Gili Banta - Komodo, Indonesia - Macro and Micro


The tradewinds were in full tilt, blowing a steady 18-20 knots from the east, which would make our sail eastward from Lombok to Gili Banta a bit of a beat, or so we thought. In actuality, the trip was an easy one. Hugging the coastlines and dodging floating FADs (fish attraction devices), we used breezes off the high, jagged islands to propel us along our track.

As we neared Gili Banta, a continuous line of private sailboats passed by us, likely on their way to Bali or Lombok. We marveled at the shear number of them popping up on our radar - more than we’d seen during our entire 7 months previously in Indonesian waters. Again, it was the organized rallies that created such a cluster of cruisers. Several rallies, in fact, were intersecting in the waters of Komodo before heading west.

s/v Starry Horizons
s/v Gaia, a Dutch couple who shared our love of diving and became fast, easy friends, joined us on a few dives and showed us photos of nudibranchs we’d never seen before! Ben and Astrid, we later found out, had sailed with some of our dear friends, Tina and Gustav on s/v Caminante, throughout Tonga, where Ben had, like so many other cruising men, swooned over Gustav’s on board machine shop!

s/v Starry Horizons came in a few days after we anchored for a sweet, long- overdue reunion. David and Amy had come aboard Field Trip while we were in the Caribbean, excited to meet our family about whom they’d religiously read blogs and watched every video Mark had ever made. Back then, they shared with us their dream of some day owning their own boat and circumnavigating. Five years later, it seemed surreal to be stepping aboard their catamaran, with them hosting us now! Mark and I were so proud to see the young couple pursuing and attaining such a lofty goal. Now, they were the ones posting blogs and videos, and we were the smitten fans!

Getting ready for a dive
Each day we fit in as many dives as we could around necessary schoolwork. We enjoyed having other boats around to socialize with. I noticed myself both delighted with the onslaught of fellow cruisers and a bit out of practice in the social scene, sitting back and soaking it in rather than sharing too much of myself with these newfound friends - feeling very much like the new kid at school even with seven years cruising under my belt.

Mark searching for macro 'stuff' :)
Evenings in Gili Banta were fantastical in their scenery. The dry mountains, cocoa and caramel colored mounds of shrub-covered rock, a stark contrast to the deep, serene blue of the waters beneath us. In the distance, the volcanic island of Pulau Sangeang seemed to be sending up smoke signals day and night. One evening, at sunset, Mark and Michael noticed a bright orange glow running down the side of the conical island. Looking through the binoculars, we witnessed molten lava coursing down the peak and then called our neighboring boats to ensure they got a glimpse, too.

Puffing Volcano
The underwater world of Gili Banta was equally stunning. Manta rays hovered in the current to feed, their wide wings slowly undulating in silent flight. We huddled behind one of the tall coral outcroppings to hide from the rushing water with a clear view of the majestic rays. Once, Elizabeth tapped her tank to get my attention, then pointed upward, where the spotted white belly of an enormous manta passed directly overhead, casting a shadow over us as it went.

Amy diving "GPS Point" during slack current
Sarah taking photos
The macro life was plentiful as well. Elizabeth photographed flamboyant nudibranchs and a speckled crab carrying mounds of tiny orange eggs on its underside. We were like biologists scouring the corals with our magnifying glasses and flashlights in hand, searching for any sign of movement among the colorful reef and hoping to discover something we’d never seen before. Elizabeth did just that. I noticed her hovering in one particular spot for a very long time. Certain that she must have found something intriguing, I went over to check it out. With her metal pointer she excitedly indicated a fuzzy orangutan crab - the first she’d ever seen on a dive. Somehow she managed a huge smile even with the scuba regulator in her mouth!

Orangutan Shrimp found new our anchorage
Small swimming cone shell (about 2cm in length)
Undescribed flatworm (yes, the book calls it undescribed...)
Rare Halloween Hermit Crab 
Ocellated Phyllidia Nudibranch
Two Tooth Guard Crab
Rare Miracle Triplefin (1-2cm, very small)
Flabellina - Unknown Name
Redline Flabellina
Indian Caloria Flabellina
Rust-Spotted Guard Crab
After a blissful week of discovery and exploration, it was time for us to head back west. This time, we’d sail past Lombok and anchor on the north side of Bali. Unfortunately, the sail west, especially in the places where current and wind amassed huge, choppy waves, would prove to be a doozy! The waters between Lombok and Bali bashed us incessantly on our beam, spraying water over the deck and once even into the cockpit! I was struck with wicked seasickness while Mark heroically stepped in to take over my watch when the going got really rough. We thought this passage would be a breeze, but it turned out to be the worst passage we’d had in months, maybe even years! Indonesia continued to be full of surprises!


A short video of our anchorage

Comments

  1. Amazing photos, thanks for sharing. Love to you all, adventurers! Tina and Caminante crew

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank You again. Just got "caught up" with you all. Winter is coming to MN my home state for NOW. It is fun to see your blog and dream of the day I retire.
    Godspeed.

    ReplyDelete

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