The Hills of Lombok

The wind was blowing from the north west so Artemis was rolling in the swell. We were missing a vital part for the gearbox so could not go any where. It seemed like everything was breaking down. It was time for a bike ride.

We assembled the bikes and found that Heidi’s bike had two broken spikes so the first trip was to find a bike mechanic. The 72 year old expert spoke no English but Dewi and Bagus, the owners of the neighboring shop helped out. Dewi also told us that she comes from the beautiful village of Sembalun, high on the flanks of the still active volcano Mount Rinjani. We found a picture of a star shaped lookout so we had a target.

We planned a route using Alltrails which took us through the mountains. There were lots of valleys to cross and ridges to climb but, as we tell everyone when they search for our electric motors, “we are young and fit!” The problem is that some of the bridges across the rivers no longer exist and two connecting roads that are shown must have disappeared in the last earthquake. The state of the mountain roads is atrocious and everything is steep but the locals are all friendly and helpful. We left at eight in the morning but by five in the afternoon we were faced with an impassable gorge so descended in the light rain back to the coast road.

We reached the main road at six, just as the thunderstorm began and darkness descended. Luckily the first person we met was the English speaking Wina who organised a pick-up to carry us and our bikes through the deluge the last 17 kilometers to our hotel.

We had decided that we deserved one night of luxury at the Rinjani Lodge where we arrived tired, cold, dirty and hungry. After being shown the room, the view, the swimming pool and the restaurant menu, we decided that we actually deserved two days of luxury.

Day ones’s track is at Alltrails

After a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant perched high on the mountainside we walked up the gorge to see the impressive  Tiu Kelep waterfall. We were in a rain forest so the drizzle which then turned to rain and finally to a monsoon downpour was not unexpected. The path had fallen in to the river in a few places so river crossings were also on the program. Finally we reached the point where we couldn’t get any wetter so posing for photos under the spray of the waterfall was no longer a problem.

On day three we breakfasted early and descended out of the mountains almost back to sea level before turning up the road to Sembalun. We climbed 1300 meters up a road that at times reached 25%. Even the passing scooters were riding zig-zag to gain height. The humidity started at about 100% and the temperature was around 30°C. Not surprisingly we pushed some of the way but even so we received numerous thumbs up and looks of astonishment from the locals. The only rain was during the lunch stop so, incredibly, we reached the village dry. The hotel didn’t have a restaurant so we biked up the hill in to the village for dinner (as you do at the end of such a day 🙂

Day threes’s track is at Alltrails

Early on the morning of day four we cycled up to the view point above the village to enjoy the spectacular views to Mount Rinjani, still 1800 meters above us, and down on to the fields in the valley below. Luckily this early in the morning there was neither rain nor clouds hiding the mountains. From the viewpoint we descended almost to seal level. Non-stop downhill while pointing out every shop we had bought drinks at, stone we had rested on and curve we had pushed round the day before. We learn from experience so took the coastal road home and finally stopped at a hotel after 63 kilometers. We showered and walked in to the village to look for lunch. All day it had been dry but now we took shelter at the village shop as rivers fell from the sky accompanied by lightning strikes and thunder. After an hour we abandoned the restaurant idea, bought food from the shop, bagged our shoes in plastic and waded home.

Day fours’s track is at Alltrails

On the last day we woke to more torrential rain but by eight o’clock everything was drying out and we could enjoy a short trip through the rice fields back to our cycle mechanic – Heidi had another broken spoke – and then back to the boat. It was the Balinese festival of Galungan so the streets and temples were decorated and all the Hindus were dressed in their best outfits. A beautiful end to an amazing tour.

Day five’s track is at Alltrails

186 kilometers, 3200 meters of climbing, thousands of “Selamat pagi” and “Selamat Siang” and many, many friendly, smiling people.

Wina who saved us when it was dark and rainy. Dewi and Ayu helping plan the route. One of the many local cooks and stallholders who kept us going and our repair man. Thank you! All of you.

All our photos of Indonesia on in the album at Google.

East Indonesian Odyssey

From Sorong on the island of Papua to Lombok, just before Bali, is only 2500 km. A bit more than half an Atlantic crossing and less half the East coast of Australia. A “short hop”.

But at the moment the North West Monsoon is blowing which means that the current is always against you and the wind – if there is any wind so close to the equator – is mostly a light breeze also against you. Unlike in the Atlantic the seas are studded with coral ringed islands, islets and reefs that need to be avoided and always appear exactly where they are not needed. This all made for an interesting trip.

