Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 28, 2008 - Passage to Indonesia

This morning the wind filled back in and we were able to spend the last day of the trip under sail. With the flat water and perfect breeze, today has been some of the best sailing of our trip. To make it even better, we had a special guest appear off our starboard bow this afternoon.

The Timor Sea is pretty shallow. But today we crossed a deep water trench just before we reached the island of Timor. As we sailed across the trench, we spotted a sperm whale. It was absolutely amazing to see one of these leviathans. There just aren't that many of them left in the world. And those that are spend just a few minutes of each hour on the surface breathing, before diving miles deep to hunt for giant squid and other food.

We saw the huge creature spout three times. Then it tilted its massive head down and its tail rose in the air as it dove. We were too stunned to reach for the camera. But it looked just like the pictures we posted in our March 13, 2008 report about the whale watching trip Sten took in Kaikoura, New Zealand, which is one of the few places where sperm whales are regularly spotted. Coming across a lone sperm whale, the world's largest predator, in an unexpected place today, has been one of the highlights of this trip.

Pilot whales playing around us as we wait for the sperm whale to resurface

As night fell we approached Timor. The local fishing boats were out in force. There was no moon, so I was relying on our radar and their lights to be able to spot them. As the screen became cluttered with radar returns from a dozen boats, I woke Sten so that he could work together to weave our way safely through the fleet. As we approached Kupang, I said "It smells like Colon, and not the good kind." Smoke from trash fires leave a heavy fog of pollution hovering over the water, just like in our least-favorite Central American city. By 2am we had the anchor down.

Every little red dot is a fishing boat

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