The Java Sea

Fri 20 Jan 2017 02:03
04:54.3S 112:32.6E

We're doing fine. So far we've managed to sail about a quarter of the time, motor sailing the rest of the time. The trick is to avoid the squalls and rain storms as much as possible and make as much progress as we can in the light winds in between. So in the day we keep an eagle eye out for black clouds on the horizon, track them on the radar and take avoiding action if we can. If we can't avoid them then it's down with the jib and a second reef in the main straight away (we're flying the storm jib as a staysail anyway), no dithering. At night we reef the main and put out half a jib as it's harder to spot them coming. This means, with less sail out, we end up going very slowly or having to assist with the engine more - but better to be safe than sorry.

The radar has been the hero of the day - not just for tracking storms, but also for spotting the fishing fleets around us. They don't have AIS so don't show up on the chart plotter, in fact some of the huge cargo ships don't have AIS so a good look out is essential. We've learned a new trick: you can assign an object as a target for the radar to track. This means the course and speed is displayed on the chart rather like an AIS. Very useful for the big squid fishing boats we see everywhere. You can't miss them: they have loads of bright white lights, but no navigation lights and it's hard to tell how far away they are and which way they are going. At night they are spaced out all around us, like someone is holding a huge torch shining upwards just below the horizon, 8 or 10 of them at a time.

We've had no big problems to deal with. So far the ensign tore itself off it's halyard - we don't usually fly it on passage but seeing we're in Indonesian waters and they're sticklers for rules and regulations we left it up; a running back stay broke but was easily repairable; flapping jib sheets managed to pull open the latches that close the forecastle hatch, which subsequently needed rather a lot of water pumping out of it (there's a water tight bulkhead between it and the rest of the boat so no damage was done) and the rain came down so hard that my life jacket decided it was immersed in water and unexpectedly inflated. Good to know they work!

Passage Food
Day 4 - Supper: beef and aubergine stew with brown rice.

Day 5 - Breakfast: eggy bread, banana and apricot smoothy. Lunch: meatball wrap with cucumber, yoghurt and mint. Supper: chicken stew, seasoned with ginger, turmeric, chilies, and lemongrass (all fresh) and containing shallots, sweet potato, carrots and christophene. I also added rice vermicelli, which didn't really work.

Day 6 - Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast, banana and pear smoothie.

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