Although we had set the alarm clock for a 4:30 wakeup, we needn't have bothered because today as with every other day here we were awakened by the shrill and obscenely loud female voice, chanting over super duper powerful loudspeakers right into our bedroom. Her pitch can absolutely raise the dead! Like clockwork she begins at precisely 4:00 AM each day, followed in suit by two other not so shrill but loud male "cantors" from other mosques – sort of like Surround Sound. This goes on for a minimum of 30 minutes each morning, keeping us rather jarred into staying awake afterward. It is Ramadan here and we don't know enough about the Muslim faith to understand whether this is an all the time occurrence or special worship during Ramadan. Although it happens several times per day and also at midnight, the 4 AM broadcast may lead to the demise of our sanity before long. We have not had a decent night of sleep since arriving here. It wasn't so bad in Kupang, although we know not why. Perhaps we were all anchored further from the mosques or the mosques themselves were farther from shore, but this is mind shatteringly unpleasant and yet it is their country and their practice. I don't suppose they will alter the status quo just for us to have a pleasant holiday. Ya think?
By 5:20 we had downed our first cup of coffee, Frank was raising the anchor but seemed to be having a lot of trouble up on the bow. He was slipping and sliding and mumbling a lot. I was at the helm and couldn't see him well enough to make out what was going on. He returned to the cockpit to tell me that the bow was covered in some kind of oil or grease that would not rinse off with the washdown sprayer. Then it dawned on us…last night returning from the strategy meeting aboard Imagine, we saw a large (approx. foot long) black smudge and splatter on Destiny's bow. It was dusk and difficult to see exactly what it was but figured something happened while we were away diving, and yet we couldn't do anything abut it in the dark. We had forgotten all about it until Frank's slippery encounter this morning. It wasn't until we anchored 7 hours later that we had an opportunity to inspect the mess. It looked like tar, but was probably oil that was somehow flung and splattered across our bow and up onto the foredeck nearly to the mast. It was by now well sun-baked. We spent about an hour trying to clean it up. Unfortunately it has stained the gelcoat. We re hoping the stains will fade with time.
This anchorage is very pleasant, calm and relatively quiet. We are at the island of Pulau Pantar at a bay that we think is called Teluk Blangmerang. Gee it is hard to tell by our charts, but I'm going with that. It was only us and Imagine for a little while here until two other rally boats, Zen Again and Recluse arrived. We have the place nearly to ourselves except for a few villagers who have paddled by in their dugouts transporting goods from one shore to another. A few canoes stopped to take our picture and then moved along. Some just circle us or sit an look at us. We wave at them and smile. We took an exploratory dinghy ride with Stuart and Sheila (Imagine) around the bay and up along the streams through the mangroves. It is lovely here. There are a lot of plastic water and soda bottles bobbing on the surface in row upon row, obviously attached to some sort of net or anchor. We can't figure out what they are; perhaps oyster farms or fishing nets being suspended? They certainly are plentiful and only completely visible at low tide. What a nightmare it would be if one of our yachts had gotten into one of those fields unwittingly. I shudder to think.
Later on Sheila and Stuart came over for drinks and we prepared a combined dinner. We ate and then pulled out our game of Qwirkle. They had never played, and so Frank really enjoyed teaching them and then beating everyone!