Saturday, August 09, 2008

August 6, 2008 - Nemberala, Rote, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

We had a beautiful overnight sail from Kupang to Nemberala, a surf spot on the Southwestern corner of the island of Rote with a legendary 'left' known as T-land. The anchorage here is a little tricky to get into, as the charts don't show the reefs. But by keeping an eye on the wave occasionally breaking to our left as we approached the anchorage from the North, we were able to scoot around the reef and anchor behind a handful of other cruising boats.

Our Tuesday morning arrival was timed perfectly (and completely unintentionally) to take advantage of the local weekly market. As we cruised into the beach in the dinghy, fishermen leaned out of their boats waiving strands of pearls at us. As we pulled the dinghy up on the beach, a gentleman from Palau Ndao, an island situated 10km west of Nemberala, renowned for its silversmiths, approached us to show us some bracelets. All the jewelry was nice to look at, but what we were really after was a few eggs and tomatoes.

Nemberala is a cute little westernized Indonesian town - a result of catering to surfers. There is a bakery where you can order focaccia. The local restaurant serves burgers (when they remember to order buns from the bakery) and hashbrowns. And the resort at the end of the beach serves a mean margarita from its beautiful bar (this place has customer service down - when you sit down they hand you a pair of binoculars so you can check out the action out on the reef). We had a really fun time at the resort bar chatting with some folks from Adelaide, Australia, who have done more New England cruising than we have, a surf photographer (what a cool job), and a group that had just arrived from San Diego. Nemberala is not an easy place to get to and these people had all traveled a long way to get here. Unfortunately for them and Sten, the surf was not rewarding the effort they made to get here. The swell was minimal and forecast to stay that way for several days. Sten made the best of it and got out there and had some fun warm-up sessions in the small waves.

Walking the beach at low tide we found big knobby starfish and chards of coral. We also spotted some pigs foraging in the tidepools - free range pork, as Sten quipped. We watched the locals harvesting seaweed from the shoreline. In this arid region, where it is hard to grow vegetables in any abundance, seaweed provides an important source of vitamins and calcium. The seaweed is also a cash crop. It is shipped overseas to be used as a thickener in dairy products and a fat substitute in diet foods.

We joined some other cruisers for a few Bintangs and mie goreng (fried noodles) at the local restaurant. Over dinner we learned a very important phrase should we ever find ourselves in need of a beer in Australia: "I'm as dry as a dead dingo's donger." We've tucked that away with "spat the dummy," which translates essentially as 'threw a hissy fit.' Our Indonesian isn't making much progress but hanging out with all these Australian cruisers we're learning some colorful Aussie slang.

Additional boats released from bondage in Kupang arrived each day we were in Nemberala. Soon this serene spot started to feel crowded too and we felt the itch to move on and find our own wave.

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