Friday, December 30, 2016

Land Ho! Mauritius Is Looking Good

Land Ho! Mauritius lies ahead!
We were so happy to see land after 16 days on the Indian Ocean. By landing in Mauritius, we have crossed three-quarters of the Indian Ocean with the roughest part yet to come. We have a week and a few days in Mauritius to rest and repair. (Sailors interpretation or R & R) before moving on to La Reunion which is only an overnight sail 120 nm to the southwest.

While in Cocos Keeling, our friends on Yacht Brizo suggested that their son could bring a new starter motor for the generator from England as he would be meeting them in Mauritius. As the Brits would say: Brilliant! We were so pleased when the parts arrived.

Don blowing up one of the big fenders to protect the side
of the boat from the concrete wall onto which we were tied.
Dennis and another sailor who had worked on Yanmar engines for nearly forty years tried to remove the old starter motor. One bolt wouldn't budge for them. Of course, it was located on the back side of the generator where they could not see what they were doing. Finally, another sailor whose career was working on engines gave us a hand and got the bolt out. He was small enough to actually get in a position where he could see and reach the bolt. Free at last! Then he installed the new part plus a new oil pressure gauge so all is well with the generator!

S/V Trillium all dressed up in Port Louis.
Due to the non-working generator which we need to power the desalination system, we had to conserve water on the long passage. Without a generator, we could not make water. Yacht Brizo had topped up our water tank back in Cocos Keeling so we started with 240 gallons. We put a water conservation plan into action: 1) wash dishes once a day, 2) no showers - just washing up, 3) no shaving, 4) no laundry en route, 5) conserve water wherever possible! The best part was when Yacht Brizo offered their shower to me!

The Caudan Basin was a great location for berthing as the
city was right there with restaurants, banks, shops, etc.
It worked. We arrived in Mauritius with half a tank so we could have used a little more on the way. Now we know how much we need to exist. Dennis and I can go two weeks on a full tank, but we weren't sure about three people using it. Often crew does laundry underway and that uses too much water when trying to conserve it.

It is interesting that when you can make water, you use it freely. I found when I was back in the USA last summer, I used water much more carefully than I used to before sailing off into the deep blue sea. I was very aware of not turning on the faucet and just letting it run. It is a good lesson for all to learn to conserve our drinking water. There are many places in the world dying for clean drinking water!

There was no limit to the amount of water we could drink as it is important to stay hydrated. But I could have showered and washed my hair at least once mid-way across! Now we need to clean the membranes before we can make drinking water from sea water. This may not happen until we get to South Africa so we will still conserve on the rest of the Indian Ocean passage.

Once we got settled at the quay, it was time to explore the area. As you walk from the marina, you enter an open mall area under an awning of colorful umbrellas. The area closest to the marina basin is a very contemporary shopping and dining region with a two story mall.

As you continue past some old buildings and other shops, you enter an older part of the city. The further we went, the more it became like some of the other islands we have visited. And the poorer the area became.

Crossing the street in the traffic was a real challenge. They don't have many lights so you just had to go for it and hope you wouldn't get hit by a motorcycle, car or bus! They use the round-about system so there are not many crosswalks for pedestrians. To cross major streets you had to go down steps, through a tunnel and back up.

A view down the main street in the financial
area. To the left of this street, things change.
It is always great to see the smiling faces of the World ARC Yellow Shirts waiting to catch our lines. We have had three great staff members on this half of the trip: Hugh, Cecilia and Victor. They are fun and do a very good job of keeping us organized and enjoying our adventure. Thanks to all. We had to say “goodbye” to Hugh back in Cocos Keeling and Cecilia in Mauritius. The fleet will miss both of them. Thanks for the great job you did trying to herd these cats!

Our view of the waterfront.

What do you know about Mauritius?

Mauritius lies in the center of the South Indian Ocean and was once was part of a volcanic land bridge that connected Africa and Asia. Mauritius was uninhabited until the end of the sixteenth century. Although Arab and Malay sailors stopped here, the Portuguese were the first to establish residency. It was called the Ilha do Cirne or Ilse of the Swan. As it turns out, the so-called swan was actually the Dodo bird, which is extinct.  Since it was a flightless bird, it was easy prey and was hunted to extinction by passing sailors. Sounds like what happened to the Kiwi bird in New Zealand.

