08 January 2017 | Pulau Woha
05 January 2017 | Pulau Woha
26 December 2016 | Pulau Aiduma
24 December 2016 | Pulau Aiduma
22 December 2016 | Pulau Aiduma, Triton Bay
19 December 2016 | Selat Sele
18 December 2016 | Selat Sele
10 December 2016 | Charlie's Bay
06 December 2016 | Kwatisore
05 December 2016 | Kwatisore
02 December 2016 | Teluk Orensbari
26 November 2016 | Momfafa
25 November 2016 | Waisai
17 November 2016 | Fruit Bat Bay
05 November 2016 | Sorong
30 October 2016 | Helena Base, Wamon River South of Sorong
17 October 2016 | Helena Base, Wamon River South of Sorong
On and On
08 January 2017 | Pulau Woha
Thursday 5 January 2017 - Evening
Depending on your point of view, forecast keeps getting better and better or worse and worse. This is often the case when it doesn't stay the same - food for thought. After those awe-inspiring words of unsurpassable wisdom and logic, here's the situation: Latest wind data shows less wind and reduced sea. This is good, right? Hold on there Kemosabi. What we had was not so uncomfortable and a decreasing trend indicates possibility of insufficient wind to get us abeam Melville Island in time, around midnight Sunday, to catch the incoming tide through Howard channel and into Darwin. It's a long way to Tipperary when fighting a 2 knot current.
Oddly enough, forecast is pretty accurate so far. Who knew? Sailing reefed down making excellent speed. Must average 5.6 knots to catch the tide. Well ahead so far, all of 15 NM into 425 NM passage, and bound to remain good, right? Anyway, it's an excellent start. Already enjoyed a squall, but pretty mild as these things go. Hoping that away from land without the extra heat consequently generated they will continue to be pussy cats.
As turns out, initial weather was a cruel hoax. Wind has been stronger and closer to bow than one might have anticipated had he been foolish enough to believe such prognostications. It could have broken for the better, but didn't. Very energetic sail last 24 hours, enlivened by 30 kt. squalls. Making great time, but hard to relax. Not to worry as new forecast indicates better conditions shortly. Pretty sure we can count on this one.
One down two to go. Conditions have indeed improved, but still close reaching at 55 to apparent wind in meter and a half sea. Now if only we could do something about the squalls.
Sometime last night mainsail in-mast furler decided to croak. Circuit breaker reset no help, but control box has a fuse that might have blown. That can be found under forward bunk, atop which about 150 kilo of dive gear and other crap resides when not accommodating guests. Once mattress is removed a storage locker must then be cleaned out to finally access a thing that is possibly OK. You see where this is going don't you? Fortunately sail was set at maximum reef and there is a manual override on the mast that will be checked sometime later today. Optimism abounds.
Tried to send this, but no connection so blather rolls on.
Paid for good conditions yesterday with squally weather throughout the night. Notwithstanding that delay, progress has been so good expect to stop for five hours or so on Melville Island before continuing with favorable tidal current. Howard passage has up to 3 knots, so it's worth the wait and after last night, need the nap. Should arrive Cullen Bay Pontoon around 1300.
Heavy squalls and 2 kt. adverse current only gave us 2.5 hours rest at Melville, but felt good. Plan is working so far through channel. One more try getting this sucker out then may have to wait until the marina.
Altered watch after nap had Jan in the unusual circumstance of being awake for sunrise. She's not impressed. Apparently, compared to sunset, which is often accompanied by the non-coffee beverage of one's choice, it's just not worth interrupting one's prime sleeping time. Rest of crew is beginning to appreciate the concept.
Gone With The Wind
05 January 2017 | Pulau Woha
Thursday 5 January 2017
Early start yesterday had us cleared out in only 5 1/2 hours including lunch. Woohoo! It only cost a million eight for going 3 days over visa expiration. Huh!? Careful perusal of passport showed we had been laboring under a false assumption and should have renewed by 1 January. Oops! Visit to immigration for advance intel previous week had not triggered appropriate revelation. Bugger! Still, 135 USD was much better than the 600 Jan initially assumed. Phew!
