Tuesday, January 07, 2014

2nd attempt

For our 2nd time in Bali, it would be to regroup before we would make our 2nd attempt to run northwest to our Indonesian checkout point just beside Singapore.

A problem we were now facing was the seasonal persistent northwest winds were filling and beating into headwinds for the distance we needed to go and would be too much. Winds would be NW the next few months with some rare short spells of light winds. We had to wait for the latter. We consulted with Bob McDavit, a weather guru based out of New Zealand who would give us weather window predictions for departure.

We also had to address the failing backstay problem. Bali harbours a service a wide area of marine commerce where rafts of mainly large fishing boats offload and do repairs. But we soon realized that sophisticated and advanced rigging technology in this neck of the seas consisted of lengths of cable, galvanized if you were lucky to find it, looped back on itself, and secured with a couple of bolt clamps.

So Jordan bought a length of cable that was claimed to be stainless steel (but soon as sea proved otherwise), and some bolt clamps and a turnbuckle that were in fact stainless steel, and installed a supplemental backstay that would to the trick until we could get a real replacement for our backstay.

A nice interlude was a surprised dinner visit with our Bali friend Joel.

Beautiful Bali? Yes, Bali is indeed beautiful, but why does the dinghy dock have to be such a disaster, falling apart and littered with garbage...


After 5 days in Bali, Bob gave us a "go", predicting about 5 days of light winds for the area we needed to head into. Another dilemma. Our visitor's visas at that point would expire in about 2 weeks and it would be highly unlikely that we could expect 10 days of light winds needed to make it all the way. So we were faced with the decision of renewing our visa while in Bali, at least a week-long process (which would give us another 30 days) but would mean missing our weather window and then having to wait who knows how long for the next light winds, OR, making a run for it and paying whatever penalties for the overstay.

We were all fueled up and ready except for a quick prop cleaning dive and a last minute run to the supermarket. Go? Stay? Go? Stay? We decided to go. (Note to the uninitiated: Always leave with a clean prop because the slightest growth will drastically disrupt the aqua-dynamic flow over the blades which significantly reduces your "speed" for lack of a better word and which is not really an appropriate word to use to describe sailing progress!)

So our 2nd departure from Bali was at 16:00 on January 3rd. Choosing a different route this time, our route took us around the south tip and up the west side. We were motoring in calm seas when we rounded the point. A good start. In the middle of the night while Jordan was on watch, he heard a thump and detected a momentary slowing of RPMs. Something solid enough to feel it and contact with the prop makes one anxious.

In a moment, he had the powerful handheld searchlight on and didn't have to scan far to realize there was a massive collection of flotsam on the tide line that stretched along our course. The rains wash all sorts of debris off the islands including natural and manmade. There were trees, the ubiquitous plastic garbage, and Jordan said he even saw about a 2-metre long dead alligator.

After a course alteration, it was back to a relaxing watch. Well, for a short time that is. Soon we encountered 1 of a few faintly lit small open fishing boats at the end of nets that stretched across our path. There was a predictable maneuvering pattern. Spot the lit boat and pass to the right, because the nets stretched away in the other directions. We would close enough to exchange a friendly "Hello Mista" to break up the lone fishing boat's monotony.

Bright and colourful!

As soon as the sun was up, Jordan stopped Sea Turtle and drifted while he dove on the prop to clear a bit of plastic. It's always a strange feeling to be in the water drifting along with your boat while out in the open seas.

We then were approaching the narrow pass between Java to the west and Bali on our starboard. Our tide table indicated that our timing was good, but it could be out as much as 2 hours, and if we hit it wrong, full power wouldn't yield us any progress. But as it was, the tide was in our favour and the only concern was the busy commercial traffic that was transitting the pass and the 2 ports on either side of the channel.

The 2nd day was pleasant motoring, as much as motoring can be pleasant that is, in clear skies until evening when the convection clouds developed into thunderheads that turned the skies dark, producing copious amounts of rain and dire lightning displays.

On the 3rd day of January 6th, we motored past oil well platforms. At night, the lights of these goliaths can be seen for many kilometres away.


The winds, on Sea Turtle's nose of course, gradually picked up by the afternoon so we started to sail. As we made long tacks, we kept passing a tug with its barge that was heading in the same direction. It became a game in our minds to see if we could gain enough ground to make the next pass in front of him. Eventually we did!

As we approached the islands of Karimunjawa at nightfall, the winds died. We needed to make a stop here for fuel and check our weather guru on the internet to see what we could expect for the next few days. but the village anchorage is reef strewn and entering at night too dangerous so 5 nautical miles off, we turned on our anchor light and drifted, occasionally checking for traffic and our position to make sure the tides weren't taking us too far.

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