The island has been fought over and controlled by the Dutch, French and British as it is a strategic location on the route from South Africa to Asia. In the end, the British won out and eventually gave independence to Mauritius in 1968. There are over 1.3 million people of Indian, English, French and Chinese descent. English is the official language with others spoken as well.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Collision With A Cargo Ship!

There was a nasty current against us in various place
in the Southern Indian Ocean. Not fun!
As I mentioned earlier, the Indian Ocean is a very lumpy body of water. Even with steady winds in the 15-25 knot range which should be smooth sailing, we were bounced around by the big swells coming from different directions. And there has been this dang current against us the whole way, either moving us north or south while holding back on our Velocity Made Good (VMG). It is frustrating as it is causing us to spend one more day out here!

Several times I called cargo ships to make sure they could
see Trillium on their AIS. They do not always keep good
watches so it doesn't hurt to make them aware of us.
We have daily roll calls with the rest of the fleet at 0900 and 1900 where we report our positions and any issues or concerns. Most of the time it is position report followed by friendly chatting about what we had for dinner or what fish someone caught or wishing someone a Happy Something. It is a nice way to make sure everyone is fine since we are spread out over 300 nm. Knowing the most recent positions allows others to come to assistance if needed.

The first five minutes of roll call is a Silent Period in which emergency information is shared. It is always pleasing to hear nothing during this time. Unfortunately, one evening it was different. One of our fleet yachts had had a mid-afternoon collision with a cargo ship!

The big guys don't always watch for small vessels. It is hard
for them to maneuver so it is better to give way even if you
have the right of way under the navigation rules.
This was indeed unnerving! Our first thoughts were how could that happen? It was a beautiful day with blue skies and just the right amount of wind to move gently over the water. And it happened in the middle of the day! Something happened. It has to be human error.

The captain and owner of that vessel is probably the best sailor out here and we have always looked up to him. Something unusual must have happened. Unfortunately, we won’t know the full story until we get to land. And we were happy to hear he has arrived safely into port while sailing with extensive damage to his standing rigging. Kuddos to his sailing skills!

As a result, our Captain reinforced our watch rules as we had been getting a little too relaxed! If the best sailor out here can tangle with a huge cargo ship in broad daylight, it can happen to anyone. We were able to plot the position of the contact point and have kept track of traffic in that area. It is obvious that we are all crossing a major freighter channel between Cape Town, SA and Asia as most ships have been bound for Singapore or other Asian ports.

This was the freighter traffic one morning during my
watch. We are the little black boat on the screen.
Fortunately, our renewed vigilance has paid off as we have crossed wakes with at least six more freighters in the same area which is quite extensive as they are traveling on a 450 angle and we are all spread out over several hundred miles crossing their path at various points. As I write this, there are two freighters on our AIS screen. I am not on watch so I can do something other than “watch.”

We actually had to change our course last night to avoid a collision. Even though we have the right of way for two reasons: 1) we are a vessel under sail and 2) they are approaching our port side, we believe in the laws of mass and speed. They are just too big to challenge! And they don’t seem to care – or perhaps even keep a good watch – as they steam forward to their destination!

This looks like the same photo, but it is a different day in
a different location. You must keep a good watch for them.
Here we are the little white boat and the straight white line
is our rhumb line between two destinations.
Our friends who had the collision we able to contact the freighter to let them know they had been hit. At least that way the freighter has to record the call in their log book.

It won’t do much good except perhaps for an insurance claim. It will be interesting to hear how the collision happened and what the yacht’s crew was doing at the time. It can look like there is no one for miles and all of a sudden they are on your AIS screen and moving at 12-20 knots right at you. By the time they come over the horizon, there is little time to adjust sails and your course. Thankfully, there were no injuries.

Some days are so calm you must motor sail.
We are working on another Hat Trick! That makes it a Triple Hat Trick on this passage! Here goes:
1) The gudgeon that holds the Watt & Sea water generator on the stern broke – again! I think they need to reengineer these things for long passages. Since it is a French company, we are hoping we can have parts set directly to La Reunion. 

