Indonesia, Raja Ampat (click) 

Wayag, Kawe, Yangello, Arborek, Friwen, Waisai, Kabui Bay, Waigeo &

Sorong, West Papua

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After A Hard

passage to windward and against the current, we arrived at Wayag on October 10, 2015.

Here

we settled into our own private bay in lovely sand. Our only neighbors, the wildlife around us. A park office was miles distant and visiting liveaboard dive boats occupied moorings much closer to the entrance.

Wayag

is a park but it is not, according to another vessel we met, a no take zone. Gone is the dynamiting but fishing vessels did show up at least once at night and skim the lagoon for suitable prey.

Wayag

has an amazing inner lagoon that is seldom visited as their are few places to hang a hook.

We Spent

our days exploring this little paradise and letting the strong winds outside blow overhead.

Jake

loved it.

A Must Do

at Wayag is to climb Mt. Pindito. It looks more difficult than it is, though the trail does go straight up. No switchbacks!

On Our Ascent

we missed this turn. Duh.

So We Went

straight up the last incline. We found the right trail for our descent, thankfully.

The View

is amazing.

Looking South and East

the liveaboard boat Shakti rests on the mooring.

Looking West

may be even more dramatic. This is the way we came in.

Takitimu

was a small Wharram with two Johns aboard; rock climbing partners on an Indonesian adventure. They sailed from Darwin, but John (owner) is a Kiwi and John (crew) is from Ireland. If you look carefully you can spot their belaying rope on the cliff face behind the boat.

The Inner

lagoon has dozens of rock mountains. Few if any have names.

In a Few

places we found ancient mangroves, likely home to crocs. We didn't venture into the water anywhere near these tiny enclaves.

What Is it?

Leslie thought it was a seahorse but it turns out to be a member of the same family - a pipefish. Corythoichthys schultizi! A tiny beauty.

Prehistoric

for sure. We still don't know what this guy is. He was clinging to a rock just below the high tide line.

Our Last Full

day at Wayag was a relaxing one and we took the time to go to our beach, cut hair and do a bit of beach combing.

Departure

day dawned eerily due to fires in some far off location that was creating haze throughout the entire region.

Shellbacks Once Again

for the ninth time. As we moved south of Wayag, we crossed the equator at 130 east. The farthest west we had ever crossed it.

Kawe

was our next stop. The site of an abandoned mining operation, Kawe's beautiful landscape bears scars.

Underwater Near Carina

We had heard the snorkeling was good but we didn't find much....except a nice sea turtle. This box fish, however, was about 1 foot long!

Dynamite Crater?

Throughout the shallow reef area of Kawe we saw craters which may have been caused by blasting to quickly kill (and collect) fish. It might explain the relative barrenness of the scene and relatively small size of corals. This practice is now illegal throughout Raja Ampat.

Going South

we snagged a mackerel between Minyaifun and Yangello. Jake was quite pleased with the catch.

At Yangello

we settled in for a few days. Here the birds were incredible, including a pair of white headed brown and black eagles that we have yet to identify. We were anchored in the "shallow" spot of 80'

Leslie Fell in Love

with christmas tree worms in the water at Yangello which she had never seen. Dozens of photos now rest in our archives.

Arborek

was our next spot. A tiny spot of coral rubble in the middle of the Dampier Strait, currents run swiftly past this neat little village. Notice the sign to "dress politely".

Arborek's

kids were gleeful and loved the waters around them. Unfortunately their teachers were not showing up...government workers gone astray.

A Designated

tourist destination, Arborek was kept neat and tidy. Be sure to find Githa at the dive shop if you want to volunteer your time in the village.

There Were

even two tiny stores on the island that is roughly 48 acres. Notice the awareness of the marine environment...the manta ray, resident in the waters around the island - shows the children the proper way to dispose of trash.

Arborek's

old jetty is a favorite place for local dives to end.

Thousands of

oxeye scads live in the shallows and try to avoid predators.

The Predators

These blue trevalles were about a yard long! They would sweep through the shallows and the bay would erupt with fish desperately trying to escape.

A Favorite

of ours are always the butterflyfish. This is a blacklip.

One Amazing

site on the SW corner of the jetty was a station where bluestreak cleaning wrasse would groom other fish. We even saw them grooming a goat fish!

The Healthy

coral here maintains a wide variety of fish.

The Parrotfish

were particularly brightly colored. This isn't a good photo; they were quick to elude us and the camera.

