Alor (Kalabahi) to Lembata(Loweleba)

Post date: Aug 9, 2011 6:10:30 AM

The overnight trip to the Island of Alor was not as comfortable as the crossing to Kupang. The wind was variable in direction and strength, in other words, all over the place. We left early in the morning to make the 150 mile crossing and be at the entrance to the island's channel by daylight. We were about 20 miles away when the sun rose. We approached the channel later than the other yachts in the fleet and came in with the tide, doing up to 8 knots. They were struggling with the last of the outgoing tide. It can be furious here. We timed it well and caught up to them.

The scenery here is spectacular. High mountains, once volcanic, are covered with dense vegetation, lush and green now. High islands with small communities clinging on to their sides. What do they do?

The channel into Kalabahi harbour is long and deep and very steep sided covered with lush vegetation. It is very beautiful. We were expecting the worst, having read a report that it was a dirtier place than Kupang – but we were pleasantly surprised. It was much cleaner and there was a feeling that there was pride in the place. The Inter-islands cultural and sporting events co-coincided with our visit, the National Independence celebrations for Indonesia and Ramadan. This may have had something to do with the clean up – houses were being painted and gardens were neat and clean. There was a “fizz” in the air - a feeling of anticipation and excitement about what was happening

While here there were other events that we were invited to – welcome ceremonies, speeches, a parade through town to the cultural centre and dinner at the Regents residence.

We took a tour to a traditional village where we were entertained with dancing and a market where local crafts were being sold. We bought a bunch of vanilla beans ( We are in the Spice Islands) On the way home we stopped to go snorkelling on a local beach. Alor, according to the guides has the 2nd best diving sites in the world. It was spectacular, and clear but a strong current was running.

The highlight of our stay in Kalabahi was the arrival of a couple of hump-back whales near the anchorage. They came close to the fleet of 30 boats – very exciting. We saw them again 2 days later on our way out of the harbour.

On our way to the next destination we stopped at an anchorage where there were already 8 boats.

We arrived in the dark, and were guided through the passage through the reef by friends who were already there, not easy in the dark, and anchored in 18m water. In the morning, not only could we see the smoke of the nearby volcano, but we could see the bottom 18m below. The water was crystal clear – the clearest water we had ever swum in and full of millions of tiny tropical fish. All but 1 other yacht left and left us in seclusion and peace. We snorkelled and swam for a long time in the beautiful calm, clean water, glad we did not rush to the next destination.

We left the next morning to arrive in Loweleba with favourable currents and tides. We were being welcomed to the island that evening with a ceremony, parade, dinner and tribal traditional dancing .

We don't have any events for the next few weeks so we are looking forward to the opportunity to visit some other communities and anchorages and meet the people and go diving, swimming and experience the real Indonesia.