Wednesday 27th August.
After leaving Kupang in Western Timor we headed north to Kawula and the main chain of Indonesian Islands that run in a straight line from East to West. We passed pods of Dolphins and Whales and sailed up in between the high volcanic islands dropping anchor off the town of Lembata. These Eastern islands are really dry and parched compared to the lusher Bali and Lombok but they’re still extremely beautiful. With huge volcanic mountains towering above the anchorages and small wooden hut villages fringed with white sandy beaches the scenery is breathtaking. We restocked with fruit and veg from the local market in Lembata and headed west to avoid the rally crowds which by now we were happy to escape and try to stay ahead!
On the north side of the larger island of Flores we stopped at some great little anchorages, most of which were only big enough for three or four boats as they’re really deep all the way to the beach. The diving is supposed to be good around this area but we'd heard from some locals that the tsunami ruined a lot of the reef so we decided to wait until Bali...especially as we found out one of Jimmy's tanks had a whole in it and had to leave it on the dock.
We hit civilisation again in Labuan Bajo which is a largish town on the North West point of Flores and the tourist gateway to the Komodo Islands. It was a huge shock for us to see white faces again but it was also nice not to be the center of attention all the time. Anchored right off town we re-stocked the boat with water and fuel, had some great meals out for a couple of dollars and went a little crazy buying wooden carvings of Komodo dragons! Two days later we upped anchor and headed for the ranger station on Rinca island, you can find the dragons both here and on Komodo island but we'd heard Rinca was has much more variety of wildlife and the prettier of the two.
Monitor lizards are known the world out as Komodo Dragons, they're the largest species of lizard and actually quite aggressive when they're on the look for food. They hunt alone biting their prey once and then waiting for the animal to die from blood poisoning caused by the bacteria in the Komodo's saliva. Their usual pray ranges from monkeys, deer, wild boar, water buffalo...and of course the occasional Japanese tourist!!
Arriving at the ranger station a little too late to get the guided tour we were lucky to see up close, four huge Dragons, attracted by the smells from the kitchen. One of the guides grabbed a six foot forked stick and stood between us 'just in case', I have to admit seeing them lounging around on their belly's didn't really give me the sense that these are dangerous creatures, however, sitting in the bar listening to the rangers tell stories of how they'd all been attacked at various times gave us a much greater appreciation! Later we got the chance to go Dragon hunting on our own in a bay further south with the help of a Komodo Island fisherman and I have to say seeing the worried look on his face when we did find them was pretty scary!