Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Banda to Saumlaki

Saumlaki from really far away. The wind is blocked a bit
where we are. There are some really big Catholic churches.

Before we left for Saumlaki, Matt showed me the various wind prediction models. Two of the 'base' models were fairly consistent with strong winds of 25 to 30 knots. Another model called Predict Wind, which has been pretty accurate in a lot of cases recently, showed much more moderate winds. We decided to leave regardless, because the forecasts continued in a similar vein for at least a week and we needed to start heading towards Australia. At least all of the models showed a deep downwind sail, which would make strong winds less of an issue.


Mark and Conrad with Mr. Marens
As it turned out, the base models were much more accurate but all the models got the wind direction wrong. What started as a nice leisurely downwind sail, turned into a squall with gusts of 40 knots on the beam. Even with a triple-reefed mainsail and reefed headsail, we often saw12 knots of boat speed going down the waves. That's always 'exciting.'  After a couple months of motoring around Indonesia, it was a little too much excitement for me.

 

The squall passed but the winds stayed and we had 30 knots pretty consistently, still on the beam. We were making good time (averaging in the high 8 knots) but it was uncomfortable and there was lots of spray over the side. After an unrestful night with lots of banging and slamming, the wind finally turned more downwind and moderated the next day.

 

We were able to make the 240 miles with just one overnight, which was good. When we arrived and we were ready to relax, the fridge pump decided to stop working. So Matt got to replace it. That evening, we got a nice freshwater rinse, even it did come with some pretty strong gusts- but that at least proved the holding was good.  Another boat that had been here for awhile told us not to let the boys swim because 'like 5 people [had] been eaten by crocs recently.'
Mr. Marens's mother has a store that sells fresh baked goods.
We checked out of Saumlaki, which took all day. The length of time spent with, searching for, and waiting for officialdom might have set a record for us. They do not process a lot of private yachts here. Our new friend Mr. Marens, who we randomly encountered on the street, decided he had nothing better to do than practice his English on a bunch of foreigners and spent several hours going around with us to the various offices and even took us to his Mom's store for an afternoon snack.

We have a weather window of sorts to head to Darwin and will head out today. A couple other boats left yesterday. It's a bit of a roll of the dice to predict speeds, safe winds and routes to arrive safely AND within business hours to avoid hefty 'Border Force' overtime charges upon checking in!

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