In the early morning we loaded a small aluminium tender with our many cases and joined our survey vessel, S/S Adelaar anchored out in Benoa Harbour. She sat out in the calm open bay with her Gaff rig and Black hull silhouetted against the morning sky, looking to all the world like a trading vessel of old. We chose to cruise to Komodo on this lovely old lady so we can dive some of the many reefs in between Bali and Komodo National Park, our ultimate destination.
Adelaar, now a dedicated liveaboard dive vessel, has a past that spans more than one hundred years. Originally built in the shipyards of Zandaam, Holland, she has been a cargo carrier, working the waters of the North Sea, been utilized by German forces in World War II under the name of “Heimatland” and de-rigged and put into service as a canal barge. After an extensive refit, and with both her former glory and her original name restored, she now plies the waters of the Flores Sea bringing divers to some of the very best sites in Indonesia.
As we farewelled Bali, the distinctive outline of Mt. Agung, Bali's highest mountain and an active volcano, slipped down the port side of the vessel. We cruised all night eventually stopping at the Island of Satonda, in the North of Sumbawa Island. Diving in Satonda was a gentle introduction to the reefs of Indonesia, with easy navigation over areas of dense coral cover and good overall biodiversity. The dives did reveal some areas of damage to the reef structure, which could be attributed to factors such as storm damage or possibly the legacy of dynamite fishing.
Again we are working in the shadow of an active volcano, Mt. Tambora, a mountain that literally blew it's top in 1815. It was the largest recorded eruption in history, causing crops in Europe to fail and a stark year to follow without a summer. Today it rises 2850m above sea level, almost one and a half kilometres less than prior to this colossal event.
It is a beautiful backdrop to the anchorage and serves as a powerful reminder that we are diving in the “Ring of Fire”, a region of frequent and intense seismic events. Tonight we will sail for Komodo.