Goodbye, Raja Ampat. We will miss you.

Sophie has slipped the mooring cable at the Misool Eco Resort and has begun a 200 mile sail that will get us to the western side of Ambon Island. Currently motorsailing at 7 knots at the location of 02.15.550S 130.25.336E. We’ve spent the last 6 weeks in Raja Ampat, and it has been a highlight of our entire cruising adventure. We will miss this special place a lot.

We left the anchorage at Balbulol yesterday morning. We spent a week there and loved every minute of it. We snorkeled the coral walls for 3-5 hours every day. Jenna took 5,000 pictures with her GoPro. She even tied it to a 10 foot long string and lowered it down for coral and fish close ups. We saw tens of thousands of fish and an amazing variety of coral. We even saw what turns out to be the world’s most deadly sea snake. It’s 5 feet long, 2 inches thick and has black and white stripes on top and a white belly below. I first stumbled across her while snorkeling for lobster. She was in a little cave, and when she saw me she slowly got into a cobra pose and looked poised to strike. My fear was making me want to swim away, but my utter fascination was drawing me in closer.

I now understand snakes.

We experienced a couple of hiccups while tied to the walls in Balbulol. Our genset overheated and then stopped. It turns out we had sucked a couple of plastic bags into the raw water strainer, and this blockage caused the genset impeller to lose all 13 of its blades. When we disassembled the genset’s heat exchanger, we discovered 25 impeller blades there. Obviously the tropical ambience of the lagoon put the impeller blades into the right mood, and they multiplied as a result.

I also got a bit of a leg infection when I scraped against some coral while hunting lobster. I never actually caught any of the little suckers, because they scoot way back into their holes when you try to grab them. But my leg hurts a lot, and my daughter Sara-the-nurse-practitioner has put me on a couple of antibiotics. I’ll be fine.

The three boats left Balbulol at first light yesterday, with Sophie and Per Ardua heading 15 miles south for the Misool Eco Resort. We caught the world’s smallest mahi mahi on the way. It was only a foot and a half long, and he swam away vigorously when we released him.

The Misool Eco Resort has a good reputation with cruising boats who have visited there, but we had a terrible experience yesterday. The staff was quite friendly, and the facilities looked great. Steve snorkeled the wall and saw some huge fish. They even let us use their incredibly slow wifi for free and let the girls play on their beach.

Our problem was with their mooring lines. Sophie and Per Ardua were both moored in a little pass with a bit of a current directly in front of their pier. Per Ardua’s mooring line … dissolved and separated 3 hours after they tied on to it. Fortunately I was at the bar with Steve and Mellia watching the girls play on the beach when I noticed Per Ardua drifting close to their dinghy dock. Peter was on board, and I called him on the VHF. He came up on deck and realized the boat was simply drifting in the eddies of a passage with reefs and cliffs 20 meters away on either side of him.

They could have lost their boat.

Fortunately it was 4:00 in the afternoon and Peter quickly got his engine on and the boat under control. Sue, the resort manager, was very nice and said there was another mooring a mile away at Kalig Island, but Steve and I went over in our dinghy and could only find some wall ties. Perhaps that is what they meant. The resort’s mooring up on Yilliet Island, which our friends have used in the past, broke a month ago. The resort also had another mooring around the corner on Batbitiem Island, but that appears to be gone as well.

So Per Ardua decided on the spot that their best option was to leave for an overnight sail heading upwind for a sheltered anchorage on the west side of Misool. Since the sun was setting, they really had no other choice.

Sophie was on the mooring that their provisioning ship uses, and after Per Ardua left I dived the line as far down as I could. I couldn’t see the mooring block — we are in 25 meters of water — but the line was 1.5 inch nylon and looked new.

Nevertheless, we were in a bit of a rolly channel, and at times Sophie’s transom was only 20 meters from a cliff. Dinner last night was a quick bowl of pasta, followed by the movie Battleship (which was an excellent choice given our predicament … think board game + aliens + Rihanna with machine guns) followed by an uneasy night with the anchor alarm on.

The Misool Eco Resort seems like a nice place, but if they want cruising boats to use their moorings, they need to regularly dive them and inspect them. Most of us would be happy to pay a mooring fee.

And we won’t let the events of the last 20 hours shape our view of Raja Ampat. Best place ever. On to Ambon.

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