Yesterday we went on a day trip out to two islands which were are about 5 and 7 nm away, they are named Ai and Run. Ai was the island that the English held in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds much to the chagrin of the Dutch who wanted a monopoly on the spice trade. The English encouraged insurrection and the illegal trading of the spices and were a thorn in the side of the Dutch for a long time. On our tour we first went to three snorkeling sites and I would say that the last site we visited was absolutely fantastic. it was probably the best snorkeling we have experienced, the combination of the numbers and variety of fish and the outstanding soft and hard corals were awesome. Barry said to tell you that we found Nemo, there he was hiding in the anemones, I wished I had taken the camera.
We went ashore on Ai island and saw the fortifications the English built to fight off the Dutch. The village was beautifully kept and the houses ranged from beautiful homes from the colonial era to subsistence living in traditional grass or bamboo huts. The old fort and the mansions have been overgrown and seem almost at the point of collapse. In an old sixteenth century home someone had put a door on the opening and was obviously living there. We found an old cannon at the top of the fortifications just lying there amid the pumpkin patch.
We were transported over to the islands in a traditional island craft. Other boats we have been on have motors that just have forward gear, so it is really tricky to land and offload us onto our boats. The driver has to cut the engine and coast up to the boat and then they fend our boat off and we clamour off as quickly as possible. Since they don’t have reverse they take a big long bamboo pole and push themselves off the bottom until they are in a position to start the motor and go forward. The boat we took over to the island had three 40 hp outboards on it and he could reverse without a problem. We had been contemplating taking our boat over to the islands but we are really glad we didn’t. There may be sandy beaches but the coral leads right up to shore, and it is about 1 and ½ meters deep. When you get to the edge of the reef it just drops off to more than 40 meters, leaving the only possibility of anchoring to throw out your anchor on the beautiful coral back up and hang out over the 40 meter section, not something we would ever contemplate.
We plan to leave for Wakatobi today, it is a marine park that is very difficult to get transportation to and is supposedly one of the top dive spots in the world. Wakatobi is the name of the area which is made up of 4 islands, Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko and it is located just south of the large island of Sulawesi. It should take us about 3 night to get there so hopefully I will be able to connect through win link and give you some updates on our position while underway.