Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Komodo Island and Manta Rays–Bali: Installment 2

Once we got the filtered gas and back in Amara's fuel tanks, we took off to Komodo Island.  Komodo Island is about a half a day sail from LBG.  
Right when we arrived at Komodo island, we jumped into the tender and headed for the tour of the island.  As we got closer, I could see the ground start to move.  I quickly realized that it was Komodo dragons coming out to see the tourists.  I think they have had enough bologna thrown their way that word has gotten out among them that the first one to the beach gets the food.  They came trailing out from all corners of the beach heading straight toward us.

Martin and Doug jumped right out of the tender and were able to get just close enough to snap a picture and then jump back into the boat.  The bacteria is so bad on these dragons that it can cause a terrible infection and worse case, death.

It was so amazing to see the Komodo's so close up.  We just sat in the tender and watched as they strolled the beach.

After sitting there for quite some time, we headed back to the boat to go diving in what was probably the most magnificent sea aquarium that I had ever seen.  I had never seen so much colorful fish and coral gathered together.
I think Martin and Made dove at least 3 times because the diving was so incredible.

We stayed near Komodo island for the rest of the day and then took off the next morning to go and dive with Manta Rays.  Made kept saying that we would really enjoy this next experience.  Having dived with Manta Rays in Tahiti and Suwarrow (Cook Islands) I wasn't sitting on pins and needles.

When we got to the spot where we were going to dive, there was a large commercial dive boat loaded with tourists and their were snorkels scattered throughout the water.  We decided to wait it out and let them have their time before we jumped in.  Again, I wasn't all that anxious.  You've seen one Manta Ray, you've seen them all.  I had become quite calloused.

Finally after the boat left,  we jumped in Amara's tender and headed for a spot smack dab in the middle of nowhere.  I was amazed that Made knew exactly where to drop us into the water.  The water was really rough and I hesitated getting in because I thought it might be a little too much for me.  Just then Made pointed and said, "There, jump in there."  As I looked over to where he was pointing, all I saw were fins poking out of the water.  Made said for us to get in and hurry!  Being curious, I jumped in without hesitation.  We swam for a little while to get closer to the fins and then ducked under the water.  I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES!  We counted at one point 12 manta rays just swimming around us in circles.  Again the water was super rough, but non of us seemed to care.

Doug and his first encounter with a manta ray.
Martin reaching out to touch the manta ray while I swam underneath it.
We stayed out in the water for a good hour just playing with these amazing creatures.
On the chase.
Doug getting a closer look.
Martin is an amazing diver.  He can go incredibly deep in the water and stay down there for what seems forever.
In this photo of Martin, you can see three of the Manta Rays that seemed to just want to play with us.
After fighting the waves for an hour, we were all a little exhausted so we headed back to the tender where Made picked us up.  A few weeks after we were in this area, I heard on the news about a tourist boat carrying 25 passengers sank in this exact same area due to the waves being so high.  Here it is in the news.  

We had an amazing time visiting the islands in Indonesia close to Bali.  It really is a beautiful part of the world.  After we had our fill of diving, we headed for Bali which was a two day journey.  

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Finally we arrived in Bali after being at sea for 5 days.  I was anxious to get to land.  Even more, I was anxious to get to a restaurant.  I had appointed myself as Amara's cook for those 5 days and was ready for a break from boiling potatoes and making spaghetti.  When we arrived in Bali, I was surprised by the teeny tiny marina.
Amara backing into it's slip at the Bali marina.
One thing about sailing in Indonesia is that the cruising community was almost non-existent.  The thing I love the most about cruising is meeting the other crews and owners of boats.  There were none where we were at and that was a tad bit disappointing for me.  But hey, we were in Bali, who can complain?

It is interesting to note that our port side engine failed about half way through our journey, even with our best intentions of trying to clean the gas.  Losing an engine isn't catastrophic while sailing, but it makes for an interesting and INTENSE time while getting into a TIGHT marina and backing your boat into the slip.  Martin did an amazing job getting Amara into such a tight spot and was able to maneuver her with ease.  I on the other hand was a nervous wreck.  We arrived right when all the tourist boats were filling up with passengers and we could see people clicking away on their cameras.  

Once we got in and settled into the marina, we immediately also became tourists.  We quickly found all the hotspots and some fabulous restaurants.  Bali is super inexpensive.  We ate like kings during our stay and our average meal for three people was always less than $50.
Made and Doug enjoying a typical Balisian meal.  Suckling pig, rice and potatoes. 
Hanging in Bali
I have some more great photos of us in Bali, so come back in a few days to see the last installment of our adventure!

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Meanwhile, Martin and his crew of three (David, Doug and John) are in the middle of the Indian ocean making their way to South Africa.  They arrived in the Cocos islands last Friday, stayed there for a few days and are now making their way to Maritius.  I talk to Martin via satellite phone almost everyday.  Yesterday Martin sounded pretty miserable since the wind was blowing at 24 knots and they were fighting their way through rough waters.  With that combination, there is no way to avoid a queasy stomach.  I talked to Martin again today and he sounded much better.  He said the wind had died down to 20 knots.  Although not that much of an improvement, at least he didn't feel quite as nauseas.  Martin and his crew are anxious to get to South Africa.  More news on their travels tomorrow...