Things started well. We sailed gently to a channel between two islands and then anchored and waited for the current to turn. In the morning we more drifted than sailed the entire channel and were spat out the other end. A few miles further and we saw standing waves ahead where our bit of current met a stronger current running against us. After a few hours of trying to make headway, we had to use the engine to “break through” to less turbulent waters on the other side.

schoolgirls, fishermen, mosque, sunset in anchorage, stilt village, waterspout

The next days were hard sailing. Sometimes we were heading the right way but often we were tacking to not lose ground. The engine was needed again to avoid being sucked on to Buru Island by the current running between the islands. And, of course, there are the thousands of fish traps, fishing buoys and floating bamboo islands everywhere – mostly unlit.

Eventually we sighted Sulawesi to the west and finally anchored in a bay off a holiday village. When I was 16 I read of the jungles of Sulawesi and decided that this island was some where I wanted to visit and now, only 44 years later, we were anchored below the jungle covered hills. Sometimes you only need patience.

We spent the next week working our way under Sulawesi enjoying the incredibly friendly people. In one village we were given tomatoes and in the next town a jar of honey. Everyone we met wanted a photograph with us even turning their scooters round and coming back to ask. We felt like rock stars surrounded by schoolgirls who all needed a photograph and to try a few words of English. We anchored off a lonely reef, next to a village built on stilts and up a river that cut through the coral reef. With Artemis we can really leave the “beaten track”.

One day both mobile phones disconnected from the Internet claiming that our SIM cards were invalid. In the next village we found the “phone mechanic” but he could not help. It turns out that, after 90 days, Indonesian customs block your phone unless you pay them 40% import tax. So we now own a second hand local phone that is tax paid. While the guy was working on our problem, Heidi was surrounded by local ladies enjoying pictures of Allgäu, snow, our children and our journey in our new “picture book”.

Back online we continued west. Actually we went north then a bit west then south. It was further but avoided the strong current so was actually sailable. Sailing is often about going the long way to get there eventually. It was during this trip that we realized that our marine radio no longer worked and saw our first tornado just off to port.

During our last stop in Sulawesi we met Aul who fed us crab, took us home to meet her family, helped us shop in the Sunday market and took us to the swimming pool where, this being a Muslim country, Heidi and all the other women swim fully clothed. We were made to feel like honored guests and enjoyed the chance to meet so many locals and learn about their life.

swimming, traditioanl bambbo work, Aul’s family, the phone doctor, Sunday market

By the time we left Sulawesi we had used half our diesel supply and out in the islands you can not buy high quality fuel suitable for our engine. But the weather forecast promised wind and we planned a route to avoid the strong currents so we thought we could easily reach Lombok.

On the first day we were in the shadow of the islands but a storm/tornado/who knows what ripped in to us with incredible force and ripped the screws that secure the main sail traveller out of their threads. Luckily we had a safety rope installed and even more luckily neither of us was in the way of the flying parts. With a rope we managed to make a repair to allow us to continue.

In the night we were making good progress until we entered an area full of fish traps. We just managed to turn to avoid a large, unlit bamboo construction that could only be seen in the dark because of the hundreds of white seagulls sat on it. As a result we took down most of the sails to drift slowly until daylight. No progress is better than a wrecked boat.

The next days were frustrating. No wind at all but a constant current against us. Instead of sailing we burnt fuel to keep moving against the current, make way westwards and avoid reefs. Over a hundred miles away from Lombok we ran out of fuel and were at the mercy of the current. Luckily a passing fisherman swapped us twenty liters of diesel for a fuel canister. This was just enough to reach the port of Badas where we were overjoyed to see the yacht Moon River at anchor. Our friends who we met last Christmas had a phone number for a taxi driver and lent us their diesel canisters to refuel.

As we tried to lift the anchor in Badas we discovered that it was broken. It will turn but lacks the strength to lift the anchor so we pulled it up from hand which is not good at our age. No anchor winch meant making the run directly to the marina in Lombok in one overnight run while hugging the coast to mitigate the current.

As the sun rose over Lombok’s volcano we put the water maker on and found it no longer works. Yesterday it made drinking water but today the water is brackish.

Finally we reached Lombok and tied to a mooring buoy. Our visas run out in five days, our main sail traveller is broken, the marine radio does not work and we don’t have a working anchor winch or water maker. So we did the best thing you can do in such a situation and went to the restaurant for brunch and ice cold coke.

