29 August 2007

Gili Lawa Laut

Anchored at Gili Lawa Laut
Anchorage #40 in "101 Anchorages Within The Indonesian Archipelago" by Geoff Wilson

Komodo Island
East Nusa Tenggara

Turtles, Manta Rays, and a lunar eclipse. Oh my! The Sandpiper adventures continue with non-stop action. This area of East Nusa Tenggara is known for its variety of marine life due to the convergence of the warmer water of the Flores Sea water and the cooler water of the Sumba Strait or the Indian Ocean. This brings a lot of plankton, which the rays and whales are drawn to. The whales feed here during their migration from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea.

The reefs are not full of color due to many earthquakes, tsunamis, and El Nino. But life on the reefs is coming back and there are plenty of fish, even a few big ones.

Last night we had a surprise lunar eclipse, and what a treat this was. We first noticed the full moon around 7:30pm with what appeared to be a shade over it. The longer we watched it, we figured, "Holy heck. Its an eclipse!" I watched it through the binoculars for about an hour. It was a pleasant surprise and a most glorious way to end the day.

We had an early rise this morning and headed out of the anchorage, still on the island of Komodo, just 10 miles away was our destination. Once there we realized this wasn't quite as nice to us on the S/V Sandpiper and the S/V Uterus as it was for whomever wrote about it. So on we went to the next anchorage. A bit rolly here in this anchorage, but the clearest water we have been in yet.

We anchored in 40 feet of water and it is the first time I've felt comfortable swimming off the boat in this depth. If I can't see the bottom then I will take the dinghy to where I can. So we deployed the dinghy (because we don't have a ladder yet), put on our swimsuits, got on our snorkel gear, and we were off.

What to my amazement did we see? A turtle gliding through the water with such style and finesse. A few minutes later, another turtle! This time Tom wanted to get close. So he started to chase Mr. Turtle. But Mr. Turtle wanted nothing to do with Tom and high tailed his way off. I didn't know turtles could move so fast. Just to note: This was the first time both Tom and I have ever seen a turtle while snorkeling. So it was a momentous snorkeling day.

On our way back to the boat we ran into a school of Sheep Fish, a large fish, about 25 pounds, with a hump on his head. Just beautiful.

After a nice lunch and rest we re-entered the water around 2:00pm for an afternoon snorkel. Not long in the water and 'Holy crap! It's a Manta Ray!' Again, another first for 'Team Sandpiper'. And this time we had the camera.

You may recall we saw rays while in French Polynesia. But those were sting rays. These guys are a lot bigger, and have a horn-like head. He was magnificent, 8 feet wide, and effortlessly flying through the water.

After two more turtle and lots more fish and I headed back to the boat. I had seen enough. And I got to thinking about all these fish. The ray's are out, it is dinner time down here. So I'm outta here!

Tonight our friends Benjamin and Henrietta are coming over for 'Mexican night'. We will discuss our plans to start heading west. We just looked at the charts today and see we still have 200 miles to get to Bali. There are a few nice stops we would like to check out along the way.

I think tomorrow will be our last night here on Komodo. Then we are off to the town of Bima, on the island of Sumbawa, to re-provision, and to hit an ATM.

Love to all back home,
Amy and Tom

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