Vibrant

soft corals flourish on the posts of the old jetty

This Creature

is a...shimp? Lobster? We don't know. Yet.

Another

butterflyfish brings a smile to our faces.

It Looks

like a nudibranch...

A Sunset

wrasse?

This

cute little damselfish was caught in the act of snacking.

This is

also a wrasse with gorgeous detail around its eye.

A LOOOOONG

slog against the current (up to and sometimes more than 4 knots and whirlpools!) brought us to Friwen. Another tiny island in the Dampier Strait.

Strong Currents

brought by spring tides kept Carina facing east or west, just off the jetty. The arrival of wet season, also brought us water and we were finally able to do some laundry.

All Over

Oceania, gas bottles are used as village bells. This bell rings each morning at 6 am.

Houses

in West Papua are simple and sit on low foundations just above the sand. You can see why these people are concerned about rising ocean levels.

At Friwen

the information center was brightly painted. The sea is an everyday part of the lives of these islanders

And the

children are sweet and inquisitive, but a little shy.

At Friwen

we found the Kalabia. A wonderful program that visits every village in Raja Ampat with its marine education program targeted to the youth of Raja Ampat.

On Board

was Manus, an instructor, and also the uncle of Jawi a boy who is featured in a film about the Kalabia. With Manus' help, we were able to show the film to the villagers at Friwen.

All the Kids

from Friwen and Yenbeser across the pass were aboard when we visited. A few children, like Jawi, travel with the Kalabia around Raja Ampat in a type of marine "camp".

The Kalabia's

program includes a workbook in the form of a "passport". It has lessons, worksheets and songs. Children also are taught to snorkel their reefs, participate in projects and even paint t-shirts with pictures of the marine life they learn about.

While Snorkeling

at Friwen, Leslie spotted an endemic epaulette shark, locally known as a "kalabia". It scooted under this coral before she could turn on the camera, so all you can see is its tail.

Another Reef

creature, a dangerous one, is the lionfish. This is a juvenile who was not the least bit afraid and actually was a bit threatening.

This Crazy

looking worm was about four feet long when stretched out. The protuberance was later retracted. The high school principal at Waisai could not tell me the name but said they stay in one place and do not swim. Locals do not eat them as they eat many other kinds of sea worms. Later Sophie Mller Hansen, crew of Furthur, identified it as a Spotted Worm Sea Cucumber (size to 4'!). That's my boy.

At 0430 am

one morning, Simon from Yenbeser collected us on the boat and took us into the lagoon and deep into the jungle to see the Red Paradise birds. We got a fantastic display.

Mating Ritual

on display. These birds of paradise were in a tree only 40 or so feet away. The male is the larger and more colorful.

Brightly colored

and with two bright blue feather adaptors emanating from his wings, the male tries to impress the female by fluttering his wings.

Another antic

the male used was to push his head forward, back and forth on each side of the branch.

Two males

vie for the female's attention.

Success?

It looks the male has mounted the female in this shot.

After the Mating

game was over, Simon wanted to show Lorna (of Mind the Gap) the right way to woo a woman.

Lorna

was happy to join in the fun.

Alfred Russel Wallace

came to Raja Ampat and Yenbeser in particular. It was fun to see the Paradise Birds in the same place he came to study them. Unfortunately, he "collected" them. This is a replica of the cabin he stayed in.

The Yenbeser

lagoon was beautiful and birdsong echoed off its limestone cliffs.

On Our Way

out we spotted a magnificent Papua Hornbill! The camera was tucked away at the time...rats!

Simon's Canoe

was sealed with a glue we'd seen in Micronesia...styrofoam dissolved in gasoline...The canoe was stable, almost water tight and drew little water.

Simon

propelled his canoe with a unmuffled long shaft outboard and used his paddle as a rudder.

Before Going

back to the boat, Simon took us for a tour of Yenbeser village.

Where

the children were curious about us visitors but extremely shy.

On Sunday November 1

nine days too late for the local festival we arrived at Waisai, where we tied to a dock for the first time in two months. A young man from the tourist office - Berjons - soon showed up to greet us. Here we will reprovision, buy fuel and visit a school.

Waisai

is the capital of the 12 year old regency of Raja Ampat. Its tourism staff is wonderful and even though we arrived behind the other rally boats, they welcomed us warmly and made our stay great. Sherly is on the left, Husna on the right. Lucy in the middle is from the Manokwari office of tourism; she was visiting Waisai.

