Sunday, July 30, 2017

Battling Muezzims

In the anchorage in the Banda Islands, Indonesia we are surrounded by mosques. Each mosque performs the "azaan" (call to prayer) and I believe also recite the "salah" (the five daily prayers plus the Friday prayer.) From our somewhat central location in the water we can hear the prayers from several mosques. Since the "muezzim" (the person actually doing the call) is different for each mosque we get a variety of voices. What could easily be a cacophony blends and twists and is actually quite beautiful. It is a shame that I don't understand a word they are saying.

It is my understanding that the salah cycle is from sunrise to sunset. This morning I was sleeping in the cockpit and was awakened by the muezzim at about 4 am. Since the call resonated from every mosque I assume this was a special prayer.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The real world

Reboot is participating in the Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia rally. About 60 boats made it to Thursday Island. We are on our second stop in the Banda Islands. So far we have lost one boat (aground on a reef) and left behind about 5 others to sort various problems in Debut. One boat lost their rudder between TI and Debut. Showing remarkable skill they sailed her 250 nm without a rudder and made it into Debut.

But this post is about something different. If one does a back of the envelope calculation this fleet is worth at least 6 million USD. When in Debut some of us had the opportunity to visit a local school. We had a great time. Especially me. I never thought at 70 I would be playing soccer with a bunch of kids. But I did. On reflection I realized that with the exception of their uniforms these children had almost nothing. Each desk had a small empty booklet. But no pencil. One blackboard. Almost none of the things I associate with a school room. Shelves of books? No. Student projects on walls? No. What do they have? Dedicated teachers. Eye opening.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Banda Island at anchor 30 July 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017

Good days, bad days, so so days

Reboot has been underway about 25 hours on our trip to Banda Island. So far the trip has been a mixed bag. After cleaning the islands around Debut we headed almost due west. Unfortunately the wind angle was a little too much downwind. Coupled with a beam sea (which rolls the boat) it was hard to keep the course I wanted to steer. Since then the wind has been up and down and we have had some rain. (Yesterday was hot and sunny.) So the comfort level has been up and down too.

I am in company of about 5 other boats from the fleet. It is nice to know I am not alone. But it requires extra care to keep a good separation.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Underway from Debut to Banda Island, Indonesia 10:22 AM 29 July 2017.

Plan B

This morning was the appointed day for the Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia fleet to leave Debut for Banda Island. Even though we planned separately or in small groups there was clearly a consensus path. I was about the tenth boat in line. Obviously the local fishermen didn't get the memo. When the lead boats got to the pass in the reef they discovered that the entire pass was seeded with fishing nets. Not to mention the factory boat and net handling boats. They made an abrupt turn to go to the next opening.

In the meantime Steve on Chandra decided to go in a different direction. This would normally be OK except that he had plotted the route that he and I were to take. Except he changed his mind. So I do a 180 and I am now 2 nm behind. Of course he finds a great pass and rabbits. I, on the other hand, come out just in time to be in front of almost all of the boats I was chasing in the first place. My bottom is dirty so I am about 0.1 knot slower. I persevere as everyone passes me.

Fair winds and following seas :).

Written 19:15 28 July 2017 underway from Debut to Banda Island, Indonesia.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Emails

There is a current problem with my email blog feed. To protect both you and me I am turning it off until resolved.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hearing Voices

Being alone on a sailboat one does not expect to hear voices. And it is weird. There are three sources:

1. Your head. As I learned on my solo crossing of the Atlantic.

2. Other boats. Sound carries over the water much better than on land. People sitting on a boat quite a distance away can be heard clearly.

3. The radios. Most of us leave our radios on all the time as a safety measure. "Hey it looks like you're dragging anchor!" During the day there is a lot of traffic as the radio also is the telephone and the text messaging service. At night they are very quiet. When you are asleep and hear talking your (my) tired brain does not put together it is the radio. I think someone is on the boat. Funny.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Debut, Indonesia 24 July 2017

In line fuses

I have been having trouble with my cockpit multifunction display. Sometimes it works (when I don't need it.) Sometimes it doesn't (when I am coming into port.) I finally tracked the problem down to erratic supply voltage. The culprit? The in line "marine grade" fuse holder. I learned two lessons:

1. "Marine Grade" corrodes like everything else. Maybe slower.

2. Never install a fuse behind six anti-theft screws that requires a special tool stored at the bottom of everything to remove.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Debut, Indonesia 24 July 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Australia

A long post...  

I arrived in Bundaberg, Australia from Fiji in November 2016. I then headed down to Brisbane and finally Sydney where I sat out the hurricane season. A good thing as Hurricane Debbie did a number on the Northeast coast. Finally I left Sydney and headed up the coast to Horn and Thursday Islands by way of Cairns, Gladstone, Airlie Beach, Lizard, Mt Adolphus, etc. I departed to Debut, Indonesia on July 18, 2017. 

