Flores is one of the most fascinating, rugged and ethnically  diverse volcanic islands in Indonesia with Kelimutu Volcano and it's three distinct color changing lakes,  rich indigenous ethnic cultures with mix of religious beliefs and stunningly beautiful coastline.

                     The Penti Ceremony

Kelimutu Volcano

Beating close wind we head to Flores past the Adonara Islands where several cruisers are enjoying a small but beautiful anchorage.   s/v Ariel continues on to a bay off Sagu Adonara were we get two frantic calls on VHF that we are headed for submerged rocks but the Capt. has figured they are 6m under water.   With a vigilant bow watch we move in slowly and anchor with 10 other cruisers.

Rounding Teluk Hading Flores

Anchorage off Adonara Islands

We are spread out more and more, some hanging back to go to the famous whaling village on Lembata, while others make headway for the next rally stop near Maumere Flores.  There is a five day cruising period and opportunity for a much needed rest from all the events. 

                                                                                                                                                                   Fish trap

In the anchorage of Teluk Hading Flores  9 boats swing close to a shore rimmed with reefs while others were forced to leave the anchorage in the middle of the night due to increased on shore winds and forced to hove to during the night  or carry on dodging nets and fish traps.

It is difficult to find a good anchorage along the Flores coast but one  good anchorage was off the stilted fishing village of Palau Besar Flores where    18 boats ended up.



Winds would come up sometimes as much as 30kts and we'd be bashing into waves taking water over the bow while fighting strong currents.  Then the wind would die down, seas flatten and we'd end up motoring. 



Everyone was happy to reach the next rally rendezvous, this one at Seaworld near
Maumere Sikka Flores 


The anchorage was packed with over 75 rally boats and the shoreline packed with locals coming to watch the cruisers.  Later the cruisers packed the shoreline then it was our turn to be entertained


                  One of the most striking and beautiful windows into the local culture is Ikat, the traditional cloth woven in every village and used primarily as the sarong.  Flores is known for it's intricately patterned  'kapita' used to wrap the dead. 
Several booths were set up on the beach for ikat weaving and dying demonstrations





Ikat means to tie or bind and is the process used to weave the tie dyed threads into traditional cloth
 The women of Flores do dye-making, thread spinning and tie-dying as well as the weaving Natural products are used in the dye making such as the blue from the indigo plant, and rust color from the kombu tree.

Each color requires a separate tying-and-dying process. This stage requires great skill as the dyer has to work out before the threads are woven exactly which parts of the thread are it receive which color in order to create the pattern of the final cloth. 



Also included in our arrival at Seaworld was a special event where the locals would show off  'their cruising skills' in 'their sailing craft'!   The locals lined up in there colorful dugout canoes for an exciting race along the shoreline.

                                                                                           The locals proved to be excellent seamen

Then the rally cruisers were invited to have a turn in the canoes.  Certainly these excellent sailors and world class mariners (otherwise how could we have gotten this far) had a chance to show the locals their stuff!

S/v Island Sonata, s/v Billabong team up to lead the fleet but find a possible rescue off their starboard side as one cruiser begins to take on water. 


      The locals come to the rescue but the determined sailor is last seen slowly sinking his way to the finish line.


Up at 3:30AM to be ashore at 4:15AM,  local boys meet groggy sailors with flashlights to lead them across rickety bridges to Sau Resort where they are loaded into four buses.

We are then driven along knife edge ridges into the soaring peaks of the interior, across narrow roads flowing like rivers to reach the vibrant rice growing village of Moni at the foot of a volcano.

Moni Village at the base of Kelimutu

Precarious traversing on narrow road


The one hour hike to the summit, 1640 meters high, not only brought the magnificent view but cell phones came into range and phones began to ring.   Many took advantage to make a call home!

The Tree Lakes of Kelimutu

                   Tiwi Ata Polo                                    Tiwi Numa Muri Koo Fai                                Tiwi Ata Mbupu

It is believed that spirits come to Kelimutu when people die. The maE (spirit) would leave it's village and remain in Kelimutu forever. Which lake the spirit would enter depends on its age and character when alive. Wicked people would go to the black lake, the young to the turquoise lake and old people to the brown lake.

The colors of the lake change due to dissolving mineral and climate change. But to the local people's eternal beliefs are that it is a sacred mystical place that has become legend.



 Typical roof of adat house

On the way down the mountain we stopped at a Lio village, one of the 5 ethnic groups living on Flores.

It was a poor village yet we were graciously invited to walk around and tour their homes for a glimpse of their lifestyle.

We were invited to a buffet lunch then some cruisers opted for a nap.  It was a long day!!!


The north coast of the Sikka region was dry and desolate as we sailed on to Maurole in Ende region

Some cruisers stayed close to shore behind the reefs while others took their chance on the outside dodging obstacles and exposed rocks.

We found a quiet anchorage but a police boat approached and asked us to move closer to the Maurole rally anchorage for our safety.   Next day we moved to a bay 1nm east of the very rolly Maurole and dubbed it 'Lessrolly'.


The rally events kept us hopping so this was a rare occasion to just sit, read and enjoy the sunsets,


We even took this rare opportunity to dinghy ashore with friends for some long overdue beachcombing.


