Lovina Bay, Bali > Karimunjawa, Java (2015-10-10 - 04:00 UTC - 05:52.412S 110:25.396E) - DTF 346nm

Vries Peter Pons
Sat 10 Oct 2015 03:00

A rather intense two-night sail: we left after sunrise to pass E of Madura, the island NE of Java in broad daylight. Lots of FAD’s (Fish Attracting Devices) in that area, which you do not spot at night until you’ve hit them. Some have a very faint led light, most don’t. With very light NE(?) winds we had motorsailed for some 4 hours with only the genoa out, until all of a sudden that genoa came sliding down the sliding track of the furler with a vengeance. 15 seconds later we were towing our 84m2 headsail through the water next to our boat. We immediately put the engine in neutral and hoisted the sail aboard, not an easy task, if you consider that we already have a hard time simply carrying the sail when it is dry, not filled up with water and dragging alongside. Moreover, we had just entered an area with a short, steep swell from abeam, making the boat roll like crazy. When we finally had the genoa on board I noticed the top shackle, fixing the sail to the swivel, had simply come undone. Some weeks ago I had noticed the same with the bottom shackle. I tightened it, considered briefly to go up the mast to check the top one, but did not, stupidly enough. Feelings, premonitions, emotions, on board a yacht you should always take them seriously instead of rationalising them away. Anyway, with the sail on board again there was another even more challenging job to do and that was going up the mast to retrieve the swivel with halyard in swelly conditions like this. We turned to get the boat on a downwind course to reduce the rolling to a minimum and Daph hoisted me up the mast with the electric winch. With the adjusted course the rolling was reduced slightly, but the back- and forth pitch had increased, so with the sweeping action of the mast at 22 m height I was holding on to the mast for dear life. Luckily the swivel had not blocked or something and came down easily, making this roller coaster treat as short as needed. No apparent damage, we hoisted the sail again after having fixed the pin of the shackle with wire to prevent a recurrence and continued on our way, as if nothing had happened.


We were warned that we would not only have to dodge FAD’s on our way to Karimunjawa, but also an infinite number of scarcely lit fishing boats in all sizes, completely invisible bamboo moorings and lit tug boats with unlit barges some 200m behind them. Since we had no moon to speak of to light our way, we gave up on trying to spot the unlit FAD’s and moorings and instead concentrate on the fishing boats and other insurmountable obstacles. Plenty of those, though: of the 250 mln Indonesians, half must be fisherman, all with their own boat, and all on our route. Every couple of miles some 20-30 dim lights would appear on the horizon like the invasion of Normandy in “The longest Day”. They would get stronger and stronger, until we would pass one of these boats with blinding lights to attract the fish at a distance, which was often too close for comfort. Once passed, there would be a shortlived moment of total darkness, after which the next wave would appear on the horizon. All in all not ideal to do short naps during your watch. But we did not run into FAD’s in the end, saw none the first night and hardly any during the next day and night. We did almost run into one of those bamboo moorings in daylight, but just managed to dodge it some 25m before the bow. A bit of confusion about right of way with a local cargo ship and a tug boat with barge only in the far distance made the trip not so bad in the end, although we did need a good sleep afterwards. It took us an acceptable 52 hrs in total for 346nm, of which “only” 19 hrs of motoring, a first with the prevailing light winds in these Indonesian waters.