Anchored underneath Mount Agung, Bali

We spent last night anchored underneath Mount Agung, Bali, as it was erupting. Are we crazy??? Not really. We were outside the 12 km exclusion zone and not at risk should it erupt. The only thing we had to watch out for was the ash cloud which can cause trouble breathing. Luckily, the wind was blowing the ash away from us. We were ready to lift anchor and leave as soon as the situation changed but there was no need. No fireworks last night, no eruption. This morning the volcano started producing more smoke and ash and it feels like a massive eruption is very imminent. We decided to lift anchor at the crack of dawn and are now sailing away from Mount Agung, heading west ⛵️.

We’ve posted a short video on YouTube:

Pictures from yesterday evening and this morning:

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Front row seats 🌋🌋🌋

We spent the last few days in the Gili Islands, Lombok. It meant we’ve had front row seats to watch Mount Agung erupt from a safe distance. But … we need to head west and get past that smoking giant. So, today we bit the bullet and sailed towards it. Don’t worry, we’re safe (we think) and still outside the 12 km exclusion zone, in Amed, north Bali.

The short hop from Lombok to the north of Bali was busy to say the least: tankers left and right, a huge approaching squall and an erupting volcano right ahead of us. Now the weather has calmed down and we’re safely at anchor. Hopefully get some good shots of Mount Agung tonight. It’s very exciting and also a little bit scary.

The Gili Islands were super cool. They call it the “Ibiza of Indonesia” and I can see why. There are plenty of stylish restaurants and cool bars, the atmosphere is very relaxed and it’s heaving with young trendy people. You can circumnavigate the island by bike or by foot easily and there are no motorized vehicles, only bikes and horses with carts.

Yesterday, we took a day-trip by car into Mataram, Lombok to renew our visas. The usual monthly bureaucratic hit. Forms, stamps,  more stamps, queues, etc. We were told we could pick up our passports in 3 days and nearly choked. After much begging and pleading, explaining our dependency on the weather and our need to continue west asap, we were allowed a brief meeting with the immigration chief who authorised a same day delivery. Everything is possible in this country as long as you keep smiling, have patience and follow the rules.

Now what about that volcano? We will see what tonight brings, if it erupts, we will just lift anchor and keep sailing west and if it doesn’t we’ll have a good night’s sleep and hopefully some great photos to share! Right now we feel very privileged to be here.

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Mount Agung this evening

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Gili Air

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the colourful jetty at Gili Air

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bikes and horses on Gili Air

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off on a 3-hour tour (RIP Gilligan)

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trendy restaurants everywhere

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Mount Agung, seen from our cockpit in Gili Air

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at the immigration office in Mataram, Lombok

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the huge mosque in Mataram

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The mosque can hold 5,000 men and 3,000 women

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view from the observatory on the 9th floor

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view over Lombok this morning

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Lombok

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Mount Agung this morning

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tanker and approaching squall

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tanker on one side, nasty approaching squall on the other and a volcano right ahead

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anchored in Amed, Bali under Mount Agung

A rough ride and an erupting volcano.

We sailed 300 NM or so in the last few days to Gili Air, Lombok. We can see Mount Agung smoking and puffing from our cockpit and just found out this afternoon that it erupted yesterday and the highest level 4 alert is now in place; expectations are that a massive eruption could happen any minute. Whoops. Perhaps we shouldn’t have stopped here.

We’re still 60 km away from Mount Agung on Bali, but, the wind is blowing this direction and we would get covered in volcanic ash if it violently erupted. So, we could leave and head for the north-west of Bali, but, did I mention the wind is blowing in this direction? Yep. We would rather wait a few days for more favourable sailing conditions before we continue our trek west.

The ride here was up and down. Day one was very calm and pleasant with just enough wind to keep the sails full. We stopped just before nightfall, had a good night’s sleep at anchor and then continued early the next day. The wind kept increasing and the waves got bigger. By midday we had a steady 30 to 40 knots and, I can tell you, it wasn’t very pleasant. We’re not used to such rough sailing conditions anymore! In fact, most of our sailing in Indonesia has been “champagne sailing” with flat seas and a decent breeze.

So, day 2 was very rough with nowhere to stop for the night and we had no choice but to keep going. Fortunately, the wind died down during the night and we sailed into a calm anchorage the next afternoon. After that, we did two more day hops which were very pleasant. And now we are in Gili Air, a small island just off the coast of Lombok. But … there is this huge volcano threatening to erupt !! Life is never boring on a sailing boat.

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Sailing past an active volcano near Sumbawa Island

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Volcano Sangeang, 1930 metres high

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Approaching a calm anchorage, just before nightfall

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Local fishermen in the sunset

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Local fishing boat under sail

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Dolphins!

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Mount Agung on Bali, which erupted yesterday. View from our cockpit!

The Komodo Islands

The Komodo Islands didn’t disappoint. We stopped in a few stunning anchorages: great snorkelling, beautiful rugged landscape to admire and plenty of wildlife. We were joined by our friends on Impetuous Too, whom we had last seen in Fiji and now have a third crew member onboard: one-year old Ravi!

After a few days in the Komodos it was time to move on (change of season means we need to get our skates on). Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to s/v Rampetamper, our sailing buddies since the Solomon Islands. Such is life… I’m sure we will meet again soon!

And what about those famous dragons? We looked and looked and looked … but unfortunately failed to spot one. They must have all been hiding. 🐉

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rugged and beautiful: the Komodo Islands

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anchored next to Impetuous Too and Rampetamper

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view from the cockpit

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calm weather

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turtle next to the boat

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approaching our next anchorage

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with Impetuous Too and Rampetamper

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rugged landscape

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where are those dragons?

