Cats are Dangerous

Some cats are more dangerous than others. And really, I’m not talking about domestic cats. Although Cat scratch Fever is a thing! I’m talking about Cats people sail the oceans on. A week or so ago a Lagoon 40 ish left Indonesia traveling to Oz. About 4 days later they returned to Medana Bay Marina. What the Hell !

The Plexi is ment to be broken out in emergency. Just not on it’ own!

Turns out; while in rough seas (the boat was doing well) a life threatening event occurred. Today many Catamarans have escape hatches under the bridge on the inside of each hull. I believe the EU demanded they be there “In case the Catamaran flips over”; people can get out of each hull. They are not trapped. You see, when a cat gets overpowered by wind and seas they can flip and will not right themselves. Mono’s on the other hand will pop back up. Not that I wish to try it. Both situations are dangerous. Mono’s can be and have been knocked down, their mast hits the water and because they have a huge amount of weight in the keel they stand back up. Some Cat owner will just say, naw – they’ll simply sink. We know two cruisers in monos’ that have been knocked down. Both boats survived and are sailing today. But; that is not what I”m talking about.

Anyway they were sailing along in some bouncy seas. At 4 am (ish) one of the escape windows came off. It didn’t just open up where you could reclose it. The window disappeared in a few 1,000 feet of water. The window is about 56 cm square. Every time a wave reached the window hundreds of liters of water poured in. The window was less than 50 cm above the static waterline. As luck would have it; one of the crew was off watch and in the berth with the escape hatch. Sea water dousing him was not how he wished to wake up . Imagine several buckets of ocean water being thrown at you every few seconds.

They were fortunate he was there. Otherwise there would have been several tons of water in the boat before anyone noticed. Each cubic meter of water is a metric ton. The crew never mentioned if they had a bilge alarm. And more luck, there were 4 guys aboard. All awake now they worked to stop the water. So much water was entering the boat that the bilge pump couldn’t keep up. While bilge pumps are often rated 2,000 gallons / hour given the lift height to the exhaust outlet they pump much less. Plus as long as the batteries are good the pump is good. So assume it pumps half that rate you only get about 15 gallons / minute or about 100 lbs of water out of the boat every minute. Remember; about every 10 seconds a hundred or more lbs of sea water was cascading in. As they slowed the water ingress with cushions and cabinetry they started a bucket brigade removing the water. Changing the boat course helped to reduce water ingress and gain some control. Once they had won the water war they turned around.

The Al secured in place!

They were only 150 nm or so from Medana and 50 miles or so from a port they could seek shelter and temporary repairs. Again lucky they weren’t two or three days further on. And the stars were closely aligned. The starting battery was in the dry hull and they were able to start the engines. They passed a ship and let off a flare to no effect. No response from the ship! One crew member was able to use the Iridium Go and contact his partner in Australia. She then called the Oz authorities who then called the Indonesian authorities in a worse case scenario. The crew had enough experience to know that by now they were not in danger of sinking. But, they were fighting the seas and wind while attempting to return to port. Their speed was now close to one nautical miles / hour; plus or minus a bit. Fifty hours later they made safe harbor . More paperwork completed – they had recently checked out of Indonesia. Indonesia loves paperwork! They jury rigged an Aluminum plate for the window opening and used 3 tubes of Sikaflex. The harbor master inspected the boat ensuring there was no more safety issues. They now had both openings sealed. Two days later they returned to Medana Bay Marina where they could get hauled out and effect repairs.

A proper hatch but rather small in diameter!

Catamarans are lovely boats. They have enormous elbow room and a place to hide from kids or crew when the need arises. Yet, from my perspective; when offshore Catamarans too often are dangerous.

It is events like this that make me leery of owning one. However; never say never! Instead I will say “not now”. When I was in the tech industry we had a saying “you bleed living on the cutting edge”. In ocean cruising; Cats are the cutting edge.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Leaving Bali

We came to Bali: 1) To find a real Dermatologist for the cyst on W/s neck, 2) to hang with our old marina mate Dan on Vagabond, and 3) because of its reputation as a great tourist place. We found a good dermatologist and surgeon, and W/ had the cyst removed. Dan finally returned from his world tour by plane and we did a few touristy things. I plan to expand on tourist Bali in a later post.

