On Passage to Bali, Indonesia
Writer : Dave Abbott
Sitting on the aft deck of STARSHIP in the already-hot morning sun put me into a state halfway between sleep and waking, the warm air, gentle breeze and soothing noise of water under the hull slightly hypnotic and the perfect way to recover from a 2-4am watch! We were on passage from Komodo to Moyo Island and had been steaming through the night on a calm sea, although the wind was a deceptively fresh 20 knots. It seems that we are back to nice passages again after that rough spell traveling down from the Philippines to Flores into continual head-seas and thats fine by me!
We reached Moyo mid-morning and anchored STARSHIP in the bay adjacent to AMANWANA (peaceful forest), an exclusive resort set just back from the shore. The manager of the resort, Kyle Forsyth came out to us in one of their dive tenders and invited us ashore to have lunch and look around the resort, an opportunity we jumped at.
AMANWANA Resort (http://www.amanwana.com) is set in park-like grounds and is marketed as a nature camp and wilderness hideaway with twenty luxury tents providing the accommodation. They are a long way from being your regular tents however; -they do have a waterproof canvas canopy in place of a conventional roof, but the walls are solid and they have large glass windows overlooking the sea instead of canvas walls! Inside the floor and furniture of each tent is of polished hardwoods, and there is both air conditioning and ceiling fans, and running hot and cold water, although no TVs, phones or stereos which is refreshing to see. The maximum forty guests are looked after by 140 mostly Indonesian staff, half of whom come from Moyo itself.
The island of Moyo has been a National Park since 1978 and both Rusa deer and long tailed macaques can be seen roaming the grounds of the resort, unrestricted by any fences. The shallow reef in front of the beach has several resident turtles and juvenile Blacktip sharks roam in knee deep water we actually saw their dorsal fins breaking the surface only metres off the beach!
Kyle himself was very pro-environment, and told us the resort has a strong conservation ethic, trying to protect the reefs on Moyo and educate the villagers on the island through their own local staff. He told us more about his views over lunch, as well as how the resort runs and some of the activities they have on offer (windsurfing, diving, nature walks etc). Incidentally the food was superb and the service what you would expect in a luxury resort today has certainly been a very different experience to out last week around the relatively remote and undeveloped Komodo island.
After lunch at the resort most of the crew went for either a dive or snorkel; Michael, at the house reef in front of AMANWANA, and myself, Trevor, Monika and James with Kyle to Panjung reef further offshore. We had a pleasant dive with some nice fish-life, the experience made more poignant by the sound of several explosions while we were underwater dynamite fishermen working on a nearby reef. Kyle would like to stop this illegal activity from going on in the area of Moyo and has two MPs on his staff expressly for this purpose, but it is not that easy an activity to bring to an end. Actually hearing these explosions first-hand and so close by really brought home to us the reality of the problem, and seeing damaged areas of reef side by side with undamaged reef on this dive emphasized the wasteful effects of this type of fishing. Michael, Lou, DJ, Jan and Cornelius had had a nice shallow dive/snorkel on the house reef and as well as the resident barracuda under the wharf had seen a turtle, so they were all pretty happy with their afternoon too.
We said our goodbyes to the friendly crew of AMANWANA in the late afternoon and as we steamed off Lasse laid out one of his delicious chili con-carne meals up on the fly-bridge for us to eat alfresco. I hate to end the day with a cliché, but the fact is that tonights sunset was one of the most spectacular of the past couple of months; as well as the sky being a blaze of colour the sun itself was a blood-red ball magnified by the haze; its dying light edging the small clouds with metallic gold as it slid down behind the horizon right on our bow. We are now back on passage to Bali after this brief interlude in Moyo, and should reach this beautiful island sometime tomorrow afternoon. Bali has many spectacular temples, incredible stone sculptures and friezes, and some outstanding countryside which we will hopefully explore in between reprovisioning and fuelling STARSHIP, let you know tomorrow!