07-11 August 2012 (Eastern Hemisphere)
The wind on the north side of the Indonesian Archipelago is very light for the most part. In between the islands, we feel the effects of the SE Trade Winds, but other than that, it\’s pretty light. Motoring is more common than sailing.
We stopped at the island of Flores in four different anchorages. Again, the friendly fisherman and locals, but nothing of great interest ashore. Virtually no one speaks any English outside of the big cites and our Indonesian is about as good. So lots of waves and smiles. I\’m sure there is good diving along this coast, but it\’s just not what I\’m about at this time.
We arrived at Rindja (pronounced Rincha) Island in a very protected anchorage at one of the two main park offices where guided tours are offered to see the famed \”Komodo Dragons\”. When we arrived, there were about 8 large tour boats which were at the dock or anchored nearby. Nikki and I went ashore to check it out, planning on doing our tour the next morning.
We were told the fees which amounted to around $40.00 for the two of for three days; most reasonable. They could take our trash, always a good thing and all the guides spoke pretty good English.
The next morning, we went in early as the \”Dragons\” are more active before it gets too hot. A Komodo Dragon is really a monitor lizard; the largest lizard on earth. They are strictly carnivorous and have been attributed to 9 human fatalities (known) over the last 35 years. For the most part, they are quite lethargic. Our guides carry 6 foot long forked sticks, \”Just In Case\”!
Their hunting style is to ambush a local deer, water buffalo, bush turkey or monkey, all of which are plentiful on Rindja, Komodo and a few other islands in the park. They apparently have a mild toxin and their saliva is laced with very aggressive bacteria. If the animal is small, they will kill it with their long serrated teeth and eat it on the spot. If the animal is large, they only try to wound it and wait till it\’s dies of infection, following it for up to 4 days. Larger animals are eaten by many \”dragons\” which consume the entire animal, bones and all. They only eat once/month and can wolf down up to 80% of their body weight. The largest of the lizards get up to 3.5 meters and about 150 kg (11.5 feet, 330 lbs.). There are about 1300 on Rindja, 2000 on Komodo and another 1500 scattered about the area. Do not leave your dog or your child in their presents! No Joke!
We saw Komodo nests which are reused year after year where up to 30 eggs are laid. The small dragons often live at the top of tree where the adults cannot eat them.
While we were here we met several tourists and two other sail boats arrived. As the experience was good, we decided to head for Komodo Island are repeat the tour.
About 12 miles away, we motored through the strong currents and arrived at the day anchorage for the island. We had a similar tour and experience, the highlight of which was watching an apparently lethargic dragon only 10 feet away from seemingly unsuspecting deer. No attack was witnessed, but our guide told us in the two years that he has worked at the park, he\’s seen several. Again, the photos (if I ever get to it, say it all).
After departing the day anchorage, we went around to the north side of the island and anchored for the night. For the first time, we started to see a lot of dive boats.
The next leg of the trip seemed the most daunting as the island of Palau Sumbawa has very few anchorages along it\’s north coast. Stay tuned,
KIT, Scott and Nikki