an ugly trip south

19 05 2012

The thing is, people had warned us.

They’d said it was too early to sail from Bali to Cairns – there were still cyclones in April.

Turns out they were wrong.

Not only were there no cyclones in late April, but by the time we hit Ambon (in north-eastern Indonesia) the south-east trade winds had already set in.

And these were arguably worse than a cyclone.

Because you can hide from a cyclone. You find a safe anchorage, put out a few anchors, lash everything down, and pray.

But you can’t hide from the trade winds. For eight months they blow, from dawn til dusk, howling up the coast, creating their own steep swells and generally preventing anyone from travelling south.

the delivery kids in happier, drier, less-fucked-up, times

Old Kealoha, however, had a schedule to keep. As usual. Owners, charters, maintenance. That shit won’t wait.

And that, my friends, was the crucial point which turned this most recent delivery into something quite bad. A little dangerous even.

The wind blew up the coast. We needed to be down the coast. No time to wait. What a nightmare.

As I began writing this we were still 600km north of Cairns. We left Flores two weeks ago.

Most of the water found its way straight over the rail and into our faces

The engine won’t work properly. We’ve ripped our two main sails. Salt-water is leaking in everywhere. The air-conditioning has been out of action for two weeks now and due to the sea conditions, we can’t open any hatches to allow fresh air in.

Cue dampness, mould, stuffy air and the general funk created by six people living below decks..

We’re hiding from the trade winds in some muddy croc-filled bay while James our long-suffering captain pulls the engine apart for the third time in as many days.

Wondering how we can tack down to Cairns with our two [tiny] emergency sails. Wondering what will break next. And how much food we have remaining.

At least there’s still some Tanqueray.

People were really digging our style in Ambon. Peeps were flocking.