The Lombok Strait and arrival in Bali

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Fri 14 Sep 2012 06:24
8:44.4S 115:12.7E
The Lombok Strait is notorious for its strong currents.  At this time of year some parts of the strait have currents of 4.5 knots flowing due south.  Our plan of hugging the coast to keep as far north as possible before crossing the strait worked well and we managed to sail half way across without getting pushed too far off course.  Then the wind died down to 6 knots an d we could no longer hold a course so we took down the sail and turned on the engine.
A couple of miles earlier we had passed Bronwyn (who have a seized engine) making a valiant effort to cross the strait under sail.  Now, with no wind to sail with, they were faced with being pushed out and around the southern tip of Bali.  They would have to use what wind they had to sail back out and clear of land and it would have been difficult/laborious to sail back upwind when the wind came back.  I offered to tow them the final 20 miles, which they accepted and we motored back to collect them.
It was not easy to get a line over to Bronwyn because the wind and current were making quite steep waves and the boats were surfing at different times making the gap between us change by several metres.  In the end we floated a fender on a line and motored around Bronwyn until the line came close enough for them to hook.  Even so I misjudged the waves and there was some minor contact between our davit and their pushpit, which detached a wooden seat on Bronwyn.  Fortunately no major damage was done.
With the line attached it was just a question of making our way slowly to the marina.  We were still a bit sheltered from the current by Nusapenida island (in the middle of the Lombok strait) and so we went directly upstream into the full shelter and then worked our way westward using the island to block the current before the final leg across to Bali.  Had we taken the direct route then we would have been hard pushed to get up the strait with a towing speed of 4.8 knots working directly against a current of up to 4.5 knots.
Once into the channel, with no waves to contend with, we could raft alongside Bronwyn and take them to their berth, using exactly the same method as when we passed through the Panama canal.
So here we are in Bali.
Bronwyn on tow