Monday, September 2, 2013

Taka Bone Rate

The Sail Indonesia fleet divided into two groups before we left Darwin - about 70 of the boats elected to take the Western Route while twelve other boats chose the Eastern Route (Northern would have been a better description of the direction but it doesn't matter). When we were anchored off of Kabaena Island, the twelve boats on the Eastern Route divided yet again. The next stop on our itinerary was the village of Bintang on Selayar Island where a traditional Welcome Ceremony was scheduled along with a feast of traditional foods. Selayar Island is about 35 miles long and only a few miles wide at it's widest point - a more pencil-shaped (or insert your own favorite analogy here) island I've never seen. The dilemma was that 30 miles east of Selayar Island is the Taka Bone Rate archipelago with it's pristine beaches and crystal-clear water. If you chose to go to Selayar Island first, it left you facing a 30-mile bash to windward. On the other hand, Selayar Island could be skipped altogether and the sail to Taka Bone Rate would be an easy overnight reach. Our fleet divided almost evenly, those saying that it would be rude to skip the festivities scheduled for us on Selayar while others were saying they had tired of festivities and just wanted a calm, quiet space for a while.

We arrived at the very small island of Tinabo in the northern part of the Taka Bone Rate lagoon, which is almost 60 miles long. The passes into the lagoon are miles wide and entry wasn't an issue. Typical of most of the islands in Indonesia, a wide coral shelf extends out from the beach and then drops off precipitously, making anchoring a challenge. Regardless, our hook grabbed onto something - I couldn't tell what - and held fast although I did have some concerns that I would be able to get it back up again.

This is what we had been hoping for: A tiny island with wide, clean beaches, crystal clear water and a reasonably protected anchorage. On shore, a national parks 'ranger' station also served as a dive center, a massive 'diver-down' flag flying from one of the palm trees. There were no facilities on shore whatsoever but they did have a compressor with which to refill dive tanks. Even though diving isn't one of my favorite pastimes, it is for many cruisers and Tinabo Island was heaven for them. The cost for guided dives worked out to be ridiculously cheap at somewhere around US$6.00 per person for a two-dive day, complete with boat and guide. Many of the most experienced divers said it was some of the best diving ever.

Ruthie and I snorkeled both near the boat and further down the island, seeing brightly-colored fish that we had never seen before. The coral wasn't as bright as we had seen it elsewhere but it was still pristine and the water the temperature of tepid bath water. In the evenings, many of us cruisers would gather on the beach, enjoying cold refreshing beverages while we watched the sun set. It brought back memories of the Tuamotus and Chesterfield Reef.
At 9/3/2013 1:38 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 07°01.70'S 120°37.09'E

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