Sunday, 6 October 2013

Gili Air and Bali

After the harrowing experience with the mooring, the rest of the time spent at Gili AIr was sheer bliss - the most difficult decisions were which restaurant to choose for lunch and then dinner. The island was a back packers delight with boat loads of them coming and going between there and Lombok, only a stone's throw away. A dirt track ran around the island which was shared by pedestrians, cyclists and pony and trap, the only forms of transport available. There was much construction going on with new buildings popping up everywhere (Indonesian style....). It is obviously becoming a tourist destination and they are rushing to cater to the growing numbers of tourists arriving there.

Paved roadway around the main part of town - after that it becomes dirt.

Pony and trap - the only form of transport other than bicycle
  Our view from 'Sundowners' on the beach

 Building made entirely from Bamboo

Pete looking relaxed after a hard day on the boat......yeah right!

The beachfront restaurants - so many to choose from !

After 4 days there, it was time to up anchor and head for Bali. We had good winds coning out of Gili Air across the strait but no sooner were we in the lee of Bali, it was back to motoring. A 3.00am start, our little convoy of 4 boats soon met up with others en route and mid afternoon 8 of us arrived at Lovina Beach to join 30 rally yachts already there. This was the main stop to renew our visas which we knew would take a few days to process, so we had expected the anchorage to be busy. Locals in their spider boats placed themselves on the edge of the reef at the entrance to the anchorage guiding us into safe water. This boat then became our contact for fuel, water, laundry etc. After dropping anchor, we went ashore and gave our passports to Sam to get the ball rolling for the visa extensions. The smell of incense everywhere was truly Balinese, along with the offerings of food and flowers at the front step of each house or shop.  "Looking, looking .... Come look my shop" "You want massaaage.......?" "Transport - you want taxi?" It is so quintessential Bali.

The next day Pete decided to surprise me with an overnight stay at the Puri Mangga Villas, about 10 mins drive from the anchorage. Along with our friends Robyn and Craig from Gemini, we packed our overnight bags and headed up into the mountains. The resort was set amongst rice paddies, though being the dry season they were not under plantings. The rooms were spacious, the queen size bed (hm after my single bed) was covered with the most beautiful frangipanis, the colour of which I have never seen before. An outdoor pebble shower completed each villa. One night was not going to be enough. The view from the infinity pool was back over the anchorage and out to sea, breathtakingly beautiful. After checking in, it was straight down to the pool to swim in fresh water - what a novelty. The afternoon was spent lazying around, catching up on emails where we discovered our darling grand daughter Taylah had taken her first steps. Soon it was time for dinner - a lovely 3 course meal accompanied with 2 bottles of champagne (which we supplied - they did not mind, nor did they charge us corkage) for AUS $22 per head. A wonderful nights sleep in a big bed, a scrumptious breakfast the next morning and then back to the pool until a lunchtime checkout where the resort car offered to drive us back to the anchorage. The whole 24 hours was sheer bliss - I could have stayed a week easily.

I have never seen such lovely coloured Frangipani before

Relaxing in the spa at Puri Mangga with our friends Robyn and Craig (Gemini)

Lovina was a lot of fun with a great many of the rally boats anchored. Good to catch up with people that we haven't seen for a few weeks and swap stories over a COLD Bintan or two. The only negative comment about Lovina was the late evening entertainment along the beach. Local singing from the festival clashed with the disco music coming from the hotel and that continued on sometimes until 2.00am in the morning. Someone needed to tell them us sailors need our sleep!!!

 The next leg along the top of Java to the island of Karimunjawa was a long one - some 260nm. At Lovina we split from Tintin who were heading north to Borneo to see the Orangutans (we plan to see them next year on the way back). We headed off making our way west knowing it was about 60 hours of sailing ahead. Locating an anchorage from Totem's notes, we did stop for the first night at Gili Yang and had a reasonable sleep. Up early next morning we met up with Catamini who had left Lovina later on the day we departed and kept company with her for the rest of the sail. It is comforting to have another boat along the way, to chat with on the VHF and see their lights nearby in the dark of night. Night sailing in Indonesian waters needs constant vigilance - along with Radar and AIS, you need MK1 - EYEBALL! Many boats have no lights, some only turn them on when you get close - a big surprise and then there are the unlit FADs (Fish Attracting Devices) .......... It is exhausting and you are always glad to see the sunrise where you can see things more easily. The days are therefore spent catching up on the sleep that you didn't get at night. First night out from Gili Yang just on sunset we hit some solid bamboo poles sticking vertically out of the sea. There were  4 of them lashed together and obviously attached firmly underwater, though to what we have no idea - we were in 65ms of sea. They scrapped down the side of the boat making a horrible noise and catching us off guard. Heaven knows what damage they could do to a catamaran if they hit in the centre :-(

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