Notwithstanding that both Customs and Harbour Master indicated we could remain in Tual an additional day or more to avoid inclement weather, Imigrasi, who know diddly about boating, might not be quite so charitable. Pondering that they could conceivably borrow a boat with weaponry and that sailing big seas is more comfortable than an Indonesian lockup, we took off this morning before likelihood of them noticing we were still in town.
Turns out that wind and wave were much less than anticipated. Easy sail 25 NM to Woha where we'll hide out to rest and clean the bottom before beginning passage tomorrow morning. Latest forecast (if one believes those sorts of things) shows wind abaft the beam (cool nautical talk) at 15 to 20 knots and no seas over 1.8 meters for a day or so before both gradually decrease. A perfect sail is unquestionably in the offing. Confidence knows no bounds... except for one wee caveat.
Arrived at anchorage mere moments before onset of squall gusting 37 kts. Continuing unsettled weather of last several days, which extends all the way to Darwin, imperils previously mentioned sanguinity. No worries. We're comfy in the lee and will ignore such things. In the sagacious words of Miss Scarlett, "Tomorrah is anothah day". Whar's mah mint julep, Prissy?
03 January 2017 | Tual
Tuesday 3 January 2017
Latest GRIB (Golliwhomper Regurgitation of Indecipherable Bewilderment) shows inception of agreeable weather for Darwin passage has retreated a day. Although Australian Border Force has given its imprimatur to anchoring off overnight before entering port, a night on the quarantine dock until Tuesday appears necessary in any event. A pest inspection and seawater intake pipe treatment will be performed by Bhagwan (Indian for god) Marine, which only operates 9 to 5 and not on Sunday, that will incapacitate the vessel for at least 10 hours while all the evil stowaways die an apparently slow and arduous death. We will, perforce, remain aboard until the following morning listening to their anguished cries.
Above circumstances aggravate nascent stir craziness with expectation for 2 additional days aboard. This was mitigated only slightly by a dinghy dash into Tual for critical eggs and tomatoes just before next 25 knot squall blew through. With little to do except important boat repairs, which are being conscientiously ignored, decided to put photos and a short video on the blog. That's not much fun either. There just isn't enough peanut butter in the world to bridge the gap between coffee and gin. Considering sleeping later and moving happy hour up to 1600, perhaps 1530. It's currently 1528.
In Like a Lion
02 January 2017 | Tual
Sunday 1 January 2017
Happy New Year everyone. Slept through most of the 14 hours into 2017 that we enjoyed before East Coast America. Not the first bit, however, due awakening at midnight from a hell of a commotion. There had been a bit of activity starting at sundown, but at the stroke of 12 the waterfront of Tual, over a mile and a half, lit up with constant aerial fireworks, continuous from end to end. Looked like "Shock and Awe". We're about 700 meters offshore in the catbird seat. Never seen anything like it. Made the guys in Sydney Harbour look like pikers. Finally eased a bit after 30 minutes, so returned to sleep with the pop, pop, popping of continued revelry. Figure either fireworks are really cheap here or constitute the bulk of foreign aid to Indonesia from China. There was a pantload for sale in town.
Have crossed our wake in the Kai Islands to complete a circumnavigation of Indonesia - across the bottom and back over the top. Returning to Malaysia, may check out more of the middle, Sulawesi and Kalimantan.
Tropical low in NT (Northern Territory of Australia) producing this wayward weather and keeping us in Tual until then should ease by Thursday or Friday. After that, as might be expected, there's no wind until after visa expires. Remember that comment about Mother Nature? Trick will be to catch the change with good sailing all the way to Darwin. Sanguinity abounds, but may put us at destination on Sunday with overtime charges. Hey, it's already expensive guys! Have requested anchoring out to clear in Monday. Let's just see how reasonable nanny state officialdom can be.
