We went over to visit with Maria and Gary on Merlin. They were a wealth of information, telling us all the best places to go in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. While in Port Douglas we had picked up a cruising magazine with an article about Indonesia, and it turned out they are the authors. They have written a couple other articles for the magazine on Indonesia, as well. Guess we bumped into the right people!
The plan was to go snorkeling on the other side of the island in the afternoon, then to social hour in the evening. We were too tired. We have had several very long and busy days in a row and our bodies were demanding some rest. We both took a nap as soon as we got back from visiting with Gary and Maria, then laid low the rest of the day.
Oddly enough, two of the three outlets in the kitchen have stopped working. The one that works is in a cabinet behind all our cups, so it is most inconvenient to get to. We are not sure what caused it yet.
First thing yesterday morning we headed out for our last stop in Australia, Thursday Island. The winds were blowing at 20 knots, and even so, the ride has been, for the most part, smooth and comfortable. Not quite as good as the ride to Lizard Island, but great compared to what we have been in throughout the Pacific. It is so nice to be in the reef and protected from the swells. We can really feel the waves pick up when we go by breaks in the reef.
Navigating the channel is easy as long as you pay close attention to the charts. There are lots of twists and turns as you make your way around the maze of reefs and islands. Eric had marked 35 waypoints where we needed to make a course change over the 280 miles to Thursday Island. This is pratically more waypoint changes than we have done in the last six months since leaving San Diego.
The ride has been pretty. The days have been sunny with scattered clouds and nice sunsets.
The nights are moonless with vibrant stars. We can usually see the coastline to our left; this is mountainous and heavily forested, with an occasional bright white sand beach beckoning to us. Sometimes the mist will come in and enshroud the mountains, giving it a mystic feel. There are lots of islands dotting the waterways, some flat little coral islands, some more hilly continental islands (islands once connected to the main land when the sea level was lower). Often we have to get disconcertingly close to these little islands and the depths are uncomfortably shallow for a shipping channel. We are still frequently passed by big ships that get very close (0.1 nm), which, as we said before, can be nerve racking on pitch black nights where you can’t see the ship at all, just a big giant blip on the radar and a tiny light floating by. We have been making great time, too, averaging a little over seven knots at only 1675 RPM.
And, as we like to do at sea, here are a couple more answers to a question posted on the blog:
Q: Isn’t cruising season almost over there? Will you be putting the boat away and coming home? Or are you just going to keep going? What are your plans?
A: The South Pacific cruising season is officially over. The trade winds died about two weeks ago, which means cyclone season starts soon. We are currently moving north into Asia, and out of the cyclone belt, before the cyclone season begins in about three weeks. We will continue cruising in Indonesia and Asia, eventually making our way to Europe.
Q: Are you taking video that you will eventually post?
A: See the About the Blog.