Leg 16 Part 1 - Bali to Cocos Keeling
By: Geoff On: 27/12/2013 06:54:13 In: SPENT
10th - 17th October 2013
Thursday 10th October 2013
Yet another slow start to the day, although we had a few preparation jobs to finish and things to put away, we had a lay in until 09:00 before getting on. We were nearly ready and went up to the office to settle our account just after midday and to have a good meal before setting off. Susan had a breakfast and I had a lunch which were both good. We said our goodbyes and returned to the boat to remove the shore power, start the engine and slip our lines at the top of the tide at 13:20.
On the way out of the harbour we passed a few of the larger vessels that had been here for APEC. Although Obama didn't show due to the economic crisis he was facing back home, the Vice- President took his place. Putin was reputed to be in town along with many other leaders and dignitaries from around the world.
Once out of the harbour we swung our compass to reset the deviation on the autopilot which we thought may have given the problems when we arrived in Bali with the autopilot not holding a course very well. This was carried out close to the many local fishing boats that were out on the shallows just outside the harbour.    
That done, we re-aligned the autopilot to the compass and headed off just behind Yantia and in front of Wolfhound. By the time of the evening radio-net we were able to see Pandemonium, Mariela and Valentine on the horizon behind Wolfhound. Perusha had left earlier during the day and were 23 miles in front of our group.
We truly were now in the Indian Ocean, formally name the Erythrean Sea by the Greeks and more recently the "English Lake" in the 19th Century when most of the charting of this Ocean, which is still in use today, was surveyed by British ships.
As the evening drew on, Yantina disappeared in front of us, Pandemonium stormed through motoring at 10.5 knots, Wolfhound pulled out a half mile lead on us and by 23:00 Valentine sailed past, very close, at about 1.5 knots faster than us. It would seem that everyone else is improving their sailing, as the rally goes on, whereas we are struggling to keep up!
Friday 11th October 2013
All our group drew ahead of us during the night with the exception of Wolfhound who we drew level with but then dropped back to half a mile by 05:00. At 08:30 we flew the cruising chute, having furled the staysail and genoa, which gave us a little more speed and not too far off our rhumb line.
Just as Susan was preparing some food, at about 13:30, the cruising chute blew out from the head. By the time we were able to start trying to haul it on board, it was already bagging with water, pinned under the boat by the tack-strap. We had to totally furl the main to slow and stop the boat to continue its recovery. The weight of water in the bagged sections of the sail were impossibly heavy and pressing down the upper safety wires to meet their lowers. It was warm work indeed to grab and edge of the sail and haul slowly to allow the water out of the bagged sections, almost having us both overboard several times. We tied off sections attempting to secure them on the side decks but were unable to physically lift the main section.
With a sail-tie tight around a section of the sail, connected to the passerelle halyard, we were able to winch the final section out of the water, rolling the whole sail into the security of the cockpit, where we then gathered our breath. The engine was started and we motored forward to reduce the rolling motion from the long swell which was making moving around on deck difficult. Once we had a more stable platform, we were able to remove the passerelle halyard, tack strap and clew sheet and stow these away. The whole sail was then taken below to be strung up from the forward cabin pipe-cloth ring throughout the centre of the boat to the aft twin cabin pipe-cloth ring. Using more sail ties, it was then strung in loose loops from the companion way hand rail, the overhead saloon handrail, hooks placed on the lower section of the main saloon windows, the forward heads door and the forward cabin watertight door. The floor of the boat was awash with the salt water draining as the loops were hung, making it very precarious on the polished wooden floors.
Once strung out, it became possible to attend to the 'snuffer and sock' that had been turned fully inside-out and clear of the head of the sail, due to the water pressure when doused. Having  turned the sock back over the head of the sail, we were surprised to find the halyard snap shackle still attached to the head and could only conclude that the eye-slice of the halyard had failed. Looking up to the top of the mast there was something still below the sheave and we released the halyard jammer hopeful that the wind would be sufficient to draw out and allow retrieval of the loose end. It failed to move and remained fluttering at the mast head, leaving us another job for a more settled sea or anchorage at Cocos Keeling. We are hopeful that it will not fall back inside the mast and jam any of the other lines in the conduits of the mast.
The recovery of the sail on to the deck took forty minutes, it then took another two hours to string up below decks, tidy away all of the sail ties and ropes used in the recovery, stow away the other halyards, sail bag etc. By the time we had finished we were both physically spent, arms and legs aching from the weight of the waterlogged sail, drenched in salt water and perspiration - it was only 34° C in the shade but we had been out in the scorching sun and were exhausted!
Once we had set the main and genoa, the engine was stopped and we resumed sailing on our original rhumb line.  The remainder of the afternoon we rested and took turns sleeping. By 8 pm, we had eaten a light snack and fallen into our nightwatch routine.