Wind still howling like a coyote in heat with few glimpses of sun intersperse with overcast and rain. Fortunately we have a sufficiency of coffee, peanut butter and gin to get us, for another several days, from morning through lunch into evening. Should be well rested for the envisioned perfect passage. Depending on wind (see above) may take about 75 hours. Entire crew champing at the bit to get there and patronize restaurant in Tipperary Marina, Frying Nemo Fish and Chips. Don't let the children know.
Weather or Not
31 December 2016 | Tual
Wednesday 28 December 2016
Sailing is that thing sailboats often do (ergo the name) when there is appropriate wind from a useful direction. This excludes all velocities from directly ahead or light air directly behind. Despite absence from forecast those two circumstances have been present so far for most of this estimated 28 hour passage, including 4 in squalls of 25 and 30 knots right on the honker. Greenhouse gas producing hydrocarbons have been utilized extensively. What up? Mother nature can sometimes be a perverse old biddy. Once took 4 days to make a normal 2 day passage from Niue to Pago Pago, 1 NM in one 24 hour period as wind and current nearly canceled each other, but that was back in the days of soloing with more patience and less fuel.
Notwithstanding previous paragraph, last few hours before arrival had us fully reefed making hull speed as wind howled in from the east. This is the stuff we will avoid bashing into for much of 2200 miles by ducking into Darwin. Monsoon winds shift west around April.
Contacted everyone and his brother-in-law yesterday to prepare for arrival into Australia. Internet makes life so much easier - then it stopped. Mytelkomsel app shows 10 GB left, but no go. Probably used up "national" data and rest only usable local Sorong where purchased. Hard to tell when instructions are in Indonesian. Must go into Tual for more, but crazy wind and rain since yesterday morning and no end in sight.
Finally got a break in the weather yesterday to get ashore, check on clearance procedures and go shopping at the Gota Supermarket for essentials: eggs, bread, chicken parts (parts is parts), lemons, etc. Fought wind getting back to the boat and it's been raining and blowing since.
Ah, but there's good news. Finally worked out the geometry on rain catchment (we are now replete with water) and induced uncooperative AC cooling pump to work (bad hidden wire splice) so that we have cool, dry air in the necessarily closed-up, otherwise muggy cabin (Jan has become rather fond of me). Also replaced rattley (not a real word) fan over my naughty corner (chart/computer table) with new, wonderfully quiet one (more fond). Next is to make generator run smoothly. Suspect air leak in fuel manifold. Trouble will be shot in the fullness of time (possibly tomorrow), but more critical affairs are at hand - it's almost 5 o'clock.
South by West
26 December 2016 | Pulau Aiduma
GRIB from Triton to Ambon
Tuesday 27 December 2016
Wanted to stay around Triton Bay awhile longer, but GRIB (Good Reason for Incessant Babbling) forecast shows strong west wind by Friday afternoon between here and visa renewal. Not needing to depart early this morning, went into the resort to sponge some coffee and say goodbye to guests heading out diving and to Jimmie and his crew whose hospitality has been wonderful. Enjoyed very good dives if too few and didn't get to see more whale sharks, but this was an excellent respite before the 3 day, 3 night slog coming up. Expect to be marooned around Ambon for at least a week before adverse wind begins to abate.
iMovie is cool. Benighted Windows miscreants have something similar if obviously inferior (as everyone with the possible exception of retired IBMer Birky will no doubt agree). The app makes creating excellent videos easy for those with artistic sensibilities. Fortunately, a total lack can be partially mitigated with a really cool subject such as, oh say, whale sharks. OK, OK, know you're sick of hearing about them, but 2 home movies have been produced which may end up on the blog. This eventuality will depend on the timely confluence of 3 efforts: learning how to post such things, finding fast, free internet (which has been non-existent for some considerable time) and getting someone's dead butt in motion. Look for them on a computer near you, but don't forget to exhale in the interim.
Based on a tentative routing, Puteri Harbour is around 2300 NM from Triton Bay. Ambon is 385. After Friday we'll have less than 2000 NM to go. Piece of cake. Almost there.