Amongst the Bagful

of lovely gifts were hats, brochures, shirts and a magnificent book of photography. We LOVED Raja Ampat before we had the chance to show it publicly!

Our First Stop

was the traditional market in the town - about a 30 minute walk - for fresh food. We had to make sure we didn't buy too much since we were feeling a little veggie-starved.

We Inquired

at a local hotel about a taxi to bring us and our groceries back to Carina and were told that we would have to hire a car at 100,000 rupiah (almost $7 USD!) for our short trip back. When we sounded shocked, the hotel called us two motorbikes which would cost us about $1.40 each. Aladin was one of our drivers. He drove very well and spoke perfect English, so we made sure we had his contact information. In return he wanted a "selfie".

Provisions

always occupy our time when we are in port. In a small town in Indonesia, getting basics like diesel - called solar there - can be a challenge. Sherly from Tourism called and hired Erwin for us. He was a great driver, worked hard for us, and knew all the little places for us to acquire what we needed.

Jawi

is a 9th grade student from Sawinggrai. He was the boy in the film about the Kalabia we'd been asked to show. We tracked him down through his uncle and through one of the high school English teachers. Jawi had not yet seen the film.

Our Role

was to help the students to pronounce English words correctly. We first read the materials out loud and then coached individual teams of students as they read conversations.

We Visited

a total of three classes. The kids were as enthusiastic about our visit as we were.

Our English Teacher

host was Jajang Kusnara, known to most as JJ. After helping coach students in English pronunciation and showing the film about the Kalabia featuring Jawi, JJ insisted we lunch on traditional food. The specialty was papeda, a chewy food made from sagu that is eaten with luscious "yellow fish soup" (ikan kuah kuning).

JJ

had to show us how to separate a small meal-sized portion of papeda from the bowlful we were served.

The Kitchen

staff even allowed us to watch the papeda and yellow fish soup being prepared.

One Interesting

event we attended was a shooting by the Asian Cooking Channel. We'd seen them on Monday morning at the dock near Carina where they were shooting scenes introducing Raja Ampat and departing by boat to cook and film at one of its islands. The tourism department invited us to come along for this shooting and we enjoyed watching the "show".

The Featured Professional

chefs were Toby Pottuck, from Melbourne, Australia and Rinrin Marinka from Jakarta. Here they talk to the cameras.

The Women

of Saporkren village, a few miles down the coast, were featured in the show. Dressed in Papuan batik, they made an exquisite team of chefs.

Helga

and her team made ikan kuah kuning. She complimented the method and ingredients in Toby's version of this favorite Indonesian soup. Helga runs a new eco-friendly homestay - or guesthoust - called Papuarts Alter-Native Stay in Saporkren.

Daud's Homestay

Daud Mayor owns a few modest shacks ashore where people can homestay for rph 500,000 per night (about $30 USD)

Ungainly Looking Fishing Boats...

are really a number of bankas lashed together under which nets will be strung.

Storm Brewing

We didn't like the lightening but the rain was very welcome since it filled our tanks.

Obicular Cardinal Fish (spharamia orbicularis)

These fish were in the shadows of a limestone roof.

More Cardinal Fish

This photo gives a better view of the details of the fish

Gorgonian Fan...

in a vibrant red under the shadow of our dinghy.

A Kabui Bay Sunset

lights up the sky.

Kabui Bay's

Many karst islands gave us dozens of places to explore.

Clear Water,

coral and a likely triangular butterflyfish.

Red and Blue Christmas Tree

worms decorate this coral.

Soft Coral

waving in strong current with an azure demoiselle damsel fish (Chrysiptera hemicyanea).

Hard Coral

and a magnificent pennant bannerfish (Heniochus chrysostomus). We spent a long time patiently watching these magnficent fish so they would get used to our presence and inch closer to our camera.

Pennant Banner Fish

Possibly one male and one female. Our fish book doesn't show a non-striped bannerfish and we saw two or three of these pairs at just one snorkeling site at Kabui Bay.

An Underwater Vista

with a cloud of reef fish...probably fusiliers.

A Lone Archer Fish

tries to cruise by Leslie's camera. Archer fish are a highlight of the kabui pass. These fish cruise the shallows under the trees looking for insects in the air above the water. They capture their prey by shooting a stream of water up into the air...thus "archer" fish. They're grouchy looking characters

A School of Archer Fish

We've seen films of how these fish spit a stream of water above the surface in order to knock down insests to the water surface but didn't see the spectacle ourselves.

