Time for a break: parking in Ambon

Sunset- Ambon inner harbor
Peaceful sunsets from Ambon’s inner harbor

We’ve been pressing to keep Totem moving for months. The pressure started before we left Australia: trying to sort out paperwork for departure, making sure we had everything we needed, and then the constant need to make progress so we wouldn’t be caught in the adverse conditions of the changing monsoon season. For the first time in many moon, we didn’t have to be somewhere, and didn’t have the pressure to put miles under the keel in any particular direction.

And so we parked, happily, and enjoyed Ambon for a while. They have two rainy seasons per year, and one ends in January, so we had nice timing to enjoy calm conditions and sunny days.

Ambon was a big cruising destination for years, but the number annual visiting yachts diminished after religious riots started in 1999, dragging on for several years of chaos and senseless deaths. It’s entirely peaceful now, and a handful of boats still do the annual race from Darwin, but the bulk of the international fleet follows the rally path- and their route through Indonesia now goes elsewhere. It’s too bad, because we found a lot to enjoy about Ambon.

We had a sweet anchorage in the inner harbor, off the village of Lateri. Unlike the anchorage off Amahusu used by the rally, in here it’s flat as a pancake, good holding, easy depth, and lovely sunset views.

Totem in the board-flat anchorage of Ambon’s inner harbor 
A family on shore let us use their waterfront for a dinghy landing, and became friends in the process. Returning from jaunts to their peaceful neighborhood became like homecoming. They have a “American style” dinner on Totem one evening, and we are treated to a smorgasbord of local dishes at their home on another.

Pak Hani and family
Pak Hani and family on Totem

The market was an easy ride into town. OK, I didn’t take these becaks shown below, I took the standard-issue minivan public transportation known as the bemo. But wow, they were awfully photogenic.


I love the public markets, which are a riot of super fresh produce, sweet smells of overripe fruit, people and vehicles going in every direction at once. This stall is pretty typical, although the staff is usually a little older.

Pasar Mardika

A new-ish mall was a short bemo ride in the other direction. It’s complete with air conditioning, a Starbucks knock-off, and overloud music blasted from clothing stores. A little jarring, and a little welcome. The children loved getting frozen yogurt at J.Co, I loved finding muesli at the supermarket. Something for everyone.

ACC shopping
A counterpoint to the public market

We played tourist, and tootled around the island with a car and driver hired through our new shoreside family: visiting the restored ruins of a Dutch fort, a very old (ca 1400) mosque, and hiking to what we thought was a caldera… but turned out to be a natural dam project.

Sweet ladies at the mosque 
Snagged for photos again…with military wives at the historic mosque

It was a break. We didn’t keep a schedule. There were days we lazed around the boat reading instead of tackling things we could/should do. But the decompressing? check. Catching up on life? check. Happy family? check.

2 Responses

  1. Ambon sounds like a great place … yet another one I’ve never heard of before. So sad to hear about the violence back in the 90’s, but sounds like it’s now a hideaway for the few lucky cruisers that sail there. Love the pictures of the local folks .. they give insight into what the island is really like. The sights can be beautiful, but the people and their culture make it .. or not.

  2. Nice to see Pak Hanny and his family in your pix! They were such wonderful people and I spent very nice time with them again in the fall of 2013 when I prepared ALK for my trip to Timor

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