Sunday, 30 September 2012

Lovina Beach

Hi everyone,
Yesterday we moved on from Bunutan to Lovina Beach, a passage of about 45nm.  We departed at 0700 in company with Kakadu and Fearless.  Unfortunately we had to motor most of the way, but had a few hours of good motor-sailing before the wind died.  The passage took a bit over 10 hours with the last couple being very hot due to zero apparent wind.

We anchored off Lovina Beach at 1545, in 15m over sand, at 08 09.495S 115 01.345E, amongst about 20 other yachts.

Zen Again Track
The preceding night at anchor in Bunutan was extremely rolly and we didn't get much sleep.  We did 2 on, 2 off watches during the passage to Lovina Beach which allowed us to catch up a little.  The passage was quite uneventful apart from weaving our way through the fish traps off Bunutan and being "buzzed" by the Bali fishermen on their way back to shore.  They seem to like crossing your stern at speed and having a good "sticky beak".  Altering course to give way to them doesn't seem to be a good idea - they just turn too!
Nice scenery
Anchored at Lovina Beach
Lovina Beach is a touristy area with lots of craft stalls, bars and cafes.  Yesterday evening we went ashore with the Kakadus and had drinks at one place then a nice dinner at another.  We explored the area a little too, finding the local ATM, a bakery and several other shops of interest.

Thankfully this anchorage wasn't rolly so we got a good night's sleep last night.  After doing a few boat jobs early this morning we joined the Kakadus ashore and had visited the market, the bakery and many local craft stalls.  With the shopping done we retired to the Rambutan Hotel, where for $4pp one can use their pool and wifi.  We spent the rest of the day chilling out, swimming, reading the Weekend Australian (online), researching future cruising destinations and eating.

Tomorrow evening we expect to depart Lovina Beach towards Bawean Island.  The island is 210nm away and halfway to the Kumai River where we plan to take a tour upriver to see the Orang Utangs.

Friday, 28 September 2012


Hi everyone,
This morning we sailed from Gili Air to the village of Bunutan on the NE coast of Bali.  We had a great sail in 15-25 knot winds.  On the eastern side of the Lombok Strait we has current behind us, in the middle it was setting us S and in the west it was against us.  ie The current fans in to the strait 24/7 during the SE trades.

Zen Again Track
For the first time since leaving Australia we had to deal with large ships in close proximity.  The Jewel of Dubai was on a close-to-collision course in the middle of the strait so we called them to arrange separation.  Turns out they were enroute to Bunbury in our home state of WA.  After they passed ahead we then passed 1nm ahead of a large bulk carrier - always fun waiting for the big guy's bow to open up on the other side when they're bearing down on you!

Lombok astern
We are now anchored at 08 20.177S 115 39.589E in 18m over coral sand.  The anchor is on the drop-off, and when the wind swings to the E we are in only 4m.  Very convenient for snorkelling!

The village is principally a fishing village, with an array of fish traps moored offshore.  The small bay where it is sited is about 50m deep, except for the edges where perhaps 10 boats (at the most) could anchor.  Each boat has to find a spot for its anchor which isn't too deep, and which doesn't allow the boat to drop back into too shallow water.  Kakadu dropped their bow anchor off the beach and then took a long stern line ashore to moor themselves - very sensible. 
Anchored at Bunutan, with Kakadu inshore
View looking east
Zen Again anchored over the "drop off"
Beautiful bommies
Sunken Shrine
The village also caters for tourists, with a few hotel/homestays on the beach.  All afternoon people have been snorkelling around the edge of the bay, and we joined them.  Some nice coral but the main attraction is the fish and the spectacular drop-off.  The water is clear enough to clearly see our anchor in nearly 20m of water.  An interesting feature was a small (1.5m high) Hindu temple on the bottom of the bay in about 3m of water.  It has a small buoy above it to mark its position.  I'm sure it would be very bad karma to hit it while trying to anchor!

This evening we had a pleasant dinner ashore with the crew of Fearless Hunter.  They were a few miles ahead of us on the passage over from the Gilis and radioed us information about the weather and the anchorage.