The good:

1. The people are wonderful. They are outgoing and friendly.

2. I got a chance to enjoy some great culture in Brisbane and Sydney.

3. After a year in the Pacific it was nice to have great Internet, semi-decent marine stores, and good public transportation. 

4. I enjoyed a class reunion with people I had not seen in forty years. 

5. I got to join a sailboat race in Sydney Harbor. Quite the treat!

The not so good: 

1. I have been sailing for 60 years. I have been sailing around the world for eight. I have never encountered such consistency difficult conditions. Winds are strong. Waves are high. Currents are strong. In some areas thunderstorms are common. Well sheltered anchorages are rare. Anchorage areas in city areas are full of local boats making it difficult to find a spot. One earns ones stripes. And spends a lot of uncomfortable days and nights.

2. There are no cruisers' bars. By this I mean places where cruisers gather to meet each other, splice the main brace, tell sailing stories and listen to music. In bars there are no bar stools. Everyone sits at tables. Not an easy environment to meet people. Even with 40 Sail 2 Indonesia boats at Horn anchorage there was no place to go in the evening. 

3. The waters are dangerous. One of the joys of the Caribbean is the ability to fall off you boat and swim at any time. The jellyfish, crocodiles and snakes make that a bad idea in most places in Australia.

4. A personal note. Cigarette prices make NYC seem cheap. I am sure lots of kids are eating ramen or going hungry so their parents can buy smokes. (The cheapest smokes are $29 for a pack of 20.)

The special: 

Australia has very strict animal import laws. The biosecurity people were wonderful but having XO on board was limiting. Enough said. 

Fair winds and following seas :)

Torres Straight

Sailing through the Torres Straight. This is the water between New Guinea and Australia. Reboot is on a 500 nautical mile leg. It is ugly. The water is very shallow. Usually about 45 feet deep. The winds have been strong ranging from 20 to 25 knots with gusts to 35. The result is 6 - 10 foot seas. This would be less of a problem if they were coming from anywhere else. But they are dead on the beam. Reboot is rolling like the proverbialkklp washing machine.  

In addition we have all sorts of other challenges. First, the currents. When they are adverse (twice a day) they slow Reboot way down. And cause very large tide rips. Watching the vane steer I am glad I am not hand steering. Apparently another rally boat lost both its vane and electric autopilot. They are hand steering with a tiller. It is so exhausting that they heave to 12 hours a day to rest. Second we have the fishing fleets. That don't have AIS. So they don't show up on the chart plotter. At least they are brightly lit so they are easy to see from a distance at night. They are not Australian, they have a very Asian look. Finally there are a large number of buoys, both charted and uncharted. And my charts are brand new!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Written 20 July.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fearless Bird

Late this afternoon as I was working my way through a fishing fleet a bird decided to land on my solar panels. I chased him away for two reasons: birds tend to relieve themselves making quite an unpleasant mess to clean up and my concern that XO might go overboard chasing him.  

One of the real downsides of solo sailing is trading sleep and keeping a good watch. In the open ocean encounters are rare. We saw maybe 5 boats in the 37 days it took to cross from Panama to Hiva Oa. Almost everyone has an AIS transponder. They show up on the multifunction display long before you can see them visually. Here in the Torres straight there are lots of fishing boats with no AIS and quite a large number of uncharted buoys. So about every 15 minutes (24/7) one needs to stick one's head up and look around.

On one such trip I needed to adjust to adjust the sails. After 8 years I normally do this in the dark. It keeps my night vision intact. (When the moon is up it feels like daylight once your vision has adjusted.) I started cranking on a winch and noticed a dark blob in front of me on the lifeline. Sure enough it was my friend the bird. He watched quietly with my face 1 foot from him. When I waa done I went and got a red flashlight. I beamed it on him from 6" away. He looked at it, he looked at me, Nd he put his head under his wing. I made maybe 16 more trips to the cockpit before he flew away. He was unconcerned by my presence.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Pacific Crossing Complete!

Reboot is now in the Arafura Sea. This is bordered by New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia. I feel like my Pacific transit that started on Valentine's Day 2016 is complete. In addition to the Pacific Ocean I have been in the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea. But they just felt like more Pacific Ocean. I am now far enough through the Torres Straight to feel like the Pacific is done. At least for a while. Yahoo!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Adios Australia

Hello Indonesia. Underway from Horn/TI to Debut, Indonesia. ETA 7 days. The adventure continues. Fair winds and following seas:)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Horn and Thursday Islands

We are in the anchorage at Horn Island. This anchorage is better protected from the wind so the boats don't move around quite as much. On the other side of the channel is Thursday Island. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thursday_Island). Its anchorage is exposed to the trade winds. With the wind peaking at over 30 knots it is not a great place to set anchor.

