Going round the bend.

Tue 24 Jan 2017 12:40
03:13.258S 110:08.115E

We had a Plan. It was a good plan. The weather forecast told us there was going to be some nasty stuff coming along the Java Sea over the next few days and it looked like we would have to stay put in Kumai until next week, assuming another blow didn't come along after this one was done. We had a solution: we would head off anyway, staying as close as we could to the coast of Borneo, so we'd be above the bad weather and out of the current. We'd then sneak around the corner into the South China Sea and again stay close the the Borneo coast out of the worst of it until we were far enough North to cross West above the bad weather.

The Plan worked beautifully. We had a fantastic day's run, using the engine as well as sail to go as fast as we could in order to get clear of the bad weather. There was no current against us and, feeling very intrepid, we found a route through the banks, despite the chart stating "There is no safe passage" and that "vessels should pass well to the South out of sight of land". We were able to dodge all the squalls, except, of course, the one that hit just as we were going through the narrowest bit of the route (though none of them were anywhere near as bad as the 50 square miles ones we had crossing the Java Sea). We were delighted to finally make the South West corner of Kalimantan in great time, we could start to go North and would have plenty of time to cross above the bad weather.

That was when we radioed the daily weather grib file down. It showed us that after this bit of a disturbance in the Java Sea a bloody great big storm was going to make it's way down the South China Sea by the weekend.

Even if we could be sure of getting across in time there'd be no shelter on the other side. We looked for possible anchorages on the West coast of Kalimantan but nothing looked secure and we can't take a chance on a place we didn't have any information about in a full South China Sea storm. There was nothing else to do: we had to turn back to Kumai.

More than 24 hours out on the best run we've had since leaving Bali and we have to retrace our steps. That's a hard one. But no one ever said sailing is a piece of cake and certainly no one ever said sailing to Singapore from Bali in the North West Monsoon would be easy! Maybe we'll get to try The Plan again next week.

Passage Food

Day 7 - Supper: green bean, tomato, egg and tuna salad.

Day 8 - Breakfast: sourdough pancakes with fresh pineapple and yoghurt. Lunch: bake-in-the-tin steak puff pastry pie with green beans and mash potato. Supper: too disheartened. No supper.

(Allam, who works with Adi in Kumai, got us eggs, green beans, tomatoes and avocados from the market. At least we won't get scurvy!)

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