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keep looking …

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evening light

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sunrise over Pink Beach

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morning walk on Pink Beach, before all the tourists arrive

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with Duncan, Ruth and Ravi

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Pink Beach

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hike to the top of the hill

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view from the top

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who needs flip-flops?

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Pink Beach seen from above

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Rehua anchored across the bay

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our dinghy

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a lonely tree

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and then, a refreshing swim!

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Ravi is keen to splash too

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crazy currents and whirlpools on the way to our next anchorage

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stunning underwater life

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healthy corals

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colourful

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I love watching clown fish!

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so much going on

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hanging in the cool shade under Rehua

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beautiful snorkelling and diving in the Komodo Islands

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what about this crazy bowl?

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Rehua’s last anchorage in Komodo

Waiting for the Postman…

Mr Postman, where is our parcel? It should have arrived in Labuan Bajo a week ago … For some reason it was sent to Kupang instead. Many phone calls later and, yes!, it finally made its way here this morning. The parcel contains some essential replacement parts for our broken down watermaker, without it we couldn’t go anywhere.

And then there was also the broken anemometer… Seathan had to climb up and down the mast twice and managed to fix it. Phew. We still need to re-calibrate it when we are back at sea but that should be easy enough to do.

Labuan Bajo has been a pleasant stop. It’s a delightful small town with lots of shops, restaurants and a decent farmer’s market. All stocked up again and we’re off to see those famous Komodo dragons!

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fixing the anemometer

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view over Labuan Bajo

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waterfront and town centre

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mr fix-it

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hello!

Bad things always happen in threes!

We have been day-hopping along the coast of Flores. The reason we don’t sail at night? Fishing nets! They are everywhere and hardly visible, even in daylight. Small fishing vessels are dotted along the coastline until quite a long way offshore and their miles-long nets are set up between tiny invisible buoys. It meant extra concentration and both of us being on watch, looking out for nets.

The landscape of Flores is stunning and somehow reminds us of the Med … It’s been a pleasant few days cruising along the coast. Although, we’ve had a few problems crop up recently. First of all, our watermaker broke. It was fully serviced and fitted with a new pump only 1.5 years ago, when we were in NZ, and should have lasted much longer. New parts are ordered and should hopefully arrive in Labuan Bajo in the next few days. We can’t live without our watermaker so it’s critical we get this fixed. Meanwhile, we have been performing a daily rain-dance, without much success.

Then, our anemometer gave up. Not as critical as the watermaker, but still a nuisance when you are a cruiser and don’t have windspeed and direction information at your fingertips… We now have some woolly thread hanging off the shrouds until that problem is solved. Of course, all problems come in threes so next up was our depth sounder. Luckily, that one was fixed easily… We do have a portable version as a back up but going through the many reef systems here with those inaccurate charts would not have made for a happy skipper.

So here we are, in Labuan Bajo, on the western tip of Flores. It is the gateway to the Komodo Islands, home to the famous Komodo dragon and an area which is very popular with divers because of its underwater beauty. The main bay in front of the town centre is packed with local Phinisi boats, beautiful traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ships which have been converted to take tourists diving and sailing around the Komodo Islands. The bay is so busy we couldn’t find a spot to anchor in but friendly locals pointed us to a free mooring and we are now sitting amongst 100s of Phinisi, a beautiful sight.

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The Flores coastline, reminds us of the Med!


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sunset at anchor


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local fisherman


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crazy looking fishing boat


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another day, another anchorage, view from the cockpit


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hopping along the coast


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fishing boats heading home


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FAD, hardly visible until you get closer


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fishing boats dotted along the horizon with miles-long nets between them


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pulling in the nets


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Sabibi island


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monkeys on the beach


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monkeys in the tree


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listening to some music while sailing


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approaching Labuan Bajo


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Phinisi, traditional Indonesian 2-masted sailing ships


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view from cockpit, surrounded by Phinisi


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Labuan Bajo waterfront


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parking the dinghy, setting the stern anchor 


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local fishing boats in Labuan Bajo


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the jetty


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pizza!

 

Volcanoes and FADs

We’re in Flores, a long stretched-out island east of Java and northwest of Timor. It is dry and arid featuring no less than 16 active volcanoes (and plenty more dormant and extinct ones). The 3-day crossing from Wakatobi was relaxing and enjoyable with a full moon, calm seas and just enough wind to keep the boat moving sans engine. We sailed past Komba island, an impressive active volcano spewing steam and smoke as we approached. Now that we are closer to land, we will avoid night-time sailing as much as possible; the coast here is littered with FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) which are hardly visible in the dark.

Flores is predominantly Christian (yes, one can buy pork here!) and we visited an 82-year old Flemish development worker affectionately known by the locals as ‘Mama Belgium’. After spending 5 years in Congo she arrived in Flores in 1973 and until today she continues to work for underprivileged children. She founded a boarding school for girls and runs 6 children’s homes, one for children with disabilities. An inspirational lady and I very much enjoyed chatting with her in West-Flemish 🙂.

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approaching Komba volcano

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getting closer

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it’s huge and impressive

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getting as close as we can

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rocks are sliding off into the water

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under the volcano

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Komba towers over Rehua (photo credit: S/V Rampetamper)

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the crew on Rehua admiring the volcano (photo credit: S/V Rampetamper)

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Flores

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the view from our anchorage in Maumere, Flores

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local canoe offering shells 

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what a beautiful collection!

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Rehua anchored in Maumere

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the beach, with grey volcanic sand

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in town

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at the market, plenty of onion and garlic

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a local Christmas tree, last time we saw one was in the Solomons!

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plenty of fruit and veg available

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with ‘Mama Belgium’

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selfie with the birthday boy who turned 8, his 4th birthday celebration onboard Rehua!