Saturday, October 12, 2013


Finally after 17 days of passage from Vanuatu to Indonesia, we were able to stop at an Indonesian island called Kei Besar. Again our anchor would not hold but we spotted a mooring ball close to a cement dock at a small village. We figured it would be okay to use it for a short visit (S05°49.295' E132°54.203').We could see a village and people waving on the dock so we took the dinghy ashore even though we had not yet officially checked in to Indonesia. This was only a small village and there would be no officials.

As we dinghied in, we saw loads of starfish covering the sandy ocean floor. They looked like the chocolate chip starfish and were everywhere. We have never seen so many in 1 area.

Once ashore, we were assured that it was okay to use the mooring ball for awhile and through body language more than anything were invited to walk the streets and take in the sights. Soon we noticed a gaggle of curious but shy children, all dressed in motley typical contemporary attire. Their diffidence was quickly replaced with excitement as we beckoned them to pose for photos. How they squealed with the thrill of seeing themselves on the camera!


A friendly elderly local man indicated for us to follow him for a tour around their lovely village. As we started to walk, we were followed by all the children, and with each step, more seemed to accumulate making us feel like the Pied Piper!

We inquired how to say Hello in Indonesian and the reply was Hello. Thinking we were misunderstood, we asked again with the same reply. We weren't sure why they didn't understand our question but later learned that Hello is actually Hallo in the Indonesian language! The very slight difference in pronunciation did not register with us.

The village, set within a backdrop of verdant tropical jungle, was a composite of 2 areas separated by about a half kilometre walkway. One was predominantly Muslim and the other Christian. We walked uphill and downhill, along a concrete walkway, past neatly kept gardens, and ending at a beach. The chortling children would sing and skip along, always beaming with gaiety. I had 2 girls, 1 on each side of me, with a 3rd jostling for position. We were definitely a novelty and I felt very special indeed.

1 follower posing as I wandered ahead

Some of the kids would stop to easily collect and eat baby mangoes along the walkway, another found a large nut and smashed it open with a large rock and then gobbled it down, and 1 youngster would move her hands like wildfire as she sang or spoke in Indonesian. There was constant movement and sound within the group, as well as clucking chickens and honking ducks. What fun!

Finding baby mangoes in dense forest

We passed by some type of root vegetable that was drying in the sun in woven baskets for later consumption. As to what it exactly was seemed to be lost in translation.

Drying root vegetable

We were given permission to collect a 'nafara' for later consumption from the luscious rainforest that was our canopy. (A nafara is a sprouting coconut that we so love the taste of.)

As we returned, we took a different path leading down to the beach. We saw only 1 outrigger among all the canoes which seems to be the desired type of transportation and working boat in this part of the world. We then went back up the path and when looking down to the ocean saw a passenger/ferry boat filled to the rim with people - and we were on his mooring ball!! No worries. He had tied up in tandem to the mooring ball with enough line to just clear our stern.

Loaded with passengers returning from main island

We quickly hurried back to the village pier so we could return to Sea Turtle. But we stopped when we heard delightful chorus emanating from the schoolhouse. There, a teacher leading the children with his guitar had his students in full delightful melody and the children with us joined in.

As we arrived at the dock, we noticed dozens of small motorbikes, the only means of transportation on the path-like roads of the island. Friends and/or relatives had gathered to greet the disembarking boat passengers. The tide was out so longboats were shuttling the passengers ashore over the shallows.

Arriving passengers

We hurried to Sea Turtle, then Jordan joined in the offloading with our dinghy to the delight of many. The boat was FULL of people waiting for a ride. As they waited, people stared at me, with little conversation. Finally, someone who could speak a little English started a conversation with me and asked if he could come aboard. The ferry boat and Sea Turtle were so close together that he could just step across from his bow to our stern. I agreed, wanting to reciprocate the village's hospitality. He had someone take many photos of him standing by me (we later found out that he was the Captain of the ferry).

Do you think they are regulated for safety?

And then everyone was snapping pictures of Sea Turtle and me - so of course I took photos of them also! So many photos taken, everyone smiling, waving, posing, trying to communicate with just a bit of English and body language.

Jordan on ferry

Once Jordan returned to our boat, a couple came down below to see Sea Turtle's interior before we were on our own. Then only the crew was left on the ferry. Oddly enough, they all sat on the bow and watched everything we did as we tidied up the ropes, the deck, the cockpit, etc. Like being on Candid Camera! Finally we went below just to get some privacy.

When the tide rose, the crew said we could stay on the mooring ball and the ferry went in to the dock and tied up. We quickly showered on deck, au naturel with no one around. Then we sat in the cockpit with wine, cheese, and crackers - reminiscing on what an unusual and great day we had - the joys of a sailing life!

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