close from noon until about 3:00pm.  Seemed like a very civilized way to do business.

While we were eating lunch a rainstorm moved in to what had previously been clear skies.  The rain came down so had I was worried about flash floods off the mountain.  The other problem was all of the windows were open on the boat.  When we finally got back to the boat everything was soaked.  I think that I lost a dozen books that day as we just could not get them to dry out before the mildew took root.
Memeng and some friends came over to the boat that afternoon for a drink and to see what the sailors life was like.  Despite the rain water sloshing in the bilge, it was a very pleasant day.  That evening we went out to dinner with Memeng to one of the local restaurants.  I think that we ended up buying beer and dinner for about 12 people that night as Memeng's relatives (about half the town) kept joining us.  The total bill was US$12.

We said our good-bye's to Memeng and her family that night and set out for Dili with the morning tide.

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Last modified: February 01, 2009