Saturday 12th October 2013
At 04:00 we had a radio call with Wolfhound to thank them for their earlier concerns when they offered to come alongside if there was any way they could assist us during the recovery of our cruising chute. I apologised if I had seemed a little short but that we were under some pressure to get it recovered and didn't have time to talk! Tony gave us his position and we gave him ours; they were  7 miles to the northeast of our position, running just north but parallel to the rhumb line.
The radio-net revealed that little had changed over the fleet positions with the exception of Sotto were storming along, having only left yesterday, and were now picking up Wolfhounds AIS at 15 miles! By 14:00 we were picking up Sotto on our AIS at 6 miles, as they gradually overhauled us with a SOG of 8.6 against our 5.8!
Again the radio-net gave us the sad news that on Sulana, Will was recovering from his sickness, while Sue had spent the day in bed.
After dinner, the wind freshened and the current began to run in our favour giving us a boat speed through the water of 8.5 to 9.0 knots with a similar figure over the ground. Susan stood her watch well, leaving me to sleep for four hours straight. I felt much better for the solid sleep, during which I never stirred, although finding it difficult to believe I had slept for so long to have even ignored my alarm clock!
Sunday 13th October 2013
 During the watch change, Susan had pointed out a very faint light on our starboard bow. It was difficult to ascertain whether it was Wolfhound or Sotto but an hour later it was a little brighter and moving back along our starboard side, indicating that we were closing on it. It's position was the track that Sotto was running at dusk, last evening, but its lack of radar return would suggest the smaller 54 of Wolfhound. Wish the AIS had the range it had when new! Sotto had a similar problem with their AIS range until they recently connected it to a masthead aerial which increased their AIS range from 3 miles to 20 miles. As ours is run through the R & R antenna, I wondered if this was our problem so turned the antenna off for a while then back on. That didn't improve things.....
After the radio-net, we got the sewing machine out to carry out the repairs to the cruising chute in which there was two rips. By midday the repairs had been completed, the sock pulled down and the sail in its bag in the saloon. Time for a well earned cuppa for Susan.  Before the sewing machine was stowed away again, Susan completed some stitching to the Indian seat covers she was making for in the cockpit.
While we had been hard at work in the sweatshop, Wolfhound had disappeared over the horizon, from our radar we think he is now 11.5 miles northwest of us but it is difficult to be sure with his useless radar return!
During the afternoon we closed the gap on Wolfhound and by 20:00 he was 5 miles to the Northwest of us. Susan made a great curry using the chillies from Bumba Bali which made it a little hot!
Monday 14th October 2013
Slow and uncomfortable night with confused sea gradually developing, causing the boat to roll a great deal. Susan professed it to be her worst night of this leg, with continual broken sleep.
By midday it had become so uncomfortable and the cracking of the sails as the boat rolled, with the wind fluctuating from 120° on starboard to 170° on port, was beginning to trash the sails too much and we started the engine, furled the genoa, reefed the main, centralised it to help with the rolling and motored for a while. Others before us had remarked on wind shifts and choppy seas to the south of Christmas Island, exactly where we now are, advising giving it a wide berth. We were 22 miles south of Medwin Point and it was horrible! We are hoping that after a couple of hours motoring, things will be more settled and that we may continue sailing without the engine! Just to the north of Christmas Island is the Java Trench which has the deepest water of the Indian Ocean at 7,725m (25,344 ft).
The engine was switched off at 15:00 and we went back to full main, genoa and staysail trying to hold the wind at 95° on the port side. This was taking us a little further south than we wished but keeping up the boat speed which together with the favourable current, was giving us between 7/8 knots over the ground.
During the radio-net it appeared that Sulana had a very good sail under full spinnaker all day and had closed 14 miles on us, leaving them 27 miles behind. Mariela had problems with their cruising chute when it wrapped; Perusha shredded theirs and just bagged what they were able to recover; Crazy Daisy, Dreams, Pearl of Persia, Sotto and Yantina had all flown their chute for most of the day but had them away for the night; Babe had theirs up all day and were intending to keep it up all night!
Just before midnight, we decided to try sailing under genoa alone, fully reefing the main. This made for a much more pleasant motion to the boat and almost no cracking of sails as the boat rolled and we elected to continue like this for at least the duration of Susan's watch.
Tuesday 15th October 2013
When I came back on watch at 03:30, we were still sailing comfortably but had lost out some mileage to Wolfhound with our slower boat speed. I resolved to try the main but with it prevented much further out than the wind angle would suggest, almost against the stays. This appeared to work, giving us an additional 1.5 knots of boat speed without the cracking of the main. This will hopefully allow us to see Wolfhounds red instead of white light, before the rising of the sun!
Wolfhound stubbornly kept their distance at 6.5 miles and continued to just be visible on the horizon. The wind continued to back towards the east and the main prevented so far out worked well with the greater wind angle we needed to maintain our track to Cocos Keeling.
There was complete disarray regarding the radio-net and the time change. Some were on the radio two hours early, and some an hour early. Susan ran the book on who had worked out the correct time and ended up owing Andrew and Suzanna a gin and tonic each and Edward a beer!