Sunrise over Lombok, finally at anchor, brunch

Night in the Celam Sea

We are sailing west across the warm, calm Celam Sea. Everything is drying in the sun. Our clothes are hung wet on the safety lines and may be dry in a few hours. There is nothing to see in any direction except the sea and sky. No islands, no ships and most importantly no tropical storms anywhere.

Last night we were sailing slowly west under a  moonless, starlit sky. Heidi was adjusting the wind steering and sails as necessary while also avoiding commercial shipping. We were finally making good progress from Papua to Sulawesi.

it is just a question of adjusting the correct line (rope)

At midnight the sea became agitated and we stopped making any forward progress. We had met a strong current coming the opposite way which not only stopped us, it forced us backwards. We tried tacking one way and then the other but nothing helped us on our way to Sulawesi. We changed the watch and I sat outside.

Slowly the stars began to disappear which is never a good sign. Next the wind changed direction and increased which is always a warning of bad things to follow. The pouring rain was mere confirmation that we had entered a tropical squall. Heidi put on a jacket and together, in the wet dark, we reduced the sail to a minimum while getting thoroughly soaked. We attempted to steer a safe course through the howling wind keeping the bow upwind and the wind on one side. Normally this is not so difficult but when it is pitch black, you are being lashed by rain and your only point of reference is the compass then it gets more exciting. There are occasionally times when you wonder if sailing is really such a fun sport.

Eventually the wind died down leaving us to drift the wrong way through the rain until that stopped as well. At some point I lay down and Heidi took over the watch again. And at nine o’clock I awoke to sunshine and Heidi sailing a rapidly drying boat gently west.

Days in Wayag

You have probably never heard of Wayag. But you have definitely seen pictures of this amazing Indonesian archipelago.

Heidi’s son, Michael, flew to Sorong to join us for Heidi’s birthday, Christmas and New Year. Despite his three flights becoming four and despite being given a hand written boarding card, he arrived exactly as planned. To help with the jet lag we took him to immigration (twice), the bank, the supermarket and a restaurant before returning to Artemis. 

We spent a few days sailing near Sorong and then set off north to the magical realm of Raja Ampat. The plan was a gentle day sail but, this is sailing so we ended up tacking through the night hard against the wind avoiding islands, islets and reefs. Welcome to our world Michael! Luckily he took everything in his stride and even managed a good night’s sleep.

At first light we anchored off the Island of Arborak and took the dinghy to the reef to introduce Michael to coral and the millions of fish. The clever guy had bought an underwater camera with him so that we could record the amazing reef scenery. We also walked around the island which took ten minutes and met three Germans who had booked a three week stay and, after one night, were wondering what they were going to do for for the next twenty days.

Another two days and one night of sailing and the sun rose to show us Wayag. As we entered, folowing the deep clear channel between the coral reefs and undercut limestone hills, the effect was “Wow! Amazing!” We anchored off a white beach and immediately jumped in the water. It had the perfect temperature and “the swimming pool” became a twice a day event. Paradise is where you make it but this is a good place to start.

Just along from us were a few boats with young families on board. One night they turned the beach in to an outdoor cinema and on Christmas Eve there was a beach party. A tribe of happy, well brought up children having a good time and everyone made us very welcome.

We climbed two steep limestone hills to enjoy the moment when you step out of the hot jungle and the vista of water and hills opens up in front of you. It is hard to believe that what you are looking down in to is reality and not something from a films special effects department. Everything is just too perfect with geometrically rounded hill tops, immaculately spaced trees on the hillside and water with every known shade of blue.

We also found a school of sharks to swim with. They were black tip reef sharks so not human eaters but still they had that evil feeling that sharks emanate as they swim past you with their tiny little eyes sizing you up.

We spent four days in Wayag. It is indescribably beautiful  and I am pretty sure we will not find anywhere to knock it off the “most beautiful place ever” pedestal”.

Island Days

There is an island in Indonesia that the charts call Sabuda but which the locals all call Pulau Pisang – Banana Island. It is only a few degrees south of the equator and is like the story book tropical island. Palm trees grow behind the white beaches and the entire island is fringed with beautiful but dangerous coral reefs. Between the coral there is one small patch of sand on the north side that is shallow enough to anchor in if the weather is settled and the wind is in the correct direction. If you decide not to anchor it is another day or two of sailing before you reach the next anchorage.