- Slightly later
Reference first and third paragraphs and likelihood of similar weather all the way to Puteri, may make a slight change in itinerary. Shortly after leaving Triton Bay this morning, discovered to our amazement that current plan was completely nuts. Who knew? When found, responsible party will be given a severe tongue-lashing. Have decided that Darwin for a few months is a better option. It's in Oz. It's 191.25 from current position. It's three days from Tual where we may clear out of Indonesia or renew visas and continue west if the dementia returns. Expect to arrive tomorrow noon on a reach (that's nautical talk for actual sailing). New, improved strategy is not a sure thing, but fresh reasons for it are constantly presenting. Of course there are cyclones and crocs and it is Australia, but we can just ignore all that.
24 December 2016 | Pulau Aiduma
Christmas Eve Dinner
Christmas Day 2016
Delightful Christmas Eve dinner last night with Jimmie and his 5 new guests, 1 Italian and 4 Australians. Called an early night as they had just arrived - Paulo straight from Italy - with 3 dives planned for today. Christian staff continued to party hearty with help from numerous Bintangs until Jimmie shut them down at midnight. Muslims were more subdued.
** Warning ** Buzzkill alert. Do NOT read next 2 paragraphs.
Have never understood how St Nick (Old Nick? Santa: anagram for Satan?) brings all that loot on a small sleigh when there is often no chimney and anyway how does a guy that rotund get through the small opening? Have come to suspect some nefarious goings on. Pretty sure the old scalawag is trying to lure little kids into a life of crime by getting them acclimated to taking stuff without working for it. That naughty and nice thing is just cover to fool parents. This year I've demanded an 88" curved screen Samsung TV and someplace to mount it. Otherwise I'm turning to burglary.
And another thing. Christians in Southeast Asia, where it's hot and humid year round, display Mr. Jollybutt with reindeer, sleighs, decorated trees and fake snow. They sing carols about snowmen, sleighbells and white Christmases. What's that all about? How did missionaries, typically the Dutch who enslaved and murdered the indigenous population willy-nilly, get them to buy into this? On the other hand with fewer restrictions they do have more fun than Muslims, so there's that.
** Continue here **
On a more serious note, to all and sundry no matter your beliefs (particularly those mavericks who did not heed the prudent warning): Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and/or Joyful Occasion. May everyone delight in such fullness of life as you can wish for.
Jack & Jan
Secluded, Not Deluded
22 December 2016 | Pulau Aiduma, Triton Bay
Triton Bay Divers
Wednesday 21 December 2016
Despite trepidations for the contrary, this ragtag operation arrived safely off wee Triton Bay Divers at 1030 yesterday morning. Its location, backed into step hills, at the head of a small protected bay with 4 separate sandy beach coves guarded by 2 mushroom shaped islands on NE Aiduma Island is idyllic. Only way in to stay at one of the 6 small bungalows is by puddle jumper to Kaimana (good luck finding it in far west Irian Jaya), then a 30 mile boat ride. Their motto is "Remote.. and Worth it". Marginal phone and internet are provided by satellite. Jimmie, Canadian and an owner, is delightful and we kept him from his duties for about 3 hours in the afternoon drinking coffee, talking and craftily avoiding boat projects. He invited us as his guests for dinner last night, a dive today and Christmas Eve festivities. After days of inclemency, weather has remained beautiful. Our circumstances, always enjoyed if only as great stories in retrospect, is staging a recovery.
Dinner and the company were excellent. Jimmy was scandalized that anybody (that would be me) is somewhat skeptical of the doomsday scenarios and drastic actions necessary that global warming experts are demanding we believe. You're no doubt appalled as well. I'm such a reprobate that I don't even help that famous bar and restaurant save the planet. Well, they're expensive and the food sucks. As a consequence, I will probably be forced to spend eternity in the Hard Rock Cafe, Hell.
Until the aforementioned eventuality we are luxuriating in the peace and quiet of a slower pace and yet, boat work is getting done, after a fashion. Jimmie came for dinner aboard tonight and Jan outdid herself with beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, grilled zuchini and, for dessert, banana fritters with real Canadian maple syrup (almost as good as Vermont.. Jan loves it when I say that). He doesn't drink so there was more for us. Ha, ha, haaa. Life is good.
