We nearly made it yesterday. But by the time the awning was packed away
and the boat shipshape enough it was already starting to get dark. We
were also very exhausted. The better thing to do was have a nice meal
at the club to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary and have an early
night. So, we finally left on the morning of the 2nd. John had already
checked out ashore, but we still had to do immigration at Sister Island.
Fortunately, that is very close to One15 marina and didn’t take
long. The little immigration boat was already there and came by to pick
up our papers and passports that were sitting in a waterproof folder in
a fishing net held out over the side. They returned them a little while
later. Then we could set out and make our way across the busiest shipping
channel in the world to Nongsa Point Marina on the corner of Batam Island
to fill up with diesel. We were in for a very rude shock. Nongsa Point
was closed down for renovation. Now what?! A little boat came by and told
us we could perhaps get diesel at a place called Batu Ampar, about 6 miles
west. Nothing for it but head back. We motored past, but the place did
not look promising, certainly not the kind of place that takes visa and
we did not have Indonesian Rupia. So, what did we do? We crossed the shipping
channel again and went back to One15 and filled up with diesel there.
By this time it was nearly 6pm and we finally really, really went on our
way. It was very frustrating. We crossed the shipping channel for the
third time in a day and headed around the corner of Batam and down the
Riau Straits. Finally we felt we were on our way to Gove.
Day 2 (3 October)
Night watches are so much easier with our new Ray Marine navigation system.
I can see exactly where we are on the chart and all the other ships because
the radar is overlain on the same screen. On top of that we have this
AIS system whereby we have all the information about the cargo ships.
When you click on a symbol for one of those ships you can see what their
closest point of approach will be and how long before it will be there.
So, it’s a lot more relaxed. The weather, however, is not. As we
get out into open water the wind picks up and there’s a fair chop.
Of course, the wind is on the nose and there’s more of it than we
expected, about 20 knots. It’s uncomfortable and we’re not
used to it anymore and feeling rather sick. I’m just trying to keep
it under control, only going inside when I have to, mostly sitting in
the cockpit staring at the horizon or lying down to try and sleep. Then
when John asks if I can pump the bilge pump because we’re flooding
the boat I forget all about feeling sick and just pump as hard as I can.
We’re being flooded again! How is this possible? John quickly finds
the cause, some mysterious hose that’s falling into the bilge, and
stops the water coming in. It takes a while before the bilge is dry again,
but we’re lucky we haven’t flooded the alternator and starter
motor again. Phew, that was a close one! Again!
Day 3 (4 October)
Getting awfully tired now and still feeling sick. This is no fun. We have
only just started and can expect wind on the nose the whole way. How am
I going to cope? I know I will find my sea legs and things will get better,
but right now I wonder why I’m doing this. John isn’t feeling
well either, but he just gets on with doing jobs anyway. It does get easier
when we are sailing as close to the wind as we can and the wind eases.
Jocara is moving as well as can be expected.
Day 4 (5 October)
Today is much better. I’m finding my sea legs. I can now cook a
nice meal inside without wondering whether I’m gonna make it. When
I’m not on watch I sleep quite well. This is quite unusual for me
so early in the trip. I think it is the fact that I feel safer with the
Raymarine system, but perhaps also the fact that we don’t have the
kids on board. I always feel that as such a huge responsibility. Progress
has been a bit slow but we have reached the area where we should take
the first water sample. John has to crawl head down into the bilge to
set it up. We have a hard time getting the air out of the hoses, but in
the end we get our samples. It is calm sunny weather and we can now enjoy
being out here and sitting down with a gin and tonic seeing the sun go
Day 5 (6 October)
Another calm sunny day. John is working all day on jobs. I’m definitely
into the passage routine now. I make 2 good meals a day and keep up with
the dishes. I did some laundry and started updating this log. I even read
a little bit in a magazine today. It’s just frustrating that we’re
having to motor all the time to make headway. The fuel isn’t going
to last this way. But if we don’t motor we’ll be so much off
course. Maybe we can make it to East Timor to fuel up. That would be an
interesting place to stop. In the meantime we are leaving the South China
Sea behind and entering the Java sea. There’s not much life to see
here. Every now and then a flying fish lands on the boat, one actually
flew right through the cockpit window and landed on the seat! We sometimes
see a few terns flying around looking for schools of little fish to catch.
One little bird, no idea what kind, but incredibly agile, skimming the
waves at great speed, circled the boat 5 or 6 times chirping some comments
about her and then left again. I hope when the water gets deeper there
will be more to see.
Day 6 (7 October)
When John wakes me up for my watch I take one look at the Raymarine screen
and I know there’s not going to be any dozing off on this one. Squalls
everywhere and John has been weaving his way between them. I continue
to do so, but I’m constrained by sand banks just off the corner
of Borneo. I’m glued to the screen for hours watching the squalls
grow and dissolve. I am really pleased that we miss nearly all of them.
Day 7 (8 October)
Today we learned to not take the autopilot for granted. We have 2 and
are absolutely reliant on them. They do a much better job of steering
than we, as we found out after they both quit. It’s a continuous
effort to keep the boat on course. If you loose focus for a minute you’re
way off your heading. This gets tiresome very quickly and today we had
a few hours to contemplate what it would be like to have to hand steer
the boat all the way. We were enormously relieved when John got at least
1 of the autopilots working again. I have been feeling steadily worse
throughout the day with an increasingly painful urinary tract inflammation.
Fortunately, we have antibiotics on board and I have started a course.
