Moonlight Watches

Sophie left Hoga yesterday to continue on our passage from Ambon to Labuan Bajo on the western tip of Flores Island in Indonesia. We have a 10-12 knot westerly wind plus a slight current against us in the Flores Sea and covered 130 miles over our first 24 hours. It has been a relatively gentle passage so far. Holly and the kiddies took some Dramamine before we left, and no one has gotten seasick.

Our current position is 07.05.210S, 122.39.873E. We are heading due south at 5 knots. The wind is forecast to die down as we approach Flores, and when it does so we’ll hang a right and travel along the coast.

We left Hoga by heading around the top of Kepulauan Island and then sailing 14 miles southwest towards an unmarked pass in the Pulau-Pulau reef. Well, it turns out the Indonesian government has erected an enormous navigation marker on the southern end of the pass, right next to six fishing huts mounted on stilts over the reef. While there we were treated to dancing dolphins and then turned around to see a massive squall, complete with a waterspout, attacking the anchorage where we had been swimming just 90 minutes earlier. We certainly picked a good time to get out of Dodge.

We sailed almost the entire night with no motor under a full moon. It’s the first time we’ve done this in a long time, and it was beautiful. On two separate occasions Holly and Jenna spotted unlit fishing platforms the size of log cabins. They were both anchored in 5000 feet of water and lay directly in Sophie’s path. The girls were able to skillfully avoid collision each time. Thank goodness for the moonlight.

During my moonlight shift I unreefed the main and got Sophie up to 8 knots of speed a couple of times. I was smiling a lot. We seemed to have left the fishing area, so I watched the movie “Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”, laughing at how much Bill Murray’s character reminded me of our friend Colin on the cat Segue. That was until the last 5 minutes of the movie, when it suddenly dawned on me that Steve Zissou was me, and that 11 and a half was my favorite age.

Jenna has become quite good at Indonesian cooking. Yesterday’s lunch was a stir-fried tempeh in a peanut sauce that melted in your mouth. Our meat/meal ratio is plummeting the longer we stay in this country.

It’s 115 miles to the “17 Island National Reserve” on the north coast of Flores, and our current plan is to drop a hook there on Saturday morning and spend a day relaxing and snorkeling. From there it’s just 70 miles along the coast to Labuan Bajo and another 15 miles to Komodo, home of the dragons. We are going to need a little more luck in the wind and tide department, but we would love to get a photo of Holly posing with some dragons to cap off her vacation with us. That would be awesome.

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