Java Sea

Sun 6 May 2012 08:04
Sunday 6th May
Position 3:30.5S 106:13.2E
Last year, at this stage of my trip, I nearly anchored on top of a fish trap in the dark. Anxious to avoid a repeat performance I anchored in the evening light yesterday, in the 'lee' of the Sumatra side of the lower Banka Strait. Despite very light winds overnight there was a wind over tide effect, so a rolly but safe sojourn. Early morning engine check, and off at 06.15. The tide was in our favour for a change, and we made good progress out of the lower part of the Strait; our GPS and a reliable (yes, I am touching wood, as I type with one finger) engine meant that we could take the inshore route through a series of narrow and very shallow channels. Quite a lot of traffic to start with, the Traditional 'schooners' (big, attractive, wooden trading vessels, diesel engines) use this inshore route, together with the fishermen. Now it is afternoon, very hot, tide now against us, and 10 Kts of headwind. But it is not exactly on the nose, and I can set the staysail, which gives just a little lift, so at this second we have 4 kts over the ground, with a current of about 1.5 kts against us which is I hope mostly tide, but may also be the result of an underlying current setting north up the Java Sea. Tonight there is nowhere to stop, so it is a dance with the fishing fleet. If things go well, we should be down with the oil wells tomorrow (there is a big oil field), and if we can dodge them too, we will be within a shout of the 'Thousand Islands', and another safe anchorage.
As usual, the only activity that is possible on passage is reading. So far two Jo Nesbo Norweigian detective stories (getting just a little repetetive), Christopher Hitchens' autobiography; 'Hitch 22', and just now Howard Jackobson's 'Coming from Behind': wonderfully set in Wolverhampton Polytechnic, and obviously part autobiography as well. Hilarious, even for gentiles. Anyway, all highly recomended.