Sunday 19th August 2018
Dipping further off the rally radar, we have had some lovely quiet days in a couple of anchorages in the NE corner of Flores. The dry northern coast of mountainous Flores is very different from the jungle clad islands we had visited to the north. Ever increasingly high hills turn monochrome as they disappear into the haze that cloaks the centre of the island.
The 48hr sail south from Hoga was slow in the light winds and where normally we would have motored to keep our speed up, we persevered under sail to save fuel, fuel of the right quality is difficult to find here. Slow, however, turned out to have its advantages. Even with a good look out, in daylight, we barely avoided the hazard of, seemingly drifting, small fishing attraction devices or FADs. How many near misses we had during the hours of darkness is best not contemplated.
6ft high bamboo FAD
As we approached our first stop Bari Bay, the wind completely died and we had, eventually, to turn the engine on. As we motored in calm seas, accompanied by dolphins, we came upon a fleet of small fishing boats. The frantic waving of one fisherman alerted us to his net that stretched across our path to another boat half a mile away, it’s top marked by tiny almost invisible floats. We immediately turned off the engine but stopping a sail boat takes time and even in full reverse we only just made it..
It was therefore with relief we put down the anchor in pretty Bari Bay to rest overnight. The village here is very basic and with midday low tides making things difficult, we decided not to go ashore for a visit, this however didn’t stop the village visiting us. Our first callers were four teenagers who paddled out to say hello and ask to come aboard for the enevitable selfie. As with all the kids we have met here they have a few set phrases in English – ‘how are you?’, ‘my name is’, ‘where are you from?’. They are always extremely polite and delightfully excited to be picturing themselves, with us, in various poses around the deck. For the past few months every rally meeting and every information pack has contained a peaked cap, we had gathered quite a collection. So Rick found four and gave them one each, ‘cool’ they smiled.
Word obviously got around, as gradually more children paddled their canoes out to us. Despite the language barrier I can happily report that ‘can I have a hat please’ was easily understood. By dusk our large cap selection ran out.
The kids from Bari Village loved the caps we gave them
The next day we were again motoring in very light winds avoiding more small fishing boats. The glassy seas a perfect palate for the flying fish that draw lines with their tails as they take off to skim the water for sometimes hundreds of metres. The route took us between the reef systems that line this coast and we were glad yet again of the satellite photos from Google Earth that clearly identifies them, making avoidance a lot easier. We slipped through a small break off Bodi Island and dropped the hook in a beautiful anchorage on its west coast.
With its white sand beach, shallow lagoon and turquoise, crystal clear water it really was stunning. We swam off the boat, snorkelled the reefs and wallowed in the shallow lagoon with a cold beer.
Anchored off Gili Bodo
The island itself is uninhabited, so as we sailed into the bay we were surprised to see smoke rising from behind the hill. As the light began to fade and the wind direction changed, rather disconcertingly, lines of flames started to appear over the ridge and spread down towards the beach. Luckily as it smouldered through the night the wind took the smoke away from us and it appeared to burn itself out.
Flames spreading across the hill side
The next day with the flames gone, we were excited to see monkeys on the beach. They walked along the tideline presumably in search of food. We jumped in the dingy to get a closer look but at low tide the shore was unreachable across the surrounding reef. Even with the telephoto lens capturing a photo of them was impossible. More easily photographed were these amazing feather stars in deep crimson and brilliant lemon that we found while snorkelling on the edge of the reef.
Colourful feather stars