Torres Straight and Arafura Sea

22 July 2016
Femke Lobach

DSC06338High- and lowlights of our three day crossing from Australia to Indonesia

Day 1 – We left Thursday Island. Gijs said his famous last words: ‘I am ready, no more repairs on my list’. ‘Keep dreaming honey’ is what I said. And voila, we just hoisted the main and found that one of the battens had been broken. Fortunately something that can be fixed with sterile gauze, Dr. Sail epoxy and Gijs of course. An hour later the sail is up and we are off to Indonesia in a nice southeasterly breeze.

Night 1 – The night is so dark I can hardly see around me. Not that it matters, as I am only able to see walls of water and crashing waves. The sound is deafening. I am standing behind the wheel, attached to the yacht with my lifeline. Trying to anticipate where the wave comes from. It is tough as I can mostly feel and hear but not see the wave coming. ‘Bang’ a wave crashes on the hull, it sounds like hitting a rock. White foam is all around me. I am soaking wet and I smile.

There is a certain rhythm in the sea. A few very high waves are always followed by lower waves giving me a moment to relax my muscles. I hear another wave approaching us; it must be huge by the sound of it. I steer Kings to the top and off we go, fourteen knots downhill, speeding up and coming to a sudden stop at the bottom, dropping back to a speed of eight knots. This beats any rollercoaster I have ever been in. No time to relax as another wave is coming, ZOEFFF thirteen knots. I love it. King’s Legend is doing great in these high steep waves and thirty knots of wind.

After three hours of concentrated steering, I tumble over on my matrass and fall in a dreamless sleep, salty, sweaty, exhausted but happy.

DSC06372Night 2 – It is a beautiful warm night with a clear sky, an almost full moon and twenty knots of wind. I am on watch again. We have just passed Papua New Guinea. The sea is swarmed with fishing boats with huge white lights. I am steering down wind, straight into eight of these lights. Gijs and I are both on standby to be able to quickly jibe if needed. It is a close call but I manage to steer King’s Legend between two boats.
The fishermen stare at us, at this huge white sail that of all a sudden pops up in the dark night, it must look like a ghost ship, a good omen I hope. And we stare at the spartanic boats with awe. How can they work in these waves on these wooden unstable boats? Generators are running wild to keep the huge lights going. The noise and the lights are overwhelming. Welcome to Indonesia!

Day 3 – We are sailing against the Argonaut, another Dutch boat in our fleet. It is a great fight. Who will arrive first in Tual? It is a close call; even after three days of sailing we almost have to give way. Great fun.

PS: we have arrived in Tual and we won, just an hour difference on a seven hundred mile crossing but you have to understand that we didn’t go all out with our sails :) – of course..

PS 2: an example of a rickety fishing boat; too hard to take a picture while steering in the night


2 comments to “Torres Straight and Arafura Sea”

  1. Peter Mainsheeter says:

    Hello again!
    Lucky to hear from you. Met Udo 2 weeks ago; he told me from the big race to Hobart. Please take my CONGRATULATIONS for that.
    Whish you joy and fun and please go on writing. It is always good to read your blog and be inside that dream for a couple of minutes in the Office.


  2. Olga says:

    Lieve Femke en Gijs. Welkom in Indonesië!!! You did it again.
    Mooie verhalen. Liefs Olga