Thailand to Indo by yacht.

1 04 2012

The alarm blasts me from sleep. Again.

Snooze? Better not, could be trouble.

Stumble to the bathroom, splash some cold water on my face in an attempt to come round. The water is warm, so now I am damp but still half-asleep.

Brush teeth? Screw it. Coffee? Better save it. Lifejacket? Sigh.

Grope for the doorway to face a star-filled tropical night.

Welcome to another sailing delivery…

Sails out. Let's roll.

I’ve written about deliveries before – horrendous puke-filled storm runs down the west coast of Europe and joyous reunions with old pals and old yachts on the Atlantic.

This one was a little different: a week sailing through some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in burning equatorial heat, from Phuket to Bali with a bunch of people I barely knew.

And I figured the daily details of a big boat delivery might be kind of interesting. God knows, I’ve got time to write. And that’s probably what sets delivery trips apart from our regular life afloat: you may have a schedule to keep, but out on the ocean, there’s time aplenty.

Which way is Bali anyhow?

A rolling roster of watchkeepers ensure we don’t crash into nearby boats or pointy bits of rock, but when you’re not on watch, the time is yours.

Unless the generator shits the bed, or the watermaker filters need changing, or the main engine starts spraying a fine mist of diesel over everything; then, you gotta sort it out. But when the old girl is behaving, things are pretty chilled.

All our ropes are the same colour to make things more interesting for the crew.

This trip was scheduled during holidays for our regular captain and the chef, so we hired an elite team of sailor-types from around the world.  It was quite an eclectic collection of crew.

Dan: Kiwi – Delivery Captain and boss guy. Hunter, fisher, seasoned sailor, enthusiastic delegator of chores. Enforcer of fines.

Mark: English/ Phuket resident – local Yachtmaster examiner who had done this trip several times. The man to quiz with your tricky sailing questions. Loves bacon sandwiches at sunrise.

Matt: Cornish – First mate with a penchant for tattoos, surfing and country music. The only person I know who suits up for night watch in a dress shirt. Likes his shorts extra small.

Thomas: German/Australian/Phuket resident  – Matt’s surfing buddy and experienced local sailor. Hates vegetables and ‘alternative’ food. Enjoys meat with maple syrup.

Nicky: As above, Tom’s sister – Crew chef who speaks Norwegian, Thai, German and more. Likes to upset Tom by cooking healthy food. Good at backflips, too. The queen of clean.

Myself: Australian – Delivery crew. Amateur gadabout, sometime cook, talented avoider-of-work. Enjoys stirring up Matt and cooking vego food for carnivores.

Pretty expensive fishing boat.

After a few days of dodging giant ships between Thailand and Singapore we cleared out into the Big Blue proper – tiny Malaysian fishing villages, isolated reefs and crazy currents as we headed south of Kaliamantan.

Dan obliged his crew with a few stops for deep water swim sessions and as it was the first time crossing the equator for 4 of the crew, even King Neptune made an appearance.

Gettin' personal with the game reel

Sailors are a bloody superstitious bunch. I don’t know a single captain anywhere who will depart port on a Friday. No one could tell you why, but it’s just not done. I was once banned from whistling onboard. And so it goes with the Rites of Neptune.

I forget the reasons why, but anyone crossing the equator by boat for the first time is submitted to some serious abuse by those who have gone before. Expect rotten food, seawater, pain and probably fish guts. How this initiates you is unimportant, it just does.

Sail repairs en route with Smithy.

So we threw some food about, we caught some fish, we fixed a bunch of stuff, read books, enjoyed films, ate because we were bored, got deep and meaningful during late night watches and even did some sailing. Who would’ve thought?

Our route took us south from Thailand down the Malacca Straits, underneath Singapore and Kaliamantan then south-east through a handful of remote islands belonging to Malaysia.

Curious kids as we crossed into Indo

We popped out above Bali and witnessed a heart-stopping sunrise as dawn broke over Lombok before taking in Bali’s pretty east coast with the volcano beyond.

And then we were there. Job done.

Market near Ubud, Bali