'GO Canopus' is sending in a daily report on life at sea on an AHTS as she heads to Bali for demobilisation and redeployment. Here's a few days in a digest.
It was still quite dark when I came to the bridge soon after 06:00. The flashing light from Mokohinau Islands was just forward of the port beam. It had been well over a decade since I had last seen that light, when I had been working on the NZ coastal tankers.
It was a grey dull dawn and remained that way throughout the day, although not unpleasant.
The wind had continued from the West overnight, but backed through to the South East over the course of the day.
Noon saw us past Cape Brett, at the Southern entrance to the Bay of Islands. As the day progressed we later observed Cape Karikari, then North Cape, both as low grey shapes on the Western horizon.
Everyone spent the day securing for bad weather. Additionally, the seamen gave the ship a good wash down, to get rid of the build of grime, mud and dust from our anchor handling and port visit. They also made up two incinerators, from 200 litre drums purloined off the wharf in Tauranga. We will need these for burning the paper and cardboard rubbish build up throughout our voyage; so rubbish segregation is very important.
Our voyage trip will take us from the eastern side of Great Barrier Island on a direct course of 312° to the Coral Sea. We will pass 40 miles to the South West of Norfolk Island and 280 miles to the South West of New Caledonia, all the while heading towards Torres Strait, the narrow gap of water between the northern tip of Australia and Papua New Guinea. We should transit these straits on the 20th or 21st June.
From there we will head across the Arafura Sea, to pass North of East Timor, then through the Flores sea on the Northern side of the Indonesian archipelago. These are familiar waters to me, as I was on a regular run to Singapore through these waters in 1983, on the small tanker “Pacific Trader”.
This route will have us passing north of the islands of Flores, Komodo, Sumbawa and Lombok, before heading down towards Bali, in Lombok Strait. It is a most picturesque passage, passing by some very large and magnificent looking active volcanoes.
That is something to look forward to, but well over a week away.
Meanwhile, the depression that had formed off Brisbane has been steadily tracking to the ESE, so we are expecting 2 days of shit weather from tomorrow. Thereafter we should have pleasant following conditions until we reach Torres Strait.
Signing off from 30 miles North East of North Cape, New Zealand.
13th and 14th June
As expected the weather deteriorated rapidly overnight. It blew a steady forty knots from the ESE for 36 hours, before easing to 30 knots as it veered through to the SSW on Thursday evening.
The massive swell rolling in from our starboard quarter caused a 'figure of eight' corkscrew, rolling and pitching motion. It was most uncomfortable.
I managed to keep a bowl of fruit down for breakfast and a small yogurt for lunch, but spewed my roast lamb dinner up, after about 30 seconds. Bulimia – twice the taste – zero calories.
Everyone was most surprised when I came back to the dinner table to resume my meal soon after. I felt much better.
Productivity for both days was limited to sending off the daily report and not much else. I tried many time to do some computer work in preparation for our arrival in Bali, but 2 minutes of looking at a screen made me feel very queasy.
Other than doing a meal relief for the mates on watch, my bunk was the best place to be.
On the morning of the 14th we picked up Norfolk Island on the radar at 36 miles off our starboard beam. The 2nd Mate heard on the radio that a racing yacht “Beau Geste” was sheltering in what lee it could find off the island. It had been participating in the Auckland to Noumea yacht race when it suffered serious damage in this heavy weather. Such yachts are built light for speed and are not designed for these heavy weather conditions.
We heard that they had subsequently lost their anchor, so they had to keep motoring. Would not have been pleasant for them.
There was also a mayday call for some yachties missing off Tonga. Poor buggers if they are experiencing similar conditions to these.
As is my usual habit, I felt better on the second day of bad weather, so although we experienced similar weather on Thursday 14th, I managed to eat more, keep it all down and do some work.
By sunset on the 14th, the weather was very obviously easing, although the large South Easterly swell was not abating quite so readily and the corkscrew motion continued well into the night. It was bearable, but only just.
Signing off from Northwest of Norfolk Island.