I’m completely wiped out. Couldn’t do more than an hour watch.
Not much sleep for John.
Day 8 (9 October)
I have been sleeping lots and are feeling much better already. John on
the other hand is a bit tired. He’s taking it a little easier today,
and I have even seen him read a book for about half an hour, the slacker!
Early morning there were a few hours where we could sail in the right
direction, the first time this trip. Then the wind completely died, turning
the surface of the water almost oily. At least that is easy to motor in.
It’s hard to believe we’re already 8 days on our way. On the
other hand it feels much longer somehow. Life at sea is just one day at
a time. It’s the here, now, the weather and the boat. Taking things
as they come. I feel very different from when we left. Then I felt a huge
pressure to have Jocara in Cairns on time and worried about how we were
going to do that. Now, I’ve become accepting of whatever happens,
it’s not a struggle anymore. Sure, I still want to be there in time,
but we do what we can and that is that. Such is life at sea.
Day 9 (10 October)
I got really pissed with the wind this morning. It was in a very teasing
mood. The wind would start to pick up at a great angle and convince me
it was time to put out the foresail and stop the engine. We would be sailing
along nicely in the direction we wanted. For about 5 minutes. Then the
wind would back and become weaker and the sails would start to slap. No
choice but to winch in the foresail furler and put the engine back on.
It did this twice in the space of a couple of hours. Getting the Genoa
furled up is a major exercise for me. When John does it, it looks easy.
I’m winching it in endlessly. I winch and I winch and when I feel
I must be getting there by now and have a look I’m about halfway!
I’m exhausted when it’s finally done. When John was up the
wind picked up again and this time stayed for most of the day. I cannot
think of anything that went wrong today. It was a great day sailing. We
took our gin and tonic sundowner on the bowsprit watching the water splash
away from the bow and the sails being full. Just feeling happy to be where
we were, in the middle of nowhere. Blue sky, calm blue sea with here and
there a big jellyfish floating by.
Day 10 (11 October)
I was in high spirits during my watch. There was a clear sky full of stars
above and the bioluminescence looked like stars in the sea. I had my iPod
on and listening to some good music. Being on a sailboat at night, slicing
a fluorescent path through the water with music in your ears is magical.
Until you get really tired and it’s still not the end of your watch.
I started feeling my bladder again and I’m still taking the antibiotics.
Now I’m getting seriously worried. I take a double dose, but I’m
running out of pills. All night we’ve been fighting to get around
this island that looks like a shrimp and has a sheltered bay that looks
good to anchor. We were expecting very light winds but we’re beating
our way into weather. We think we are too slow on the engine and want
to stop to clean the propellor. We also need some rest and decide what
we are going to do. The double dose of antibiotics is making me feel better
again, but what when the pills run out. The only option, it seems to us,
is to go to Bali, which is 125 nm south.
Day 11 (12 October)
Caro thought we had more antibiotics on board. We don’t... so there’s
really no choice but to make a direct shot at Bali and get her to a clinic.
The last pill went down this morning. I was up at 5:30 prepping the boat
for the southerly push to Bali, it’s going to be ugly. The sea coming
in here was nasty, with the wind around 20 kts from the south. We up anchor
around 6:30 and motor out. The swell and steep waves are crazy across
the entrance, and finally we work out that there are big waves coming
in from the south and colliding with the rapid decrease in depth at the
reef’s edge, coupled with an opposing current, creating a crazy
breaking sea. Once out, it’s tough but doable. We elect to sail
a SW course. Jocara is much smoother sailing hard on the wind than being
motored directly into it. Amazingly, as the day wears on, the wind backs
and eases so that we can make a better and better heading. The day turns
out to be just an amazingly great sail, Jocara romping through the waves
under a bright sun and crystal sharp glittering whitecaps. Just when Caro
and I were looking at each other and asking, ‘how can it get any
better than this?’ a huge pod of dolphins showed up. they mobbed
the boat and cavorted around us for 100m in all directions. They jumped
clear of the water, they played under the bowsprit, they twisted and turned
and surfaced in breathtaking unison in the most exuberant, joyous explosion
of life. And all this as the sun was setting, casting a golden light over
everything. Just amazing. What a day!
Day 12 (13 October)
Well, of course, things can turn on a diamond tip at sea. One moment you’re
basking in the munificence of the sea Gods, the next they’ve lined
you up for a fall and are laughing like drains as you scramble to hold
it together in the face of the latest blast from their shotgun of adversity.
We really fell for this one. By the time it was dark the wind had picked
up and things were turning ugly. By the middle of the night we were seeing
up to 30 knots of wind on the nose and battling our way by (much-reduced)
sail and engine to make it round the NE corner of Bali in one piece. Then
the engine quit. We were getting pounded so neither of us could get any
rest, and making no more than 4 knots towards our goal. And then, just
when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, they didn’t.
Caro had finally collapsed and went to lie down. The Gods threw me a couple
of favours. I tacked, and Jocara not only held a course 25 degrees better
than I had calculated would be possible, but she took off like a scalded
cat at 6.5 knots. Not only that, but the wind then eased and, as we entered
the mouth of the gap between Bali and Lombok, the current picked us up
like a loving midwife and cradled us into the channel. The current turned
out to push us along at 5-7 knots, so that after all, we arrived in Benoa
harbour at about 10:00 a.m., exhausted but still standing.
Caro: I woke up with a migraine. We are not leaving today.
© Jocara 2007