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`SAIL INDONESIA RALLY – 2007′ … 7 OF 24 … `Balurin Bay’ … The Bay of Anchor Drags!

***   FIRST HALF OF RALLY … DARWIN TO BALI, INDONESIA   ***

BALURIN BAY … 8th August 2007 … (LAT: 08º 14 S … LONG: 123º 41 E)

Always thrills and spills when sailing with a large group and it occurred on the second night out from Alor, when a strong wind rocketed down from the mountains to push a few boats back on their anchors … yours truly included.

LEMBATA - INDO - 10-8-07 016

* BALARIN BAY … IT LOOKS A GOOD ANCHORAGE … BUT ONLY FOR FIVE, NOT TWENTY FIVE YACHTS! *

This was the chosen anchorage of about twenty yachts for the second night out from Alor. What a glorious spot … in a large Bay, in the lee of a mountain range … and under the shadow of a `Live Volcano’! This was WOW stuff … a live volcano with steam and blowholes and all sorts of volcano bits and pieces. It did prove, however, to be a safe anchorage for about five yachts only … not twenty!

The only apparent safe place for me to drop an anchor was in the nook of this coral reef … as the water depth shallowed from very deep, to about 6-12 metres. My anchor was in the shallowest water of the fleet, as Cats seem quite happy to anchor in shallow water … and the shallower the water the better the anchor will hold (who said that?) But … there were yachts `packed’ all around and many of them were very new friends (had still only met a small percentage of the people on board the 110 yachts which started in the Rally.)

Within a mile or so, south, there is a mountain range … and early in the night a strong wind started to pick-up. Mountains do strange things to wind! When the wind climbs the face of a mountain, all is well. BUT, with the wind having climbed the hill and reached the TOP … it’s like a run-away hill-trolley … it gathers a great deal of speed down the leeward side. These speeding winds are called `BULLETS’ and they cause havoc to anchored yachts (well some at least) and Déjà vu was one of them!

Now, this is when I could do with at least one crew member, maybe two, on board … as I had the job of getting both motors in the water … starting them … getting to the anchor chain and bringing in the `bridle’ (this is when my trouble really started as the bridle had been under so much pressure through the night, I couldn’t undo the fancy knot holding it to the nylon anchor rode … I did have all my 34 metres of chain out, plus 20 metres of 16mm nylon rode.) A friend from Carnarvon, Western Australia, taught me a knot to use for tying a bridle to the anchor chain/rode? I use it often when I have all my chain out, plus a length of 16mm nylon rode. I’m not really sure about the nylon … it binds up a lot and is generally hard to handle! Anyhow, the frigging knot would not come undone (it was dark which made it worse.)

Anyhow, I had gone back to the cot at 04:00, pulled a pillow over my head (a bad habit) and dropped into a deep sleep. I was awoken by loud shouts and raced onto deck to find I was the anchor-dragging-culprit … fxck, fxck, fxck, do you know the feeling? Déjà vu had moved about 70 metres and was moving down the side of a `very expensive’ mono (Ian and Chris of China Grove) … the owners of which were on deck screaming and somewhat agitated.

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* EARLIER IN THE … A RACE WITH `CHINA GROVE’, WHICH THEY LOST! *

At this time an Angel came alongside in a dinghy … in the form of Darren from `Ovation’. “Could you do with a hand?” Didn’t have time to be too polite … “Come on up and steer the bloody boat with the bloody motors, the rudders will do nothing at this speed!” Here was a top-flight mono-yacht Skipper who had little experience steering catamarans by their motors … and he was being asked to steer one in a storm … for Darren, this was the time of a steep learning curve!

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* ANCHORING UNDER THE SHADOW OF A REAL INDONESIAN VOLCANO! *

I’d had my full share of that dark, crazy anchorage … so I took off for Lembata, our next Rally stop. I left much drama behind, as many yachts dragged and Darren was kept busy as a `Tug’ operator. It was a great relief to actually sail from that Bay, through the fumes of the volcano … what a great beginning to a new day!

I’d had my full share of that dark, crazy anchorage … so I took off for Lembata, our next Rally stop. I left much drama behind, as many yachts dragged and Darren was kept busy as a `Tug’ operator. It was a great relief to actually sail from that Bay, through the fumes of the volcano … what a great beginning to a new day!

PS. Next time I saw Darren, at a crowded restaurant in Lembata … I planted a large kiss on his sweaty cheek for the great effort he put into my rescue … his wife Toni promptly grizzled that it was her idea he go and help … so I planted a large kiss-on-her-lips … that was a lot more fun!

croker isl nt - june '07 031

* MY `ANCHOR-DRAGGING’ ANGEL HELPERS … DARREN AND TONI FROM SV OVATION! *

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