Indonesia:01-13/06/04: Route sailed from Bira (S Sulawesi) to Lombok

For those interested where we sailed, here a short route description. (Note: “Pulau” means “Island”). We left off in Bira (South Sulawesi) (=Tg Lasa). Via Pulau Pasitanete, Pulau Salayar (eastcoast), Pulau Tambolongang, Pulau Pulasi, we left for the long transit to Komodo national Park. Via Pulau GiliLawa Laut, Pulau Banta to Pulau Sangeang (=Sangir). We passed by Sumbawa to Pulau Satonda. Via Pulau Medang to Lombok where we anckered in a little village close by the 3 Gilis (3 paradise Islands off the coast of Lombok). It makes about a total of 450 nautical miles (estimation).

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Indonesia: South Sulawesi to Lombok: 01-13/06/04: adventure at sea

Before making the big crossing from Salayar to Komodo, we had planned to take some pictures of the boat with the 5 sails. There was a good wind and we were cruising with a speed of 7 knots. We pulled the annex aside of the boat. Me and Jerome were already in the annex, and while we were just taking the petrol tank, something went wrong, Maurice had to let go the rope of the annex and we capsized with the annex.

I think there was a short time more panic on the big boat than for us in the water. I still had my camer in my hands (which I luckily kept in its underwater housing), Jerome pulled me from under the boat, and I recovered the tank of petrol and the paddle which were floating in my neighbourhood. The annex is luckily made of unsinckable material and was only upside down.
While Jerome tried to turn around the annex (the motor was still connected to it), I was waiting in his neighbourhood with all the material in my hands. In the meantime, the big boat was manoeuvering (luckily Rabba was still on the boat so he could help Maurice, because the captain is absolutely no help at all) to approach us and pick us up. I didn’t panic at all, and found it a great adventure (of course, it would have been another story with big waves and big courant, we were lucky). Jerome managed to turn the annex back to its upright position, emptied the water out of the boat, and then I handed over the material and climbed in the annex.
The motor didn’t work anymore at that time, but after we were back at the sailing boat, and we were high and dry, Maurice and Jerome managed to have it back working. So, no damage at all, but also not the real photo-session which we had scheduled (I took some pictures when I was back in the annex before being picked up: no pictures have been taken when we were floating in the see: I am not yet a disaster photographer). And we all agreed that we wouldn’t do a new photo-session.

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Indonesia: diving South Sulawesi to Lombok: 01-13/06/04: Mantas, mobulas, hammerhead shark, tresher shark, seasnake, …

Not only the boattrip (Ikan Terbang) was great, but the most important part, the diving, was very successfull. Jerome told me I was very lucky, because already the second dive, we saw a manta (first time Jerome saw 1 at that site).

Already within the first 3 days, I had seen a lot of white tip sharks, turtles, mantas and in 1 dive we spotted a tresher shark (=long tail shark), a seasnake, a group of at least 20 mobulas (=smaller manta rays), turtle, whitetipsharks. Normally, you wouldn’t even spot all of this in 10s of dives, and this time it was all in 1 hour.

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And to top it of, a few dives later we saw a hammerheadshark. I saw the hammerhead coming right into my direction. As I didn’t have anything to call the attention of Jerome, I shouted very loudly. I didn’t want him to miss this, because hammerheads aren’t seen very often. He heard me and knew something extraordinary was happening. And maybe I shoute a bit to loud because the shark turned around and swam away.
The other dives, almost everyday we saw turtles, whitetipsharks, also sometimes eagle rays (1 dive 2 of them cruising together), and another manta which came really close to us.
And I like a lot the small things as well, so we were continuously looking for new nudibranches, shrimps, .. Jerome even found a seaspider which I had never seen before. Jerome is great in spotting both small and big things.

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Only 1 minor thing happened to me: my external strobe flooded. I tried to dry it out but it didn’t seem to work anymore. So, now only pictures with the internal strobe can be taken, which means no real macroshots anymore. But it didn’t spoil my dives at all. These things happen sometimes.
The last days, we had no fish or meat anymore on board, so the crew requested us to bring something to the surface (because the fishing lines of Maurice were not very productive: 1 fish and 2 times plastic garbage). But, once in the water, we couldn’t really bring ourselves to kill an octopus or fish for food. Too bad, everybody had to wait until we would find a fishing boat.

Indonesia: South Sulawesi to Lombok: 01-13/06/04: fantastic trip with sailingboat Ikan Terbang

I just came back from a super great trip. Although the original planned dive liveaboard was canceled, Jan Soontjes from Marlin Dive found a superb alternative: the sailingboat of his divemaster Jerome. The route changed a bit from the original schedule but no problem for me: instead of Lombok-Komodo-Lombok, we started in South Sulawesi, to Komodo and Lombok.

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I flew from Denpasar to Makassar and after a visit to Jan’s office, went with a car to Bira, a little village east of Sout-Sulawesi where the sailingboat Ikan Terbang (flying fish) is based. When I arrived at the small harbour, I immediately recognised the boat: 2 masts, 20 meters long, wooden sailing yacht (5 sails). Jerome had anyway scheduled to sail to Lombok, and didn’t mind to change the trip into a sailing-dive trip. His father, Maurice, would join him, to help out. Immediately, when we introduced ourselves, I knew it would be a good holiday. They showed me my cabin and the different things on the boat. I helped with loading the boat with the last things that just arrived: food, divegear, oil, … You sometimes seem to forget what you need for 2 weeks on the sea (because on our route, we wouldn’t encounter cities or villages to re-supply.)
When sailing under Indonesian flag, you are obliged to have an Indonesian crew on board: a captain and mechanic. They arrived on the 2nd. Rabba, the mechanic (or better, the do-it-all), had been already on this boat, the captain was new for Maurice and Jerome. And very soon, we found out that he probably only goes 1 time on each boat. He didn’t know anything about navigation, sailing, ropes, … Maurice and Jerome are very good captains and know it all, but as the Indonesian captain has to be on board, they hoped that he would do that part of the job. It was sometimes great fun to see the captain handling things: he didn’t know which direction to pull or push the handle to go right or left, he didn’t know how to put a knot in the ropes, he couldn’t read a map, put a position on the map, read a compass, … So, very early, his job had changed to washing dishes, cleaning the boat and only steering under supervision of Maurice or Jerome or even myself. It was a good opportunity for me to steer several times the boat myself for severl hours a day sometimes. Exactly what I wanted. Normally either Jerome , Maurice or Rabba where navigating.
A routine was developped on the boat after a few days: Jerome’s boat is used for sailing trips or short divetrip, so we had to find the best organisation on board for this longer divetrip: but it all went smoothly. Jerome and myself were diving upto 4 times a day (see other stories on the site), Rabba brought us to the divesites (and picked us up), with the “annex” (the little motorboat), Maurice filled the other divetanks during our dives and did different things on board while waiting for our return, and the captain, he was smoking his cigarettes or washing the dishes.
Jerome used to be a cook, so the food on board was delicious. Even at the end, when we started to run out of ice to keep things cool, he still managed to use his creativity and prepared very nice meals. And in between (even at night when navigating), he bakes a chocolat cake, pancakes, …
Maurice, who used to work on fishing boats and construction works, is very skilled. Most people don’t realise how much things have to be done once you are at sea. Different things can break down, so you have to be very handy: Maurice knew a solution for every little (or big) thing that had to be fixed or changed.
Rabba was continuously helping and working wherever needed.
And I, I was the tourist on board: enjoyed myself and helped out wherever I could.
I can absolutely recommend the Ikan Terbang, both as a sailing boat or for divetrips.

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