Where are we

Thursday 11 July 2024

Horn Island to Tual Passage - Day 1 and 2

One forgets how crappy one will feel on the first few days of a longer passage.  Getting your sleep in 3 hour portions is tough.

We had a fast start through the Torres Straits. They are narrow and shallow with at LOT of water going west through them. The farther we got into the Gulf of Carpentaria (doesn’t that have a wonderful ring to it?) the rougher the seas got. Not particularly big, but with a short interval between them, and when the wind came up a few knots the motion got quite rough as well as noisy.

Tonight, Thursday the 11th, we have very light winds and are ghosting along at 4 knots in a flat sea. It’s hard not to chortle, ‘we are going to sleep SO well tonight,’ but it’s best not to tempt fate.

We’ve pretty much stayed inside Australian territorial waters so far, with the short exception of a dip in the border’s red dotted line just before dusk.  Rather than detour under it, we cut straight across. There we found what we’d been warned about - Indonesian fishing boats laying out miles of nets. It was nice to discover that it wasn’t actually that bad.

The boats we saw were laying out a string of three buoys, each fitted with AIS beacons to show their position, what they are, how fast they are moving and in which direction. This is the sort of information you get for any AIS target - just touch the target on the chart plotter screen for basic info and for more choose View AIS Data option. It is useful and very reassuring. You can’t necessarily see the target with the naked eye, but AIS sees all. All, the is that are sending AIS information. Not everyone or everything has the kit to do it, so keeping a good watch is always necessary.

We saw three boats layout one  3 or 4 mile net each, with each net having three AIS beacons.  The boat laying out the net beacon like a mother duck dropping off ducklings as she paddled along.

They seemed to lay them from east to west across the current, which would make sense. There were at least a couple miles between each boat and there net and all the nets were parallel with each other.

I have a screenshot of this but we need to remove the card from the chart plotter and it’s best to do that after you’ve arrived.

We passed between two boats laying their nets and the gap between them was 5 miles. Plenty of room for Larus to squeeze through.

These are commercial operations and it was all very logical and organised.  We will not assume it will always be like this!

We have another 36 hours (or more as we are only making 3.5 knots in very light winds) before we turn north for Indonesia.

We don’t mind taking our time as we need to arrive in daylight and Tim would quite like to watch the England in the Euro Cup final which is on Monday night here and we will still be at sea.

There I go tempting fate again by even mentioning the match.  Happily, we have lots of wood to knock on. 

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