Our trip from Riung to Labuan Bajo was uneventful but nonetheless very pleasant. We saw more pilot whales, a couple of shy dolphins and lot of flying fish.
We stopped first in Lingeh Bay, arriving in time for our regular afternoon swim round the boat. But before we could say “dive in” we were inundated by hordes of children in dugout canoes, some with outriggers, all hoping for school books, pens, pencils, t-shirt, caps, fishing gear, swimming goggles and of course sweets and lollipops!
After receiving visits from about 15 boats, including some from adults, we had enough as it was extremely hot and all we wanted to do was to jump in the water to cool down.
The following day we headed for Gili Bodo, an (almost) uninhabited island which was mercifully quiet and secluded. The sand was white and the water round the reef was a glorious turquoise but we had good winds that day which made for a wonderful sail but a rather choppy anchorage, so we couldn’t go snorkelling as planned.
The weather was quite overcast when we woke up so rather than linger at Gili Bido we headed for Labuan Bajo – a busy little port and a holiday destination for backpackers and diving enthusiasts.
The harbour was full of majestic Phinisi boats – the traditional Indonesian sailing boat – their design derived from boats built as far back as the fifteenth century.
Most of them have double ended hulls with a sharply raked stem and stern post and twin rudders, one on each aft quarter. Their gaff-ketch rig carries seven sails – a magnificent sight when sailing. Curiously, they are built by eye (even the 60 feet ones) “planks first” with the frame fitted in after the boat takes shape.
Nowadays they are mostly used as pleasure craft to take tourists to the beautiful Komodo Islands but in the past they were used as cargo and passenger vessels.
We anchored outside of the main town at a delightful anchorage near to the local Eco-resort.
It was a lovely anchorage but quite hazardous getting into shore due to the presence of several sand banks.
We had to drive the dinghy away from Bali Hai parallel to the beach, line up with a point on the land, then point towards the shore until we spied a piece of bamboo about 10 metres ahead to our right whereupon we had to turn parallel to the beach the opposite way until we could line up a white post on the beach and only then could we head in!
After all that drama we were ready for a night on the town with James and Cindy Chin from the beautiful little boat You You, an Atkins Ingrid which James built himself.
We had a beautiful meal at an Italian restaurant where there were candles, table cloths, napkins, silverware, proper menus and wait staff!