A Frustrating 5 Days

Mita and Anwar

It was time. We’ve watched the weather. We’ve downloaded the various models way more than any sane person. Our friend Dirk likes to say Analysis Paralysis. A disease very common in cruisers. We said our good byes to those friends on shore, had Meta, Anwar, Lisa, Durango and Fella out to the boat. We wanted to show them we’re not living a “crazy” life.

In the a.m. we pulled the anchor and tooled out the N channel. The only channel we could get out. We were lucky, the anchor came up with out having been caught on anything new. The dinghy was secure on the davits, the electronic autopilot was connected. The sails were ready and the winds for all intents was somewhere out of the E quadrant. That was what we wished for. We were heading due W hoping to end up in Flores; Labuanbajo to be exact.

Lava Field N Shore Api; Banda

Clearing the N shore of Banda we were greeted by a large pod of dolphins. If we had to guess there were over a 100. W/ said she heard a tail slap from a whale. The lava flow on the N shore of Api was receding on the horizon as I added sail. The engine was off, the autopilot on and we settled in for a nice ride.

No matter what the weather models say, it seems Mother Nature has a different idea. The winds for the first day were fine. The sea state was not. While the models said the seas would be under a meter, they do not take into account the multitude of directions they come from. Those who paid attention in High School physics understand that wave crests and troughs are additive. Thus two seas from different directions that meet, if one is a meter and the other a meter we now have a two meter crest. And if one trough is a meter and the other a meter we have a two meter deficit. Add to that that nothing is consistent. Not today. Up, down, all around, the motion was not fun. Elysium didn’t care. We did.

Fortunately, before we left W/ prepared ahead several meals. Meatloaf, grilled chicken strips, and hard boiled eggs . We won’t starve. As uncomfortable as the first day was it passed without incident. Day two provided some adventures.

Can you see the squalls in the Sunset?

Squalls were developing around us. Those in front; no problem. We’re not fast enough to catch them. The winds were just aft of the beam (a good thing). With wind from the SE. squalls N are not an issue either. Those behind or SE of us raised the anxiety meter. On day two into three we had a squall pass through every few hours. Yuck. That encompassed reducing sail, closing up and practicing patience. Waiting for it to pass. Somewhere in day two day we had two squalls pass us; one immediately after the other. The first was mean with winds in the 30 kt range and the second a little milder with winds in the 20+ kts range. As they passed we set the boat up again for the gradient winds we’d been having; 10-15 kts.

Unfortunately those winds didn’t hang around long. Somewhere between around day 3 they went on vacation. We didn’t even have a chance to use our light air sail, and there isn’t a sail for no air! I misspoke. The no air sail we refer to as the “iron genny”. The diesel engine. So on it goes and again we are speeding towards Flores. Speeding, yeah; 5-6 kts.

The seas left over from the squalls and those created by the land masses around are bumpy. As the day wears on we look forward to them easing. The islands in Indonesia are quite big. Not only big… HUGE! Many larger than states in the US or countries in Europe. Each island creates their own local weather. The land sea breeze. The sea breeze doesn’t affect us this far offshore. The land breeze the islands create do. Not the winds. The seas. As the winds blow off the island they create waves. The waves travel across the variou seas in Indo and end at another islands shores. With those waves, with the waves created by the squalls and by the gradient winds we again had a bumpy ride.

Dave would say unlucky and Wendy might say luckily; no wind was the main course for the rest of the trip. Dave would love to have sailed and W/ doesn’t mind the iron genny. As the day wore on the sea state eased and our only issue was hearing the constant drone of the diesel. Out here; 25 miles offshore we didn’t have any FADs (Fish Attracting Devices) or Bagans (the local HUGE lighted fish traps Indonesians use). Yet on the morning of day 5 we were nearing shore.

And shore is where the fishermen are. On my watch; late night early a.m. (of course), I saw several lighted Bagans ahead. Hopefully none are on our course. Since we started the iron genny we have been using the electronic autopilot. That unit connects to the wind vane. To adjust the course one of us must leave the cockpit. The person crawls aft and pushes the button as many times as needed to ensure we miss the obstruction. At night that entails waking the other person. We don’t leave the cockpit at night alone. Never! During my watch we missed every bagan and I didn’t need to wake W/. On her watch we were getting closer to shore and the Bagans increased in number. W/ had me up several times.

On the morning of day 5 we were close enough to land to get a cell signal; internet. I contacted Natsumi who had already beat us to Labuanbajo. He suggested a good place to anchor: off the Silvie Resort. Great! That spot shortened our trip by a few hours. At this point; hours matter. Otherwise we would have had to round the island off of Labuanbajo and anchor off the town. It was a good thing we didn’t to that. In front of the town were heaps of Liveaboards (like mini cruise ships) coming and going all the time. Plus, as we were in the area long enough I never saw the water in front of the town…. calm.

Anchored, we breathe out the stress from the transit and like warmed ice cream we melt to any comfortable area. Time for some Rest and Relaxation.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long