Where river meets ocean.

Fri 21 Oct 2016 05:52
00:21.5S 133:31.3E

This coast of Papua is a beautiful, mountainous, tropical forest scene. And from these mountain ranges flow rivers, that feed into rivers, that emerge as huge, majestic flows out into the ocean. We passed one such estuary yesterday. Expecting a plume into the ocean we stayed well off shore but, considering just how much water must flow out of these rivers, we were still expecting the water to get a little discolored as we passed. Twenty four miles offshore we saw, about a boat length away, a distinct line in the water, South of which was the river water and North of which was the ocean blue. There was no gradation, it was black and white, river or sea, brown or blue. I guess the less dense fresh water, with its load of silt and debris, was hitting the dense salt water like a wall, and flowing along it instead of mixing. There was definitely a tidal popple on the surface of the salt water along the interface.

Gradually the line got closer as we sailed West until we found we were sailing along it, exactly on it. If we looked over the starboard side we saw clear indigo blue deep ocean water, if we looked over the port side we saw brown river water with all sorts of bits and pieces floating in it. Branches and twigs, leaves and coconuts. There were plenty of birds around, playing "who can stay on longest" on the drift wood, and there were flocks of petrels feeding in their delicate, pretty way. We sat and watched it for an hour or so, expecting to drift away from the line, either into the river water or back out into the blue. We did neither, just sailed with the join exactly along the centre line of Lochmarin. Changing Otto's course by a few degrees did nothing either, the flow of water was keeping us in. This was amusing until we met the the 40 ft tree trunk that was also being drawn along the line. After a hairy few minutes with some resounding thuds it was past and Phil took the wheel to tell Lochmarin that this wasn't a good place to sight see.

The night watches started beautifully, with good winds, gentle seas, stars out and the promise of an almost full moon lighting the East. Then it started raining. And the wind went fluky, changing its mind as often as a petulant toddler. We got wet, then wet again, then wet again. We set the sails then changed them then changed them again. We had to close up the pilot house against the rain and it was hot and stuffy and got all steamed up so we had to go out into the rain every 10 minutes to look out instead of peering through the glass. It was a long night and things didn't change much in the morning. "At least", Phil said when we had to change the sails in a torrential downpour yet again, "At least its light now, this usually happens in the night."

But by afternoon the sun started to break through and things felt cheerier. The wind dropped and we motored a few hours then, just to show that the forecast can't always get it right, when we'd set the sails for light winds, it bounced back again with a steady 18 knots to speed us on our way. Who needs a gym when you can hand sails, sweat lines and wind winches all day?


Day 3 - Breakfast: fried tomatoes and boast made sourdough whole meal toast and vegemite. Elevenses: banana "ice cream" (frozen banana whizzed with a handful of freshly grated coconut and some vanilla). Lunch: Green papaya, cucumber and tomato salad topped with halloumi. Supper: sweet potato, sun dried tomato, spicy sausage and basil cakes, spinach cooked with butter and nutmeg (not really spinach, the greens we found in the market again) and served with Mrs Balls relish!

Day 4: - Breakfast: banana bread and a fresh fruit smoothie (pineapple, squeezed orange juice, banana, yoghurt). Lunch: left over curry with boat made naan bread and mango chutney.

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