A tiny, poor, Christian village, with a Catholic church.
On our first evening there, the local ladies were embarrassed that there was no food available for us. So they rounded up fresh ingredients from the tables of local families, and pitched in to make us a big dinner while we drank cold beer in the shade. And they did it again the next night, too! Amazing hospitality....some of the locals went without their dinners just to feed the yachties. (A couple of nights later we had the "official" welcome dinner where the town really turned it on for us, with singing, dancing, stageshow and most of the village just lined up to watch us eat).
From Maurole, most of us piled into buses for the trip up into the mountains of Flores to visit the allegedly famous three-coloured lakes. Which are usually just plain grey if there's the normal raincloud covering them.
It was a rolly old night that night, and all the jokes about Maurole being called "more rolly" came true. So there was a bit of an evacuation from there the next morning, most of the fleet heading for the little fishing village and port of Ruing.
Ashore from our anchorage sits the Rica-Rica Bar, which offers cold Bintang beer and the normal menu of chicken, rice, vegies....and not much else. So we ordered the chicken.
Ten minutes and a couple of phone calls later, into the kitchen, via the restaurant floor, runs someone with two squawking, live chickens. Then silence. Twenty minutes later, dinner is served. Wonderful. Fresh chicken. And yes, it was delicious.
It seems a little sad that generous cruisers in the past have just created some kind of little industry or false expectation by handing over "loot" and we now have a policy of only swapping stuff. Even just one piece of fruit makes it more of a dignified trade rather than pious charity.
As it drew closer, we felt relieved and put the cutlasses away when we realised it was just a day-trip snorkelling adventure boat, which dropped anchor next to us.
The passengers.....German backpackers....promptly stripped off and dived in, to swim to the beach and party.
Meanwhile, I was into the water too, for some excellent snorkelling, and eventually the tourist boat left, and "Kereru" and "Ameldec" arrived for a particularly peaceful night on the anchor.
I've rediscovered the joy of snorkelling by the way, since using my "Easybreathe" goggle/snorkel combo.
The next day it was off to town in the dinghy, where it was a grungy tie-up against a concrete wall, but another boat trader offered to keep an eye on the dink for the rest of the day. (Which he did, but I did feel a bit obliged to invite him out to "El Gato" later to inspect his wares).
After the past couple of months of what's been pretty hard-core, local Indonesian food, we were most impressed to find a city with lots of Western goodies that we didn't even know we'd been missing. Bread! A Mexican brunch! Cafes! Italian restaurants! We were overwhelmed....and back in Tourist Territory with a vengeance.
With a couple of other boat crews, ("Incognita" and "Kereru") we decided it would be a great little break to let somebody else do the driving and navigating, and charter a local speedboat to go see the Dragons. So our dutiful skipper picked us all up from our boats in the anchorage and off we plodded (it was a budget-priced speedboat) to the island of Rincha, where there's a very healthy population of these giant lizards that can eat an entire buffalo in a single sitting.
It was once we were out on the trail, trekking through the bush with a Ranger before and after our group, that we had a serious encounter. We were looking at a medium-sized female near her nest, when we heard a crashing through the scrub on the hill above us, and this big monster came charging towards us. There was a scramble to get out of his way.....these critters happily eat their own young, and anything else that looks like a tasty feed. If they can take down a buffalo or goat without raising a sweat, humans would be easy meat. And the rangers only carry a stick.
Off again in the morning, with some looking for the elusive Manta Rays to dive amongst, and some, like ourselves, just heading West.
So it was more snorkelling and SUPping, again in beautiful clear water with good coral, and another session, along with a walk along the beach in the morning.
We'd been taking the advice published in some of the Cruising Guides, which have generally been pretty reliable. So we were heading for Were Bay on Sumbawa, which was supposedly the centre of the Wooden Boat building industry. We arrived in the afternoon, more-or-less in company with some of the other rally boats, being "Soul", "Kereru", and "Lusi".
The anchorage was quite chaotic....rolly, busy with local fishing boats. "Soul" became entangled with a squid boat later in the day, and with the other boat, scarpered off into the night, leaving us behind along with "Kereru".
Richard and I went ashore to sniff out the wooden boats and were quite disappointed to find just one, which looked like it had fallen into disrepair because it had been there so long.