2) The fresh water pump decided it had had enough and retired its service half way across the Indian Ocean! That was fixable with a spare after the swells settled down some, but for a couple of days we could only use the foot pump which gave us fresh cold water directly from the tank into the galley only.

3) Don broke a tooth on a hard crust of bread!

From one extreme to another: too calm or too rough!
All in all, it has been an interesting passage. I had expected much worse in terms of sea state and weather so I am happy. I only had one bout of seasickness the first night and have been fine ever since. That is a huge improvement!
Note: We later learned the full story on the collision and it was due to a crew member falling asleep or reading or ... and not keeping watch! The boat has AIS so the ship would have shown up there for someone to see. And the sailboat should have shown on the big ship's AIS as well. Mind boggling! The crew member was dismissed as soon as they landed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Oh No! There Goes Big Blue!

Big Blue: my favorite sail!
It was a beautiful day: sunny with a blue cloudless sky and light winds. Not a great day for sailing, though. Light wind and S/V Trillium do not get along well. We need at least 8-10 knots to move us and she is happier at 15-25 knots.

After she blew, we were back to white sails.
Since the wind was behind us (our worst point of sail!), we decided to fly our genaker – the one I call Big Blue. I love this sail! It is big and bright blue and white. It pulls us along at a comfortable speed and a smooth ride. This is how I like to sail. We don’t fly Big Blue often because the wind needs to be in the right position and under 13 knots. So it was a perfect day for Big Blue.

While the other boats were motor sailing, we were having a lovely sail. The wind gradually increased from 7 to 10 knots and we were having a great sail. I was lying in the cockpit looking up at Big Blue and enjoying a nice ride across calm seas. And I mean calm as there wasn't even a ripple on the surface of the Indian Ocean!

This is the long leg ahead of us!
Just as I settled into my bed for my afternoon nap, Dennis shouted and I bounded up the companion way to see Big Blue shredding itself! We quickly started bringing it in with a tear the full length of the leach, but that is repairable. Our crew member was on the line bringing it in as I eased the sheet. Once it was in, he stood up and released the line he had used to furl it without tying it off.
Then it happened! Without tension on the line, the wind grabbed the top of the sail and started unfurling it. The force unwound the sail and it separated again, but this time it tore from the luff all the way down. Now we have a triangle of the leach, luff and foot with the sail fabric only attached on the foot. And it was heading toward the water! 

Not much wind so we are motor sailing.
Dennis managed to pull it in as Don wound it in again. Once it was all gathered on deck, they stuffed it into the sail bag. Sailmaker, here we come! Hopefully it can be repaired. I am very sad about Big Blue!

The daily deck walk to check everything.
Later in the day, Dennis discovered that the Watt & Sea had broken off the stern – again. We had had this issue back in the Pacific Ocean. I am not sure why the brackets are not made of stainless steel as there is so much force on them. Maybe they need to re-engineer the ones that are going out on the high seas. Now I am in search of parts again, but at least this time I have a dealer with whom I have worked. And since it is a French product, I may be able to get it in Reunion or have it sent to Reunion.
The Captain's new look.
Oh, the challenges for circumnavigation! We have to remind ourselves that a blue water yacht is a little city of its own. All of the systems provided by the utility companies, city and state like water, sewer, electricity, etc. must be generated and maintained on board. Of course, the challenge is greater when we are on our longest passages like this one. It makes for some worries and sleepless nights. But it takes us on wonderful adventures!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weather or Not: It Is Time To Go West

This is how it looks during the annual migration of Red
Crabs on Christmas Island. Unfortunately, we were not
there at the time of the mass migration.
Our experience on Christmas Island was warm and friendly as far as the people go, but the rain was non-stop for days. Unfortunately, we discovered that an overly enthusiastic crew member must have cleaned the canvas of the enclosure with soap and a brush as it is now leaking like a sieve! So much for staying dry inside the enclosure as the water drips like we are in a cavern. It reminds me of some of the caves we have visited on this journey.

The pier was a huge multi-level structure, but provided shelter
from the rain while waiting for a dinghy ride to the boat.
The local authority told us that we have had over 50 mm of rain during our stay on Christmas Island and it is still raining. While the weather forecast doesn’t look good, it is time to weigh anchor and head out to Cocos Keeling some 525 nm to the southwest. Some of the boats in our little group are staying a few more days to wait for the wind and sea to settle down. If we wait that long, there will not be any wind!

The "Daily Drizzle" as seen from the only pub in town.
With no fueling at Cocos Keeling, we have decided to bear the strong winds and set sail. Having motored 630 nm from Lombok to Christmas Island, we do not want to do it again. Besides, we need fuel to charge the batteries since the generator is defunct. We have had no luck securing the parts we need so I doubt they will be there for us until Mauritius or even South Africa. That is a long way to go without a generator and water maker.

Don spent a lot of time bailing out the dinghy during
our week at Christmas Island. Sooo much rain!
Once we left Christmas Island and crossed the Re-Start Line, we never motored! Hooray! We sailed all of the way to Cocos Keeling. The first day was pretty wild with winds in the 30’s and 6-7 meter seas. S/V Trillium is happy in weather like that and sailed along at 8-10 knots for days.

I did meet my mal de mare nightmare the first night, but kept it under control the rest of the way. It was nice to be sailing and not listening to the motor. The Watt & Sea water generator did all the work of keeping the batteries topped up. This is how sailing should be!

Dennis and Don made many trips down this dock to refuel.
The ramps down to water level don't show on the left, but
they are two level plus a few steps at the bottom.
Arriving in Cocos Keeling made for interesting navigation into the anchorage through the reefs. Unfortunately, I could not take photos on the way in as it was challenging enough just to work my way through the shall spots.
Cocos Keeling is a beautiful little paradise in the Southern Indian Ocean, but there is little to do there so "relax"is the key word. Since they don’t have many visitors here other than yachts, the local authorities and park rangers have been the most pleasant of any we have met so far. We were allowed to get off the boat before clearing in through Customs and Immigration.

Cocos Keeling is beautiful with its white sand beaches
and turquoise waters - except for the sharks!
Half of the WARC fleet had been there for several days and had done the island tour. Unfortunately for us, we arrived on a Saturday afternoon. Everything was closed on Sunday and on Monday as it was an Islamic holiday. Since we could not do the tour, we stayed at Direction Island the whole time.

Cocos Keeling Island consists of two atolls: North Cocos Keeling and South Cocos Keeling. Together they comprise about 27 low coral islands with the majority of them located around the South Cocos Keeling lagoon. The only place yachts can safely anchor is on the northeast side of the lagoon at Direction Island. The authorities have established a special spot on land here for yachties, complete with restrooms, non-drinkable water, fire pit and barbeque and an open-sided hut with tables and benches. 

Another paradise in the world, but New Caledonia's
Loyalty Islands are still my favorite place for beaches.
Most of the facilities on Cocos Keeling are located on Home Island or on West Island. There is a ferry to West Island as it is well across the lagoon. Since we were concerned about using too much water and fuel here, we decided not to stay until Tuesday to check out the other islands. The WARC rescheduled the rally start for 1000 on Tuesday, but several of us wanted to leave sooner so we were allowed to start at 1000 on Monday. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the authorities to clear us in and out so we crossed the Start Line at 1136, but at least we were on our way!

My "office" under the shelter while trying to get the latest
weather information and check emails.
This is the second longest leg in the whole Rally with the first being Galapagos to Marquesas. It will take 16-19 days depending on the winds, which are supposed to die down a couple of days out. That will mean early motoring, which is not something we were hoping to happen. The goal is to conserve fuel in case we need it later in the passage and to have it available to charge the bank of batteries that keep everything else functioning. And, of course, we are managing our limited supply of water. This passage will be a lesson in resource management!

Oh well, we will deal with whatever Mother Nature hands us!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Island: The Land of Crabs

It was a long and wet dinghy ride to the dock.
Here we are on this little dog-shaped island in the eastern Indian Ocean. There is nothing else around it! And it is the friendliest place on earth. Being the last boat to arrive here, we missed out on all of the group activities of transporting fuel and water from shore to the yachts. Apparently, the fleet endured these tasks in a heavy rainfall. Tours were cancelled due to inclement weather.

Just when it looked like we were on our own to cart jerry cans up and down the hill from the marina to the gas station and back, the friendly locals stepped up.

It is a very long and steep walk up the hill and down the other side to the fuel station and it would require many trips. There really wasn’t a taxi service here even though the harbormaster supposedly runs one. We were told that often the locals will give you a ride if you stick your thumb out. Everyone was very friendly.

It poured rain the whole time we were there!
Dennis and Don went to the fuel station with four empty jerry cans and came back in a very big truck with a total of 10 filled jerry cans to transport from the dock to the dinghy. This isn’t a typical dock; it is very big, long and multi-leveled so it is a long haul from the truck to the dinghy. They made several more runs for fuel and topped off both tanks as there will not be any more fuel until Mauritius which is nearly 3000 nm from here.

Since we don’t know when we will get the parts for the generator starter motor, they also carried a number of jerry cans of water to the boat and filled our tank. By the time they were finished going back and forth with water and fuel, they were exhausted. It took one full day! And, of course, it rained all day.

This was our ride for the week. Three in the cab, but
we stayed relatively dry and it made the hill easy to climb.
Again, there is limited water available to us in Cocos Keeling so we may have to make this last to Mauritius! That will be a month without a really good shower! Hopefully it will be cooler as we go south and I won’t be as “glistening” as I have been up here in the tropics. My hair is constantly wet from the unlady-like word: sweat!

This was our YB Tracker path from Lombok
It has been raining here on Christmas Island since the morning after we arrived. I am talking pouring as in monsoon-type rain. There is no break in the cloud cover and it pours 24 hours a day. Everything is wet or damp and it is warm and, obviously, humid so we sweat with raingear on too. Apparently, this is very unusual weather, but unfortunately it has kept us from exploring the island – other than the Visitor Center for internet and the pub for camaraderie with the rest of the fleet.

The owner of the truck from the fuel station has given it to us to use as often as we like. It sure helps me as walking up that hill is killing my hip with bursitis. It is about 2 km from the dock to the Visitors' Center. While it is improving, sitting for days on the boat during a passage and then strenuous walking are not a good mix. I am actually taking Turmeric tablets and it is helping more than the Advil to reduce the inflammation. And easier on my stomach and liver!

Everyone spent a lot of time here in the Visitors' Center
using the Internet. It was the gathering place.
Part of the fleet left for Cocos Keeling the day we arrived at Christmas Island. They ran into some bad weather with 30-40 knots of wind and swells of 5-7 meters (multiply that by 3 and you are just a little short  when converting to feet).

Several of them have had damage to sails, electronics, etc. One boat was hit with a huge wave and flooded their saloon and did electrical damage.

As a result, there are still seven of us here in the harbor debating as to when to leave. It seems the forecast changes every few hours and besides our own models, we get updates from the World ARC, the harbormaster and Australian warship that is cruising around the area.

For the first time on this journey, I am a little anxious about the passage. I have only been seasick twice in the past 3000 nm since we left Sydney. But the conditions have been relatively benign compared to these forecasts. And one of our ARC boats came upon a half sunken sailboat with the masts still above the water! We know the area to avoid, but no one knows anything about the boat or its occupants. Scary! It is time to get the “big girl” toughness in my head and prepare for the passage.

Here are some facts about Christmas Island:

The famous red crab!
Christmas Island is a nature-lover’s dream with the magical migration of tens of millions (per the tourist info) of Red Crab from their rainforest burrows to the sea, actually closing roads and having special rules on the golf course to protect them if they are in the line of play. The rangers have built crab grids and bridges to help them in their annual migration. They ceremonially march into the sea to lay their eggs and the sea turns red with the numbers of Red Crabs in it.

The annual red crab march to the sea. Roads close for them!
There is also the giant Robber Crap, which is the same as the Pacific Island Coconut Crab, but here they are protected and have no predators so they grow as large as football (I am assuming a soccer ball) and live 50-70 years. They warn you to keep shiny objects away from them as the Robber Crab tends to take off with them, even pots and pans and silverware!
Robber crab

There are over 200 species of coral in the local waters; around 80,000 seabirds nest on the island annually, with over 100 vagrant and migrating bird species. There are more than 600 species of fish and over 180 species of land, shore and water crabs found here. As many as 213 native plant species grow here, with 17 of those being endemic. The island also claims 23 breeding or resident bird species, with 7 endemic, including one of the largest Sula birds in the world, the Abbott’s Booby. Maybe that is what rode along on our aft deck a few days ago. And it is the site of some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Not bad for an island with the population of about 1,500. Australia took claim to Christmas Island in 1958 having been annexed by Britain in 1888. After phosphate deposits were found, the population grew from the imported workers of Chinese, Malays and Sikhs, who laid the foundation for today’s culturally diverse community. This colorful mixture of cultures creates the opportunity for many traditions, celebrations and festivals, as well as ethnic foods. It is a lovey community with beautiful and friendly people who don’t think they are isolated from the world.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Trials and Tribulations of the Indian Ocean

A little too close for comfort! And on a collision course!
After our challenging exit from the Gili Gede harbor through the pearl farms and to the Start Line at Desert Point, we logged our starting information and began Leg 10 of the World ARC by ourselves. The passage we have most dreaded was the Indian Ocean. And there we were going it alone!

The fast moving current that flows southerly through the Lombok Channel gave us a good start. At times we were close to 14 knots over ground. That concerned me as it is much greater than our stated hull speed. Dennis was sleeping most of the day with his intestinal infection and medications. and I didn't want to wake him. 

There was a lot of freighter traffic in the Lombok Channel.
The run out through the channel was fun until we reached the point where the outward flow met the open ocean. Then all hell broke loose! Suddenly the swells coming at us were 10-12’ high and we were still going quickly into them. The wind was gusting in the high 20’s and the boat was loving it, but I was not!  The swells were gigantic and hitting us on the beam. It was time for me to get the Captain up on deck!

Lovely sunsets all the way.
We reefed the genoa and settled the course, but it was still an uncomfortable heel to starboard. Then to add to the drama of the day, a huge freighter was also steaming out of the channel and directly across my line of sail. I kept turning to port to ease off his path, but it was still too close for comfort. The cargo ship never altered it course even though it was driving me further off mine and into a closer haul than I cared for. Once he passed us, it was back on course with the hope of a good sail. Sailing – something we haven’t done much of since the winds were so light on the way to Lombok.

We were two days behind the fleet and hoped to catch them just as they would be leaving Christmas Island after a 48-hour rest there. In less than an hour, the wind died! Here we go again: motor sailing. Think about driving across the USA at the speed of 6-8 miles an hour! UGH! There goes the fuel we just put in!

As we were arriving at Christmas Island, many boats
were already on their way to Cocos Keeling.
It is 620 nm to Christmas Island and another 525 nm to Cocos Keeling, both Australian islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Motoring the whole way would drain our fuel and drive us crazy. We hoped we would be able to sail all the way – NOT!

We did use the current to our advantage. I had listened to the fleet on the VHF as they left Lombok and they were all complaining about a strong current against them – even to the point of holding them to under 3 knots of forward momentum. A couple of sailors we met in Australia shared an App with us to show us the currents. This was a godsend as we went well south of the rhumb line to find a fast east to west current and rode it all the way across to Christmas Island! At times we were covering 9-10 knots over ground. Adding 2-3 knots per hour helped us put the miles behind us as we averaged 188 nm per day for the first two days. We usually hope to get 140-150 nm per day.

While at sea, I was emailing via the satellite phone at an ungodly rate per minute trying to order the parts we needed for the generator. The suppliers in Australia failed to follow up with me. We hadn’t been able to back flush the water maker membranes without the generator. It will probably mean replacing them in South Africa. Delta, Alpha, Mike, November and $$$.

The little blue dot shows our position on Google Earth.
The three of us did a good job of conserving water: Dennis and Don were not shaving, we only did dishes once a day, we did drink as much as we needed, we didn’t wash clothes or take showers (you didn’t want to be close to us!), but we did sponge bathe. And washing hair-NOT. I have a tee shirt that says: Boat Hair, Don’t Care! But I really wanted to shampoo it.

