07/29/2012, Timor Sea
It's early morning before sunrise, and the AIS is showing 2 other boats in close range, S/V Relapse(NZ), and S/V Sea Mist (CDN). S/V Ain't Misbehaving is up ahead as well. The main core of the fleet is now behind us. Like a flock of migrating geese leaving on their annual migration, over 100 boats left Kupang on the Indo Rally July 28th. We left from the Marina about 1/2 hour ahead of the official 'start' time to avoid having to jossle through that many boats. Out here, with no land in sight, it's a strange feeling seeing other boats. As I write this, speedy S/V Relapse is passing us on our port side. If it was light enough I could wave to him, or even offer a fresh coffee! He will be just by us before sun up though, so he missed his chance!
Yesterday after signing off the blog, the seas began to slowly build up behind us, creating the perfect back drop for photos. The Timor Sea is very shallow, only 2-300 feet deep as you leave the Australian coast. Shallow sea bottom means that the waves tend to stack up more than they would over a deep seabed.
We are now back in deep water again, having just zig zagged through some shoals about 130 nm miles from our first way point near our landfall at Kupang. The wind is 12 knots from ESE, and seas are back to being calm. Our big event yesterday was the decision to take down the main and genoa wing on wing plan and switch to the big Code Zero. The seas were still running, fairly steep short 2-3 meters, with winds from behind at 15-20 knots. The main was flogging against the rigging as we rolled around on the seas. Not good for the sail or the sudden loads on the rigging. Furling in the genoa and stacking away the pole was no big event, as we did this going downwind. Taking down the main- well that's a different story. Lashing down the main on Paikea Mist is one of the most difficult and dangerous things we have to do if we have to do it on the high seas. Without a furling main we have to bring down the main while holding on with all your strength while balancing on the pitching deck (of course with life lines and harnesses attached). Our boom is quite high, making the whole task formidable when conditions are like they were yesterday. The main sail is now securely lashed down, but it sure doesn't look pretty! Oh well, that was yesterday, and behind us now. Looking forward to another nice day of sailing, sunny skies and other boats close by!
07/28/2012, Timor Sea
Bracing myself at the back of the cockpit,listening to my new fav Ray LaMontagne, I gently sway to his sweet songs. The wind is cool on my bare arms, but not cold enough to don a sweatshirt. The moon has dipped under the horizon, and the stars are now welcoming me in their full sparkle. Wind from behind us is pushing us along at a steady 8 1/2 to 9 knots in calm seas. Orion stretches himself across the eastern horizon behind me, ready for his slow glide down into bed. Soon the sun will welcome a brand new day. Anyone who has done an offshore passage knows, it just doesn't get much better.
My brother in law Martin sailed his first yacht in Indonesia. He called her Sahid Layar- "beautiful sail" in Bahasa, the spoken language in Indonesia. Fortunately for Michael and I, Martin brought Sahid Layar to Canada, and aboard her I fell completely in love with sailing, and the amazing feeling of exploring new horizons. And so the passion began - sailing had wrapped its wonderful arms around me.
Full circle. Sweet, beautiful sailing. Life is good.
"I could hold you forever" Ray sings...
312 nm to go to Kupang! Six other boats in view, front of the pack!
07/27/2012, Leaving Darwin
Michael and I couldn't be more excited to be heading the nose of Paikea Mist to Indonesia! We just cleared out of the locks at Tipperary Marina, and are filing out in a long slew of boats who are with the Indo Rally. We are expecting a great sail to Kupang, Indonesia, about 450 nm from Darwin, with winds from the SE at 20 knots to push us along.
We've had an altogether too hectic time getting Paikea Mist ready for an extended period in SE Asia! It's been pedal to the medal since getting back from our camping trip. We are a well stocked boat, and if we don't have it now, well, we will have to make do without! It feels great to be off the dock, although are stay at Tipperary Marina was ideal place, with lots of other cruisers to socialize with. If you are thinking of going to Tipperary, you might want to ask for the main dock, as it is close to all the amenities!
We expect we will cover the passage to Kupang in 2 1/2 to 3 days! When we next set the anchor down we will be in entering our 12th country. Indonesia is the first Muslim country Michael and I have visited, and we look forward to learning more about the islands of Indonesia, their people and culture. As always, we will keep you posted as to our progress!
07/24/2012, Tipperary Marina, Darwin, Australia
"Psst - Did you hear Paikea Mist is getting ready to sail to Indonesia?
We are in the last push of preparation for our Indonesia Odyssey! We have 'shopped til we dropped' to provision for 3 months in remote areas, gone over Paikea Mist top to bottom, attended Sail Indonesia Barbeque and Rally meetings, and are ALMOST ready to set sail for Kupang, 450 nm from Darwin! We leave on Saturday and it looks like the Rally might actually have some decent winds from the SE starting by Sunday.
We have been warned to expect a 'different' grasshopper in Indonesia, where we are told that the 'sum it all up saying' is "That is impossible. But it can be done!". We are also told to smile and nod a lot, barter for items like we did in Mexico, to take off our wristwatches and realize that in the Indonesian language there is no such word for 'manana'. Sam, our friendly Indonesian spokesperson for the rally has thought deep and long on this translation of 'manana', and tells us that there is no such word that transmits that type of urgency in his language! Well Indonesia- this sounds just fine to us- we look forward to exploring your islands and your culture.
