Sailing along in winds of around 25 knots with a huge rain cloud completely enveloping Great Palm Island makes us very thankful for our trusty iPad with its wonderful navigation App and as back up, our new chart plotter!
Last time we sailed past this beautiful but sometimes sadly troubled Island, the sky was blue and we were lazing on deck as we slipped past in calm waters.
This time we are bowling along under a reefed head sail going 7.5 to 8 knots, barrelling down large and occasionally, very large rollers, with rain squalls to add to the fun.
On our little timber yacht Rondo, we would have been more than a trifle worried approaching a gap of only a mile or two between Great Palm Island and Brisk Island with a sea mist enveloping everything around us, as the only way we could be absolutely sure where we were, was to take sights from three landmarks and then make a calculation by triangulation. If you couldn’t see anything to take sights from then you could only guess where you were and it was very scary! In contrast, going through the passage in less than favourable conditions this time was really easy with modern technology.
Life is very different on Bali Hai to life on Rondo, in fact couldn’t be more different.
When it comes to yachts I would say that size definitely matters! At 28 feet Rondo really was tiny in fact, there was hardly room to swing a cat! There was just one forward double cabin and in order to use the toilet we had to lift the mattress where it was hidden. Nowadays all we hide under our mattress are emergency wine casks and boxes of teabags and we have two en suite bathrooms!
In Bali Hai our two bathrooms each have a clever two-way door which means you can use the rear cabins as a dressing room when you step out of the shower. To have a wash in Rondo we had to first heat up some water on the stove and then pour it into a plastic bowl which we then took up into the tiny self draining cockpit and had a sponge wash. Or we could use the tiny kitchen sink but this wasn’t easy especially if the other person was doing anything but sitting down!
We also had to be very much more sparing with water on Rondo as the two tanks held about a third of the water that our current tanks hold. And of course, now we have installed a fabulous Stella Marine water maker which can convert about 30 – 40 litres of sea water into lovely fresh water in an hour.
While we are travelling in Indonesia we plan to keep our large forward tank completely as “spare” water (just in case) – topping our smaller rear tank as we need to (probably once a week but more if we have guests aboard). We have been trialling this over the past couple of weeks and so far so good. There was great excitement when we first tried out our water maker – it all seemed so easy – probably due to the excellent installation by Jonathan!
Another huge change is that on Rondo we didn’t have any means of keeping our food cool – not even an ice box! We used to keep butter, milk and beer etc in the bilges under the water line to keep “cool” (hmm not terribly successfully). Now we have not only a big fridge with a cool box next to it but also a large freezer. This will be invaluable as it means I have been able to cook up lasagnes, shepherds pies, curries etc for passage that we can just “heat and eat” when we as passage making. I have also stored some nourishing soups for night watches and ice cream for hot times in the tropics!
Having the freezer also means we can have ice for our gin and tonics – a must when we have anchored after a long day’s sail. How did we survive without it?