Tomorrow we expect to head west to Lavina Beach on the NW coast of Bali.  We expect light winds and adverse tides.  Hopefully our expectations will prove to be incorrect!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Gili Air

Hi everyone,
Yesterday we had a quick 5nm dash from Medana Bay marina to Gili Air.  Since there was no breeze we motored, which allowed us to charge the batteries too.  Gili Air is one of three Gili islands off the NW coast of Lombok, all of which are popular tourist destinations.  We thought we'd take a look - in company with Kakadu - since many of the Sail Indonesia yachties have enjoyed stays here.

Zen Again Track
Zen Again track in GoogleEarth
We are moored at 08 21.903S 116 04.908E in 15m over sand.

We picked up a mooring in the bay on the south side of Gili Air.  We're always a bit sceptical about moorings, so chose to stay aboard for most of the day to build a little confidence in the mooring.  The wind came up to about 20 knots by late morning, and stayed until late afternoon.  The mooring seemed OK so we decided to go ashore.

View from the anchorage
View from the beach
Watch out for those plongers! 
Nice Spot
Interesting boats
We had a great dinner ashore with Graham and Anne from Kakadu, eating at the Scallywag restaurant.  The food was excellent although the alcohol was more expensive than we've become accustomed to!  A great 3-course meal for four for A$20 each, including beer and a glass of wine each.

Today we had planned a morning walk and coffee ashore, but it turned into a bit of a cafe/bar-crawl.  We walked around the island first, stopping off at a nice cafe on the north side of the island.  Interesting to note that the Bintang is 1/2 the price on the north side.  After completing the walk around the island we had more refreshments at a cafe, lunch at another, and before we knew it we were enjoying cocktails at happy hour at 1600 at yet another cafe.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Hi everyone,
From Friday to Monday we had a little "holiday within a holiday", flying to Bali for a break off the boat.  It was great.

On Friday we departed Medana Bay at 0500 in order to catch our flight from Lombok's airport which is on the south side of the island.  We flew on a ~50 seat Chinese turbo-prop aircraft for the 40 minute flight to Denpasar, arriving at 0830.  From there we took a 90 minute taxi ride to the town of Ubud in central Bali.  We spent the rest of the day exploring the town.  It is touristy but quiet.

Leavin' on a prop plane
On Friday and Saturday nights we stayed at Villa Areklo.  It is about 3km from town but the staff were very friendly, the pool was great, and the breakfasts were both fantastic food _and_ all you can eat.  The hotel didn't have hot water in the rooms and the electricity supply was erratic.  Recommended nonetheless!
Eggs anyone?
Rice paddies near the hotel
Many roundabouts feature impressive statues
Art of all kinds
The pool at the hotel
On Saturday we took a 12km walk from Ubud through the surrounding rice paddies.  The scenery was great, walking along the edge of paddies, irrigation channels and creeks.  We saw a couple of snakes, countless butterflies and small birds, and quite a few ducks.  The ducks are kept by rice farmers since they feed on pests in the rice fields.  That evening we attended a performance of traditional Bali Legong dance which was amazing.  Great live music and wonderful dancing.

Seasonal decorative poles found on many streets
Bali Legong dance
On Sunday and Monday we hired a car to take us up to Muntuk in the mountains on the north of Bali.  On Sunday we stopped off at a large temple, a coffee/spices plantation, a rice paddy "park", and saw several of the volcanic lakes.  The plantation featured Lewuk coffee (commonly known as "cat-poo coffee").  We stayed at the Munduk Sari Villages which was very nice and had a great view down the valley.  On Monday we headed south back to the airport, stopping at a wood carving centre and a Batik centre enroute.

Rice paddy park

Highland lakes
Wood carving centre
Batik centre

Lombok (Days 5-7)

Hi everyone,
We've just returned from 4 days in Bali which we'll describe in our next blog.  Here we'll describe the three days prior to that.  On Tuesday we took a tour from Medana Bay to Kuta on the south coast of Lombok.  On Wednesday we did our "visa run" to the town of Mataram.  On Thursday we had the official welcome ceremony.