The hard part was ahead of us. Leaving Bali. We had a comfortable moorage in Bali. We were way, way back in the harbor – out of the swell. We were however near the intermittent burning of the dump. Too we were in line with the garbage floating in and out of the harbor with the tide, and we were in a very nutrient rich basin of water. So much so, that with 3+ weeks of growth the prop was covered with barnacles. How do I know? I snorkeled to clean the prop. While in the water I scanned the growth on the hull and thought “not bad”. Boy was I wrong.

We left at 6 am on an outgoing tide. Motored through the harbor missing some of the permanent sunk wrecks and out through the pass. The day looked great with a light SE breeze. A fellow cruiser suggested sliding up along the Bali coast and then cut over to Gili Air. We were going backwards. We don’t like going backwards, but – the only good Marina near by is back at Lombok. Exiting the harbor we turned north. And we stopped. Not because the engine wasn’t on, not because we couldn’t fill the sails with wind. Because the current was running S along this coast. There are no chart books covering currents in the strait. The app “Windy” displays currents. Our experience is that Windy’s data must be gleaned from the fiction section of the library. The info here never really bores out.

We don’t like pretending to move. So …like any rational person we changed our destination and thus course. We turned E and motored. East was heading into the breeze but it wasn’t enough for concern. However the confluence of the current and winds put our boat speed at about 3 kts. With this engine speed we ought to have been running at 6 kts. But; BUT, we were moving toward our new destination.

As we approached the N side of Nusa Penida. we picked up some speed and the southerly wind swell broke up. We still had messed up chop. In this area there are many fast boats (tourist boats) they create a constant chop. By this time a half the day had passed and I worried about making our new mooring by nightfall. We did have a track out of Gili Gede. That was good because the pearl farms there have a huge amount of bouys floating between the islands. Each bouy supports hundreds of oysters.

We didn’t travel any faster the last 1/3 of the way. Every time we hit 5 kts of speed over the ground I was excited. Nearer sunset we were entering the sounds by Gili Gede. We worked our way around the oyster bouys, keeping an eye on the track we made when leaving. Eleven plus hours after we left Bali we picked up a mooring. But, it was still light outside. We made it, in the light, with no big drama.

The following am we dug out the hooka gear and I grabbed my mask and fins. W/ scrounged up old gloves, a scraper, a green scratch pad and wash rag. I was going to clean the bottom. And wow! Did it need cleaning. After 3 weeks in Bali we had the beginnings of a new reef. The boat bottom was one of the reasons we didn’t make great time. I guess I ought to have cleaned the bottom in Bali. But… the water was so dirty. Here in Gili Gede the water is clean and clear. Tomorrow we head up to Gili Air. A few days hanging with heaps of tourists, then head the last 3 nm and haul out at Medana Bay Marina.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bali- First Impressions

I DO NOT like it.

The anchorage / mooring field is like living in an industrial zone. My first impressions are that Indonesia has done an excellent job of creating a split personality tourist destination. The Yin and Yang. The Good and Bad. From the cruising perspective; mine, the cruising part is bad. We will see if that lasts and how long it lasts.

In Labuanbajo from the boat we could get to the city proper easily. Here the city proper is difficult to get to and to even find. Obviously there was NO city planner. A western concept. There are tourist areas and then the Central Business District (CBD) and the rest. Getting to shore is challenging. Dinghy access is problematic taking into consideration the tides and dockage. Where there is dockage there is a great deal of traffic, the majority is tourist. There the high speed boats take groups of tourists. They transit to some of the (other) beautiful Indonesian islands.

