Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fast and hard or slow and easy?

Matt and I sometimes talk about whether we would prefer fast and hard or slow and easy (Talking passages here. What did you think I meant?). What we got for a passage from Darwin to Kupang was fast, hard and a bit uncomfortable. The wind prediction wasn't wrong per se. There was just a lot more of everything.
The direction was downwind, so that part was good. We were wing-on-wing pretty much the whole way (our whisker pole has certainly earned its keep). The speed was much higher than predicted, reading 30 knots apparent on our instruments. The waves also couldn't make up their mind. We spent a lot of the voyage on a relatively shallow shelf that extends a long way out from Darwin and seemed to make the seas confused. We had 8-foot waves hitting us every which way.

It felt like we were in the heavy-duty wash cycle on a washing machine, with a little less water and more banging with what felt like a giant sledgehammer on the bottom of the boat. But what we lacked in comfort, we made up for in speed. We averaged over 7 knots the whole trip (even with a double-reefed main and jib) and at one point we saw 17.5 knots as we surfed down one wave.

As we got closer to Kupang, we started to slow down the boat so as not to arrive in the middle of the night. We triple-reefed the main and put out a tiny scrap of head sail for stability. The wind responded by picking up and we continued to go over 7 knots. We finally took down all the sails and the boat finally slowed down to 5 knots. It is amazing to me that the boat could go that fast with no engine or sails.

Even after slowing down, it was dark when we reached the channel. It's a big, wide open channel but we were worried about FADs and unlit bagans. However, we didn't have a lot of options, so we turned on the radar and made our way forward, keeping a close watch on the water. There was no moon but the lights from the city helped and we had a big spotlight. Other than a couple fishing floats with tiny flashing lights that were towards the edges of the channel, we didn't see anything. The easy to see bagans were lit up like Christmas trees and were anchored along the side of the channel.

We finally made it to the anchorage. We didn't get the nice calm conditions we were hoping for and are rocking and rolling as we speak. But a good night's rest cures a lot of ills. We spent yesterday checking in (we have found that checking into or out of Indonesia takes a whole day). You have to take taxis to navigate the process in sprawling Kupang, so there were many taxi rides to Immigration, Quarantine, Customs, and the Port Captain. Quarantine and Customs also wanted to visit the boat, which meant more travel back and forth (they couldn't go at the same time, of course--there's a process). Quarantine got to the beach where we had our dinghy, looked at the waves and wind and our boat bobbing around and decided not to actually go on the boat ('tidak mau'--Bahasa Indonesian for 'don't want').

Kupang is the biggest Indonesian city we have visited so far. It is packed full of people, cars, ojeks, and merchandise. Charming, no, but there is an energy and at least an effort to keep garbage off the streets. Plus, we saw a troop of monkeys crossing the street (they live in a nearby cave). Matt's busy reinstalling the port rudder quadrant, which came loose during the passage (that's what that banging noise was...). And thus start the, 'If we were in Darwin, this would be so much easier' conversations. We'll leave soon for Komodo. There be dragons.

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