The tour on Tuesday took us to a pottery, a weaving centre, a Sasak village and Kuta beach (the latter not to be confused with Kuta in Bali).  All of the stops were interesting, and we were parted from money in all but the last stop.  Most of the items bought were good value, and all of the stops were interesting.

Sasak Village
Kuta Beach (Lombok)
The visa run on Wednesday was for us to be finger-printed and photographed as part of the process of extending our Social Visa in Indonesia.  The process takes about a week, and requires attendance at the main office for this one part.  The exercise took 3 hours for our party of 12 to be processed.  We also spent a couple of hours at the big mall in the town buying supplies and having lunch.  The drive from Medana Bay to Mataram takes about 90 minutes each way, so that was the day gone.

On Wednesday evening the marina put on a Blues Night with a very good band.  It has to be a good night to get us dancing, and so it was!

On Thursday we had a boat maintenance morning - topping up our water tanks, checking the engine, stowing supplies etc.  In the afternoon the formal welcome to Lombok featured local musicians and a fine meal.  The local Regent attended, along with a number of other officials.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Lombok (Days 2-4)

Hi everyone,
We've now been at Medana Bay Marina in Lombok for four days.  We spent Saturday cleaning up the boat, arranging laundry and replenishing water and fuel.  On Sunday and today (Monday) we went on day tours in a nice air-conditioned people-mover, both with Graham and Anne from Kakadu.

On Sunday we went to the town of Senggigi, a Hindu temple and the monkey forest.  The drive to Senggigi was along north-western shore of Lombok and very spectacular.  It was nice to be in amongst the greenary for a change.  The number of different crops was amazing, including rice, coffee, cocoa, cashews, peanuts, tobacco, coconuts, palm oil and many more.  At Senggigi we found an ATM, a small supermarket, pulsa (credit for mobile phone) and a great restaurant for lunch.

After lunch we visited a Hindu temple sited on a small rocky headland above the beach.  The statues are quite intricate, with several clothed and most carved with wonderful expressions.

Hindu Temple
Hindu Temple
We then drove up into the hills and through the "monkey forest".  There are certainly plenty of monkeys.  Where we stopped they are very used to people feeding them but don't grab.  One even drank a bottle of water - "down in one"!

Today we went on a tour to two waterfalls inland from the north coast of Lombok, in the foothills below Mount Rinjani.  We stopped briefly at the local market to buy fruit and veg.  The drive along the northern beaches was interesting, with an equally diverse array of crops.  There was plenty of activity in the fields, with rice paddies being weeded and peanut crops harvested.

The walk up to the waterfalls took about 40 minutes with much of the walking alongside water channels which carry water down to the farms.  Each tributary is individually opened by a large gate.  One of the most interesting parts of the walk was crossing over a 20m high aqueduct with the water channel only half covered and a very low handrail on one side only.  Getting to one of the waterfalls involved clambering over rocks in the river downstream of the fall.

The waterfalls themselves were both very spectacular, throwing a mist of water into the air around them.  We had expected to swim, but the mist was thick enough to cool us off completely!
Interesting bridge on the way to the falls

After the walk back from the waterfalls we had lunch at the nearby restaurant.  Twas an excellent lunch and the restaurant has great views of the falls and down towards the lowlands.

On the drive "home" we came upon a traditional Sasak wedding procession.  Very colourful costumes with everyone (except it seemed the bride and groom) dancing to live music blasting out from a massive boom-box.  Some of the party acted as traffic controllers when not dancing.

Sasak Wedding Procession
Before leaving on the tour this morning we moved Zen Again from the anchorage in to a pen in the marina.  We found a spot where the boat would fit but which wasn't occupied, and negotiated to move there.  It's nice to be able to step off the boat and walk ashore for a change.

After returning from the tour we handed in our passports for renewal of our Social Visas.  The marina staff are acting as our agents and the process will take about a week.  We hope to spend several days exploring Bali in the mean time, leaving the boat here in the marina.