After a night at sea we rounded the headland and found a fisherman’s camp set up behind the beach and their boats pulled up on the sand. We very gingerly nosed in between the reef’s arms with Heidi at the bow “coral spotting” and dropped anchor in exactly the right spot. We jumped into the water to see if the anchor was properly set but, despite the clear water, twenty meters was just too deep to see anything. At least we had a refreshing swim.

During the afternoon fishing boats passed us and we waved to each other and called greetings across the bay. We watched the sun set and the stars appear and baked homemade bread and cheese to go with it. Life on Island time is not very stressful.

The next morning we sat in the cockpit and watched the tide come in and slowly cover the reef. It took about two hours and two cups of coffee but someone has to check that the sun and moon are doing their jobs. Once we were sure that the tides were working as expected we did an hours work to pay the bills and then set off to the beach.

We had brought a frisbee with us and started playing with the children on the beach. We were soon joined by a lady named Fiorika and the young men who all wanted to try this new game. Once we had passed round a packet of crisps, we were firm friends with half the village and went off to explore along the beach with Fiorika and the children. On our return we were invited to the camp to meet the patriarch and the rest of the family and drink coffee. There was music playing so the coffee turned into karaoke with a little dancing as we learned that this was an extended family group that came across from Fakfak for a month at a time to harvest coconuts and fish. 

Someone suggested a trip to a neighboring beach to collect coconuts and within minutes about five young men, Fiorika, her sister Nona and we were in a long boat carving along the coast, around coral outcrops and under overhanging trees. I guess you can take the direct route but that would not be anywhere near as impressive when you have two “tourists” along for the ride. At the beach we were astounded as Dandi (the third son of the family and Fiorika’s husband) shinned up a massive palm tree faster than any monkey and began to throw coconuts down. The coconuts were opened but had no juice in them so we continued to the next beach for a repeat performance and some swimming. Dandi is not only a monkey, he is also a fish and can sit on the bottom of the bay for minutes at a time. He is 23 years old so thoroughly enjoyed showing off his abilities to such an appreciative audience.

Back at the bay we agreed that we would all meet for a beach fire at nine in the evening. We asked if anyone would like to see Artemis and half the village took us up on the offer. We showed them our home, the water maker, our charts with the satellite images switched on and other toys but what really impressed these fishermen was the monitor windvane. They were fascinated at the idea of a device that steered the boat even if you were asleep. They left after about an hour and that gave us time for another swim and to prepare home made pizza to take with us. 

Back on the beach there were thousands of stars and only one anchor light in the bay. A small fire was burning and next to it was a huge bonfire carefully laid. As the guests of honor “Aunty and Uncle” were invited to light the fire which we did following clear instructions about exactly where to poke our fire stick.

Heidi and Fiorika opened the dancing and soon most people were dancing and enjoying this night when different cultures met. Sadly the people told us that boats often stop but the white people mostly stay on board and they never have the interaction that they had with us. Why sail the world and not talk to the people that you see around you?

Luckily Neill was the oldest person present – even older than “Grandfather” – so at eleven he could explain that he needed sleep. Everyone escorted us to our dinghy, carried it into the sea and wished us selamat Malam – good night. It was good that we left as Heidi reported that the fire was still burning bright at three o’clock.

The next morning we awoke to a breeze from the south so, after cleaning the hull as an excuse for another swim, lifted anchor and shouted a loud goodbye. As we turned downwind our friends were waving from the forest edge, one holding the yellow frisbee we had left behind.

First impressions of Indonesia

We have been in the country nearly three weeks now. We have sailed five hundred miles, visited three towns and three villages, anchored in seven bays and met hundreds of people many of whom wanted a photo with us.

The country is beautiful. I am writing this anchored off the island of Papua. The forest comes all the way to the ocean and the villages, with their mosques and churches, are buried in the forest behind the white beaches. The sea is mostly see through and every island is fringed with beautiful, healthy coral. Unfortunately plastic rubbish is endemic but you have to look past that.

Pulau Gorong. See through water and beautiful corals

The weather is a dream. It is hot all day and warm all evening but, particularly in the evening, a breeze blows that cools everything down wonderfully. If we anchor in a busy bay then we may need clothes as the fisherman pass and at night a single sheet is enough. Occasionally it rains but, until now, they have only been passing squalls that wash the salt off Artemis. The rainy season has not arrived yet.