Looked as though Sulana had finally caught us up and were 14 miles north of us, surprised that Wolfhound at 7 miles to the Northwest of us hadn't noticed them.
The wind had backed to the east now and we had the wind at 145° to the portside. The genoa was in turmoil and it was furled to the second reef to control it better although it still cracked with the big rolls of the swell passing under us in a north-westerly direction.
Late afternoon the fish line started to stream off the reel and I ran to the rod to close the clutch and set the hook. After putting on the belt I started pulling in the catch, which felt quite heavy and not fighting too much. As I moved to the side to land the catch around the side of the dinghy, on the davits, it managed to shake the hook out and escaped. The first bite in the Indian Ocean and we were unable to land it - Susan had to share my meat again!
The radio-net reported similar problems to our experience. Dreams, Sulana and Yantina have all shredded spinnaker halyards! Allegedly, Eddie has already advised that all spinnaker halyards should be run outside of the mast for the passages we are making on this rally - but we hadn't received this advice. On Babe, Nelius has caught his arm between the safety wire and a sheet, breaking the skin and damaging either a tendon or ligament.
Wind continued to carry too much easterly in it and we wait for it to veer, as per the gribfile forecast.
Wednesday 16th October 2013
 We are still unable to make any impression on Wolfhound who have doggedly maintained their lead, now at 8.5 miles, although they have cut across us from being north of our heading to south of it. It would seem that Sulana has been flying their spinnaker which has allowed them to take a more direct, downwind, course at a better speed to overhaul us so quickly.
Crazy Daisy eventually caught and passed us with no genoa, which had been damaged, and as they went passed they poled out their staysail. We had been thinking of poling out our genoa for over 24 hours now but had delayed because the gribfiles indicated the wend should be veering more southerly, which it failed to do! We ended up poling out just before dark as the plotter was now indicating an ETA of 17:30 tomorrow which would be later than we wanted to arrive. With the pole out and the staysail tight to starboard, the roll was greatly reduced and our speed increased. By the time we were settled, Crazy Daisy was just over 2 miles in front so it will be interesting to see how we fair against them overnight - ETA now showing 14:00.
Shortly after Susan had gone to bed, a red light crept over the horizon on our starboard beam. No AIS with a very weak radar reflection. We knew that Babe had a problem with their transmitter and had to keep rebooting it for them to show up and we also know that the 54's give a very poor radar return, so the chances are that it's is Babe desperate to pip us at the line! We overheard on the VHF something about them also dunking their 'mps' or cruising chute. Was this how Nelius got his arm caught trying to get it out of the water and back on the boat? We know how close we came in recovering ours over the safety rail!
Thursday 17th October 2013
When I came back on watch at 04:00, Susan reported that the boat which was abeam of us earlier, had eased ahead and from the radio calls during her watch established that it was Dreams and that Babe were 4 miles behind them. For some reason Crazy had moved slightly to the north of us and we had cut them down to less than a mile in front.    
By first light, Crazy were easing ahead and Babe was now 3 miles away from us. As the morning went on, it became a two boat race between Crazy and Babe and as we made our arrival, Babe took the honours while Crazy Daisy turned into wind to drop their sails before entering the reef. Pearl of Persia had motor sailed, due to their dropped genoa, when their halyard went, and came storming through taking a different route to what we had been advised into the anchorage.
An hour out of the anchorage we finally caught our first Mahee Mahee and left it in a bucket of sea water to attend to after our arrival.
By 12:45 we were anchored securely in 3.6 meters of crystal clear water, with 35 meters of chain out, in Port Refuge in the shelter of Direction Island.     
We had to drop the dinghy to go ashore and clear in immediately but had a couple of jobs to do first. We made the necessary radio calls to sort out the order of use for the sewing machine - Mariela had found a woman on West Island who could do the repair once she had the machine, but they had not got hold of her yet and so could not start using the machine immediately. Crazy Daisy were next in order and would be able to start this afternoon so they had it first. For some reason Dreams didn't want to start their repairs until Saturday, so were happy to have it after Crazy Daisy. We made it clear to all of them that we need it back by Sunday lunchtime, latest as we needed to check and do any necessary work on our own chute before leaving on Monday. All Thursday we had no further response from Mariela although they had arrived more than a day before us they seemed unable to get themselves organised!
Richard came across desperate for his first cigarette, there was absolutely nothing on Direction Island, even the Police had come from West Island to clear us in at their mobile office - which was the Police patrol boat, so he was unable to go to a store or bar to buy a packet on arrival as he usually did. This, of course, made his need greater and he was on his way over before we had completed our anchoring!
We completed the very swift and simple checking in procedure at the Police patrol boat before going for a beer on Wolfhound, as invited. While there we agree that Paul would attend to the fish and cook it this evening on their BBQ so we returned to Spent for them to collect it and then back to Babe to eat it a little later.
We had another fun evening and returned home tired and lubricated ready for a good sleep.
Distance logged 1,119 miles (1,122 miles on GPS); Average speed 6.68 knots; Max Speed 9.88 knots; max wind 31.1 knots (F7)