Life and death in paradise
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
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Banta is a small island on the north east tip of Sumbawa, just west of Komodo. There is a ferocious current running between the two larger islands and we were coming in after lunch, through the ebbing (lowering) tide, so we copped the brunt of it. The cove entrance is surrounded by coral reefs so you have to aim it pretty well. To top it all off there is a mean looking expanse of 'boiling water' down the left side of Banta. It's not really boiling (nor dangerous) but it's a churning, roiling mass of really disturbed water that makes the Komodo strait's washing machine look like a picnic. Very disconcerting indeed.
So we came in hot heading south west with the tide. As explained the chart was off so we thought we were on the right course for most of the sail over until a minute or so until the last course change we had to make. We were meant to turn right 45 degrees, unfortunately we saw the cove with some yachts in it on our left. When we turned we were going the wrong way, heading out to sea and possibly over a large and destructive reef!
In the boiling water and at a probably false (reading) depth of 15 feet, we turned hard out of it and then ended up getting dragged south in the current while the skipper decided what to do. It took an hour to fight the current back north to take another shot. In the end we had to forget the high tech equipment around us and rely on sight and the other yacht's experience getting in. Once in and safely anchored, the chart said we had crossed a large reef and was now parked on land. Hmmm, thanks for that.
I suppose the moral of the story is you can't always trust the electronics around you, even though it's conventional wisdom to do so. We would have had to if there was no visibility, and we'd have been wrecked and probably drowned. Another of the nine lives down I suppose...
Anyway, nothing a stiff Gin and Tonic couldn't fix. A late afternoon snorkel in the cove revealed a rich variety of corals and fish all around the perimeter of the anchorage, and it was decided that we'd stay in paradise and recharge for a few nights, then leave on high tide.
Maybe that saying should be changed to 'All good things come to those that almost die'.
The next day I went for a bit of a hike up the steep and rocky inclines around the anchorage and over the top to a neighbouring deserted surf beach. It was a good trek and well worth it. There was no evidence of recent human visitation and it was very satisfying to leave fresh footprints in the sand on my own personal white sand beach.
I spent a couple of hours there in the late afternoon, catching some rays, collecting some great shells and taking a pleasant skinny dip. As you can see from the photo below, the tan is progressing well, except for the pearly white butt. Doubt I'll get too many more chances like this to rectify the pearly white bit.
And when I got back to the boat a tasty lobster tail in garlic butter, followed by coconut caramel cake, was awaiting me to celebrate Joe's birthday. For all the other drawbacks of this boat, the food is first class!
Apart from that, not much more to report here except more top snorkelling and having to scrub algae from the bottom of the boat. See, there is some hard work involved.
We're moving back into civilisation and approaching Lombok and Bali now, so should get to upload all of these entries that are now stacking up. I hope you are all healthy and happy wherever you are and that you're not using up your nine lives as fast as I am.
Next entry -> Moyo marine park
Lucky me travel affliction of the week
I figure that in the course of my travels I'll have the misfortune of a few ugly health problems, so why not bring them out in the open so everyone can suffer to a certain degree? You're welcome...
Today's travel affliction is Tropical Foot, closely related to the better known Athlete's Foot and Trench Foot (see WW1 histories). Often mistaken for tinea or a localised leprosy, this affliction occurs due to regular moistening of the pedal extremities from water exposure or sports, particularly in enclosing footwear such as the Keen's sandals I'm currently wearing.
Moisture collected whilst snorkelling or alighting from a dinghy on the beach can't escape, so layers of skin weaken and peel off the bottom of the foot - leaving a gammy sole and a trail of dead skin. It's not painful or debilitating, just ugly and a source of macabre entertainment when waiting for the skipper to make a decision (etc).
Remedies I'm using: 1) Try to dry feet after getting them wet. 2) Talcum powder. 3) Pumice stone (sourced from neighbouring volcanic area).
Result: no real improvement so I continue to moult. I'm possibly a centimetre shorter now.
Warning: the author is not a doctor. Symptoms, affliction names and treatments are probably not medically correct.