Buying fruit and trying Durian fruit

The food is tasty and affordable. Because one Euro is worth over 15 000 IDR we tend to be millionaires and spending thousands of rupees in a market can be a bit unnerving but, when we work it back to Euros, we have a problem spending more than five Euros. Fruit and vegetables are available everywhere so we are enjoying a healthy diet. In Tual we ate lunch at a street stall and it was tasty, filling and very affordable. In the village of Pasir Putih we walked once through town and bought everything we needed from the stalls next to the road. In Fakfak we were looking for lunch when some kind ladies who were tidying up after a festival gave us their lunch packets and then bought us Durian fruit as a desert.

And the people are amazingly friendly. Everybody smiles and says hello. Almost everybody wants a photo with the strange foreigners. Most people have no idea what we are talking about but try and help us anyway. We say Selamat Pagi and sometimes we get a shy good morning as an answer and we are all amazed what polyglots we are. We met a family on the beach and said hello. The next minute we were sat down eating their fried bananas with chili sauce and fried coconuts. We introduced ourselves as English speaking in a village and were taken to meet Imelda, the retired English teacher and all her grandchildren. In Fakfak Heidi got carried away by the music and a minute later she was dancing with a partner. We only said hello to Dewi and her colleagues and were invited for lunch. The next day she and her family visited us onboard Artemis.

Imelda and grandchildren. The ladies from the health ministry. Dewi, Ariel & Ben onboard. Heidi dancing the twist.

Cycling to Tual

We have now been in Indonesia nearly two weeks so it was definitely time to get on the bikes and go exploring. We are anchored off a beautiful coral fringed beach on the island of Kai Kecil and the main town of Tual is only about twenty kilometers away through the forest and over the hill.

We took the bikes to shore with absolutely no wind. The water was like glass and we could see every detail of all the beautiful coral as we passed over them. What a way to start a bike ride.

All the maps agree that there is no track from our beach through the forest but luckily they are all wrong and a road took us in to the first village from where we meandered past farms and through villages towards Tual.

We greeted everyone we met with Selamat Pagi and received a Pagi in reply. Occasionally we received a Hello Mister or Hello Misses and even one Goedemorgen from Jan who was dutch. Pedestrians or scooter passengers made photos or video clips as we passed to show their friends that they had seen real europeans in the street.

We took a shortcut through the backstreets and ended up lost as the road had disappeared but a young mother gathered up her baby and went ahead to show us the way. She explained the route we should follow in Indonesian so we smiled and thanked her with a Terima Kasih and continued to follow the GPS.

We rode to the bridge that connects the towns of Langgur to Tual where we were extras for the passing schoolgirls selfies. We looked at the rubbish filled water of the bay and decided that we were better on our coral beach. A coffee was followed by amazing street food. Heidi ordered by pointing at stuff and after we had finished the seller came to take pictures with her international clientele.

We visited the biggest supermarket on the island and filled our rucsacs with supplies then, on the way home, bought vegetables from a roadside stall and tied them to the outside in an Aldi bag. Later we found a banana seller so tied those on as well. After 45 kilometers we were glad to be home but had enjoyed a fantastic trip through the backwoods of the island.

Our route is at Alltrails.

Some of our photos are in our Indonesia album.

Saumlaki – the door to Indonesia

In the early hours of a Tuesday morning we sailed gently into the port of Saumlaki and thus into Indonesia. By sailing two thirds of the way west around the world we had finally reached a far flung outpost of the Far East.

We anchored in the bay and, despite communication difficulties, found our agent on the bow of an old ferry which we used as a dinghy dock. The procedure for entering Indonesia with a boat is a little complicated so this is the shortened version.

Wait for health officials to arrive and ferry them to the boat with the dinghy. Let them do an inspection of the sleeping quarters, food preparation area, food stocks and medical kit. Answer questions, fill out forms and provide copies of random documents after which you return them to land.

Take a ride on a motorcycle pillion to the immigration office stopping on the way to print some documents. At immigration they need copies of everything including documents I only had electronically. Answer questions and fill out forms while the agent goes off to make more copies.

Return to the ferry and wait for immigration to arrive and then take them to the boat. Another inspection, a few selfies for the immigration guys and then receive a visa barcode in the passports.

Take the immigration officers to land and the motorcycle to the customs office. More questions, printing of papers and filling of forms before returning to the ferry to wait for customs to finish the paperwork and arrive. Vitally important for every official is that we not only sign forms but also affix the vessel’s official stamp to every document. Luckily we had one made in Australia.

