Sunday, November 02, 2008

November 1, 2008 - Java Sea

Absolutely the strangest thing we've ever seen at sea -
we half expected a guy with an SOS sign to stand up
and wave at us from this broken off bit of land.
We decided to plant our BoSox burgee and claim
it for Red Sox Nation.

After motoring for the first 40 hours of the trip, we found enough wind the second night out to actually sail. We've been sailing since then in very light breeze. If there was any kind of swell, we wouldn't be able to keep the sails full. But since the seas are smooth, we are able to keep the boat moving, even in less than 5 knots of wind. We're not setting any speed records, but we are conserving fuel, which is important as we don't carry enough diesel to motor the whole way to Singapore (and sailing keeps our carbon footprint smaller and our wallet fuller).

There is so much traffic out here. Between ferries running among the islands of Indonesia,international shipping traffic (tankers and barges) and a plethora of fishing boats, we are almost never alone. We've been offered squid and lobsters by the crews of the colorful fishing boats we've been passing. The crowd out here has forced us to up our game keeping watch. Even so, occasionally we'll look up from our books or come up on deck from the galley to find a fishing boat or huge ship closer to us than we'd like. With the light air we are running wing on wing to maximize our downwind sail area and boat speed. So, we aren't as maneuverable as we would be on a regular reach or run. I take a sick kind of pleasure in calling up a tanker or ship that is 200 times our size and closing in on us at 5 times our boat speed, advising the captain of our situation, and asking if it is necessary for us to alter course. Invariably, they offer to maneuver around us. Sten just shakes his head as I violate the tonnage rule (the big guy always has right of way) - the most basic of the right of way rules.

It has been pitch black at night. We left Serangan before the new moon. Even now there is just the barest sliver of a crescent moon in the night sky. So unless other boats are lit up, or large enough to create a radar signature, we can't see them at all. Luckily, we seem to be out of the land of the FAD's and small, unlit local fishing boats. Last night there was only the slightest bit of wind. We were ghosting along at 3 knots, slowly approaching a string of squid boats that stretched across the horizon. Approaching the evenly spaced lights in the distance, while all around us was in darkness, felt like like driving down a rural country road towards an interstate highway. When Sten came on deck for his watch around 2am, he commented that it felt like we were in outer space.

Enjoying a refreshing dip in the middle of the Java Sea

Anyway, back to the heat, because it seems that I can't do a blog entry these days without talking about it. Actually, with the engine off and a light breeze cooling us down, it hasn't been too bad, other than those three hours in the middle of each afternoon where we are afraid that our brains might be about to melt and drip out our ears. But that's where the blender comes into play. Who knew that blenders could be used for making stuff other than frozen cocktails and crepe batter? My culinary skills are growing by leaps and bounds out here. We celebrated Halloween yesterday with mango smoothies - the only orange food we could come up with. With all the sweating we are doing, we have had to increase our salt intake just to keep up with what we're putting out. Suddenly Pringles and bacon are health food. It is a strange world out here.

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