Darwin has been a blast and very busy time, especially with all the socializing cruisers love to do! For us it's been fun catching up with the fleet that crossed the Pacific the same year as we did, but continued on to Australia ahead of us. We had a chance to catch up with Simon and Jane (S/V Elixir) and their two lovely kids at their gorgeous water front home here. We first met Simon and Jane when they sailed across the Pacific with their two precious little cargos, Hugo and Ethan. Jane is now expecting their 3rd, and we wish them all the best in this new dimension of family life!
We've also been happy to have had the opportunity to spend time with our friends Gordon and Sherry on SV Serenity, hopefully our paths will continue to cross often in more places up ahead.
Once we get into Indonesian waters our internet connections will be slow and awkward- so it is unlikely that we will be able to post as many photos as we have here lately, but will keep our fingers crossed!
In the meantime, check out our new photos in our Photo Gallery! Enjoy!
"Look at that reef!" Kai and Megan enthusiastically enjoying our new view at Cod Hole Dive, Great Barrier Reef on the public mooring
They are off! Kai and Megan are off on their next adventure to Indonesia aboard the Danish boat Orbit. We want to wish them smooth sailing and loads of adventures along the way! We will miss you guys!
Kai and Megan joined us in Luganville and sailed across the Coral Sea to Cairns, staying aboard on our journey northwest up the Australian coast all the way to Darwin. They have been tremendously great company and completely easy to have aboard. They seemed to glide effortlessly into our routines aboard Paikea Mist. Together, Kai and Megan make a strong and dynamic couple who stay positive through difficult times are just plain fun to be with. They share the same enthusiasm for family, friends and life adventures as we do.
Both Kai and Megan are competent on a solo watch AND are exceptionally fine cooks! Now that's a combination that is hard to beat! Several of the areas we navigated were intensely reef stricken, and some of these areas we traveled through at night. We had no issue trusting Kai and Megan at the helm while navigating through these areas, they both made careful and astute observations on our behalf.
I have to thank Kai especially for increasing my knowledge bank with regards to fishing. (Okay, so that's not so hard to do considering how little I know about fishing!) Kai on the other hand, is an avid fisherman, and a exceptionally skilled and keen at free diving to spear his selected fish. Kai does the whole deal from catching, cleaning, filleting to preparing the fish for a meal. Always a deliciously inventive meal- Yum! Thanks so much Kai!
Kai and Megan left us with a new hand reel set up to catch Spanish Makarel, complete with a steel leader. These were the allusively hard to catch fish that chomped through several lures and sometimes took the entire thing in one clean swipe. Although we never were able to hook a Spanish Makerell we had much better luck in the Tuna department. We sure hope we can keep up the fish quota with the new gear! Thanks for the fish, the lures and the memories!
I have to finish by saying that Michael and I can't really think of Kai and Megan as simply "crew". We have shared our fair share of adventures together from exploring the Millineum Caves in Vanuatu to diving on the outer reefs at Great Barrirer in Australia. They have become lifelong friends that we will cherish forever, and we wish them the best of luck in everything that they tackle together.
Au Revoir, Aufweidersehen, Until we meet again!
07/16/2012, Top of Australia
Well, sorry for the interruption folks. We arrived in Darwin safe and sound on July 10th. I posted an update through our sailmail, but it seems it didn't arrive to the blog!
Darwin is a modern and fabulous small sized city with 'heaps' of festivals, markets and a nice tourist buzz at this time of the year. Darwin is modern because in 1974 it was totally flattened by Cyclone Tracey, which arrived on Christmas Day to wreak havoc on the 48,000 people living here at that time. On our first day in Darwin we visited the Northern Territory Museum with our friends Gordon and Sherry which has a great display of the cyclone.
Paikea Mist is tucked up nicely in Tipperary Marina. The tides at Darwin are huge, so going into marina involves going through a lock system, which was our first experience with this. Before we were allowed to go into the marina we had to have a hull inspection which involved a diver jumping into the crocodile infested waters and pumping some solution through our intake valves. Now, truth be told we didn't see any crocodiles, but they reported that they usually see 5-6 a season. Hmmm...We've heard that you'll never 'see' the crocodile that attacks you- their reflexes are 33 times faster than ours. Must be a well paid job!
Darwin is a great biking town and we've pedaled from one side to the other on mostly flattish terrain. Thursdays night in Darwin we rode out to the Mindil Beach Market. The market is a bustling mix of food stalls and local arts and crafts and imported items. At sunset the market empties and about 1000 people sit on the beach and watch the sunset! On our way back to the boat we stopped at Shannagins- the Irish Pub and enjoyed a table shared with the crew from the Italian flagged SV Chloe. I have to say Italians are lotsa fun!
As I write this update I am sitting in our "Eurovan" camper which we rented for 5 days to explore the nearby Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks. Its dawn and we are camped about 1/2 km from a huge billabong (yes this is a real word, not just a line of teen wear-it comes from the aboriginal word meaning still water) at Yellow Water River. Michael just opened the door for 5 minutes too long and I am typing and slapping mozzies at the same time. Both National Parks are gems - as usual we are really glad we ventured inland.