12:14.31S 122.58.93E Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, Wednesday 15th October PM
A few miles from Ashmore Reef the autopilot control cable snapped and we had
to hand-steer into the reef in the dark yesterday evening. This place is not
entirely deserted as Australian Customs keep a boat here to keep the
Indonesian fishermen away but there is nobody else. We picked up a mooring
buoy for the night and were visited by four Customs chaps in the morning. I
think they were lonely. We had a small brown bird visit as well, maybe a
noddy, which was also lonely and insisted on sitting on our shoulders like
Long John Silver's parrot.
The reef is just three tiny islets above water and you are only allowed to
visit part of one of them but there is lots of beach, coral, fish and green
turtles. The turtles annoyingly wouldn't stay still long enough to be ridden
on but we'll get them tomorrow.
Leon, Eddie and Zack are beside themselves about getting up close and
personal with desert islands, coral reefs and sea-creatures and it is a good
reminder to me that it is something special. I have to say I was getting a
bit ho-hum about it all. The crew also still likes eating skipjack tuna but
I'm definitely past that stage.
For a dose of reality, this afternoon was spent upside down in a hot
machinery-space jury-rigging the autopilot control wires using sealing-wax
and string (actually rigging wire and bulldog clips. It's well worth keeping
a supply onboard people). It seems to be working again. We are planning on a
bit of turtle-baiting tomorrow and then off to Bali.