Made it to Komodo Dragons

We had to motor for the last 10-12 hours of our trip to the island of Rinca (or Ringa or Ringda – we’ve seen it spelled several ways). But, we managed to arrive about 30 minutes before sunset at the southern anchorage. What a spectacular sight as we neared these islands. Huge volcanic mountains with tropical jungle growth – somewhat brownish in color since it is the dry season. We anchored in deep water next to some big rocks, with both sandy and rocky beaches nearby. Stupendous mountainous terrain on all sides of us.

There are 3 other boats here. Two larger than cruising boats with lots of men on board. They had dinghies going to and from shore when we arrived. Also, a cruising sailboat, about 1km away, put a dinghy in the water and came over as we were contemplating where to drop our anchor. Turns out they are an American couple on a boat called s/v Restless. They are from Seattle. They told us the next cove over – where the two larger boats are located – has several dragons coming to shore regularly. Restless is also going to Bali in a bit, and so we might travel with them.

We saw a wild boar on shore before dark, and we heard all kinds of strange birds and wildlife in the evening. A very bright gibbous moon rose over the high mountains surrounding our eastern view, as we pulled out some beers to celebrate our safe passage. The only thing marring the beauty was the huge clumps of trash all over the shoreline here. We have seen lots of trash in the waters since we got to Indonesia.

This morning, I was up before dawn as usual. As the light brightened, I saw another wild boar, and have been watching monkeys foraging along the shore all morning. Suddenly I saw a large, long, brown thing moving along the beach – a Komodo dragon! He was a full grown beast – about 3.5m in length. I took some pictures with the telephoto lens since he was about 125 meters from us. I watched him with our powerful 15X binoculars. You could see his long tongue slithering out like a snake. These dragons can supposedly smell blood from over a km away. They are very carnivorous. At one point he stopped moving – his snout sticking up in the air – his body color was such that you could easily think he was just a tree trunk. He continued moving along out of sight. The monkeys kept a safe distance from this vicious beast.

We plan to stay here a day, then move north to the national park where we will hire a guide to take us on a hike. The main purpose will be to get up close to the dragons and other wildlife on this island. In the meantime, we have our own zoo right here on shore.

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1 Response to Made it to Komodo Dragons

  1. Frank – if you are still there. This is Graham Clifford in northern New Zealand. Bay of Islands actually. The date today is August 11 2022

    I have something to tell you about the Chinese junk “Golden Lotus ” en route to New Zealand from Hong Kong 60 years ago. I was a crew member and part owner.

    I was looking on Google Earth at the south coast anchorage of Rindja Island (now Rinca) and I saw “Tahina Expedition” This was my first contact with your adventures.

    I am particularly interested in your Loh Dasami/Rinca comments because I was there in February 1962. I was 19 years of age and my shipmates aboard the 36 foot Golden Lotus were my brother Brian (23 and a merchant marine navigating officer) and two cousins of similar age. We had no technology on G L and all navigation was celestial and by hand bearing compass. We had arrived illegally at Rindja via Singapore, Sunda Strait and Christmas Island. We stayed four days, quickly establishing a cautiously sensitive relationship with some five adult dragons. On day three two wild dogs killed a small sow on the pretty beach in your G E photo and we stole it and cooked it Maori style on hot stones in a covered pit.

    We saw and heard all the strange bird and night sounds you write about but there were no monkeys, no boats, no people and no trash on the beach only chamber nautilus shells by the hundreds, attesting to a massive storm some months previously.

    We left Rinca via the SE channel exit and headed for Portuguese East Timor, Thursday Island, the east coast of Australia and ultimately made a mid winter crossing of the Tasman Sea from Sydney to the north of NZ. You would have dreaded Tahini in the massive storm we met on our third day out from Sydney.

    The 1962 /63 book of our adventures was a best seller. In 2018 I published it again as a “revised modern edition by original crew member Graham Clifford.”

    I have a lot of reading ahead of me if I am to catch up with Tahini’s many adventures. Meantime, thank you for your brief account of your short visit to the bay on Rindja Island where I and my mates so successfully risked our lives with the dragons and survived. (we wouldn’t have been so lucky if President Soekarno’s hit men had discovered us!!)

    Best regards, Graham Clifford : email

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