I make continuous efforts to keep my cynicism in check but after a vicious bout of food poisoning and then an even worse relapse two days later, my interest in attending yet another Indonesian Welcome Ceremony and feast had become, well, cynical. In the Sail Indonesia Guide, it said that the stop at Segori Island was nothing more than a stopover and that no events were planned, however, once we got there, it turns out events were planned and in a big way for the tiny island. Things got off to a rough start as we approached the island and it's absolutely stunning lagoon of crystal-clear water. With the wind blowing between 20 and 25 knots, the boats in our fleet that had already dropped their anchors there were hobby-horsing enough that every once in a while their bows, poorly timing the next wave, plunged right into it. We sailed around to the leeward side of the island where the kind islanders had installed moorings for us. They did the best they could but a 5-gallon bucket filled with cement will not hold a 20-ton ketch, regardless of how much scope is out and they didn't put out much. In fairness to them, we tried two such moorings, dragging one so deep that once we released it, it sank completely out of sight. Even our attempt to set our own anchor failed so we sadly waved farewell to the Segori Islanders and our friends and found a secure anchorage on a nearby island, about 6 miles away. Five other boats in our fleet joined us.
The Indonesians were not deterred by our lack of proximity to the celebration as they recruited the use of the large police launch with it's two 200-horsepower outboards to shuttle people between the big island and the tiny island. I stayed aboard Rutea while Ruthie, Corie and Kyle did their duty, Ruthie stepping forward and delivering the speech on behalf of the cruisers at the ceremony. The islanders delayed the ribbon cutting ceremony of their new solar electric system to coincide with the Sail Indonesia presence. As a token of their appreciation, they island chief and his wife presented Ruthie with a hand-carved paddle.
The following day there was another road trip, this time on the much larger island of Kabaena. We bounced along a dirt road in a modern SUV that belonged to once of the local policemen, winding our way up to a small village where village children had gathered for a sort of dance competition. The kids were in matching costumes, I guess sorted by school or grade and were divided between the Pole Handlers and the Pole Avoiders. There were also the percussionists. The Pole Handlers had 3-meter long bamboo poles that were about 70mm in diameter and they worked in pairs at each end of two bamboo poles. There were four pairs of Pole Handlers on each team and once the music started, they would smack the poles on the ground or slap the poles together, in perfect time to the music. The Pole Avoiders would then dance between the poles in a delicate and extremely graceful manner even when the tempo became almost impossible. Obviously, if one of the Pole Avoiders got out of sync, her ankle or toe would be soundly smacked by the fast moving bamboo poles. Unfortunately for the kids doing this competition, we arrived late and their teachers made them do it all over again for us.
From there we made our way up a steep and rough road to a small village where we were greeted with a Welcome Ceremony and a feast. Corie and Kyle were selected to represent the cruisers at the ceremony although some of the other cruisers didn't get that memo and it kind of turned into a Group Hug kind of thing. I promise that I dutifully took pictures and didn't roll my eyes.
At 9/3/2013 1:36 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 07°01.70'S 120°37.09'E
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