The World ARC tried to help us secure parts and get them to Cocos Keeling. We appreciate the effort they have put into it. Unfortunately, the dealers and service centers have not been as helpful. There wasn’t much we could do at sea without Internet access. This may mean no repair until Mauritius which is a month away! That is a long time to be on one tank of water.

Our immediate goal was to catch up to the fleet with or without a stop in Christmas Island.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Double Hat Trick In Indonesia

Hugh was one of great Yellow Shirts. That's what we call the
WARC staff as they are easy to find in these shirts! Hugh
first met us in New Caledonia with WARC New Zealand.
Or when it rains, it pours! Dennis was feeling better but still weak on Wednesday so we decided to start sailing to catch the fleet. There was a 48 hour stop in Christmas Island that would allow us to gain on them. The downside was that we probably wouldn’t get to stop there so it would be about a 1150 nm sail straight to Cocos Keeling. So we were up at 0600 to prepare the boat for sailing.

And as we were heading out of the anchorage when another challenging situation happened. (One was the mechanical problem with the generator and two was the no-show mechanic and three was Dennis’s running stomach.) That completes the  first Hat Trick – sort of. Now it appears that we are working on a second one!

Pearl Farms are everywhere! And hard to see.
As I was following the route track on which we entered the area, I saw two white things ahead floating in my path. The area is full of pearl farms which they move from time to time. I was concerned that I was heading into one between the two white buoys­­­­­­­­­­­­ (which turned out to be floating cups!) I slowed the boat and asked Dennis and Don to tell me what I was seeing white ahead of me. Don waved me to starboard to miss the object. And then it happened!

The reef doesn't show on the chart just above the dock
that doesn't exist at all! So much for depending on them.
We were at low tide and there was a reef on my starboard. The depth meter read 29 meters and the next minute, Dennis was yelling for reverse. As I threw it into reverse, the bow lifted like a rearing stallion as we were trying to stop before hitting the reef and sent Dennis to the deck. We came down gently, but the bow was on the reef. I couldn’t back off once we came down!
We were right in front of a village which was both good and bad. Bad: it was embarrassing to have gotten stuck on a reef that I knew was there but couldn’t see due to the light and position of the dinghy on the deck – plus with an audience on shore. Good: The good thing is that the villagers walked barefooted out on the coral to help lift us off.

Man was the best all week!
One of our water taxi drivers was Man, who also came on board on Monday to help me set up my phone and buy more Internet time because I couldn’t read the language. He has the greatest smile! Man had taken it upon himself to go ashore and put some minutes on my phone so I could text or call him if we needed anything. He had also shared that his brother lived in the village next to the anchorage, but he lived on the other side of Gili Gede.

Unfortunately, we were at the lowest of tides for the day when I nipped the edge of the reef. Backing up did no good so we were going to sit and wait for the tide to turn to flow. I was concerned that we would be pushed further onto the reef so I texted Man to see if he could come in his boat to pull us off.

We knew the track out from our trip into the bay. But the
floating white objects caused a misjudgment.
Just then a group of guys from the village started walking out and some came in a boat. Man was on foot walking to us, but had called his friends with boats. Dennis became concerned about “salvage claims” so he wanted to talk to the guys first. The tide had only gone up 0.01 meter at this point.

Then the sailing gods looked down upon us! Six or seven guys pushed on the bow as I reversed and we floated off the reef! Thank you lovely villagers! We gave them some money to share, said our goodbyes and were on our way through the pearl farms toward the Start Line. We had our own 0902 start on Wednesday and continued on around Desert Point. And we checked the bilge again.

So why do I call this a Double Hat Trick? The first Hat Trick was the generator issue, the mechanic’s failure to return and Dennis getting sick. The second one was the three dumb things that caused me to kiss the reef:

1) We broke our rule of having someone on the bow watching (because they were busy putting away things),

2) I took direction from someone (other than the Captain) and he wasn’t in a position to see the whole picture and

3) I didn’t follow my own instincts and allowed myself to turn to starboard instead of going to port where the water was deeper. I had no idea that it went from 29 m to .45 m in less than inches! These Hat Tricks were not winning moments, but they did provide lessons learned!