The boats were pretty much replicas of what we see out offshore every day. Simple, stable canoes with outriggers.
That was all quite encouraging, but not quite what we were expecting.
Richard and I had a wander around the village, got growled at by a grumpy old lady for wearing shorts (when most of the kids on the beach were stark naked) and dinghied back out to our boats for the night.
After dark, we drifted dangerously close to one of the squid boats and spent an uncomfortable hour or so sitting on the bow waiting to fend off from the spider-like outrigger system. But fortunately, crews started arriving, smoky diesels fired up, and the squid boats headed out to sea, all lights blazing. We were quick to up-anchor in the morning when they started heading back in....
Winds were light, and I hoisted the big gennaker, our light wind sail, which was terrific. For awhile, anyway. As the wind began to pick up from a happy ten knots to a happy 15 knots, everything was going swimmingly. I even photographed and "Instagrammed" a pic of the sail, set perfectly. But then a minute or so later, the wind picked up to 20 knots, and I mentioned to Mary that I was getting a bit concerned that we were flying along just a little too well....something might break.....and a few seconds later....25 knots of wind....boat charging along at 9.5 knots......BANG! Something DID break! The thing wot holds the sail up. (actually, some webbing that holds the sail up....the stitching fell apart.) So we headed the boat around downwind and wrestled in my favourite sail, tying it down on deck because by now the katabatic wind was blowing consistent high 20's. This was all a bit distressing of course....we hadn't seen any wind stronger than 5-10 knots for weeks, and had become so complacent that we hadn't even been doing weather checks before heading out. Not that these localised katabatic blasts show up on our weather GRIB charts anyway.
Eventually we made it into the anchorage at Moyo, now in 30 knot winds, and struggled to bundle up the giant big sail on the deck and stash it in a cabin below. Furling it or flaking it neatly wasn't an option, we just squeezed it all together and bundled it out of the way for the night. It took up most of the spare cabin.
During the late afternoon and early evening, we had an influx of rally boats....Matilda, Wirraway, Coomera, Hybreasail, Argonaut and Brahminy.
We were all off in the morning in very light winds and motored, all in a line, along the north coast of Lombok towards the fabled marina at Medana Bay. The nasty katabatic wind from a few days before revisited us from the West as we approached the harbour, just to make the anchoring amongst dozens of rally boats that little bit more challenging.
But we were soon settled and joined the best part of the entire fleet, all telling lies in the bar over cocktails and cold Bintangs.
We made an early start from Medana Bay and had a stiff breeze on the beam all the way across the strait....a genuine, cracking sail in fact, both sails reefed, up until we'd completed the crossing and followed the north coast of Bali with a nasty current and following wind against it.
Then it was around the top and a protected motor into the bay at Lovina, a north coast backwater without all the frenzy of the Kuta Beach end of the island.
Over the next few days we started work on the visas, Deb and Bruce from Matilda stitched up our gennaker, Simon from Micha helped us with a dodgy anchor winch switch and life became very relaxing in the comfort and familiarity of our cosy old friend, Bali. (Which we first visited back in 1974).
I had organised for some spare generator parts to be shipped to the Rip Curl office at Kuta, so shared a car and driver to head down there for the day and pick up my bits, while Bruce and Deb stayed for a few days.
We stopped at a coffee plantation on the way down, which was an interesting diversion.
It was about this time that we decided to take a bit of a break from the rally schedule, which has been pretty tight, especially when visa extensions are taken into consideration. So, rather than have a rushed trip to Borneo and back to quickly see the Orangutans up the jungly river, we decided to ease the pressure, skip a leg or to, and continue west towards Sumatra, our next visa renewal stop, and eventually, Singapore.
Which meant that I could go surfing for a few days, Mary could luxuriate in swimming pools and have a few days amongst the shops at Kuta, and we could consider bringing one of our friends aboard to help us sail through a few of the night passages that we had ahead of us.
I got in early with a trip to Medewi, where I surfed tons of waves on a fat, roly-poly left hand point break that's just made for a longboard....which just happens to be the only surfboard on the boat. The only downside to that is that the water's absolutely filthy there, and of course, I picked up an ear infection. But that's what antibiotics are for...