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August 16, 2005

Xing to Sumbawa

DAY: 62
LOCATION: Komodo Island - NW tip
LATITUDE : S 8 degs, 26.16'
LONGITUDE: E 119 degs, 27.20'

By the time we finally rolled into camp here on the NW tip of Komodo the evening before last it was already dark. We'd had a long haul across the northern coastline of Komodo island and we were both exhausted. Paddling in the afternoon means we have the sun in our faces which seems to take it out of us all the more.

So yesterday we decided to rest up and regain our strength for the big crossing of Selat Sape, a 7 mile stretch of potentially turbulent water between here and Gili Banta, a stepping stone island for us to reach the island of Sumbawa, a further 15 odd miles the other side. It's crucial for us to get the timing right in terms of tide and the wind, otherwise we might find ourselves being swept out to the north by an incoming tide of 8+ knots that will make for a very long (i.e. 30+ miles) crossing all the way to the NE tip of Sumbawa. This wouldn't be good.

We plan on leaving our deserted beach here in a few hours at around 12 noon local time. Low water is at around 2pm so hopefully we'll hit slack water midway into our xing. And if the wind does come up (forecast for force 3-4) the at least it'll be going the same direction as the tide after 2pm, avoiding an incomfortable (and potentially hazardous) wind versus tide scenario when the waves can get really big.

It's also been nice to linger a little longer in the truly wonderful Komodo National Park, which takes in several outer lying islands in addition to the two main ones of Komodo and Rinca. Apart from it's incredible natural beauty (people haven't been allowed to trash it), two of the most attractive aspects have been the lack of insects (no mosquitos, and just a handful of ants) and abnsence of people. It's been fantastic to have the isolated beaches all to ourselves, without the threat of locals pouncing on our privacy with the customary (and now quite wearing) 'Hello Meester'! Once we reach Sumbawa it'll be back to the fishbowl experience, I suspect all the way up to Singapore. We're leaving the wilderness now and the further west we go the more locals.

Posted on August 16, 2005 1:13 AM