Bali is schizophrenic. The tourist stuff is… well … very nice. The resorts, the restaurants, the beaches. We’ve not yet been to the monkey jungle, the waterfall(s) or the rice paddies. What we have done is acclimate ourselves to the harbor, transportation, supplies and medical. W/ needed some skin checks and she’s cleared all those. We found a dermatologist that was excellent. The Dermatologist recommended a surgeon for the growing cyst on her neck and that’s been taken care of. We’ve learned to use private cars and the Gojek transportation system. They have few if any public transports like Bemos here.

I close my eyes when in traffic. Hold my breath during low tide in the harbor and continue to look for Peanut M & M’s. Traffic for westerners is exciting. Much like a video game with few if any rules. The one rule I believe is: don’t ever hit anyone. A good rule. But a scary rule. To cross traffic I hold up my hand and begin walking across. They have cross walks here but they don’t seem to mean anything. As I walk cars will either stop and let me pass or move so as not to knock me off my feet. Some motorcycles will stop; the majority will flow like water around. In a car it seems no one uses mirrors. With the adage of “Don’t hit anyone” they only care about what is in front. The line in the road is a guide, not a rule. It is crossed whenever there is little or no opposing traffic. Bikes and cars will move to give room to any and all comers. At stop lights (there are a few) cars leave room on the outside of the road so bikes can all move to the front. Some cars will leave room in front of them so bikes can work their way around everyone to the front. In the 10 days here I’ve not yet seen a bike even touch a car or another bike. Two were close but not touching! While riding in the Gojek (their taxi) and only a few centimeters away is a bike traveling paralleling us. A FEW CENTIMETERES! As room ahead opens up they zoom off. At intersections cars turn on their 4 way blinkers and ease into the intersection. There are no STOP signs. The only vehicle with priority is the one in front. If you ease forward and get in front then you may cross. All this time bikes may be passing in front, behind and beside you.

Yesterday I watched one bike pull up beside us. She (the driver) was talking to herself the whole time. I don’t know if she was praying or telling herself to stay alert. As we reached an intersection she pulled ahead and I never saw her again.

At Low Water we push though the muck. Dinghy is at the Dock T

The harbor is; well the best way to describe it, a mess. With rain and tides rubbish is picked up from the shore and ends up in the harbor; all floating by. Not a time goes by where as I’m going or coming from the boat I need to avoid floating plastic in the water. Only a few things I’ve not yet seen floating; condoms, baby diapers and dead fish. Maybe I’m not observant enough! Yesterday Dan on Vagabond was slowly motoring and the engine grabbed ahold of a T shirt. At low tide the area smells of rotten eggs. As I dinghy to shore I see bubbles rising from the bottom. The water is always dirty. Mississippi River water is cleaner. The two docks we use to reach shore usually have water access. During King tides we’ve had to push through the mud to reach water deep enough to float the dinghy. As we use the oars to push through we encounter a plethora of obstructions. Not coral. I doubt coral could grow here. And yet on the one dock there are always fishermen. They catch fish that are about 10 cm long. I don’t imagine they eat them, I think they either sell them to the fisherman that go offshore in the spiders or use them as bait.

We’ve found these fishing boats (called Spiders) 25 nm offshore!

While this is to be the “dry” season we’ve had heaps of rain this last week. So much so that one day we need to use the generator to charge the batteries. No Sun for three days depletes our battery bank. Looks like today I will need to run it again for an hour.

The hardest working crew Elysum has had

Before we head out we hope to add a layer of varnish to our exterior wood and see a little of the tourist Bali. Dan on Vagabond has been here over 6 months and knows the places to go. We’ll use him as our tour guide. Dayat (a local Indonesian waterman) has already shined all our stainless. An excellent worker. We expect to use his assistance as we go about the varnish job. But right now we wait. During all this we went to a travel agency and have tickets back to the states. We’ll head first to Kuala Lumpur (KL) and get our annual medical checks completed. They are extremely thorough in KL. After that we fly to NYC via Doha: I say “yuck” and W/ cheers. Not against me but for heading back to the “Land of Instant Everything”.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long