Our stop in Labuan Bajo was motivated by the need to extend our visas to a total of 60 days in Indonesia. This visa extension process turned out to take longer than expected.
We had almost given up hope of catching a glimpse of the giant manta rays in Komodo National park when we came across a local who pointed us in the right direction. After a bit of swimming around, Byron pointed after one that he glimpsed and Dan dove after it. Sinking deeper and deeper, fixated on trying to get a good shot, the ray slipped farther and farther out of range. Dan, realizing he was out of breath and about 30 feet deep, turned around only to be face to face with five of these majestic creatures at point blank range. Already oxygen deprived a wave of shock and fear coursed through him immediately followed by a calm as the group of giant manta rays (easily twice his size) glided by respectfully.
At long last after nearly a week of sailing through the Sumba straight from Kupang we have arrived at daybreak to the island cluster belonging to the Komodo National Park. The current through this area was so strong we found ourselves having to inch our way through with the tides. After anchoring near an outer island and waiting for the current to change in our favor, we are now anchored at Komodo Island in the heart of the park. These islands appear to be volcanic in their origin and host little vegetation. Adventure awaits.
Today we set sail for the port of Labuanbajo, where we will get our visas extended to 60 days. This should be a 3-4 day sail but we are expecting it to take longer as the NW monsoon season makes this area very light with winds. As such we have stocked up on sanding pads, varnish, brushes and hoses so Dan can get some varnish work done and Byron van install a saltwater washdown while floating around in the middle of the ocean. Just west of Labuanbajo lies the island of Komodo. And yes it is the home of the famous Komodo dragon, the last of the living dinosaurs. We will sail there and check out the dinosaurs before heading to Bali.
Forced to leave Australia due to our expiring visas, we cast off hoping for wind and a quick four day journey to Indonesia. What we found were light winds and doldrums (characteristic of this time between monsoon seasons) and arrived in Kupang, Indonesia twelve days later.