Reflections: Holly Bali

Now that Sophie School is on a brief holiday, I’m catching up on my backlog of photos and stories. Here’s one reflection about some of our adventures in Indonesia last year.

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Ambon, Indonesia

In February 2015, my cousin Holly sailed with us from Ambon, Indonesia to Labuan Bajo on Flores Island, and we also made a short trip to Bali.


On Holly’s first and only night in Ambon, we took her to our favorite restaurant there, Dua Ikan, to sample some local delicacies including Pepeda, which you are meant to slurp out of your bowl without using silverware.

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We had planned to spend a few days in Ambon in order to watch the Patriots win the superbowl, but our plans changed when the weather forecast changed by the next morning and a good window to cross west opened up if we departed right away and then there wouldn’t be another one for about a week. We said hasty goodbyes to friends on Per Ardua, Ocelot and Guruca Cat, called the Moore and Connor families by phone, and pulled up the anchor.

We had a great view on the way out of Ambon Bay.

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Even the dolphin helped to send us off.

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Sunshine, light winds and calm seas. This had the makings of a perfect day.

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Later that morning, while Holly and I were on watch, almost out of sight of land, two squall lines appeared on either side of the horizon and both appeared to be moving in our direction. The systems merged right on top of us, and within minutes, we were motoring into 40 knot white-out conditions. The storm lasted for less than an hour, but it took most of the afternoon for choppy seas to subside in its aftermath. Holly’s easy introduction to overnight passages ended up being a bit more aggressive than we expected, but it was the only weather we saw during this crossing. We had light breezes and calm weather the rest of the way there.


From what we read, we expected to be off the grid for our stopover in Wakatobi, but as soon as we anchoraged off Hoga Island, a small fishing boat with the local divemaster stopped by to welcome us and point out provisioning stops in the neighboring village, excellent snorkeling spots with moorings for our dinghy, and directions to find the restaurant on shore. We also had 4 bars of cell service. So much for cruising off the grid.

Hoga is one of the most beautiful islands we saw in Indonesia. It is fringed by white sandy beaches and has one of the most colorful reefs, teeming with little fish. We spent a couple days snorkeling, beachcombing and playing games.

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Leo and Hazel also practiced many dives off Sophie.

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We also watched some spectacular cloud formations.

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We experienced great weather at Hoga, and then we left just in time.

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We had almost a full moon for this leg of the trip which helped tremendously at night to spot FADs before hitting them. In this area, they were not small homemade fish traps, but 10 foot square floating platforms sometimes with small huts on them. We had a couple near misses, but managed to dodge them before it was too late. There is a good reason to avoid sailing at night in Indonesia, and we only did a handful of nighttime crossings during more than 3,000 miles sailing there.

Flores Island

We made landfall again in the 17 Islands Ruing Marine Park off Flores Island in the East Nusa Tenggarra region of Indonesia. This is an uninhabited national marine park with pristine beaches, coral reefs and very few visitors. We anchored in 25 feet of sand off a small island that the kids dubbed “Sand Dollar Island” after the thousands of sand dollars we found lining the beach.

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Flores Island

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“Sand Dollar Island” in 17 Islands Riung Marine Park

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On our second night there, Hazel developed a high fever and complained of body pains, so we made the decision to leave at first light for Labuan Bajo, the nearest city, 80 miles away. After an uneventful trip, Holly, Hazel and I flew on the first available flight to Bali while Jamie and Leo looked after Sophie. We took Hazel to the hospital late that night where she braved a very big needle for blood tests and a thorough exam before we checked into our hotel to await the results. By morning Hazel’s fever broke and we were relieved to learn she didn’t have dengue, malaria or other serious tropical illness. With one day left of Holly’s vacation, we spent a leisurely day at a resort.


We had so much fun together on our mini girls’ holiday and loved every minute of our time with Holly in Indonesia. We are such a lucky family!

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1 thought on “Reflections: Holly Bali

  1. I loved seeing those pictures and revisiting Holly’s trip with you. Glad you left out the rest of the story…!

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