Friday, October 11, 2013

Passage to Indonesia

We initiated a great passage from Vanuatu to Indonesia on the 25th of September with a nice Mahi Mahi catch that gave us a dozen meals. We had a very good ratio of sail days versus motoring. The 1st half of the passage was a good constant stiff trade wind breeze that pushed up our average daily distance. One day, Sea Turtle boasted 150 nautical miles. Then as we made the big dog leg path through the labyrinth of islands and reef of the Torres Strait, the wind provided good power and direction. Even as the wind went light, it swung around on our stern and the sea settled to an insipid state; we hoisted our spinnaker for a couple of lazy days.

Spinnaker sunset

The usual morning deck walk had Jordan picking up scores of flying fish that had made their last flight (as many as 25 stuck in all parts of Sea Turtle's deck and rigging. We saw lots of bird life including boobies and those cute wee ones that flitter over the surface, momentarily extending on foot to water ski, even in the most tempestuous of seas. Add to the list, 1 large sea turtle and even a pod of small dolphins on our bow wave.

The ocean colours changed through our passage from a deep, dark midnight blue to a beautiful light cerulean blue with even a vivid purplish colour in some areas. We also saw strange blankets of what appeared to be a muddy looking goo and not attractive at all.

Floating goo

We saw just a few freighters during our 1st week, but by our 2nd week, particularly in and around the Torres Strait, at times it was like rush hour. At 1 narrow part of the Strait, 1 behemoth was overtaking a smaller slower freighter while we were sailing in mid channel. The Captain kept up a congenial radio contact with us and the other with his intent and confirmation of position as he passed real close between us.

On the west side of Torres between Australia and Indonesia, we saw fleets of Indonesian fishing boats each about 20 m long and a penury crew of perhaps 15.

Big Indo wooden fishing boat

Jordan next landed a Spanish mackerel (very similar to the Sierras we would catch around Mexico) soon after we had finished off the Mahi Mahi. He did a fine job of keeping us fed with tasty fish!

At 1 point about 16 days into the passage, we were promptly enveloped in a squall with a deluge of rain and gale force winds from changing direction. In torrents of horizontal rain, with the auto pilot off, Jordan had to motor and hand steer keeping the nose into the wind. Thankfully, the temperature was mild for this short hour-long ordeal. Then amazingly the winds died right out.

Our landfall destination was a group of islands where we kept passing white sandy beaches teasing us to come and anchor which we tried. But every time, the anchor would drag and not hold (probably a slab rock bottom coated with a slimy seaweed). So we would have to move on...

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