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