Sunlight Filters Down

to the bottom illuminating the bright coral. The Kabui Pass is at the boundary of two highly fecund ecosystems - the tropical jungle and the coral reef.

An Anemone Fish

peeks out from its protective home in the anemone.

Pink

Gorgonian coral waves in the current and sits on a stone covered in glittering marine life.

The Purple and White

coral had especially vibrant colors.

A Riot of Colors.

The Kabui Pass was the best snorkeling we've ever had.

Leather Soft Coral

litters a sea bottom shimmering in the overhead light filtering through the forest.

A Pearly Monocle Bream

(Sclopsis margaritifer) sits in the ultra clear shallows of the pass where waters run swiftly.

The Tunicate

and the fan make a beautiful scene.

Sponges

were particularly beautiful in the pass. This one was about five feet tall.

Yet Another

brilliant underwater scene.

A Huge Plum Colored

barrel sponge was as big as a waste basket.

A Coral Wall

lit up with color and teaming with life.

We Could

tell if this soft coral bush was harboring a creature. Maybe. But if not, still magnficent.

We Liked the Way

the brillian beam of sunlight lit up this gorgonian coral.

These

strange creatures are supposed to be able to spread their legs and walk. I believe this happens at night.

Another View

of a large barrel sponge tucked in the shadow of the undercut limestone cliff above.

Soft coral

like cotton candy illuminated through the trees.

This Coral

was draped on the sea bed.

A Barrel Sponge

with soft coral in the background.

Sunlight

plays across the sea bed.

We've Decided

that we like soft coral better than hard.

The Soft Coral

in the foreground out-shines everything around it.

This Scene

was calming.

The Abyss

of a barrel sponge harboring guests.

Afternoon

showers often chased us home; particularly if we could hear thunder rumbling nearby.

Our Outboard

engine seemed to be working better until one day it just died. Problem seemed to be with an aging fuel hose. Philip got his exercise this day.

Eight Days

after arriving Kabui, we finally reluctantly picked up anchor and departed. As we went by the fishing village nearby, the morning sun was just starting to warm up their homes.

Back at Friwen

we settled into an idyllic spot, hovering in deep water just yards off the public beach where we had many vistors.

Including Those

those of the avian variety. We watched this magnificent guy fish one morning.

Other

visitors were the munchkins who were mostly shy and played on the beach, swimming, climbing trees and justs being good kids. Though, once they discovered we had an ample supply of candy aboard they would come to visit us at the boat.

These

kids were great fun to watch. When it rained buckets, they were smart enough to get in the sea where the water was much warmer than that falling from the sky.

And Rain

it did. We more than filled our water tanks, got all of our laundry done and our jerry cans filled.

An Easy

quiet overnight motorsail brought us to Sorong, a bustling city on the world's second largest island of Papua where we would find government offices necessary for checking out of Indonesia. It also allowed us to fix our ailing engine starter motor.

In Sorong

we had a long list of things to accomplish; the most important of which was to get our starter motor repaired or replaced. Philip is ready.

Key to

our successful visit to Sorong was Victor Saputra whose people fixed our starter and supplied us with fuel, fuel filters. Without Victor's cheerful competent help, navigating Sorong might have been impossible. We were very lucky to meet and get to know this ambitious (and nice) young entrepreneur.

Low Freeboard

was a distinctive feature of fishing boats tied to the fisherman's wharf in Sorong. Sometimes the deck was actually awash as they motored by.

We Also

caught up with the only other rally boat still around in Indonesia - Mystic Rhythms - with Richard and Claudie aboard.

Our Quest

to show the IMAX film to those who participated in its creation was culminated when we met Mykee Hadala. Mykee was instrumental in developing the sound track, including recruiting those locals with magnificent singing voices. We enjoyed watching the movie over lunch and hearing a running commentary of events and people.

Our Last

evening in Sorong brought with it a classic sunset. Victor said that as long as he lived in Sorong, he still appreciated the fantastic sunsets here.

Sorong

wasn't easily left. At 0530 am we tried to pull our anchor up and found a colosal mess attached, including about 30' of 1" nylon three strand line and a full sized anchor...plus other disgusting things. This man helped to untangle us and went away with all the loot.

Momfafa

sits at the far eastern end of Waigeo in Raja Ampat. There are no permanent settlements and we settled in here watching waves smash into its reef and wide beach and the occasional turtle. Here we prepared for our crossing to Palau while waiting on weather - that is on any wind at all.