A Passage to Indonesia. Tual 05:37.8S, 132:44.1E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Tue 1 Aug 2023 02:02
The passage from Thursday Island to Indonesia was an easy and pleasant one. The wind was from behind us most of the time and we sailed with the Genoa poled out to starboard, just gybing the main from side to side to make course adjustments when needed. We had a few squally rain showers on one day, but otherwise it was fine and warm. Serenity performed beautifully making a steady 6 knots and the self steering worked well - at least once we had it on the right settings!

Before we left Thursday Island we looked on the Marine Traffic app to identify where the biggest numbers of fishing boats were and set waypoints to go outside them. This kept us inside Australian waters until we were due south of Tual in the Kai islands, at which point we gibed the Genoa to port and had a fantastic broad reach for 170 miles to the southern end of the islands. Our fishing boat avoidance strategy worked as, apart from the one set of fishing floats we had to go round on the second day, we didn’t have to take avoiding action at all. We saw a large number of lights just over the horizon in the final 170 miles - just where we expected them to be.

We made such good time that we thought we might make it in on the 31st of August, but it was a bit tight for arriving in daylight so we decided to slow down and arrive this morning instead. The final 40 miles of our trip took us up between the islands of Nuhuroa and Nuhuyut. We did this with just the well reefed mainsail, trying to keep our speed down below 3 knots. It was an easy night with a bright moon and calm seas - a good end to the passage. Here we did come across fishermen: hundreds of long and narrow open boats with pointed bows and driven by powerful engines. They were fishing with hand lines and moved out of our way when needed. There were also a lot of fish attraction devices (FADs) - wooden platforms with a house like structure on top that attract the fish to the shelter underneath. Most of these were lit but some weren’t so we needed a good lookout.

We were at the start of the channel to Tual just as it got light and dropped our anchor alongside 3 other international yachts at 0745 local time. Now we are waiting for our agent to arrange for customs and immigration to come out and see us. This will happen in Indonesian time!