Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 29, 2008 - Java Sea

Leaving Bali behind

We received our clearance paperwork late Monday afternoon. If we left then we would have been fighting a strong current in the strait between Bali and Lombok. So we decided to have dinner, get a good night's sleep and leave in the morning for the 1,000 mile run to Singapore. That decision worked out in spades. On Tuesday morning, we played the visible current lines in the strait and rode a nice current assist until we rounded the northeast corner of Bali in the middle of the afternoon. All day we were surrounded by small local fishing boats (some of which approached us to try to sell us fish or bum cigarettes) and had to weave our way around their fish attracting devices ("FAD's"). By nightfall we were headed offshore and away from the local fishing fleets, which was a relief, as neither the small boats or the FAD's were lit or likely to show up on radar.

Early this morning we crossed the line where the deep Bali Sea becomes the comparatively shallow Java Sea. Once again we found ourselves in a fleet of local fishing boats, this time from Java. As the day wore on and we headed north the fishing boats became larger and the FAD's more prevalent. As night fell we took comfort in the fact that the larger boats were showing up on our radar and that they appeared to be squid boats - so they would be lit up like Times Square on New Years Eve. We couldn't do anything about avoiding the FADS, but hoped that with their light bamboo construction it wouldn't cause too much damage if we hit one. Between the squid boats and a goodly number of ships, we spent the night well and truly surrounded by other vessels. Standing watch was much more taxing than what we typically experience offshore.

There has been no wind for several days, so we have been running the engine non-stop since we left Serangan. We were not getting the speed under power that we should have so we decided to stop the boat this morning and dive on the prop. As a safety precaution, we rigged a trailing line attached to a fender to float behind the boat so that Sten would have something to hang onto if he started to get separated from the boat, but it turned out not to be necessary. After only two weeks on a mooring in the fetid waters of Serangan Harbor, the prop was covered with big barnacles. As he knocked off the barnacles, we could watch them fall for a long, long way through the warm, clear water before they disappeared from view. Sten found the experience of swimming in such deep water to be pretty cool, although unnerving, even in calm conditions.

It is blazing hot out here and the engine heat only makes the boat hotter. But the bright side is that there is plenty of power to run the blender and the freezer, so we've been enjoying icy smoothies to try to stay cool. And motoring in relatively flat water has made us much more ambitious with our cooking than we usually are this early in passage. It is too hot to cook down below, so Sten has been grilling on the aft deck. We've done chicken kabobs and Thai beef wraps. All in all, not a bad start to passage.

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