Monday, 16 September 2013

There be Dragons!

It was a 3 hours motor sail to Rinca (Rin-cha) and anchoring in a cove right next to the Rangers Station. Arriving around lunchtime, we went ashore to organise a tour for early the following morning, as we were advised this is the best time to see the beasts. They are much more active at this time and often on the move, as when the heat of the day starts, they become very lethargic and just lie in the shade. Kittani and Tintin teamed up with Inspiration Lady and the 6 of us were back ashore at 6.30am the next morning for the earliest tour. We didn't have to go very far as the first sightings were just outside the rangers office. We had 2 guides who spoke very good English and learnt a great deal about the Dragons.  We opted for a 2 hour hike up through the hills where we saw more in the wild, the largest being nearly 3 meters from nose to tail.  They are an animal to be respected and cautious around. Last year a ranger was bitten by one and they have now marked that dragon with a big dot to identify it as being potentially dangerous.

   Park Entrance                 

                                                             How's that for a big lizard !!!

                                                 Smelling the air for potential food - us !!!

                 The view from the top of our 2 hour trek - Kittani moored in the distance

Next day we headed off for Pink Beach, again only a couple of hours away. We are slowly making our way through the book '101 Anchorages' and they are often 1/2 day hops between. Pink Beach gets it's name from the abundant amount of red coral in the reef which eventually breaks down and gives the sand a pink hue. Very strong currents were running between the island where we chose to anchor,  but with plenty of chain out and good holding, we weren't going anywhere. Back in the water for some snorkelling and then sundowners again on the beach - it has become a ritual.

             Sundowners at Pink Beach - Kittani, Tintin, Inspiration Lady and Thylocines

Next day was back to Labuan Bajo for a couple of days including a gala dinner for the rally participants. It was a long evening with 13 different dances being performed. It was actually a competition between local regencies - hence a very long programme. We met up again with the local dancers from Belu (Guerita Bay) and they treated us like long lost family. It was lovely to see them perform again, such beautiful girls and lovely personalities. They took second prize for the evening and were over the moon with their result. We have taken quite a liking to LB, it's easy to get in to town, get provisions, good cheap food and lots of bars with cold Bintang (brewed by Heiniken).

Pete & self with the dancers from Belu 
 The view from 'The Sky Bar Lounge'

              Jacqui and self at "The Sky Bar'

The atmosphere in Labuan Bajo is building for the arrival of the president on the 14th and the naval craft assembled so far number about 10 and many more to arrive. In the harbour were we left the tenders, there were IRBs belonging to the Kopaska (frog men) one with a 50 calibre machine gun mounted on the bow. The surrounding metal shield was painted with the words "don't piss me off". Of course Pete had to get his photo taken with that, and they were more than happy to oblige us.


                                     Pete aboard with IRB behind the sign "Don't Piss Me Off"

There is a high police and military presence making the supply of fuel to us from the locals somewhat precarious as they are not permitted to transfer fuel in drums. It is all done under cover of dark and we had a knock on the hull at 4.30am to say our solar (diesel) had arrived. We have decided to head off to Komodo Island tomorrow for a few days but return to LB again, as we have been invited to join in the 'sail past' with the naval fleet for the president. It should be a once in a lifetime experience and not to be missed. A half day sail to North Komodo island where we anchored in a beautiful bay where the snorkelling was just as good as the day we had paid for the trip. Early next morning, Pete was feeling energetic and thought a mountain climb was in order. Rather steep but well worth the view from the top, though  by the time I had returned to the bottom, my legs were liken jelly. Another few hours of snorkelling that day - it is keeping us both fit !!!


      The view from the top of the mountain - Kittani & Tintin anchored at the far end of the bay.

 Massive schools of fish
   Fan Corals

 Not sure what this big fella was ?

 Clam shells
Amazing colours and size.
 Little critters

White Nemo amongst the coral
 Soft coral
More photos taken on our snorkelling trips but the photos don't really do justice to what we see.

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