September 22, 2017 – We left our boat for the day at Labuanbajo, a big and safe harbor located at the western end of Flores Island close to Rinca and Komodo Islands.
The dive boat, organized through Divers Paradise Komodo picked us up directly from our boat. Our Polish friends on s/v Wassyl, Bolo and Natalia, joined us on the dive boat too.
The boat was organized in sections: the open front held all the diving tanks and gear, the back area underneath was the kitchen and toilet, the upper deck was more like a crawlspace where blankets and pillows were spread out for the guests to lounge. The upstairs was very comfy. They served snacks and there were self-serve hot drinks too.
During the first dive in very clear water, we saw a lot of turtles – about ten of them. All of them were the same size and the same color, some were sleeping. These sea turtles weren’t as big as the turtles in the Galapagos, but were still a good size of about 3 feet long by 1.5 feet wide.
We also saw a huge puffer fish, but he wasn’t frightened, so he didn’t offer us a show. The second dive, we saw many many manta rays. We hovered above them watching their every move. I love how they glide through the water. Their swimming seems so effortless.
After the dives, we went to Komodo National Park on Rinca Island to see free-roaming komodo dragons. The dragons were great sleepy animals. It was a bummer they didn’t breath fire. When we first arrived, we paid an entry fee and a fee for a mandatory guide. The guide walked around with a long forked stick to make sure the komodo dragons kept their distance and wouldn’t attack.
Our guide did get attacked once while walking on the trail with a guest. They had to quickly climb up a tree and stayed there for an entire day (no cell phones back then) until the guide got a branch and threw it at the dragon hitting it on the nose. The dragon didn’t like that much and left. The two ‘prey’ were able to walk back to the tourist office where his foot was treated. He had to take antibiotics to make sure the bite wouldn’t get infected.
Normally how dragons attack is they wait in the bushes until you’re right in front of them, and when they bite they release poisonous venom into the victim. The infection from the venom is what kills his prey. They prefer to eat their prey rotting dead. The full-grown dragons like to stay in the shade. We saw a lot of them under a house. And the little dragons stay in the trees where the big guys can’t eat them.
When a mother dragon prepares to give birth, she digs about ten holes as camouflage and lays her eggs only in one hole to make it hard for predators to find them. We walked around the entire park and got to see a female dragon digging her many holes.
What’s different about the komodo dragon from other lizards is that the males have two penises. Weird! For food at the national park, they eat wild monkeys, deer, water buffalo and the other baby dragons. We went to visit Komodo National Park again, but this time we motor-sailed there by our own boat and we brought Rainer along. Unlike the first time, we went in the morning and saw the water buffalo with they’re big horns.
Earlier in the day the komodo dragons are less active because they’re cold, so most of the dragons were sleeping under the guides’ houses around the tourist office. Dad witnessed, that even though people are not supposed to feed the komodo dragons, discarded food was being thrown out the window right over where the largest dragons hung out. Easy food is their game.
We said goodbye to Rainer who had to return to his aunt and uncle’s boat, Ocelot. It was sad to see him go as we won’t be seeing him again until Kalimantan, a couple weeks later, where we’ll be taking a river boat tour together to see orangutans in the wild.
We brought up the anchor and motored away to make the next rally spot, Sumbawa, to join in some buffalo races. But our engine stopped working in the pass between Komodo and Sumbawa. Dad worked for an hour trying to fix the problem, but realized the problem was too complicated. There was no wind, no other boats around, and you could see the current racing toward us. Kandu needed to make its way to a safe anchorage. Quickly we had to pull down the dinghy and hitch up our 9.9 horsepower outboard to push/pull Kandu ourselves to a safe anchorage nearby. That’s the main reason why dad bought such a big outboard motor before we left California. I was elected to sit in the dinghy and stear the two boats.
Turns out that s/v Wassyl and s/v Burmese Breeze heard our radio calls and came as fast as they could. It was nice of them to come to our aid. By the time they arrived, we had already safely anchored in a protected bay. With Bolo’s help, dad worked on the engine almost all night long to try to fix the problem in order to leave the next day.
However, when we left early the next morning, the engine still didn’t work. Bolo on s/v Wassyl offered to tow us to Sumbawa until my dad figured out what the problem was with the engine. After a lot of hard work while under-tow, dad figured out that we had an air leak problem between two of our oil filters. His solution was to bypass two filters to stop the leak until he could really fix the problem when we arrived at our next port of call. Because of that, dad and mom decided to head straight to Medana Bay on the north west coast of Lombok, the next stop on our rally.
More pictures of Komodo dive and park: