From 1,500 rpm we’re doing just over 1
knot. That’s a waterspout, and that’s right above the anchorage we’re trying
to get to. It was a really close call, the closest I think we’ve ever come to
running aground. This is what you call wind against current against tide
against fetch. We just came through this channel. We were hitting 7 knots so there
was obviously current pushing us through but of course we were battling through all the waves
that have built up over the hundreds of miles in the Java Sea coming the other way.
Meanwhile the wind is coming this way and it’s very shallow. And this is the result.
And this is when you want to make sure your engine is in good order.
It’s times like this when I sh1t myself Can’t get over how beautiful it is
around here. I think it helps that it’s a lovely day with blue skies and little
fluffy clouds adds to the atmosphere but so much greenery around us and there’s
some big mountains as well. This area kind of reminds me of Turkey a bit it’s
a big open area with lots of little islands and a great big playground for
sailors because with the South easterlies which are consistently
coming through, certainly at the bottom end, a great place to hang out. The only
difference is of course that it’s much more shallow here than it is in Turkey,
so you’ve got rocks and reefs to contend with. Anyway we’ve now got to the top of
Lingga island and we just would poke our nose in over the top. There’s a couple of
tiny little channels that we may be able to get into. Difficult to tell, only a
hundred meters wide. Might bottle it when we go and eye them up. But if not then
looks like there’s a nice little anchorage just at the top. It just gives
us a little bit of protection should the weather come in. And a nice easy exit for
when we leave tomorrow. We got through the channel not very pleasant, but
fine. The current took us through. We’re now out of the worst of that wind, and we’re
looking for somewhere where we can put the sail up. It was far too windy there.
So we’re going to be going through a channel once again. Navionics, of course,
isn’t quite right so we’re using Offline Maps as well. And we’re hoping when we
get into that channel we should be really well secluded and find a good
spot just to drop the anchor and get the sail back up. A little bit disconcerting
just came in and put the boat in to tickover and we were doing six and a half
knots. In tickover. So rather than just dump the hook I thought I’d just check to
see what it’s like if I turn the boat around. So I’m now aiming to go back out following our track in. From 1,500 rpm
we’re doing just over one knot. So it just makes me a little bit nervous about
dropping the hook anywhere around here. It might just be this particular spot
here. But I think what we’ll do is we’ll go back out and we’ll check out
along the coastline which again is fairly protected, but it seems like
there’s a very very strong current here, which we had been warned about. So this might put it in perspective. As you look down… Look at that, it looks like we’re
making good progress. But if I bring it up and you use a transit on that back
stay there, the green line with the sandy patch behind, and look how slowly it’s
passing it. Barely bloody moving at all. And as you
can see over there, I’ll zoom in, you can see those over overfalls or current. This is really quite vicious. And a little bit scary. As you can see
(I don’t know if you can see) that it’s all quite close. Little bay there and there’s
one channel through there. There’s two channels through there. And then there’s
this little bay here, which is where I thought perhaps we could anchor but I
don’t really want to be anchoring in six knots of current. Just whilst we’re killing some time
I just thought I’d show you a little tip when you hoist your dinghy up. And it’s
something that I’ve only just started doing. Thanks to Ian on Icey Red
who recommended this. Now normally when we hoist the
dinghy we leave it hanging using the blocks that actually hoist it. Now we tie
off lines across like this to stop it from moving backwards and forwards. But
it still had a tendency to move slightly Plus of course it puts a lot of strain
and weight on that block system. A couple of weeks ago one of them gave way
and the dinghy dropped in the water at 3:00 in the morning, which is not ideal.
But let me just show you this. To be honest I’ve no idea why I didn’t do this
before and I’m sure some of you out there probably saying well you’re an
idiot, this is the obvious way to do it. But you can see I’ve taken that Dyneema
line, you can just see that black line there. So it goes over the davit and it
goes down to the same clip as the block system. Now that’s where I’ve
currently tied it off, but really that should be some kind of carabiner or
something that I can easily clip and unclip. And of course we’ve got the two
Dyneema lines which run across like so to there. And, by the way, in case you may
have noticed, this happened. When we were in Sabang – I didn’t mention this
at the time because I didn’t want to upset anyone – but when were in Sabang
we tied the dinghy up and left it for a day on a Sunday. When we came back there were about 30 kids who had basically – I don’t know what they’ve done actually – they had played
around with everything. They had ripped various fittings. They ripped this off.
They were playing around with the outboard, it was in a funny position… blah
blah blah… I went to see the Harbormaster but no-one seemed to want
to take any responsibility for it. It’s just one of those things…
Sunday afternoon all the kids are out playing, so it’s an obvious thing for them to play with.
But, yeah, a little bit angry about that. So that explains the state
of our dinghy. The other thing I’ve done as well is to tie underneath another
line. Now this one runs to the wheels on the dinghy and that helps give it a bit
more stability. And then quite often I will take the painter under here and tie
that off as well. Since doing this the dinghy has
remained very steady. And bear in mind for the last two days we’ve been in some pretty
rolly seas. So very happy with that set-up. Bit of a hectic start this morning. The
wind picked up throughout the night and, as you can see, the swell picked up as
well. So trying to weigh anchor was quite interesting because the wind was pushing
us one way in the current the other. But we did it. So now we’re just cutting across,
which means going into wind, which we haven’t done for a long while.
So we have to cut across this bay and then we start going down It’ll be interesting
to see what the current does because I think the tide will be turning soon and
we’ll have the current with us. It’s quite a tricky passage today. A few
narrow entrances and obviously the usual rocks and reefs,
so let’s see how we get on… In case you’re wondering what the hell’s
going on we’re trying to get through this little channel. It’s 0.2 miles wide
and lots of overfalls everywhere, including in the channel. So it’s a
little bit rolly. Speed’s down to 2.6kts. The real troublesome thing here is
that the boat naturally wants to get pulled to starboard, which pulls us
into the island just there. It’s that close. The autopilot is on fast. It’s on quick
setting, so it’s compensating the other way. Problem is that when it does that
it then shoots over to the other side, so it pulls it all the way over to
starboard again, in fact we go towards the island. And this is all happening at 1.7knts Some pretty hardcore overfalls
actually, I don’t think I’ve been in anything quite as as tough as this.
They’re having a big effect on the steering. It’s exciting, but it’s also
scary. It seems as if we’re past the worst of it.
But actually our speed has now dropped right down to half a knot… …at 1500 rpm. So we are now going past this island
where there’s a shallow patch very very slowly.
It’s like everything is in slow motion. Local fishing by over there probably
looking at us going “what the — are they doing?” Because there is actually a back channel,
but we’re not sure that we can get the boat through. Unsure of the draft. But
that’s obviously the place that these guys go through.
Much easier. 1.2 kts now. Don’t know how well you can see that…
That’s a waterspout and that’s right above the anchorage
we’re trying to get to… Lightning now as well. So we’ve got waterspout, lightning, black cloud… And that’s where we’re supposed to be anchoring. And I would rather lurk around out here before we go in. That’s two anchorages in three days that we’ve
approached with a squall. Don’t know if you could hear what Liz was saying but
there was a water spout in among all that lot. [And lightning]. Sort of above where we’re
supposed to be anchoring – but actually if you look at the weather, the radar,
you can see the cloud is somewhat behind it. Don’t know what to do… Well that really was one of the
strangest sails we’ve ever done I think. Very interesting, but very frustrating.
These currents get really really strong. And as you saw when we went through that
little cut, we got down to half a knot. But that’s where the adventure only just
began because shortly after that – the bit that you missed, that we didn’t record
because we didn’t know it was happening till the very last moment – was when we
almost ran aground. Now on the charts, just to the east of an island, is where the depth dropped from 20m to 10m. But, in fact, there’s a reef there.
Now the problem was is that we were using our phones to look at the
satellite imagery but for some reason mine didn’t show anything. Turns out I
had to reset my phone for the sat image to reload. Very strange. Anyway, it was an
horrendous experience because as we were approaching it we could see eddies –
there were eddies everywhere (overfalls) but these were particularly strong and
as we got to it I was thinking “well I know the depth gets shallow here.
But 10m, 9m, 8m, 7m, 6m, 5m…” At that point of course
put the boat into astern. The lowest depth I saw on our depth sounder was 1.7.
When it hits 1.4 that’s when we hit bottom. Bear in mind of course with all these overfalls we’re moving like this as
well. It was a really close call, the closest I think we’ve ever come to
running aground. So that put the willies up us. So we went to back out.
Then we tried to get out of this area. When we reloaded our phones to find the true
satellite imagery, well it was littered with reefs. So to get out of that we had
to go back on ourselves. And then, of course, the current picked up because we
were coming out of these islands. You can imagine all these hundreds of islands.
The amount of currents and eddies and overfalls that it creates is quite
phenomenal. So yeah, it was a bit frustrating. It wasn’t literally
until the last hour or two that we could actually pick up a bit of speed. And then,
of course, as we came into this anchorage, as you saw from that footage, big
westerly squall came through. There was a waterspout, lightning. [Laughs] Really bizarre. We only did 35 miles today, it feels like 200. It makes for an interesting
passage I suppose. But it was just a little bit, I think ‘frustrating’ is the word.
But hey, look at this place. We’re anchored by a little village on an island that
doesn’t even have a name. How weird is that? But it seems pretty secluded this
is a recommendation from a Facebook friend, Mark Bongers. Thank you, Mark. This
looks like a pretty safe place to just rest for the night. Tomorrow, early
start, hit those currents. And it’s the last stop before we hit Malaysia.