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May 20, 2005

A Challenging Night

Day 9. 20th May 2005. 1508`1 hrs local
LAT: S 8 degs, 16. 69'
LONG: E 126 degs, 50.75'
Wind: SE 25 knots
Heading: 260 degrees M

Just when I thought this was going to be one of the easiest crossings of the expedition so far, the wind freshed yesterday evening to 25-30 knots as we rounded the eastern edge of Timor, giving us one of the most challenging nightime pedals I can remember.

The shorter wavelengths in the shallower waters combined with increased wind, current and frequent black squall-like clouds (but actually yielding little rain) forming and overrunning us from the east meant were in for a lively ride! WIth these forces pushing Moksha from astern the pedaling was the easy part. The tricky bit was steering down the face of the 20+ft waves without broaching (when the boat slews around to either port or starboard and a possible capsize occurs) while keeping one eye on the red compass light and the other on the GPS to make sure we weren't getting pulled into land by any local currents. All this in the dark - very intense! We took 1.5 hour shifts to enable frequent rest periods. As a result we've been catching up on sleep during the course of this morning.

At the time of writing the island of Timor is 3-4 miles to our port beam. We can make out trees and wooded hills with larger peaks further into the interior. It's always exciting approaching a new island in Moksha. And with the 24 hours it will take to track westwards along the north shoreline to Dili our imaginations will have plenty of time to wander as to what unusual animals and plants live there, and what the people and their culture and language are like.

We do know from reading the guide book that East Timor has been through some pretty difficult times over the past few centuries. Formerly a Portuguese colony the country was most recently take over by force by Indonesia in 1975 and between 1976 and 1986 Amnesty International estimate that 200,000 people out of a population of 700,000 were killed. Sobering stuff.

Today (20th May) however is East Timor's third annual Independence Day, so we hope to see some smiling faces when we roll into Dili late tomorrow afternoon/early Sunday morning.

Posted on May 20, 2005 7:16 AM


Sounds scary. Thank god for that! Have a well deserved beer or two.

Astrid x

Posted by: astrid at May 20, 2005 3:07 PM

Congratulations - you made it to Dili! Hope the next leg treats you well, have a beer for me!

Ciao for now,
Tom and Penny

Posted by: Tom at May 20, 2005 8:02 AM