Wanchi Wanchi on Wakatobi was a strange place. The little public marina, a single floating dock, was the vocal point of the village. Every evening hordes of locals came to the Marina to enjoy the beautiful sunset and to have a look at the boats that are in. But mostly to see the funny foreigners manning them. Having little respect for privacy they all but boarded the boats to take selfies or preferably photos with the white people. Everywhere we went people called us for a ‘photo photo’. At first it’s endearing, but after a while it does gets a bit annoying.
Alma arranged a scooter and made the trip to the local immigration office to get her visa renewed. A troublesome process in Indonesia. No online option, and even for the 180 day visa we got through the sail 2 Indonesia rally we need to find an immigration office every 2 months for stamps. This means you lose your passport for a couple of days and are stuck waiting for the men that have the stamps. Our local agent, Raymond, part of the Sail 2 Indonesia rally team, turned out quite useless. We had to find our way to the necessary offices ourselves. But with Linda managing the case back from Macau, the road to paperwork became a lot clearer.
On the 3rd of September I was surprised with yummy pancakes and a variety of Indonesian snacks with a candle on top. Fiftyone, another year has passed. It has been a very interesting year, sailing Ah Ma from New Zealand to Indonesia. This was certainly not a wasted year, but one of everlasting memories and new friendships.
One of those friends, Roo, left us on the 4th of September. She would fly back to Australia, just to do it all over again. But this time on a spartan boat, without the luxuries like a water maker, virtually endless electricity, Air-conditioning, Dishwasher and such. I am convinced she will do well on her next boat.
It was now just me and Alma. Ahead of us is around five days of sailing to reach the island of Lombok. On the 5th of September we headed out for a 24 hour sail across the Banda sea up to the archipelago of Taka Bonerate. The sail was wonderful. Good winds give us 180 miles in 24 hours. The archipelago, situated under the west arm of Sulawesi is a nature reserve, a beautiful collection of islands. We expected to find an idyllic anchorage for the night. But we found the spot we picked to anchor was an Island filled with little shipyards on the beach. The beach was lined with Fishing Boats being anti-fouled, or having other work done. We found a calm spot far away from the shoreline to not be bothered by the noises and settled down for the night in calm waters.
We lined up the projector to watch another Star Wars movie. Alma had never seen these, so i thought it would be part of her cinematic education to see them.
The next day early we left the way we came, and set out for a 4 day non-stop sail, one shot up to the island of Lombok. We crossed the Flores sea in pretty much a straight South west course. The sunsets and sunrises passed us by. On the morning of September 7th I saw a meteor score through the sky. Njord was kind to us as the moderate winds stayed on our stern quarter. It was a wonderful sail, and we were both kind of disappointed that on the 10th of September we saw the Island of Lombok rise out of the Horizon.
The path towards Gili Gede, through the Bali channel to the South end of Lombok made us aware we were closer to civilization. Lots of speedboats crossing between the tourist laden Gili islands. Fast Ferries and Cargo ships in the Channel between Bali and Lombok. The water lost its pristine blue colors and was clearly more polluted around the islands.
Upon arrival at the Marina del Rey there was quite a stiff breeze in the bay. We moored up against the head of the long pier for the night. It was a warm welcome at the Marina, A few boats filled up the Marina. To our surprise we found the lovely family of Bliss at the bar playing ping pong. They also took Marina del Ray as a resting point in their journey up North.
Early in the morning, when winds were calm, we parked the stern of Ah Ma against the long pier. Another Mediterranean style mooring. It took some doing to find the right length of shore lines so that we could lower the stern platform at both low and high tide. But eventually we found the perfect setup.
We spent some great days at Marina del Rey. Often there was live music from other sailors at the bar. And we introduced the Baylies smoothy to the bar menu.
Ah Ma will stay in the care of Marina del Ray for a couple of months as I have to report for work in the Caribbean. A 6 week project demands my undivided attention. Along the way I will pay a visit to my parents in Holland. I hope to be reunited with Ah Ma end of December.
On September 13th the long journey to Curacao started. First to Hong Kong/Macau then via Xiamen to Amsterdam, and from the to Willemstad, Curacao. The home country of Ah Ma, of which she still proudly carries her flag.
Alma stayed behind on the boat for a couple of weeks, until she was done exploring Lombok and was ready to continue on-wards on her journey towards Vietnam, and eventually South Africa. I am going to miss her, after three months at sea together I call her my little sister, I am sure our paths will someday cross again.