Off the Grid, Literally

WIN_20141210_073514Sophie and Per Ardua left Yanggelo and motored 5 miles north to the Island of Pef where we are currently moored in a completely protected lagoon that does not appear on Navionics or CMAP charts. And when I say lagoon, I don’t mean a nice harbor protected by a fringing reef. I mean a cut in the cliffs that opens up into a half-mile long set of bays that are ringed by cliffs and deeply wooded banks of trees. It shows up on the Google Earth pictures of the area, but not on the charts. So I guess that means we are literally off the grid.

Check it out for yourself. 00.26.554 South, 130.26.623 East.

Before we left, we all went for a 2 hour float snorkel through the northern side of the pass at Yanggelo. Lots of fish and coral, and Jenna took photos. We’ve all been swimming for a couple of hours a day since we left Sorong. It’s awesome, and it will continue.

There is a small eco dive resort here on Pef called Raja 4 Divers, and they maintain a couple of moorings in the harbor. We went to visit the resort’s buildings on the other side of the island, and it is the nicest beach resort we’ve seen in our crossing of the Pacific. It was built 3 years ago by a German woman named Maya, they have ten bungalows located over a beach, and they have a resident artist who creates sculptures scattered across the grounds. All of the guests are German or Swiss, who come out for some of the best diving in the world.

Oh, and they let their boat guests use the wifi. 🙂

The water in the lagoon is like a pond. It’s deep, dark, and flat. Jenna and Mellia (the mother of Per Ardua) went off for a 2 hour paddleboard the other day. They explored reefs, cuts through mangroves, and towering pinnacles of rock. When they returned, the kids all took turns on our inflatable kayaks until dark. Then we gathered on Sophie for a communal meal: barbecued chicken, mac and cheese, cole slaw, bok choy, purple rice, and tofu sticks in a peanut sauce, all followed by some Trader Joe’s dark chocolate.

We did the same basic thing yesterday. For dinner, Jenna cooked handmade vegetarian wontons, accompanied by curried marlin in a coconut sauce with bamboo shoots, polenta, fried green beans, and coleslaw.

We have a large collection of Christmas music on Sophie, and you could easily hear it all the way across the pond. We are having fun nights.

It’s a sunny and clear morning here. I see no reason why we won’t spend at least another day. We want to get up to Wayag, which is 41 miles north of here. But we’ll probably do it in a couple of hops. Our days of rushing are over.

Unfortunately, our days of fishing might be over as well. According to Jeremy from Nalukai, Indonesia has been fished out of everything resembling the game fish we’ve been catching for the last 2 years. We might get a spanish mackeral or wahoo between here and Banda, but from there to Thailand will be pretty much nothing. I am still trying to internalize what this means for me. Maybe I’ll learn how to play the guitar. And for Easter we’ll eat the marlin tail that’s been hanging off our stern since last May. Sophie without a freezer full of fish will be a different boat.

Also, the one town in Raja Ampat, Wasai, is not the Wasai on the chart that we pass on our way up to Wayag. Wasai is actually a new town the government started building 5 years ago when they declared Raja Ampat a nature reserve. It’s located at 00.25.982 South, 130.48.075 East. It’s where the ferry from Sorong lands, where the grocery store is located, and where the only cell phone coverage in the area can be found. That explains why we inexplicably had cell coverage on our trip over to Yanggelo. It also means that we probably won’t have cell or Internet coverage between now and Christmas Eve. Most importantly, it means that we will likely be in the right place when our friend Steve from Seattle gets off the Waisai ferry to join us on Christmas day! I assume Steve will appreciate that.

But Holy Cow! Only 15 more shopping days until Christmas! With no stores and no Internet after today! What do we do?

I guess the answer is to swim a lot.


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