These two days in the Arafura Sea have been as non-descript as I remember the place to be. Other than the occasional fine period, and meeting a containership or two, it is dull and gray. Certainly nothing to get excited about nor even much to write about. Although the temperature has dropped a few degrees and the humidity with it, I can see people starting to deteriorate both physically and psychologically because of the lack of air conditioning.
I had to relieve the 2nd Mate on the bridge today, as he was so weak with exhaustion and lack of sleep that he was shaking and looked like he was about to collapse. I sat him down with a damp towel draped around him and almost had to force him to drink 750 mls of mineral water, followed by a bottle of ginger beer. He came right in less than an hour, so it was all that he needed.
|Amokura, or Bosun Bird|
We had a visitor on board today for an hour or so, a very tired Red tailed Tropic bird or Amokura. It is the very first one I have ever seen in all my 35 years at sea, distinctive because of its red beak and 2 long red tail feathers. I knew what it was, as I had sailed on a tanker called ‘Amokura’ [AM - the tanker on the header of the 'Antipodean Mariner' blog] as an apprentice in 1979 and there was a painting of the namesake bird in the officers lounge. Despite its magnificence it looked rather disheveled as it rested and regained its strength, before crapping on the chief mates new paint work on the focsle, then flying off. And people wonder why I call them shite hawks. They always leave their calling card.
I repaired the 2nd fishing lure today and ran it over the stern in a positive frame of mind. To no avail, the fish basket is still empty. Ces’t la vie. I rebooted the faulty DP screen again today and it worked fine. Will leave it on for the remainder of the voyage to monitor it. I received an email today from IMcL on the sister ship GO Capella. Apparently the air conditioning has packed up there as well. That says something for the quality of the air conditioning systems that were installed on board doesn’t it.. We should make landfall off East Timor about 16:00 tomorrow (Sunday 24th), which will break up the monotony of this leg of the passage.
Thereafter it is a coastal passage, with some good scenery and several significant volcanoes. Hopefully we will pass those in daylight as well, but I have not yet checked that. Signing off from the Arafura Sea
It was still dark when I went out on deck soon after 06:00 to set our fishing lures over the side. Venus and Jupiter were both shining brightly low in the Eastern sky, as the dawn brightened the horizon. In spite of the air conditioning failure, I seem to be sleeping OK, or maybe it is just survival instinct cutting in.
Whichever the answer, I am faring better than most on board. In fact, the only ones faring better than me are the weevils in the galley store, which appeared out of nowhere 2 days ago. The warm humid conditions must have been perfect to hatch long dormant eggs, as there had been no sign of weevils all of the time the ship had been in New Zealand. The cook was pretty switched on about it and separated the different dry stores before throwing out the infested products, which was mainly flour and other dry ingredients. A good spray out, followed by a thorough cleaning of the store and a mop out with disinfectant should have it in hand. Least wise for the remaining few days until we get off. I don’t think there will be too many muesli eaters on board as weevils seem to like muesli type products. Best to stick to sausages and eggs for breakfast. That way, if you get a weevil it has been well cooked beforehand, rather than still swimming in the milk of the cereal bowl.
Most on board, including myself, have taken to eating our meals out on deck, to escape the heat of the mess room, which is directly adjacent to the galley. Although there is full sun outside, at least there is a decent cooling breeze cascading across the deck. All very pleasant really and a world away from the “summer” weather I experienced in Aberdeen this time last year. We made landfall off the Eastern tip of East Timor at 16:00 as anticipated, although we had some of the smaller outlying islands to the north, on the radar for most of the day.
Although it is a quite steep and majestic looking piece of land, the details are lost in the omnipresent haze of the atmosphere. We take for granted in New Zealand, the clarity of the air which allows us to see twenty miles from Trevor’s airstrip to the Opua inlet. Not so up here however, as charcoal cooking fires smoulder 24 hours a day, reducing visibility considerably and dulling the clarity of that which can be seen. It does however make for the most magnificent display of deep orange sunrises and sunsets.
There was a little bit more shipping traffic apparent today, mainly containerships, as Wetar Strait, through which we are passing, is one of the common east / west shipping routes between Australia and Asia. At over 3000 metres, it is very deep water here, considering how close we are to land. We are also encountering over a knot of current on the nose at the moment, probably from the equatorial counter current. However, we remain on schedule to arrive off Benoa on Wednesday morning.
The results of our attempt at fishing remain the same. Still nothing to show for our efforts! I don’t anticipate catching anything off the Indonesian, as this area is extremely heavily fished by the locals. I have started my handover notes and have been preparing a dry dock list of jobs to do and equipment that needs repairing. We have been told that the Canopus may soon have a tow job to undertake from Benoa to Fremantle, then will be returning to Singapore for a dry docking after that, possibly in August. The three month window to complete all of our statutory surveys will end in September, so the docking should not be postponed beyond then.
I have also used these past few days to complete the format of my diary and to wade through some of the more than 10,000 photographs, totaling 18 Gb, that I have taken since October last year when I started this project. I have selected the best 500+ which best illustrate the time line of my log, then will burn both the photos and diary to a disc to save. A select few to receive it, tucked into a sleeve of a collector’s edition of “Black Tide”. There is over 900 Mb of data selected, so I will have to slightly drop the resolution of some of the photos, to ensure that they all fit on one disc. I will also have to start thinking about packing and cleaning my cabin soon, as the last few days will disappear very quickly, with all of the last minute things that need to be done. Signing off from North of East Timor
25th – caught a fish!
|Mahimahi form the GO Canopus' lure|