It was with a deep and heavy sigh that we pulled away from Taka Bone Rate but with also a hint of relief - I wasn't sure our anchor would come up at all, fearing that it was stuck deep on a coral head but up it came nonetheless although scarred from it's battle with the coral. We had a great sail southwards and pulled into a small protected bay on Tanatampea Island, just as our friends on Geramar were leaving. The next morning, Corie and Kyle took a big bag of old clothing into the small village and were almost mobbed by the people there. They went wild over the clothing, one man grabbing one of Corie's old shoes while a different man got the other. We weighed anchor at about 1600 so there was still light in which to navigate our way past the reef and we set a course for almost due south. It was an absolutely delightful sail.
We approached Labuanbajo on the western side of Flores Island at about 0700 the next morning, anchored, cleaned up the boat and went in to clear in. Labuanbajo was a major milestone for us as it ended the Eastern Route of Sail Indonesia - the two routes met here and instead of cruising with twelve boats, we were now cruising with eighty-two. We knew many of the people who had chosen the Western Route and it quickly became apparent that the route we chose was the better of the two - we had better sailing, better events, better anchorages plus we got 250 liters of diesel fuel for free.
Labuanbajo was unique for us in many ways: There are a lot of tourists there so we no longer stood out in the crowd. Also, there were restaurants and stores that catered to tourists, two things that didn't exist at any of the towns on the Eastern Route. On the other hand, it shared many similarities of other villages we had visited with too much traffic on the narrow, dusty street and markets with their brightly-colored fruits and vegetables; fresh and dried fish covered with flies. They had a Gala Dinner for all the participants of Sail Indonesia where they even made beer available and the Traditional Dancing was very good but the food was awful. Since we planned to get out to some of the less-populated islands nearby, we spent quite a bit of time and money provisioning, even finding a store that sold bacon, the first we've seen in this predominantly-Muslim country.
With no unique claim-to-fame, we made plans to leave Labuanbajo as quickly as we could. The famous island of Komodo, a World Heritage site, was less than 20 miles away and the lure of clear water and the danger of Komodo Dragons had a strong grip on our imaginations.
At 9/9/2013 11:43 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 08°44.87'S 119°36.67'E
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