01 September 2007

Gili Lawang

Anchored at Gili Lawang
Anchorage #57 in "101 Anchorages Within The Indonesian Archipelago" by Geoff Wilson

Lombok Island
West Nusa Tenggara

After 2 years of being unemployed we are happily celebrating Labor Day here in Indonesia. Happy Labor Day America!!

We left Gila Banta hoping for a following tide. As luck would have it, we were bucking against the current, again. The currents in Indonesia are unpredictable and are not in sync with the tides. The currents just decide to flow whatever direction they want, whenever they want.

This jump west took 34 hours and Team Sandpiper just dropped the hook next to the only other boat here, S/V Uterus. They have a fast boat and are really good sailors. So we are used to being passed by them.

The night watch was pretty uneventful as there is not much traffic out here at night. Or if there is any traffic, they have no lights on, so you don't have to worry about what you cannot see.

Offshore the locals anchor off FAD's (Fish Attracting Devices). These are common all over the world where there is fishing off shore because the fish like to hang out by whatever is floating on the surface. In the U.S., this is usually a navigation buoy with a light on it that is marked on the charts. The fisherman drag their lures by the buoy hoping there might be a fish hanging under it.

Here in Indonesia, these FAD's are just bamboo rafts anchored several miles offshore with no lights. They are not marked on any charts. So there is a good chance you can run into one of these at night. During daylight hours we have passed many of these bamboo FADs.

Sandpiper is anchored inside a narrow reef here at Gili Lawang in a very protected anchorage just off the coast of Lombok Island. Once we got the anchor set, a local in one of the nicest outrigger canoes we have seen came alongside asking if we had anything we could give him. We hooked him up with some fishing gear that we do not use and he left pretty happy.

Most of the small boats out here do not use outboard engines. Instead, they use the same Honda engines that come with generators, with a long shaft bolted to the flywheel, and a propeller on the end. These engines are air cooled and some are quite loud. You can hear them coming six miles away.

Right about sunset thousands and thousands of bats that live on Gili Lawang all took off in a single line, flying over Sandpiper, headed for Lombok Island. It looked pretty surreal as the bats just kept flying over Sandpiper, into the sunset, for over 20 minutes.

We are planning on staying here just for the night and then leave early in the morning for the 50 mile trip over the top of Lombok Island to the town of Bangsal. There we are hoping to get Sandpiper filled up with beer, groceries, water and fuel. This is our last 'Big' town till we get to Bali, which is just 15 miles across the straits. The prices here are supposed to be cheaper than in Bali.

Team Sandpiper is planning on spending some time at the Gilli Islands which are just a mile from Bangsal, off Lombok Island. They are described in the Lonely Planet as "Party Islands". There are many small bars and restaurants catering to western tourists... perfect for Team Sandpiper/Uterus.

From there we will sail across the Lombok Straight to Bali.

More when it happens,
Tom and Amy

Notes From Ron:

  • The type of SE Asian boat they are referring to is called a "Long Tail Boat". Basically, a long narrow craft with a lawnmower engine mounted on a rudder post and directly attached to a long propeller shaft that trails the boat. It is a very inexpensive way to add motor power to a boat.
  • The Indonesian FADs are more properly called Rumpons. Here is an article about how Indonesian tuna fisherman use rumpons far off shore to create little eco-systems in order to attract bigger, deep sea prey, such as tuna.

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