Saturday, October 15, 2011

From The Java Sea to The South China Sea

We motored out of Kumai to the sound of millions of sparrows. The ominous tall cement buildings with tiny windows we'd first noticed upon arriving here turned out to be specially built to house birds. They harvest the nests and make them into drinks that apparently increase virility. 
Kumai bird nest buildings. The tiny black spots above each building are birds! Lots of birds!
There was no wind and so we motored all day and into the night. At around 9pm the engine slowed down on its own and then stopped without warning. Anima slowed and stopped in the calm night. Rene assumed she'd overheated after having run for so many hours. We waited for a few hours for the engine to cool off and tried starting her again. Nothing. Nigel Calder's Bible (Boat-owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual) came off the shelf and with it, Rene worked out we had air in the fuel line. He'd inadvertently pumped too much into our header tank and created a vacuum in the system! After another hour, he had the system bled and Anima eventually roared back into life in the early hours of the morning. We'd drifted half a mile in the wrong direction throughout this ordeal and luckily there were no hazards / bad weather / ships to contend with. 

We maintained our four-hourly watches and had no real hiccups. I was concerned about the shoals we had to cross (this area of the sea is quite shallow - ranging from 8 to 30 metres). In particular, we were heading right through some shoals called 'Fox Banks' and, knowing how sly foxes can be, I wondered if they would try to outfox us. Rene managed to sneak through them at dawn without waking the fox and we had no problems. 

The winds were very light. We managed to sail briefly using all 6 sails but only made between 2.5 and 4.5 knots with the current helping us. Overall we did 43 hours of motoring and used most of our 200 litres of diesel. There were less small fishing vessels / traps on this trip but many more large container ships. Our AIS is useful but unfortunately keeps "freezing" and is not 100% reliable. Both of our auto-pilots are playing up too. R2detour has been used far more than he was ever designed to. He is currently held together with bits of string, wood, one of my thongs and lots of willpower! Aries is again having problems and while in Belitung, Rene will install a Raymarine Tiller pilot (that we bought in Australia and haven't yet needed to install) onto it. 

R2 wedged in and tied together... 

On day three the wind picked up a little and Rene hoisted all the sails. We turned off the motor and caught up to our friends on Honalee! They took some beautiful photos of Anima under sail for us. We stayed at the same speed for hours and gradually overtook them. When the winds eased off however, we turned on the motor again and motor sailed at 6 knots all the way to Belitung. It was pretty close but we managed to anchor just before sunset, after a squall came through and changed the wind by 180degrees. The rest of the rally was already here but there was room enough to anchor. 

Sailing across the north of Belitung Island, Indonesia. 
Sailbirds on Anima, 2 degrees south of the equator.
Go Ani!!

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