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`SAIL INDONESIA RALLY-2007’ … 17 OF 24 … `Uncharted Island’ and `Drift Snorkelling’!

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

North of Komodo Island … 8th September ’07 … (Lat: 08º 29 S … 119º 33 E)

From Komodo Island (south) I plotted a course to the Island group, North Komodo Islands … a simple journey, almost due north. Half way to my destination …

IMG_0487 Deja Vu

*** DEJA VU III LOVING THE CONDITIONS THROUGH INDONESIA. ***

… I sensed something was wrong, as I had a substantial Island directly in my path … in about an hour, Déjà vu was going to be driven aground! Damn and damn! The situation soon became clear as the island in question was not plotted on my Chartplotter! Maybe, because I had discovered this `new’ Island … I could claim it as mine. There was nobody around with whom I could discuss the scenario … so I sailed around it and carried on. BUT, I haven’t forgotten it! This sort of discovery always plays on your mind when sailing at night … what if I had discovered this `new’ Island … at night? Very, very scary!

During this visit to Sabajo Kejil Island, I was introduced to the art of `Drift Snorkelling’

SEBAJOR KETJIL-INDO SEPTEMBER 2007 024

*** A VIEW OF THE UNDERSIDE OF DJV’S DINGHY WHILST `DRIFTING’. ***

MANTA RAY COUNTRY-9-09-07 001

*** MANTA RAY COUNTRY-WE HAD HOPED! ***

The unbreakable rule is: Never let go of the dinghy … as that could easily be the last you would see of it … plus, your own well-being falls into jeopardy!

MANTA RAY COUNTRY-9-09-07 028

*** TWO OF THE INTREPID SNORKLERS. NOTE THE CLARITY OF THE WATER ***

For someone like myself, alone, and not a good swimmer, it was ideal … and I found a great new world open for me in the snorkelling field. Some had seen Manta Rays in this area and a repeat of this sort of sighting was my ambition … and I had my under-water camera armed and ready. This was a great experience and the foundation of other similar occurrences.

My destination took me to another passage between two Islands (Gili Lawa Darat … Lat: 08º 27 S … Long: 119º 34 E) where other yachties had reported; `Great sightings of Manta Rays whilst `drifting’ through the passage’. My plan was to anchor near the passage overnight and explore the possibility of drifting Déjà vu through, with me hanging on behind?!   I had time that afternoon to investigate the `drift-through’ idea … as there wasn’t an anchorage available for the night (two public moorings were taken by Charter boats … bastards!) And the area all round was a minefield of bommies and reeves!

On approaching the passage and letting Déjà vu drift, it quickly became obvious she would need to be under the control of a person-on-board … so I gave up the solo-drift idea … but didn’t give up the drift idea, at all!

MANTA RAY COUNTRY-9-09-07 039

*** IT WAS JUST GOOD-CLEAN-FUN! ***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With just enough daylight left we motored to #48 Anchorage, two and a half miles away, to anchor safely for the night. There were about a dozen other Rally yachts at anchor.

So, with my mind still racing with the yacht-drift idea, I picked up the VHF radio mike and spoke to the Fleet in the anchorage: “Anyone interested in hearing the free-offer-of-a-lifetime please change to Channel 15!”

Instantly I had a procession of people come onto the channel … and I explained my plan of drifting through the passage looking for Manta Rays … with the drifter’s hanging from two loops of 16mm rope, behind Déjà vu … tomorrow morning!

I had thirteen starters and we were adjacent the passage at 10:00. We looped two manila ropes (knotted every metre) from the two hulls (one short and one long loop). My self-made edict was `Do not let go of the tow-lines, short of being devoured by a shark or manta ray’!

MANTA RAY COUNTRY-9-09-07 054

*** EASY TO EXIT THE WATER VIA DJV’S DIVE LADDER. ***

… I needed some forward pulling power source and I didn’t want to turn the motors on. Hence the raising of the jib … with a light breeze from behind it gave exactly the power we needed and I was able to steer the ship through the gap with the tide. Excellent!

However, we are dealing with human beings here and at the best they’re unpredictable and at the worst, not able to follow directions … unreliable.

A turtle was sighted and two swimmers let go of the tow lines!! Maybe they thought they were strong enough swimmers to catch up and re-attach to the towline … they weren’t by far!

So, I had the possibility of two drowning’s on my hands (that’s only a 20% loss rate) and when I cleared the passage on the deep ocean side I had to announce to the swimmers: “Motors coming on to rescue two idiot drifters!” And I started the motors, did a hard `U’ turn and took the ropes back over the drifting `twits’! I have a strong feeling they were glad to receive them.

SEBAJOR KETJIL-INDO SEPTEMBER 2007 001

*** BEAUTIFUL CLEAR WATER WITH DJV’S RUDDER JUST VISIBLE. ***

Let’s do it again was the cry and I was keen to try it myself … so we decided to do it again at a passage one (1) mile closer to the anchorage. John, from `SV Island Sonata’… an American Catamaran, took the helm of Déjà vu and I did a drift, with underwater camera blazing away and had a wonderful time. Sorry, no Manta Rays!

We were back at the anchorage by lunch … we all had a great time … and I made a lot of new friends! A very successful, new experience.

ooOoo

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