From Darwin to the Spice Islands
Scorpio arrives in South East Asia

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On July 18 we set sail in Darwin, Australia, and steered north accross the Timor Sea. Two days and roughly 300 nautical miles later we anchored at Saumlaki, which is the "capital" of the Tanimbar islands. Saumlaki is not a regular port of entry, but we had joined the Sailindonesia rally, where the organizers had arranged for the authorities (health, customs and immigration) to be flown in by air from Ambon.
Catch of the day
Life's good
Welcome to Saumlaki
Traditional dresses
Kids of Saumlaki
Saumlaki water front
After a couple of days we left Ambon and sailed north along the shores of Yamdena, the biggest island of the Tanimbar group. We anchored in four different locations on that shore and met very friendly people in the villages.

Normally I do not bother providing the lat/longs of our anchorages as there is so much cruising information out there anyway. However, there doesn't seem to be much about the islands of the southern Banda Sea and off-lying islands available. Therefore I have given the exact positions of our anchorages in the Past Anchorages section.

Our second stop was at the Christian village of Welutu, where we were welcomed by the school teacher Jopi and about 200 happy children, who gave us a tour of the village.
eyeball navigation
sailing canoe
sinking canoe
Eyeball navigation
Sailing canoe
Sinking canoe
After Saumlaki we have been sailing in company with two American yachts, the catamaran Silkie from North Carolina with Susan and John aboard and the sloop Lazy Bones with Gayle and Jeff. First we planned to sail to the fabled Banda islands, which were the centre of the Spice Trade in the 15th - 16th century. From Yamdena we first planned to sail NE to the fabled Banda islands, which were the centre of the Spice Trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. On the way all three of us changed our minds and made a 90° turn (as indicated on the map above) and went due west instead to the volcano Nila. We reasoned that sailing north to Banda and Ambon would add so many more miles that we would have less time to visit the places further west.
candy time
bye bye
Candy time in Welutu
Selamat tinggal = Bye bye
Islamic village (Kilon)
Christian village (Welutu)
All the islands are volcanic, but some, like Nila, consist of only one big volcano towering up from the sea. An impressive sight at sunrise after an over-night sail. Anchoring is often difficut in deep water among coral heads, close to the fringing reef. From Nila we sailed to an other volcanic, but larger, island called Damar, where we managed to anchor on a shelf close to a village. The next day we were treated with an other delightful tour of this (also Christian) fishing village. We were amazed how clean and neat the place was and unlike many other places people were not dressed in rags. They even had solar panels on the roofs of many of the huts. We could not figure out the reason for this relative prosperity. There is very little English spoken in this part of Indonesia and our Bahasa Indonesia is almost non existent.
Fishtraps galore
Gayle and Jeff, Lazy Bones
Susan and John (not Eric Clapton)

In the village on Damar
washing woman
There is very little English spoken in this part of Indonesia and our Bahasa Indonesia is almost non existent. Even with a frase book it was difficult as the language didn't seem to resemble any other we new. The most useful words were Salamat Pagi and Salamat Siang, for "hello" before noon and after noon, respectively.

native toilet
Native toilet

Our next anchorage after Damar was at Hila village on the east coast of Romang island, again a Christian settlement. But our first impressions were not as positive as in previous villages. We saw litter around and there was an air of decay. However, when we got further away from the warf and into the village, things impoved. One reason for our negative first impressions was that we were met by a guy who presented himself as the Harbour Master and requested payment of all kinds of fees. To back his demand he showed us a receipt from some other location where apparently a commercial cargo ship had paid the amount in question (160.000 per yacht), including fees for check in/out, cargo etc. We said we would pay later, but when we next went to see the guy, he was apparently drugged or drunk and wouldn't wake up. We decided not to pay, but instead gave a donation to the curch (100.000), which everybody seemed happy with.
spice drying
Spice drying in Hila village
harbour master
The harbour master didn't wake up!
Bogus harbour fee receipt
happy hour
Donations to church in sealed envelopes
Crusiers' Happy Hour at Warm Springs
The Navy asking for diesel fuel
Lazy Bones at sunrise with full moon setting
Ili Api volcano seen from Adanara
Fish drying in Mako village
Our next two anchorages were at Wettar island, the first one was an open roadstead on the NE coast but the other was in a protected bay in the SE corner of the island. It is called Warm Springs by the cruisers because of the springs ashore. The people in the village gave us a heads up for crocodiles, but we never came across any. Maybe it was just a joke?

Until this point we had had quite strong SE trade winds all the time since Darwin, which in combination with rough seas made sailing a bit uncomfortable. We were surpised because we have been reading and hearing from other cruisers that sailing through Indonesia is actually motoring in calm seas. Apparently the winds blow stronger in the south Banda Sea than further to the west, because after we reached the Nusa Tenggara region north of Timor island we have been motoring a lot

Kids in school at Mako village
Market day in Lebolewa
Oranges and dried fish for sale
filling station
onely planet
Not Molotov coctails, but local filling station.
Heading to find restaurant mentioned in
Lonely Planet travel guide.
Kids in Lebolewa harbour

At Adonara island we anchored in a pretty spot behind the reef on the NE side. The scenery is quite amazing with two big volcanos, one on each side, puffing smoke in the air. On the shore is Mako village where the people are very poor, but again extremely friendly and happy to show you around. The kids are everywhere delightful.

Video of the children singing "Indonesia" .

From Adonara we motored a short distance to a town called Lewoleba, which is the first place where we have been able to aquire any provisions except for bananas. There I made my first attempt to try to share this story with you, but the local Telekom only had slow dial-up (!) connection.

After Lebolewa we anchored at Gedong, a bay on the NE corner of Flores and the next day we arrived in Maumere, where I will go ashore and try to upload this report. If you are reading it, I have succeeded.

Next report, when possible ....

To view these pictures as a (manual) SLIDE SHOW click HERE.