I don’t know about you, but Leslie’s stories are boring me. Really? An entire post about a pharmacy pickup? After that post, I stole the computer away and told her its confiscated for the foreseeable future. Someone has to take charge around here.
Guess where we are! Guess! Guess! No wait, I can’t wait for you to guess….we are in KOMODO! Have you heard about Komodo? There are dragons here! DRAGONS! Did you know they can eat an entire Cariboo in one sitting? They stalk you, then kill with their drool. Yep, killer, bacteria laden drool. One little scratch, then they just sit back and wait. One week later, their dinner is ready. I can’t wait to see a dragon. Not only that, I heard Leslie and Andrew talking, we are probably going to go Scuba Diving. You know I love Scuba Diving.
After Leslie’s most boring prescription and grocery odyssey, we set off across the Flores Sea to find a dragon. I drag behind Sonrisa, trying to peek my head around to avoid watching her big ‘ole stern wobble around in the waves… Leslie says it’s not very nice to call Sonrisa’s stern a “big ole stern” or describe it as “wobbling” but I am just calling it like I see it. It wobbles.
Stop interrupting me, Leslie.
We pass remote island villages, dry, grassy islands. Every now and then, we get tugged into a current and Sonrisa swings uncontrollably right, then left, I pretend I’m slalom skiing in her wake, curling around the whirlpool we are caught in. Why not? We reach the far South point of the island we are aiming for (Siaba Basar) when suddenly, Sonrisa stops. Well, she doesn’t stop exactly, but she doesn’t move forward either. I can hear her engine purring at full strength, her genoa sail is out, and there is enough wind we should be cooking along at five knots, but as I look at the island to the right of us, we aren’t making way. Who stopped? Maybe the island stopped. I burrow my bow in the water - just as a test! I’m not going to sink! - and rushing water burbles up and over into my bilge. White water rapids move on either side of us.
“Sonrisa! Go!” I call out. I’m so excited to see Dragons. Why have we stopped???
“I’m trying, I’m trying, it's the current!” She responds, I can see her leaning forward with effort, her engine increasing RPMs. Yet, we aren’t going anywhere, in fact….uh-oh.
“Sonrisa! Faster! I think we are going backwards!” Now, the island that had stopped moving isn’t going forward to back, but instead backward to forward. We are sliding backward in the current - toward the island. “Son——RIIIIIISSSSS—-_AAAA!” Kitty jiggles on my stern, feeling a bit nervous as well. I’m a great bumper for Sonrisa when squid barges come for a visit, but I don’t think I can fend off a whole island.
Andrew and Leslie tack the sail and change directions. This helps as we start to make headway away from the island, but we are still skittering sideways, pushed in the current. What the heck!? It’s mid-moon, so these tides are supposed to be the lighter of the monthly circuit. How bad are tides during full and new moon? We change plans, tack again, and coast with the current to the other side of the island. Maybe we can approach the anchorage from the other way? We make a water-speed record coasting in the current of 9.9 knots. “Whahoooeeyyyyyyy!”
Then, we loop around and try the island from the other side - protected from another landmass that should break up the current. Nope. Rejected. The current continues to stop us in our tracks and spit us out backwards again and again. Captain Andrew isn’t much for giving up, but I can hear Leslie grumbling about getting back to Labuan Bajo before dark, regrouping and trying again tomorrow.
Around 3:30 p.m., we cease fighting the current and flow backwards to another island a few miles away with a mooring ball at easy access. Defeat. Andrew grabs the mooring, scratching his head and puzzling how exactly anyone is supposed to reach the area of the island we want to go to. An old phrase from Andrew’s Maine-Family upbringing springs to mind:
“Yah can’t get theah from heah!”
Luckily, we have a bit of internet, so we google search the tides and learn that today’s tides are just really big and both tides run North (against us). It’s just the ebb tide is slightly less strongly North than the flowing tide. So, we make plans to wake early at 5 a.m. and make our way in the gentler ebb tide to the anchorage we are aiming for.
Success. By 7 a.m., we pick up a mooring ball and wait. Apparently, they aren’t going to let me take them diving after all. A dive company will be picking them up instead. How do you like that? As we wait, a gaggle of wooden ships gather around us, filling dive tanks with compressors and readying their divers to go below the surface. As we wait, one of the wooden ships attempts to make entry into the anchorage, gets carried sideways in the current, and is deposited high and dry on top of the reef. Sonrisa and I look at each other, a bit uneasy. That could have easily been us.
Soon, the dive ship plucks Andrew and Leslie from Sonrisa’s deck and we are left to sit and wait. You know I hate waiting. We shout moral support to the high and dry wooden boat, encouraging him to wait for the rising tide. I'd go help, but I know I'd get in trouble if I untied from Sonrisa. He looks uncomfortable, but is otherwise unharmed. I scan the shoreline for dragons, but I don’t see any. It’s not a beach, but covered in jungle, so my view is impinged.
Andrew and Leslie dive with Turtles, Manta rays and a big Octopus that blends in perfectly.
I’m feeling a bit mischievous as I see the dive boat approaching for a return so I stretch myself out on my long tether and tuck in beneath Sonrisa’s bow. It’s a bit of an unusual spot for me; they’ll never think to look there. As I hoped, I can hear a bit of a kurfluffle on board the dive boat “Oh, no. Where’s Grin!? Grin?! GRIN!?!?” Leslie sounds a bit panicked and the guilt gets the better of me, so I emerge from my hiding spot. “SURPRISE!” I don’t think Leslie found it very funny, but I did! That will teach them not to take me diving.
We relax for the night, then head to Komodo island the next morning. We are inundated by a gaggle of trinket salesmen, 2, 4, 6, then 10, then 12 little fishing canoes arrive selling the same hand painted wooden bowls, plastic/shell bowls, strings of pearls. and carved wooden dragons. Hoping to each sell us something, they request Andrew buy a little dragon for $50. I shake my head, too high, fellas, too high. Pretty soon, every available rail space on Sonrisa is covered with options for purchase and the fellas have moved on to addressing only Leslie. She’s bound to crack. What lady doesn’t want a string of pearls.
Andrew negotiates the $15.00 purchase of a wooden bowl and carved dragon Leslie names Thelma, then Leslie reaches down and pops Sonrisa’s engine on. There’s no way we can make all twelve trinket salesmen happy. It’s just not going to happen. There’s a collective moan of surprise and disappointment when we drop the mooring ball and motor away, twelve trinket salesmen and me. I WANT TO SEE THE DRAGONS! Andrew promises we will see them soon.
It takes Osmond and Tasman five minutes to claim the bowl as their perfectly sized “critter canoe”. Now Tasman doesn’t do her rolly-polly thing.
We reposition ourselves at the base of Padar Island, where Andrew and Leslie make several laps to take photographs at just the right light: golden hour, sunset hour, and the next day at noon for the turquoise blue ocean hour. Padar is stunningly beautiful and different under any light. A pink sand beach, black sand beach and white sand beach all from one view. But dragons? Still no dragons.