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May 18, 2005

Crunch Time...

Day 7. 18th May 2005 1500hrs local
LAT: S 9 degs, 03. 074'
LONG: E 128 degs, 17.552'
Wind: ESE 10-15 knots
Heading: 330 degrees M

So it's crunch time on the voyage. If we don't make it around the eastern end of the island of Timor to get to Dili we face the awful prospect of pedaling down the exposed coast of the southern edge and around to the Indonesia town of Kupang - another 7 days at least.

The problem with this scenario is not so much the extended length of the voyage (we have plenty of food and the ability to create fresh water from sea water on board), rather the logistical nightmare of having Moksha stranded somewhere with no shipping line to take her to Singapore. In addition our kayaks are already in Dili, so the only recourse would be to try pedaling Moksha on and around up the northern edge to Dili, an impossibilty I believe against the predominantly seasonal SE flow of wind and current.

The status right now is looking OK. But we certainly don't want to get complacent and let our guard down until we know for sure we will make it around the eastern tip. At 5pm local time yesterday we thought we had 10 miles 'easting' to our advantage - i.e. 10 miles in reserve to the east to ensure getting around the corner. But on checking the GPS shortly after the hour I noticed with alarm that this margin had been reduced to just 3. It took us the entire night pedaling an aggressive heading of 350 degrees magnetic to claw our 7 miles back again. Subsequently we are both very fatigued and our knees sore from hammering away consistently at the cranks. Lourdes had a bit of scare yesterday evening when her right knee became suddenly very painful. Some vetinerary liniment for horses that Sharon Kessler sent out seems to have helped though. Now the boat smells like a farmyard more than ever!

This is an interesting equation for those students currently participating in this week's lesson activities in Lat/Long. Our position as of 0800hrs local time this morning was 9 degs, 12.718' S/128 degs, 25.308'E. The eastern most point of Timor that we need to clear is 8 degs, 27.000' S/127 degs, 22.000' E. This gives us approximately 60 nautical miles we have to pedal west and 45 north. With the wind from from the SE and with no unforeseen changes in the currents this should be very much doable. But if the wind strengthens to 20-25 knots, which it is forecast for today, and backs to the ESE, we could have problems.

All will be revealed by this time tomorrow!

On a lighter note Moksha has been targeted by 3 or 4 small terns that have taken to riding along on the stern and the rudder at night...

Current ETA still Saturday pm.

Posted on May 18, 2005 5:19 AM