The overnight crossing to Namrole wasn't our most comfortable, with awkward winds directly behind us, a fair swell, and rain most of the night....the wind ensuring the mainsail was going to flap and bang around, and we were going to be wet and a little chilly upstairs in our highrise bridge-deck steering station.
Once daylight returned, we seemed to be surrounded by squalls, and as we approached Namrole's obvious headland it disappeared into the greyness. We know that our charts aren't dead accurate in Indonesia, and to run the gauntlet of an unknown coast, fishing nets and floating debris in a grey blanket of rain wasn't enticing at all.
But things began looking up when we had a radio call to let us know that there was a ferry stationed outside the port to guide us in. Wonderful! Our own personal pilot, who led us into the anchorage. And even better, once we'd dropped the anchor, a wooden longboat with guides from the Tourism Dept. approached us, said hello, and returned half an hour later with hot take-away lunches in styrofoam boxes for us. Welcome to Namrole!
Escaping the local kids wasn't quite so easy, as even out in the anchorage there were whole school groups brought down to wave at the visiting yachts and cries of "Hello Mister!!!" seemed to start from sun-up. (Not too long after the local mosques started broadcasting their calls to prayer, actually.)
Fortunately, I was a little remote from all of the ceremonies and shorebased tours while I was busily wielding spanners and trying to nurse my problematic generator back to health. But not having any symptoms, we skipped the medical checks and just tried to go about our normal daily business....eating, drinking and throwing spanners around.
Not so for many of the crews however. The Regent had generously laid on a doctor on shore, who earnestly took on the task of examining most of the afflicted, as well as their partners who may not have been ill. And promptly diagnosed most of them with various strains of Malaria, for which she issued the appropriate drugs.
As it turned out, it was an absolutely blissful sail through the night. Winds were lighter and consistent, and because we'd broken the link between our sail and the lower mast slide, we were reefed all night to hold the foot of the sail securely. Which made for a relaxing cruise.
Coming toward the harbour at Wanci, which is built inside a natural coral reef, we were greeted by the HarbourMaster Mr. Gino, who piloted us in and directed us to an appropriate spot to drop the anchor. And the sun was shining, and the water was clear and clean.
Every one of the Rally crews has been upset at the sight of so much plastic garbage at every stop so far, but here at Wanci, Gino made a great statement as he was leaving our boat. "See how clean the harbour is? We want to keep it that way....don't DARE throw rubbish overboard!" Good onya Mr. Gino!
The next morning, taking the advice of one of the several doctors who are sailing on the Rally, we decided that those who hadn't been checked already, should make their way to the local hospital for Malaria tests.
Mr. Gino was adamant that we should all travel together, by ambulance, so we went into waiting mode outside his office until the ambulance arrived. All 13 of us. And the ambulance was tiny, with just a small stretcher in the back. But we all squeezed in, the doors were forced close, and with faces pressed up against the windows, we zoomed off towards the hospital...WITH THE SIREN GOING! People on the street looked on curiously.
After going through routine blood pressure tests and filling out lots of paperwork, we finally had our fingers stabbed and the tests were done. We all tested negative.
So the testing back at Namrole was probably a bit dodgy, and some of the poor buggars who had been fed Malaria pills were actually suffering from something else...like Salmonella or Typhus, which were both diagnosed later in the trip.
The pace of the Rally had been fairly intense up until this point, so it was great when Adam, the skipper of the big steel ketch "Serica" declared it was Party Night and most of the crews descended onto his boat, all having a wonderful time and finally starting to relax. It did pour with rain later in the night, so a wet dinghy ride home, but happy sunshine again in the morning and we skipped another official lunch ceremony in favour of the Resto at the harbourfront.
Just another boat day for us, as the freezer then decided to stop working, so we handed out bits of food to some of the crews, relocated some to the smaller freezers in the fridges, chucked a bit overboard and even ate some. Didn't have time to worry about the freezer too much though as we were also preparing for yet another overnight passage.
The trip started uneventfully enough, the seas turned rough on us for awhile in the afternoon and early evening, eventually settling a bit until we sailed comfortably on a 15-20 knot Beam Reach (the wind from the side) so the Trades had smiled on us and blew from the East.
We had planned to head straight for the tiny Krobo island, not having a need for a city stopover. But further signs of rat activity were magnified when the little bastard bit Mary on the elbow as she slept. Mousetraps! Poison! we didnt have anything aboard to deal with sharptoothed rodents who are notorious for chewing complex electrical wiring. Of which we have a lot aboard "El Gato". Was the little horror responsible for our freezer malfunction?
War was declared and we changed course for the town of Lowoleba where we assumed supplies of the rat-ridding kind would be available.
It was Game On with the odds in our favour. Sure enough, overnight there was some snacking on the poison and after another day we were confident that our furry hitchhiker was defunct. Or had vacated the boat anyway...we also found droppings in the dinghy and ruthlessly flushed the false floor by pulling out the bung plug...
And a couple of days later, our friend Olaf from the German yacht "Antares" helped us find the freezer problem, which wasn't a hungry rat but just a loose connection. So our rat problem was over, and we moved on to the next adventure which was much more pleasant.
From there, it was onto Sagu Bay, just around the corner, which was unfortunately not so friendly with a few teenagers in canoes being exceptionally rude and aggressive...one of them pinching an expensive fishing rod from the deck of "Serica". But we did have a pleasant Sundowners session on "El Gato" with the crews from "Serica", "Antares" and "Paw Paw" but we moved on from there pretty quick in the morning.