Thursday, August 30, 2012


"Yeah, this anchorage is cool!"


It was time to get in to some proper cruising so we decided to get off the beaten track and divert from the path followed by many of the Sail Indonesia boats. Teluk Hading is a bay nestled under a big hook on the island of Flores. (Check it out on the Location tab). I studied our charts and found a smaller bay tucked right in the eastern most corner, guarded by a big reef that stretched right across the entrance. It looked like there was a channel on the north side about 80 metres wide. The charts of Indonesia are not that detailed in the more remote places and they can be quite inaccurate. They are often based on surveys done by the Dutch in the 1800s, so navigating must be done with extreme care.

It did look clear and deep on the chart so we gingerly approached the bay. Our hunch was correct, the channel never dropped below 20metres in depth and the reef could be seen clearly as a change in colour from dark blue to light green. It was a perfect bay with a huge reef protecting it from any wind direction. A couple of fishermen in canoes gave us some guidance as to where to anchor and we dropped anchor in 18 metres of water. Yes, we are getting used to these deep anchorages now. We have 60 metres of chain attached to our anchor and we often have to put all of it out.

The anchorage was perfect. It was surrounded by dense mangroves backed by high mountains and it was so still and quiet we felt like we were tied up at a marina. We got busy and did a few chores that we had been putting off, such as replacing missing sail slides, readjusting the reefing line and a few loads of washing. The locals obviously not used to many visitors, kept their distance. We couldn’t see any village but there was a tell tale wisp of smoke wafting through the coconut palms. We asked a passing fisherman if it was OK to visit the village and he pointed in the direction of the mangroves. We were running very low on fresh vegetables and hoped to be able to buy some. We soon had an escort of kids in two canoes. One joined us on our dinghy and acted as our guide. The others we finished up towing behind us, as their paddling was no match for the outboard.
The entrance to the village.

We snaked our way through a narrow passage in the mangroves and eventually landed on a muddy bank where other canoes were beached. On shore we were greeted by a throng of kids and we asked a woman who was processing sugar if it was OK to go to the village. We made our way along a rough muddy path to the village, called Mata, where we were adopted by a woman who had a tiny bit of English. She had worked in Malaysia for a while and picked up a little English. With her tiny bit of English and my halting Indonesian and extensive use of my phrase book, we managed to communicate reasonably well. She confided that she had lost four baby girls.
Processing sugar

We were guided around the village and admired the cute houses, the pigs with piglets, the goats, chickens and tethered cows all the time surrounded by a throng of kids. Rob looked like the Pied Piper, the kids adored him. We visited our guide’s brother who was the leader of the village and sat in his house for a while and gave him our address and phone number. A stop at our guide’s house was a little concerning as she gave us a glass of water each. Every guide book says “Do NOT drink the water” but what can you do? It would be so impolite to refuse. She must have picked up on our exchanged glances and said “Everything OK?” “Sure, no problems” we said, as we drank down the water and wished each other adios.
Rob, the Pied Piper

We were followed back to the boat by two canoe loads of boys, our new friend and her brother in an outrigger canoe. . We returned their hospitality and invited them on the boat where we gave them iced tea and the boys, cordial. They looked a bit wide eyed and said it was like a house. It was probably something right out of their realm of experience.
Our guide outside her house

As the sun set on another adventurous day we were exhausted but happy as we toasted this amazing cruising life. Diana.

PS. No ill effects from the water!
Kids fare welling us from the mangrove driveway.

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