Showing posts from August, 2018

Gili Air - Welcome to Tourist-ville!

Gili Air is one of three small islands on the northwest corner of Lombok. After sailing for 2 days from Gili Banta, we had a decision to make. Favorable winds had enabled us to sail faster than we anticipated (even with a 2 knot current against us), so at the rate we were going, we would arrive at 9 pm in Marina Del Rey. That wouldn’t work. Instead, we could either sit out at sea for a night until the sun rose or stop somewhere along the way to stay for the night. Once we looked at the charts and saw the many stops available, it wasn’t a tough decision.

The Gilis were only 20 miles north of our final destination and were known to be THE vacation spot for locals and tourists alike. Coming from remote Komodo, the scene we came upon was quite a shock to the system. The shorelines were lined with beach umbrellas and tanning tourists. Resorts, restaurants, juice bars and dive shops crowded behind them. Huge passenger ferries barreled into the harbor, dropping off boatloads of sun-seeking …

Diving in Komodo

Diving in Komodo was excellent.  The hardest part for us was finding good places to anchor as the anchorages were few and the moorings even fewer.  Regardless, we did some amazing diving, and plan on heading back to Komodo the first week of September so we can do some more diving in a 'secret' spot we found that was outstanding.

Until then, here are some photos we took during our dives in Komodo.  The link here is to Flickr with more photos and will be a better way to download full quality images.

Battle for the Balls - Komodo

The prime season for diving in this area is June - August, so we were right on the cusp of it. At times, the sheer number of phinisis (dive liveaboard boats) and daytrip tourist boats surrounding us was claustrophobic and everyone was vying for a spot on the few mooring balls that had been installed by the national parks service. Many of the bays are too deep to anchor and besides, dropping a big steel anchor down onto any of these colorful coral reef areas just feels wrong.

Cruising guides say that anchoring in 30+ meters is fine, but if the anchor chain gets wrapped around coral at that depth, it can create quite a problem when we try to raise it. Our rule on board is that we will only anchor in areas that we feel comfortable diving to retrieve it if necessary, so 30 meters is our maximum. We’re also careful to avoid any plausible dive sites or marked no-anchoring zones. In the waters of Komodo, these self-imposed rules left few places that provided viable anchoring, limiting the p…

Komodo - Here be Dragons

Written By: Elizabeth Silverstein

Beep! Beep! Beep! “Mmmmmuummmmnnnuu.” I groaned as my watch alarm woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. I knew I had to get up to get ready for our early excursion. 'What was the excursion again? Is it really that important?' I sleepily thought, rolling over. Then it came to me. We were going to see the dragons.

I quickly got up and put on the clothes I had placed at the end of by bed the previous night. I then got the camera and imported and deleted all the photos so we had an empty card. Dad then got up and started getting his camera gear ready. We all then ate a quick bowl of cereal and I did a check list in my head; hat- check, camera- check, glasses- check, etc.. We then hopped in the dingy and zoomed off towards the wharf.

I was a little nervous because the Komodo dragons were supposed to be active and walking around early in the morning. “Look!” Dad says, “There are monkeys on the dock!” Sure enough, a few monkeys were on the rail! We cau…

Wakatobi, South Sulawesi

After leaving Ambon, we sailed/motored for a few days before arriving in Wakatobi Marine National Park. Entering the anchorage was a bit of a narrow passage, and we fought 2+ knots in the channel to anchor.

Lately, we’ve been working hard to keep on our school schedule in hopes that we won’t have to take any schoolwork back to the US with us when we visit this summer. Thankfully, the sailing has been calm enough to allow the kids to continue on their regular school agendas, only requiring me to alter a few assignments (i.e. - instead of reading about the US flag’s history and etiquette, I downloaded Youtube videos to watch, and we listen to audiobooks rather than read, and orally report on our learning instead of having to write too much). I know the kids could probably write and read and such while we’re sailing, but this just cuts out the battles and whining, making it less about me enforcing and more about me participating. Plus, we’ve said there can be no choice (movie or ipad ti…

Baguala Bay, Ambon

Instead of anchoring in the bustling, dirty, busy bay of Ambon, we decided to drop the hook in the shallow, calm, quiet waters of Baguala Bay, just around the corner.  It was easy to hop on a bus and get to the city’s amenities and shopping, but the traffic and noise was left behind once we were back at Field Trip.  Friends had told us to make sure to meet Kaj and Barb, the UK/Australian couple running the Dive Into Ambon dive shop in the Maluku Resort, so that was first on our agenda.

Kaj and Barb were lovely and very helpful, as were Phoebe and Azza on their staff.  They each gave tidbits of insider information about fuel, bus names, shopping, etc., and we made sure to support them by doing a few dives through their operation.  Diving in Ambon is world-renowned.  It is specifically known for its “muck” dives.  As the name suggests, muck dives involve looking for critters in the muck, or silt, that settles on the sea bottom here.  It is especially helpful to go with experienced gui…

ESL in Tual

Our new friends, Paul and Christine on SV TTAAK from Australia, introduced us to Muin.  Muin is 23 years old with a passion for physics and language.  He attended school in Makassar, Indonesia, where his focus was geophysics, but when he realized that there were no English courses in his hometown of Tual, he teamed up with a friend and decided to start one!  He had taken a 3-month course in Java, and continued to improve his English using YouTube to listen to and practice.  Now, he was eager to pass along that language to the youth in his own community.

It just so happened that we were anchored in the Tual harbor the week his class was starting up.  When I first met Muin, I was impressed with his English pronunciation and vocabulary.  He had a strong grasp of the English language.  He tried to be shy and nervous at first, but my barrage of questions didn’t give him room to stay quiet.  Gradually, he shed his nerves, and we found we had a lot to talk about!  We met up again, before hi…