The path from Gebe was uneventful. We couldn’t make it to Labuha in one day so as the dark gave way to the dawn we looked for a place to anchor. Songlines had told us of a lovely quiet place. The problem with pre covid info is that some areas have seen a dramatic change.
As we pointed Elysium towards our chosen anchorage a city of bouys came into view. Hundreds of them littered the fairway. Weaving through them might be dangerous. Our prop could wind up one of the bouy lines, stopping the engine. We would then be slaves to any currents. Sails could help but that would be no guarantee towing a bouy and anything connected to it. For a boat, land is NOT our friend. We stayed on the fringe of the city of bouys and found a spot to anchor on the edge of a reef. I dove the anchor to ensure it was in a good spot. And as winds and tides change I wanted to keep Elysium off any coral bommies rising off the bottom.
We were secure, relaxed, and recovering from the night passage. Late in the afternoon an Indonesian war shipped contacted us. They wanted our yacht info. No problem. But the first radio officer I couldn’t understand. After a bit of back and forth a second officer with better English asked us several questions. With all in order they moved on. In the am we were off again, motoring. 🙁
The next anchorage looked very comfortable; on the chart. Again one of our sailing friends had said how nice it was. We found a spot, dropped the hook and rolled. Side to side. While the sea didn’t have white caps there was a swell working its way straight into the harbor. For one night we could tolerate it. If we were here longer we would put out a flopper stopper.
Morning again, the engine started and off we went. Not waiting till breakfast was over. The roll was not fun. We nibbled on the way. Today we would reach Labuha, connect back to the world, get fuel and some fresh food. I had two fishing lines out and it was quiet.
As we approached the final turn to Labuha we hooked a fish. A big fish. W/ reeled in the second line and I grabbed the one with the fish on it. I increased the drag and he kept ripping more line out. I fought it, brought some line in and he ripped more out. At one point he had all my line ( well over a 100 meters) and I felt like he would break it and be on his way. I was able to real a little in and he pulled out less. I reeled and he pulled. But, I was making progress. He was getting closer to the boat. A couple of times he jumped trying to free himself and I saw him. We hooked a sailfish. Wow! As I worked him closer to the boat I saw how big he was. My size. Not good. But, exciting. 45 minutes later he was a couple meters off the boat. There was still some fight in him.
After W/ had reeled in the second line she had slowed Elysium to a crawl. I’m not sure who was winning, the diesel on the boat or the fish pulling us backwards. It didn’t matter.When he was near the boat both of us knew he was too big to attempt to get aboard. W/ grabbed a camera; sorry it didn’t capture him close enough to the surface for an honest photo. She also grabbed a scissors to cut him free. He was still alive but real, real tired. Damnit, I was losing one of my new favorite lures. No way I was going to retrieve it. W/ cut the line. Our excitement ended, ever so slowly the sailfish swam off. We increased our throttle heading again towards Labuha.
In retrospect, and for next time. W/ will get the spear gun and when we get it close enough I can spear him. Then together we can get him aboard. Now I know some of you might be thinking what would we do with all that meat. We would take a slab for ourselves and give the rest to the Indonesians. We were only a few hours away from the town and that would have fed a lot of people. Plus making some new friends. But I was full of adrenaline and not thinking. Anyway, we now have another story to tell.
Labuha ’s Anchorage wasn’t the best. It was open to all points West and North. However, this time there was zero wind and for 4 days we had a comfortable anchorage only bothered by the five times a day call to prayer. We’re actually getting used to much of it. But here, one Mosque had some bad speakers and the sound from it was ear shattering. And, all the Mosques have loud speakers. Quite often we have 3, 4, or 5 Mosques speaking at once. On top of the LOUD chanting none of them are synchronized. Many off set by seconds or minutes. On top of that, after the calls to prayer there appears to be some “wailing”; not pleasant.
As we were preparing to head S towards Ambon the following day, a new swell emerged and began rolling us side to side. Not fun. Again, we could put up with it… for a night. At 4:00 am the Mosque with the bad speakers began the call to prayer. Time to go. Awakened from a sound sleep we chose to leave; now. We picked up anchor and headed out in the dark with our boat lights on and a handheld spot light.
The local fisherman don’t have lights on their boats. But they all carry a spot light. If they see or hear a boat coming their way they shine a light on them. We shine one back indicating that we know they are there. Once acknowledged, all is good. Two hours to go and we’ll have light. The engine is churning over doing its job and the sails still furled. The Sun breaks the horizon. We need to get to Ambon for our 2nd visa renewal. Time marches on.