It was believed that spices from these islands could fend off the Bubonic Plague, and prices were higher than gold. The English and the Dutch did a trade at one point, swapping Manhattan Island for one of the smaller islands in the Banda group.
But today, the Dutch and English have all gone, leaving behind the odd cannon which is put to good use by cruising yachties for tying up the dinghy.
It's a charming place, volcanic islands thrusting skywards from the Banda Sea with its depths sometimes reaching over 5 kilometres. That's a unique feeling, floating above that much water.
Our horde of invading sailors is the biggest thing the island's seen for awhile, and between us all, we've taken advantage of Spice tours, cooking classes, massage services, volcano climbing, snorkelling and scuba tours, as well as devouring lots of really tasty, spicy local food. (Myself, I'm up for a daily Pilau Pisang, a banana, coconut and cinnamon smoothie.)
Another two-day, one-night sail, around 200 nautical miles. We've become accustomed to clipping on at the helm for our 4-hour watches, and should have a relatively calm sea for this passage. We'll eat some diesel I think....the batteries will love us for it. We're expecting rain for most of the trip, so visibility may be an issue, but the rain may keep some of the fishing boats in port, too.
Ghost nets, unlit (and lit!) trawlers and fish-aggregating devices are just a few of the hazards to watch for.
A few of the fleet have left this morning and we're up for a farewell dinner tonight. So today's a cleanup and passage-planning day, and we'll be "out there" and out of internet/phone contact after tomorrow morning.