Heading past Mansuar island, looking for a place to drop the anchor, we see an open mooring in front of a dive resort. There's a liveaboard boat on the other mooring, so we putter up and ask if we can take it and are happy to recieve their enthusiastic response. It's 130 feet deep here, and the current runs at 3-5 knots, so we'd be a tad anxious on the hook.
We go ashore to get details on the mooring. It's $20/night, which sounds great to us. They take our booking for dinner. There's even wifi! We make plans to come back later in the afternoon, after some snorkeling time. This is the polar opposite experience to the cold shoulder at resort on Pulau Pef the day before.
The staff is friendly and attentive- we feel like welcomed guests. The dive master remembers seeing us off a dive site the prior week and asks what we saw. We get tips from another on islands to visit in Nusa Tenggara- places he thinks will be especially interesting for us. The children are over the moon with a "nice" restaurant dinner, and the chef basks in their adoration, bringing extra treats to the table. We play Mexican Train Dominoes on the lanai, and wait for the sunset.
We cruise out in the dinghy to a manta ray hangout, but are skunked on sightings. There were many the day before, just not our luck! But we meet a sweet couple who have paddled across the channel to collect shellfish in the reef. They give us mangoes, and cut them for us to eat when they realize we don't have a knife in the dinghy (not touching that gorgeous mango with a fishy dive knife. oh no). I flashback to PNG and the total ubiquity of knives and machetes.
In front of the resort, we discover the most amazing collection of fish hanging out right under the jetty. There are at least four lionfish, but instead of hiding in nooks and crannies, they are floating around in full display. It is both alarming and spectacular. Masses of glassfish part for the lighting fast passes of predatory trevally. Pairs of moorish idols and a school of batfish just kind of glam around looking fabulous. We should have stayed here!
We end up spending two nights in front of the resort. It's just too nice and relaxing to leave after only one, especially when faced with the far less appealing anchorage in Sorong- where the water attractions will be dirty diapers floating by instead of jumping needlefish. It means we'll only have one day to get everything we need in Sorong before Dan arrives, but we are feeling up to the task.
The second afternoon, a squall kicks up. It peaks around 45 knots. Not awful, but we think about how anxious we would be if we had anchored. I am trapped ashore with the kids: there's a steep chop built up between the jetty and the boat, and the rain is epic. It's fine, though. The chef (new best friend to the kids) makes them hot cocoa while we watch a movie on the iPad and wait for the weather to settle.
As it does.