We were all very impressed with the well built dock the village of Mausambi Beach had built for the cruisers to disembark.  They
even built bamboo ramada's for our comfort.

s/v Briana enjoy coconut welcome drink

s/vCirce, s/v China Grove s/vAmoenitas go Bintang!


In turn the rally participants are invited to visit the local schools to give a better understanding about the world beyond.

Chris and KT of s/v Billabong are chosen to represent the rally and are presented with ikat weavings from the area, an honor by the local regent.

s/v Akama sharing with the school children

Once again the cruisers were asked to sit for a photo session, enjoy a meal of local dishes and treated to traditional dances

Gayla and Steve join in learning the local dance

MJ of s/v Island Sonata does her rendition of  'House of the Rising Sun'


But the big hit of the night was when all the Kiwi's from  New Zealand got up and demonstrated the Haka or Maori War Dance




The village of Wologai was a 3 hour bus trip up steep mountains on winding roads but a rare opportunity to visit and a chance to see the roofing of an adat house.

Before entering one must wear the traditional custom and be welcomed in by the Mosalaki or oldest of the village. 


             Locals preparing cruisers with custom                   Welcomed by Mosalaki                   Gayla & Kathy in custom dress



We were invited to dance 7 times in bare feet around the 'compang' a traditional ancestor worship alter composed of a raised stone.   These platforms are  used in ceremonies marking birth, marriage, death and house building.   These ceremonies often involve agricultural fertility rites with the slaughter of a buffalo sacrifice. 

Entering into the main house (Sa'O) we were invited to sit in a special place which is a sign we have been accepted and may then permitted to see all the activates run by the locals. 



Elders -  Ende Region of Flores


              The Flores 'HOBBITS'
                (Floresiensis Homo)
Flores is rich in evolutionary quirks of nature.  In 2003 archaeologists made a stunning find.  They unearthed a skeleton the size of a 3 year old with worn down teeth and the bone structure of an adult.  Long called by the Manggarai peoples of Flores the Ebo Gogo - hairy little people with flat foreheads who roam the jungles during the time of their recent ancestors-
there is now proof that even more 'little people' could emerge for the evolutionary backwoods of Flores. 
s/v Strider on the lookout for Hobbits                                                                                 Ebo Gogo caught making a boarding
Was the Manggarai region plagued by strange and beguiling phenomena or were we all just getting a bit tired and silly? Winds picked up to 25kts, heeled us over on a close reach then shifted to a beam reach, while currents up to 1/2 kt would slow us down. Then entering Monkey Bay we had to maneuver around dangerous fringing reefs to a small bay where15 other cruisers were anchored.

Then there in Monkey Bay in broad daylight 'little people' came out of no where and began climbing aboard s/v Strider.

  A desperate call over VHF for a 'cruiser sundowner' is arranged to meet mid bay to discuss the situation.  S/v Ariel picks up Dave of s/v Strider while  s/v Amoenitas, s/v Circe and s/v Kirsten Jayne join in the dinghy sundowner rendezvous. 
s/v Kirsten Jayne     s/v Circe
    s/v Strider     s/v Ariel
Already there are the 'kid boats' who are brought in to commiserate about the Ebo Gogo.  Popcorn is passed around to keep the 'little people' happy.

We discover these 'adult children' are less concerned about such folklore and busy themselves with more important discussions none of which the adults can understand but they are happy and well adjusted kids living on a boat enjoying the whole world for their education.
s/v Blue Sky and s/v Blue Moon of Oz

   Dinghy raft-up in Monkey Bay

s/v Strider looking good!

Spider boats leaving Monkey Bay                       Exposed reef at low tide

The next morning strange 'spider boats' lured unwary cruisers from their secure anchorage and while their shallow depths make easy maneuvering through the maze of reefs, s/v Strider's deeper keel slowly glides up onto an unexposed reef.   C-maps are known to be off in this area and while a vigilant watch was made the inevitable happened.   Several dinghies rushed to the impact zone and s/v Strider was pulled off the reef and on it's way to Linghe Bay.      
       Meeting up with s/v Briana                          Anchorage at Linge Bay                       Gayla discovering endless beaches

Steve taking the girls for a spin around the fish farms and collecting numerous shells. 

For the next few days the sailing was superb, the anchorages at Linghe and Teluk Levilia were calm and reflective and we spent endless hours beachcombing and watching magnificent sunsets with good friends.

  s/v Ariel at anchor Linghe


Our last  designated rally stop was on the western end of Flores in the picturesque fishing community of Labuan Bajo.

Many cruisers had been using the book '101 Anchorages' by Geoff Wilson and it was Geoff's mother that owned a Eco Tourist Resort just around the bay from the city. 

While many rally participants anchored off the town many chose the expansive bay off the resort.


The Lodge was very accommodating to cruisers with the use of a swimming pool and a great lounge

S/v Desperado, s/vBriana, s/vStrider and s/vAriel
enjoy a first class meal ashore in the Lodge

Ellie s/v Desperado makes a desperate attempt to wash the sand off her feet before dining at the eloquent Eco Lodge


The last anchorage off the Eco Lodge in Labuan Bajo before leaving the island of Flores

Many cruisers had continued on to the islands of Rinca and Komodo while others made there way to an optional rally stop 70nm north in Makassar.

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