To the Spice Islands

It was only an overnight. We planned on leaving early afternoon. The weather looked benign, the seas about 2 feet, the lightening chance was high. The weather models predicted little to no problems for us. Hmm. That was my read. We left in the afternoon wanting to clear the coast by nightfall. We’ve noticed that the Fish Attracting Devices (FADs) don’t extend much beyond 25 miles offshore. They are not always lit. Actually, they are rarely lit. If we time it right, we will be able to see any FADs in limited light as we reach Banda. On paper it was all perfect. On paper.

Our fiends on Natsumi followed an hour later. A nice bonus, we could chat on the VHF during the passage. In the beginning we cruised along at 6 ish knots. Then a cross swell appeared. Nothing over 2 feet. So the prediction was correct. The issue however was roll, pitch, roll, roll, pitch, roll, repeat. To say motoring was comfortable would be a lie. It was very uncomfortable. With wind we would, we could have had a good ride. There was no wind, zero, nada, zip. So we bounced, rolled, and pitched in every random order one could think of. Mike on Natsumi told us he was thrown across his boat into a winch. Luckily he didn’t break anything, bruises only.

One great thing about our boat is that moving about we always have a handhold. The saying “one hand for you and one for the boat” was paramount that evening. We never got use to the movement, yet we knew that it wasn’t going to last forever. In the morning we would have the comfort of an all around protected anchorage in the Banda (Spice) Islands.

As evening wore on we had a lightening show off to our NE. Our wx software actually included that event. What it didn’t include was the exponential growth of the system. We watched it grow larger, and larger, until it finally reached us and passed over us. Rain came with the thunder and lightening. Luckily it wasn’t a driving rain, not a frog strangler, just a good down pour. The rain, meh, the lightening we don’t like. Every time it struck I checked the distance from the boat. I never counted all the strikes. All the shafts of light that lite up the sky. If someone put a gun to my head to estimate, I would say 50-100. The closest one was 300 meters or so. A few others 1-2- km away. The rest further out. We never had a flash bang. That is when the lightning and sound occur at the same time. Four to five hours later the storm had abated and Banda appeared on the horizon.

Our Automatic Information System (AIS) indicated a cruise ship entering the harbor followed by Natsumi. An hour later we entered the harbor. Time to find a place to anchor. We spoke with Mike on Natsumi and he was anchored in 140’ of water. I didn’t like that depth. We went over to the E shore to look. Other cruisers had indicated we could drop a bow anchor and tie up to shore. One place had a large bouy we could tie to. Nothing looked good.

There were several local boats around the large bouy. Squeezing in there was not in the cards. Anchoring off the Maulana Hotel at this point wasn’t looking good either. There were heaps of people out front all watching the show that Banda put on for the cruise ship. That plus a small local western breeze made the shore a lee shore (pushing up onto the sea wall). Not good either. Back to the W side where Natsumi was.

True Blue V partially hidden, Elysium in Middle and Natsumi alone on the right.

We cruised around for a bit watching our depth sounder and decided on a spot between Natsumi and shore; in 110’ of water. Yuck. That is deep, really deep for a cruising boat to anchor. I dropped out 225’ of chain and we held. The boat stopped, and we too. Time for a snack and nap. Later in the day we’d head to shore. A new place to explore, new people to meet, new food dishes to try, and maybe a tour or two of the Spice islands.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long