Passage to Banda Neira - Day 1
Friday 28th July 2017
24-hour run: 117nm
We left the anchorage at Debut yesterday lunchtime to give us time to clear the outlying islands of the Kei group before dark. The passage to Banda Neira is 200 nmiles, which we could probably have done in 36 hours, but that would have meant keeping up full speed through the night whilst looking out for fishing vessels, nets, FADs (Fish Attraction Devices), many of which are unlit, and then arriving late afternoon in a tricky anchorage. So we are doing two nights and a day, to arrive in the early morning, which means we can slow down overnight and we will arrive with plenty of time to find a spot to park the boat.
There is only a first quarter moon at the moment, and almost 100% cloud cover, so the first night was very dark. Not long after leaving the Kei Islands we came across a fishing fleet, and Steve spent his entire 3-hour watch weaving in and out of nets and dodging fishing boats. Fortunately the nets were lit, albeit with flashing lights that were only visible once very close, and he was able to get through without incident. Some smaller fishing boats were unlit, but they shone a bright light at us if we came close to let us know they were there. After that, there was nothing else for the rest of the night.
This morning dawned surprisingly bright and sunny, with mostly blue skies, and the swell had died down a bit, making the ride a lot more comfortable. We saw brown boobies and flying fish, but otherwise it was pretty much sea and sky.