August 25, 2007
(Steph) We left Riung intending to do three day hops to reach Labuan Bajo, the western-most stop on Flores where we'd jump off to explore the Komodo islands. Our first stop was going to be a calm anchorage called Lingeh, tucked up behind a reef. Flores is a really long island from east to west, and there aren't that many great anchorages there -- most of them are pretty exposed to swell from the north or east, so we thought the reef at Lingeh might give us a little protection. But we had been sent a text message from friends who had stopped there a few days previously: "Were visited from over-curious locals. NOT COOL." So we were expecting a bit more of the same hello-mister, seven-kids-to-a-canoe, five-canoes-hovering-while-you-try-to-drop-the-anchor kind of place that we'd encountered in many other anchorages.
As we were making our last few miles into the anchorage, another boat ahead of us had already dropped his anchor and had mentioned that it was nice and calm. About 15 minutes later, however, he radioed back and said he was picking up anchor and heading out to find another spot: "As soon as I dropped the hook about 12 people climbed on board and I couldn't get them off the boat. I'm outta here!" We were already a bit weary of tons of people, kids and adults alike, lining the caprails leaving us little privacy and testing the limits of our generosity, so we decided to give Lingeh a pass.
We sailed (at this point, you can expect that this actually means motored and if we were lucky managed to keep the drifter inflated enough for show) about five more miles along the coast and dropped the hook in a pretty exposed spot at Teluk Reo. The light wind held us pointed into the swell, which wasn't very big anyway, so we were relatively comfortable. No visitors and no other boats meant we had the place all to ourselves. As we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying sundowners, a huge, explosive boom echoed across the bay. It was so loud and violent that I was a bit afraid to turn around and see where it came from -- whatever it was, it had to be bad.
As I scanned the beach and rocky cliffs on shore, I expected to see a car on fire or an airplane on the beach, having just fallen from the sky. But then I noticed a smoky, ashy cloud rising from the hillside. What we had just heard was a volcano letting off a little steam! Yes, we had anchored at the foot of a live volcano. I nervously made a joke about being glad we were upwind so that noxious gasses released from the Earth's belly wouldn't poison us. After a period of quiet, we decided to stay, and that was the last we heard from the volcano for the rest of the night.
(Wojo) For anyone interested in Reo Bay as an alternative to Lingeh Flores here's a few more details: our approximate anchorage position was 08 17.07 S 120 30.053 E in 25 feet of black sand with good holding. The bottom gradually slopes up from around 65 feet when you are half a mile off.
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