Daisy, Steve and I took the ferry over to TI yesterday. It is a small community. We had a great Aussie breckie and then explored the main area of town. Two major reactions: although there are many different stores the selection in each is very limited and prices are at least 25% higher for everything.

We did have a beer in the northern most bar in Australia. Which was OK. Then continued our tour. We finally stopped at Customs and Border Protection to see about checking out later in the week.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Horn Island Anchorage

This morning the Sail to Indonesia fleet at Horn Island (across from Thursday Island.) Only a couple of more days...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cats and Possession!

I realized this post could go several ways. But no, XO is not devil spawn. Nor to my knowledge does he have the heritage of a temple cat. But he is both a very cuddly and possessive cat. He likes to cuddle next to me when I am sleeping. He tucks himself in against my chest. What I find interesting is he always has at least one paw on top of me. It I change and put my hand on top he immediately restores his paw on top!
Fair winds and following seas :)

Years later...

I have owned Reboot for at least a decade. I raced her. I have been cruising the world for 8 years. I have always been dismayed that it is difficult to sail dead down wind. I have taken to gybing downwind. I have looked at cruising spinnakers, in particular the Parasail™ but the price has always been out of reach. In fact when solo sailing it is difficult to use the whisker pole and my light air asymmetric is beyond my ability to use alone. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that putting the main sail out made Reboot get much closer to dead down.

Allow me to explain. Reboot prefers to be pulled downwind by the jib. The Monitor™ wind steering prefers it too. And from a safety perspective it is much easier for me to reef the jib from the cockpit then go out on deck to reef the main. (Yes, a furling main would be great if I had the money.) Downwind if I put up the main it blankets the jib. So it is one sail or the other. It turns out that the 4th reef on the main (which is actually the storage pack for the sail) has enough windage to stabilize Reboot going dead down if I swing the boom out to the side. Who would have guessed?

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Broken Boats

Mechanical things break. Cruising boats, being mechanical things, break. Since I am alone most of the time I quickly assume it is only me. That is not good for my attitude. Since joining the Sail 2 Indonesia rally I am not only in the company of other boats but we all talk to each other. I discovered that I am not the only one who has problems. I feel better. I am not sure if this is good or bad.

Fair winds and following seas:)

Internet Arrogance

As I write this I am anchored in Margaret Bay on the east coast of Australia about 100 miles south of the Torres Straight. This is aboriginal country. There is no technology and thus no Internet. While sailing last night I picked up a stray WiFi signal. Just enough to download an email from my bank. I needed to call them.

In an effort to further "protect" me the bank introduced "two factor authentication." When you call they want to send a text or email to you with a one time code. Of course there is no cell or Wifi coverage here or for that matter in many of the places I visit. The agent did not know how to deal with someone who did not have text messaging and instant email. So she could not help me because I could not authenticate. Great. Nor was the recording to visit their website amusing.

It may come as a great surprise to the "head sheds" in the developed world to discover that cell service and WiFi do not blanket the known universe.

BTW cost of useless satellite telephone call - $100 USD.

Fair winds and following seas :)

PS This email will queue and sometime in the future actually get transmitted.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

It's not cold anymore!

We have worked our way up to 14 1/2 degrees South it is definitely no longer cold. As I write this just after sunset its 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Quite the change from Sydney.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Wind noise - Lizard Island

It was a long and tiring trip from Cairns to Lizard Island. The wind was stronger than forecast gusting to 30 knots. But what made the trip particularly uncomfortable was the 6 to 10 foot waves on the beam. We rolled back and forth the entire way. Lizard Island is reputed to be a great anchorage. And it pretty much is. The "fetch" is short so the waves are low. But the wind has been howling non-stop through the rigging my entire stay. It is blowing 20 to 25 knots across the deck. Being outside is not comfortable. (Consider what the people launching aircraft on a carrier put up with all the time.) The strange thing is that other than its normal sailing around the anchor chain Reboot is just sitting quietly. Well, not quietly when you consider the wind noise. But stable. Very weird.

Of course the other downside is that I single hand. Motoring thru an anchorage of 25 other boats to find the perfect spot is just not prudent. So the best spots usually go to others.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Seagulls and cats

A seagull tried to land on Reboot. XO took offense. Fair wind and following seas :)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

MOVREP 020222ZJUL2017

Arrival, Sailboat Reboot
14 39.531 S
145 26.884 E
Lizard Island, QLD, Australia

At anchor.
One POB and one cat.

Plan two day stay

Captain Roger sends

Departure

Departed Cairns 010000ZJUL2017. Heading up the Great Barrier Reef.

Irony

In Indonesian"Hati" means "heart." " Hati-Hati" means "caution" or "danger." In English &q...