Bali Time

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It has been a very busy two weeks for us on Sophie since we arrived in Bali. Our goal was to get here from Labuan Bajo in time for “Girls Week”, a mini vacation here in Bali for Jenna and two friends who flew out from the States for the party. We had a gentle overnight passage from Labuan Bajo to Gili Air, where we spent a night on a mooring near the beach resorts. On the next day we covered the remaining 56 miles to our anchorage in Bali in about 5 hours, thanks to a strong current in the Selat Lombok.

I’ll leave it to Jenna to document what happened during Girls Week in a future post. Needless to say, the ladies had a great time.

Sophie is currently anchored in Serangan, a relatively quiet fishing harbor on the northern end of the Benoa harbor area. Our current location is 08.43.127 South, 115.14.853 East. Garuça Cat is right next to us, along with 50 other boats in the harbor. Most of the boats are used for tourism.

To the immediate north of us is Sanur, a relatively quiet tourist city with waterfront hotels and a strip of restaurants and tourist shops. On our first few days here, we took our dinghy up to the Sanur beach to visit the area, but soon became victim to a big swing in tides.

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At one point while pushing the dinghy across 150 yards of muddy salt flats, the dinghy wheels buckled under the motor and failed.

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This happened to us a year ago in New Zealand, and we had had the aluminum wheel struts reinforced by a welder to prevent this from happening again. Oh well, no more using the dinghy to get to Sanur.

This wasn’t the only dinghy problem we encountered on our arrival to Bali. During our stopover in Gili Air, the motor stopped working. We could start it, but it would die as soon as we applied any gas. It became worse in Serangan, because by the time we got there the motor wouldn’t start at all. No motor on our dinghy could present some problems for a Girls Week where Sophie will be at anchor. I have to admit I was a little stressed and spent 5 hours working on the dinghy motor. I changed the plugs, fuel filters, and cleaned the carburetor as best I could with no luck. I finally bought a new tank of gas from a local, and that seemed to have solved the problem. But I still had to run the motor on the new gas for an hour to get it running smoothly. I have never had a problem with bad gas before, but that seemed to have been the problem in this case.

We plan to buy a new dinghy in Malaysia or Thailand, most likely an aluminum hulled Swift like the one our friends on Nalukai drive. Our Walker Bay has served us well for 7 years, but its plastic bottom is beginning to wear and the Honda outboard is showing some age. EVERYONE out here uses a 2 stroke Yamaha outboard, and a 25 horse Yamaha coupled with the new dinghy will let us get up on a plane with 7 adults on board.

While working on the engine I was also doing laundry, cleaning toilets, and getting the boat ready for 2 guests, each in their own cabin. Jenna was running Sophie School. By the time Elizabeth showed up on Friday, I was exhausted!

Jenna and the ladies then pretty much disappeared for the next 5 days, and I took over Sophie School and overall kid management. I am proud to say that we got three full school days in. Hazel even had the chance to enjoy some extracurricular reading.

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When we weren’t doing school, the kiddies and I had the chance to explore a little bit of the local scenery. We went into Sanur so I could buy a new paddle for my paddle board. While there I saw one of the sweetest rides I’ve seen on the trip.

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I want one. Badly.

The kiddies and I enjoyed one epic day where we went to a water slide park, an open market, and then to a mall were we ate at Tony Roma’s and hung out in a video arcade.

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I am glad that Jenna got to enjoy a mini-vacation, because she has been with the kiddies pretty much non-stop for two years. Leo and Hazel had fun hanging out with me.

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A couple of milkshakes a day doesn’t hurt morale, either. Daddy daycare rules!

We even got hit with a nice squall. Thankfully it happened during the day, and the three of us were on the boat. Wind gusts hit 48 knots, and visibility disappeared. I turned the motors on as a precaution, but thankfully there is thick mud in the anchorage and Sophie didn’t budge. Our neighbor Guta was alone on Garuça Cat, and she was pretty scared at the time. We later learned that a couple of people in town had trees fall on them during the squall. They died. Scary stuff.

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Have I mentioned yet that Bali is unlike any place we’ve visited since we left on the trip? I haven’t yet had the chance tour the interior or any of the Hindu cultural sites — we’ll do that as a family next week. But so far what I’ve seen is some weird mixture of Vegas, Disneyland, and a tropical spring break.

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The city areas are very crowded, and we have to take a 10 minute taxi ride to get anywhere. Thankfully the rides cost around $5, and we now have apps on our phones we can use to order cabs.

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There are thousands of tourist restaurants here, and some are ridiculous. But most of the ones we’ve eaten at have been quite good and reasonably priced.

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Most of all, people seem to come here to PARTY! Round trip flights to Bali from Australia are as low as $150, and there seem to be bars on every block. This is a far cry from Jayapura, our port of entry into Indonesia. There you heard the Muslim call to prayer on loudspeakers throughout the day, Jenna had to cover shoulders and legs while in town, and there were three places where you could buy a drink.

Dorothy, we’re not in Papua any more.

Anyway, after 5 days exploring Bali, the ladies joined us on Sophie and we motored 15 miles to spend the night at Lembongan, and island in the strait to the east of Bali. We were able to pick up a mooring and enjoyed watching the mostly Chinese day tourists being towed around on inflatable hot dogs, oftentimes right next to Sophie. But the daytrippers were all gone by 3:00 PM, and we then got a quiet harbor to ourselves. We were able to swim, paddle board, and eat line-caught yellowfin tuna for dinner.

We returned to Serangan the next day and spent a long weekend celebrating HAZEL’S SEVENTH BIRTHDAY. The weekend involved three birthday dinners, an afternoon at a resort, and a return trip to the water park.

We held a birthday brunch on Saturday, where the Girls Week ladies, Guta and the Sophie crew enjoyed some homemade lemon cake, courtesy of Jenna.

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Hazel then enjoyed opening gifts from around the world, wearing her flower girl dress from her cousin Caroline’s wedding last summer.

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The festivities ended on Sunday night, when Hazel was invited behind the grill at a Japanese barbecue.

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Jenna and I gave her a camera for her birthday, and like any kid she started out by taking some pretty goofy pictures.

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She also began to explore distance and perspective.

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Before we knew it, she was framing some excellent photographs.

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She is obviously her mother’s daughter.

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The camera even has a button that automatically frames Leo in different perspectives. I think Hazel will be using this with great impact as we continue our trip.

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We are all looking forward to the day when Hazel publishes her own blog post here, sharing her favorite photos with the world. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later.

Well, this post should give you a sense for what we’ve been up to for the last couple weeks. Our current thinking is that we will stay in Bali through March 18th for one last visa renewal, then head up to Kalimantan to hang out with the Orangutans before heading up to Singapore.

The luck keeps rolling, we keep learning new things, and we keep meeting new friends, in this case a dragonfly in Bali. She seems to like Sophie.

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