Belitung to Lovina Beach, Bali – 570.3nm
18 April 2010 | Lovina Beach, Bali
A 6am start and it's not long until our day off in Belitung is a distant memory. It feels like we have been travelling for weeks when in reality it's only been a couple of overnighters, a handful of day hops and a few stops along the way. We've met so many cruisers who have spent weeks at sea and having done the sailing we have I have a profound respect for them even though I think they are crazy! The beauty, or so I thought, of this trip to Bali was that Jay had explained to me that it would be mainly made up of day hops, I can do those! This would allow us to stop during the night to catch up on sleep instead of continuing on with eyes hanging out of our heads trying to weave our way through the countless little lights on the water that signalled a boat and straining our eyes to catch the silhouette of those without lights of which there are many.
For the first time in a long time we actually had the wind working in our favour. For our four days of travelling the wind increased in strength from nil to 35 knots and back again, changing direction from North West to South West but for the first time it was not on the nose! A large part of the time we were able to turn the motors off and travel under sail, no diesel smell, no engine noise, just us, the ocean and the breeze. That was the upside. The downside was that all our careful planning in choosing anchorages to break up our journey was foiled by the wind direction. Assuming, (always a mistake), that the wind would be on the nose the anchorages that had provided a beacon of hope, for me at least, raising my spirits when sighted over the horizon were no longer a viable option. Our favourable wind had made them lumpy and rolly and not the place to ensure a peaceful night's sleep before embarking on the next leg of our journey. It was on approach to Bawean Island that this became apparent to me, Jay turned to me and said that we could stop but that we would have a shitty night's sleep and we were having such a good run, maybe we should continue on to Pulau Raas. Reluctantly I agreed, I could see his point of view but I didn't have to be happy about it!
During our trip I had been keeping notes of my observations and feelings about the passage, unfortunately the ugly head of sea sickness from which I suffer decided to make an appearance. Sick of being tired, sick of not eating properly and sick of 4 hour shifts I just became sick. There comes a point where my 'miracle tablets' cease to work and no amount of positive thinking will do the trick. It took hold and refused to go away, there were small pockets of 'feeling better' and trying to smile an 'I'm alright' at Jay. There was nowhere to stop and with the sea sickness a rolly anchorage would be no good, we passed by Pulau Raas, I looked longingly at the island oasis as it passed us by. Damn you wind! No, I take that back! Wind is good! With only two people on board, we have to do shifts, one person cannot stay awake and alert for four days! So, with Jay feeling guilty but needing the sleep, I set myself up on a cushion on the front deck where gulping in lungfuls of sea air made me feel marginally better and armed with a set of binoculars in one hand and a bucket in the other, I vomited my way to Bali!
We experienced our usual curious and friendly fishermen, the largest fish traps we have ever seen, we mistook them originally for broken up boats and, the saddest of all, dead dolphins (several of them) floating on the water after being caught in the fishermen's nets. The latter filled me with dread as to me the sign that we are going to have a good days sailing is having dolphins jumping at the bow, the dead dolphins brought with them an ominous sense of foreboding for me and as we got closer to Bali I found out just what it was warning us about.
We could smell Bali before we could see it. Anyone who has visited Bali knows that distinctive smell you get when you step off a plane, it's the smell of incense from the thousands of offerings placed around the island every day. It was overcast, we had been sailing in and out of storms for the last couple of days and from the look of the massive, angry looking storm clouds hanging over the land we were in for a little more. Both Jay and I were keeping watch as the closer we got to land the more frequent and sometimes hard to spot the fish traps had become. Some were huge and you could see them from a distance, some others lay just below the water so that you didn't see them until you were nearly on top of them. The storm moved closer as we raced to reach the anchorage before it hit, there was lightning in the clouds and looking up at our mast we were feeling a little vulnerable. All of a sudden it was on us! We were in a white out as the rain pelted down on us, the radar was rendered useless, there were fish traps out in front of us that we had seen before the storm descended. With Jay at the helm I stood out the side, my hair plastered to my face and the rainwater filling my eyes like the tears I felt like shedding, I was shitting myself! A yell and frantic waving of hands from me signalled to Jay where the fish traps were located and he changed course accordingly somehow interpreting my panicked gibberish. A sharp crack and a bolt of lightning hit the water beside us, the subsequent thunder booming and rattling my already rattling heart in my chest. I briefly had a moment of clarity that what would happen would happen and we just got on with it. The Stroud and I make a pretty good team!
The storm soon passed over, well the worst of it anyway, it continued to rain and Jay and I were both dripping wet but relief flooded through my veins, we were at Lovina Beach. Checking our charts and waypoints from other yachties. We motored back and forth trying to pick the markers, (a telephone tower that lines up with a dolphin monument), through the rain, these would lead us through the reef that protected this anchorage. Darkness was descending and the water, having been stirred up by the storm, was murky. A local boat headed out towards us and waving at us to follow guided us into the anchorage. Beni was the local go to guy, he could organise supplies, laundry, fuel and water, he was keen to come aboard and chat but we were exhausted and the only thing keeping us going was the thought of a nice meal and a comfy bed. We managed to convince him that we would come and see him in the morning and appeased he left us in peace.