One of the customs agents wanted to be the dinghy driver which was amusing as he had no idea what he was doing. After a cursory inspection of the boat and a few more photos, we received our customs clearance. The trip to return the officers to land should have taken five minutes but the new ferry was arriving so they had moved our old ferry and pulled up the ramp. Half an hour later they had maneuvered both vessels into position and lowered the ramp again.

We quit while we were ahead and took the dinghy to land for dinner and local beer as we enjoyed our first sunset in the new country.

The next morning Heidi was ill so I set off on my own in search of the telephone company to buy SIM cards. The cards required a physical identification of the person and a photo of the passport next to the person so Heidi would have to attend herself.

Another motorcycle ride to the health officials to sign more papers and receive a green health book for the boat. This was my fifth bike ride and I still had no idea which side of the road they officially drive on here. At junctions we appeared to decide spontaneously who would go first and which side to pass.

Our last official stop was to let the harbour master create more paperwork and clear us out of the port. He was the eighth official we had dealt with and the first miserable person. He either hates his job or he detests sailors.

Back at the telephone shop my SIM was ready and I was back online. The ladies had decided that I could take a photograph of Heidi and her passport – not exactly legal but good enough. By the evening of day two we were legally cleared in, both online and, unsurprisingly, tired out.

Escape from Darwin

Until now leaving a country has been an easy experience. You visit some official and tell him you want to leave, he stamps your passport and gives you a clearance paper and then you leave.

In Darwin you have to give the Australian Border Force notice of leaving so that they can fit you in to their busy schedule. They are protecting the borders 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but you can only leave on workdays but not on Monday and only in the morning when it is not too hot. And not before 08:30 to give them time to get warmed up. They insist on coming to the boat but will only do so at one place in the whole of Darwin.

After two years, we finally lowered the remains of our Australian flag

Only a bit late, two border force agents turned up at the appointed dock wearing matching black boots, trousers and shirts – sort of 1940s storm trooper look. One was friendly and polite but either hard of hearing or didn’t listen while the other had a 50% failure rate correctly identifying our two passports. But together we quickly achieved the necessary paperwork, received a plastic pen and floating key ring (both made in China) and were free to leave Australia.

The tide was going out so we left the dock, hoisted a sail and drifted out in to the Beagle Gulf making five knots towards Indonesia. Three hours later the current was slowing but we tacked in to the wind heading west and then, before we hit the sand banks, tacked again to use tide and wind to sail north. The water was flat, the breeze was fresh and we were making five knots. Unfortunately Melville Island was directly in our way so we had to turn again. Now we had the wind and tide against us and spent the rest of the afternoon and night travelling 71 miles to achieve a distance of 23.

The yellow line was our route over two days.

The wind was obviously set on coming from the west so at dawn we turned east to sneak through the narrow Howard Channel. This “shortcut” has to be taken at exactly the right time so that you are not fighting the tide and is definitely not somewhere you want to be in an east wind. The right time was 18:00 which gave us seven hours to make 21 miles. Heidi looked at our average speed of 0.8 knots and laughed out loud on hearing this.

We had south wind. We had north wind. We had currents against us and then with us. We skirted a fish farm and finally we were heading in to an east wind and considered abandoning the attempt but the weather forecast said it would disappear as we got there so we continued. We passed the start marker ten minutes early and felt the current start to suck us. Just after dark everything was wonderful with a wind from the north so Neill lay down in the cockpit and Heidi continued through the night.

After about two hours the sails began to flop as a 15 knot east wind (yes, the east wind you really don’t want) hit us right on the bow. 15 knots of wind against four knots of tide in a shallow channel produced huge waves which threw Artemis around so we took over hand steering through the black night. With Neill on the tiller Heidi had to navigate, run the galley and negotiate with a fishing boat “who was passing who where” on the marine radio. She also had to be the relief helmsman, trying to maintain a course of fifty degrees through fluid chaos. The wind remained strong against us until one in the morning when Heidi collapsed for two hours sleep before taking over to let Neill sleep. By three o’clock we were becalmed in the Van Diemen Gulf and frustratedly looking for wind to take us to the next tidal gate to continue north. Four hours later and still there was not a breath of wind so, with heavy hearts, we put the engine back on to reach the open sea where we finally found a breeze to carry us north with about one knot.

We sailed everything we could but still had the engine running for 24 hours during our 54 hour odyssey. Never before, not even in the Panama Canal or south of Tasmania, have we used so much engine. But as I write this we are sailing north across the Timor Sea and life is good again. Australia was just trying to stop us leaving.