Tuatara

Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
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19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
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24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
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16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Flying fish and green phosphorescence

18 February 2010 | Oman
Jean
16th February 2010 The destination has been achieved, safely and on the whole enjoyably. We are in Salalah, Oman. The 10 day sail from Maldives to Oman turned out to be a fairly easy run, although we did have one fishing net incident. Enjoyable sailing helped to take our mind off our fish drought. We chose to sail north from Maldives and then once well high of the rhumb line we slowly curved our track towards Salalah. Large ships moving across the Indian Ocean were either crossing our path or moving parallel to us. Some obviously well high of the rhumb line well away from possible activity from Somalia. It's a nervous ocean.

We had our nervous time with a set fishing net not with anyone wanting to do us intentional harm. When we did encounter fishing boats they were working on the horizon or miles from us. During the day, easy to see but at night just a lit boat with no idea whether there were set nets or trawling. A day out of Maldives one small boat came close for a look then motored off to their fishing. Then one night way in the middle, hundreds of miles away from any land we started to encounter lights, the radar picked up some and they were not moving. They had to be fishing boats. During the night we skirted around several but at 5am, still very dark, our luck ran out. Tuatara parked up on a fishing net. On the plus side there was no wind, the sea was calm, it was only about an hour to early light and we were motoring. The minuses were that we were stuck fast and it was difficult to get the main sail down, there were no lights at all on the net and the fishing boat who eventually answered our radio call only spoke Urdu with very "small" English, we have no Urdu. They didn't want to know really and I think the message was sort it out yourselves. So we had a cup of tea and sat and looked at our predicament until a glimmer of light crept into the sky. The worry was if the prop had been damaged. The net was about 2 kilometres long buoyed with 20 litre blue and black plastic barrels every 20 metres. Blue and black, not good colours for seeing at night. Alan donned his mask and flippers , armed with a sharp knife he slipped carefully off the platform, concerned about being caught in the floating net. The first thing he did was free the boat hook I had managed to get caught in the net as I was giving the line an investigative poke. After a look underneath he came up for a breath and good news, the prop was clear, what a relief! We think because we were motoring the tight line moved quickly and caught on the skeg rather than floating up to the prop. Whatever happened we were very fortunate. Alan cut the thick rope but one end stayed stuck in a groove in the skeg. In the short time we had been net bound the rope had worn a groove in the skeg. If the sea had not been smooth the damage would have been a lot worse. Once he tugged the rope out we floated free, another check of the prop before we motored off as quickly as possible. The only change in the nearby fishing boat was that they had turned their lights off. We had had a similar net encounter on Talitha in Indonesia, I think that experience helped us not panic too much this time!!

We kept looking back to see whether the fishing boat was moving, but they didn't move until we were miles away and could only see them through the binoculars. While we were side tracked looking back at that boat we motored past another boat gathering in their net and suddenly they were heading in our direction, waving for us to slow down. We kept on going, they came very close for a look then with a wave and puff of black smoke they turned away motoring off south. In the mean time another boat approached from the other side but then changed their mind and carried on south. Phew a busy if not a little nervous morning. I can't blame these men wanting a closer look at us, if something different comes into your neighborhood the natural instinct is to check it out. We were just finishing our daily SSB radio sked when these boats approached so Silver Fern and Largo Star waited until we got back to them and said everything was ok. That was the last of the fishing boats and our other bits of excitement were a lot more pleasant.

Our fishing luck did improve slightly, not through our streaming lure but via our galley port hole. Each day the lure went out .nothing. One night sitting at the nav station I heard a racket in the galley. Alan was in bed asleep so it wasn't him. When I looked there on the bench was a good sized flying fish, it had flown through the open galley port and was flapping around near the stove. One well aimed flip would have seen it land in the frying pan ready for cooking. I took pity on it and tossed it back home before it injured itself. Our next bit of excitement was bright green phosphorescence. Motoring on a calm sea one night the glittering phosphorescence gradually changed to bright green. Our wake spread out behind us in little green waves. Little fish jumping became green sprinkles across the surface. At one stage we went through a school of fish and green splashes spread out across the sea on both sides of us, an impressive sight. I would have liked to see dolphins their green wake would have been something to see. I did see some a few nights later, their sparkling wake coming towards us, weaving and darting around us.

As we got closer to Oman we saw more ships either coming into join the coalition convoy system or leaving the designated lanes and heading out on their own. During the night we ran our AIS and radar, checking them often. The radar was very good showing up the ships that had their AIS or lights turned off, in one case they had both off. That one we had to veer off 30 degrees for but most by luck were far enough away not to worry about. On the last night as we closed on the coast of Oman we were in the vicinity of 5 other yachts heading for Salalah so we had to run our lights to keep track of everyone. Nine days without seeing another yacht, there we all were converging on the same spot from slightly different directions. Everyone had a slightly different plan or theory as how to sail safely to Oman, mainly avoiding the rhumb line if the wind allowed. The anchorage here is a bit tight about 35 boats, anchored and tied stern to the sea wall. Each new arrival finds a place to squeeze into. Port Salalah is a large container port as well as fishing port, we share part of the port with police boats and navy boats. We are all contributing to the local economy well mainly the agent, Mohammad's, pocket. He controls check in, $US50 is his charge, then there are port charges to enter and leave. Mohammad rents us cars gets the diesel etc etc. All with his added extra charges, no matter that we have already paid him for his services which are compulsory. Agents.. a necessity we are going to have to get used to in this part of the world.

So here we are in Salalah doing a little tourism, some laundry, lots of boat jobs and contemplating the next step.
Comments
Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