Selat Galasa near Belitung island
18 June 2008 | 2 24.1'S:107 24.50'E, Indonesia
Near Belitung island Indonesia South China Sea 18th June
If you think we spend all day lolling about on deck getting tanned well you are completely wrong! Sailing has been hard work since we left Singapore. We are currently speeding along in bumpy water with a 15-18 knot SE wind. I am balancing the computer on my lap on the starboard side which is heeled right over. I even had to pack my Buddha away who usually sits happily among the pillows on the upper port side of the saloon. Bill has just put a second reef in and we're racing along at 7.5 knots. It will be a long night as we negotiate our way between these islands off the coast of Sumatra. All the hatches are closed as spray washes over the decks. There's lots of 'white horses' out there today. Sometimes one of these waves hits the under part at the front of Valiam with a 'bang'! The skies are blue and the clouds are white and fluffy. Tonight will be a full moon which will assist visibility.
The captain had to solve a few problems today. Since we are heeling right over on the starboard side which is the same side as the toilet and when one flushes the water level comes up too high.(and wont go down). This is not very nice after a number 2. This is because Valiam is lower in the water with all the water, fuel and food on board (not my junk!!!) The temporary way to solve this problem is to close off the sea cock to the toilet. This is situated at the front of the engine compartment and involves lifting away the stairs. Okay that was problem number one. There's more.. Whilst running the motor earlier today to charge the batteries the captain noticed steam and the engine appeared to be a bit warm. After turning off the engine to cool down we investigated further and discovered that the water pump impeller was worn out. This was replaced with much sweating and contortion because it's in a very awkward location. After this and with the engine running again we thought we would have our heated up left over chilli con carne for lunch. Just as we were about to eat Linda noticed water on the floor under the chart table. This had leaked out from under the engine which had quite a lot of water sloshing around underneath it. Whilst the lunch got cold we mopped and pumped the water out. Once all that was completed and the engine had cooled it was time to investigate the leaking problem. The captain found the water inlet hose that was a bit loose and that could have leaked air into the pump which caused its premature failure. After starting the engine again water was still coming in. Peering down behind the engine it appeared to be coming from the muffler pipe. Now to attend to this the captain had to get into the rear cubby hole behind the engine which really is only big enough for a child contortionist. After untying the liferaft, the big hatch and crawling in the captain observed that this pipe was also loose. Thank goodness we didn't have t o order a new one from Oz to be flown in to Cocos. Now the captain says to the crew 'Start the engine which she did. 'Stop the engine!" which she tried to do BUT IT WOULDN'T STOP. Visions of burnt out solenoids, voltage regulators etc made for a depressing few minutes. The captain dripping all over with sweat wearing only his undies crawled out and manually stopped the engine. After putting everything back together we started the engine again and ate lunch. No problem. Stopped the engine again. No problem.. So now we think the engine is ok and the electronic bits are ok too.
The other far more serious problem is the frother on our capuccino machine wont work any more. We have tried cleaning the pipe with thin wire etc to no avail. So now we have to have our espresso coffee with cold milk or heated in a saucepan. Now you must feel very sorry for us.
Linda is trying a few different seasick medications as the Australian familiar brand ran out. The Malaysian one is ok but makes me feel a bit odd at times - a bit vague etc but then that may be due to lack of sleep. I gave the chemical name to Liam to look up and he said its fine. Only 500mg can give hallucinations. I take 50mg so I should be ok. We also bought Stugeron which we had heard had a lot of favourable reports from other yachties. (Its not available in Oz) I'm reserving that for the Indian ocean.
If you like a bit of interesting reading you may enjoy the following: When leaving Singapore we were trying to dodge a ship which suddenly changed direction and gave one blast of its horn. I assumed it was to tell us to get out of the way. But apparently there are sound signals. We didn't know them so we asked Bills Dad to look them up for us:
re Shipping Rules I thought that I'd better have a look to see what the 1915 RAN seaman's manual (it belonged to Uncle Bob) said. Sure enough there it is-- "Sound Signals for Vessels in Sight of One Another" A short blast means a blast of about one second's duration. I'll quote the statement. "When vessels are in sight of one another, a steam vessel under way, in taking any course authorized or required by these rules, shall indicate the course by the following signals on her whistle or siren, viz:- One short blast to mean, 'I am directing my course to starboard' Two short blasts to mean, 'I am diercting my course to port' Three short blasts to mean, 'My engines are going full speed astern' I wonder what four short blasts mean?? I note that the first edition of the manual is 1908 this one is 1915, maybe the sound signals haven't changed, did you notice whether the ship changed course to starboard when she blew her whistle ?
Linda :The ship was actually turning to port. My first assumption may have been correct. He wanted us to get out of the way!!! (Assuming we had no idea)
Anyway as Murphy's law would have it no ships were observed for at least 5 hours this morning but when we glanced up from the engine compartment we saw a huge back of a ship passing our stern 50 metres away..
By the time you read this we will have navigated our way through the Selat Gelasa between Belitung island and Bangka island. There are unlit reefs and shipwrecks so we will be keeping a sharp lookout. The chartplotter really makes things easier.
Its time to stop typing. With all the hatches closed its rather warm in here. (Bill received an impromptu shower earlier on deck) Time for some air.
All well on board.
Local time 5.30pm Position: 2 24.2S 107 24.5E