19 December 2016 | Selat Sele
More Whale Shark
Monday 19 December 2016
Finished the first of 2 nights at sea en route to Triton Bay. No wind except in squalls. Must be blowing somewhere as sea is lumpy. It's also particularly hot. Almost a shame we don't get seasick to top it off. Does diesel exhaust cause brain damage? After the generally miserable stopover in Sorong, look forward to relaxation at destination and jumping into unpolluted ocean for cooling off at least through Christmas. Respite to be adulterated by a mere soupçon of boat work.
Numerous photos and video of the big sharks have inspired dabblation (seldom used subjectification of the verb dabble) with iMovie. Have now created 2 attention span length videos including effects and music which are excellent (description is highly subjective and self serving), but expect additional tinkering to make them excellenter (don't try this one playing Scrabble). Compiled sizes are over half a GB, so nobody gets abused until internet is available.. and free.
First clear night without rain. Who knew it could happen? Once around the corner heading east, lost the gunwale dunking swell, but picked up nearly a knot of adverse current - no complaints on tradeoff. Passed through Ceram Sea now back into the Arafura. When we sail across top of Banda Sea (does anybody have an actual inventory of named seas? - there are a pant-load) en route to Ambon, hope to see the glowing ocean phenomenon observed a year and a half ago. It's probably seasonal, but was right up there with whale sharks on the "holy crap" list.
Even creation of this scintillating verbiage (which includes intemperate use of nouns and sundry modifiers as well) is failing to prevent nodding off so, as the sun creeps slowly above the horizon, a third cuppa is in the offing. Should arrive off Triton Bay Divers Resort late morning if we don't lose consciousness, run on a reef and sink.
So Long Sorong
18 December 2016 | Selat Sele
Yef Bi Sunset
Sunday 18 December 2016
Many sailors do and most probably should put biocide in their fuel or it's likely to grow bugs. They're not really bugs, of course, but algae and treacly sludge it is. Apparently the stuff chows down on diesel, but can only live in water. Why is water in diesel, you might ask. Don't. Algae normally utilize chlorophyll, so don't know how that works without light, but these seem not to mind as much as they should. Perhaps since they eat diesel for a living the chlorophyll is superfluous (huh?), redundant (huh?), unnecessary. If you run through fuel quickly enough the additive is also probably superfluous (huh?), redundant (huh?), unnecessary, however, sailboats normally haul their fuel around for extended periods because of an alternative means of propulsion. This has not been the case in "The Land Below the Wind". We've run out of algicide and it's not available, but lucky for us there is little wind and we get to refill tanks regularly. This usually involves several trips schlepping up to 30, 20 liter jerry cans to the boat from a fuel station via local transport and dinghy. By the way, many people go into sailing having been told the wind is free. This mendacity is perpetrated by brokers and sailors wishing to sell boats to gullible cheapskates.
Have now left Sorong forever once again. When leaving a place forever, it's customary to do it only once, but being so enamored of the concept we decided it was worth another go. Need for fuel and oil (nearly depleted) and laundry service (just short of reversing dirty skivvies for a second round) was an additional inducement. Also had an opportunity to reconnect with the great and helpful folks at EON Engineering, Wick, Ayu and Neddy. Thanks for everything, guys.
Latest, revised, final plan to follow: Heading to Triton Bay for Christmas. Jimmie at Triton Bay Divers has invited us to anchor off his resort and, always amenable to abusing a proffered hospitality, we shall. Besides what is considered, along with Raja Ampat, perhaps the most biodiverse marine ecosystem on the planet, there are whale sharks. One just cannot see too many whale sharks.
As postulated when marking the calendar, we are almost immediately behind schedule. Ambon, a long 2 overnight, 3 day sail from Triton Bay, may or may not be graced by our presence a week late. Can't be more than a week and a half, however, as visa renewal must be completed before the 7th or Indonesian authorities will be miffed.