|1600hrs: Martin and I go ashore and head for the Telephone Office. Ring Darwin Radio who state they don’t pass messages anymore. Perth Radio now does this and we’ll have to ring them. Give them a report of our situation just in case anybody asks and they give me the Perth Radio number. The Darwin operator says he’ll notify Perth in half an hour to tell them we’re okay just in case we can’t get through.
Ring Perth Radio and get them on the line. Explain our situation to them e.g. broken radio, and ask for our message. Our friend and neighbour Mr Dave Fields wants to contact us. Perth Operator says he’ll contact Dave in half an hour and tell him we’re okay just in case we can’t get through.
Ring Dave and get him on the line after talking to his answering machine for a little bit. There had been some concerns at home from family members about not hearing from us, and they’d asked Dave to find out if we were okay. Give Dave all our details and tell him we’ll make phone calls to family members tomorrow.Job done. Anxiety relieved, no bad news, nothing serious had happened. Return to the Harapan Indah hotel. Ronnie, who is Mama’s daughter and manageress of the hotel tells us that the whole of Saumlaki is without fresh water. It has to be ordered and paid for two days prior but she assures us there is enough for us to have a mandy. Whew!
1800hrs: Get a cold bottle of Bintang beer and head back out to the boat. Give it to the girls who have been busy getting things together to go ashore. Such a simple thing you would think but you must remember essentials like Doxycycline, mossie coils, money, laundry, moisturiser, toiletries and even toilet paper.
Left: Empties to be taken back to shore. Crew try to persuade the skipper that some of these must have spilled. When that failed then some were empty because they’d been decanted … yeah right!
1900hrs: Went to visit our usual little rumah makan – restaurant, but its closed. Must be Muslim to be closed on a Saturday night. An amplified call to prayers issues from a local mosque as we wander around, lending a certain atmosphere to the night. No street lighting except for what comes out of the open shops.
Buy some hot battered banana fritters from a warung – roadside stall for Rp250 each. The Padang restaurant provides a tasty feed for the three of us costing Rp21750 (A$3.60) including 3 small bottles of aqua. Martin returned at a later time for a feed and a large bottle of Bintang, a packet of Garam cigarettes and a black coffee for Rp15700 (A$2.60).
Evening: Sit around and chat on the boat deck but we’re all pretty tired so bed went off to bed early.
Sun 20 Sep 98
Delma and Ann ring respective families. Mission successful. They also organise an expedition to one of the outlying villages where they do wood carvings. They couldn’t remember the name of the village later, but was most likely Tumbur which is renowned for its carvings in the Tanimbars.
While the girls are out tootling around the country, Martin and I top up fuel and water tanks on the boat and check the stuffing box. It’s been running hot lately as not enough water has been getting through to cool the bearing. Not much cause for concern though as the packing is teflon and graphite impregnated. Also using marine grease with it. Back off the securing nut a little bit on the stuffing box to release the pressure on the packing, which should let a little more water through. Should be okay now touch wood.
1330hrs: Complete our tasks on Lowana IV and return ashore.
Have used 100 ltrs of diesel for 74.5 hrs engine running time. That works out to 1.34 ltr/hr. Very happy with that considering some of the weather we’ve gone through!
1400hrs: Meet up with the girls who have returned from their shopping expedition for wood carvings. Ronnie couldn’t arrange for a bemo for them, so she took the girls out to the village herself in the hotel’s ute. They bought some very nice carvings and more head baskets. Had a lovely time.
Also went up to the top of a hill overlooking Saumlaki Harbour where Ronnie and her husband are building a house. She invited the girls to come and stay next time at the house.
1445hrs: Leave the hotel for a late lunch but our preferred restaurant is shut. Only one place is open so we have a meal there. Quite nice. Return to the hotel for a snooze.
1800hrs: The terrible trio go out to boat with the clean laundry. While the girls sort things out below, I climb the mast to straighten the wind vane at the top which is crooked. It’s been giving me the irrits. Also tighten up the lashings on the radar reflector in the crosstrees as it’s been banging on the shrouds.
1840hrs: The girls finish their sorting jobs and packing stuff away. Return to shore.
Evening: Have a lovely meal at the hotel again. The Lonely Planet book has it all wrong about this particular hotel when it comes to the food. It’s just excellent. The cook is really good and a delightful middle aged lady. Can be a bit embarrassing though the way she bows and kneels to give you a cuppa or food. She’s obviously been taught in the old school. The younger ones to my mind tend to be a bit sullen at times.
Mon 21 Sep 98
Morning: Visit the Harbour Masters Office and get our clearance for Darwin. No problems. He just asked where we’d been the last few weeks and didn’t ask why we hadn’t gone to the Kai Islands.
The girls do some shopping. Martin asks a steward named Jamie to collect some beer and cigarettes. We pay up our hotel bills and Ronnie drives us all down to the main wharf with our shopping and stuff. A policeman stops us at the wharf gate. First one I’ve actually seen in uniform on duty around the place. He follows us down the wharf to watch us cast off.
Drop Martin off at the boat and return for the girls. Big waves and smiles from Ronnie, the policeman and a tribe of hangers-on. Out to the boat. Uneventful embarking and debarking the dinghy. It’s when everybody’s looking that mishaps seem to occur.
MORE TO FOLLOW