Indian Ocean Crossing, part I Singapore > Cocos Keeling

In Voyages on 15/09/2012 at 15:18

In the next months Helena with Rolf, Matty, Rikard and Mauritio on board, will cross the Indian Ocean to South Africa, with stops in Cocos Keeling and Mauritius. These are the daily updates from the first part of their trip: from Singpore to Cocos Keeling.

Saturday 15 September

Local time: 19.30 Position: 0.50N 104.20E, Course 180 T, speed 5 kts, True Wind speed 11 kts from South

Let me start by introducing the new crew. First from Sweden, we have the young stallion Rikard who is addicted to McDonalds hamburgers and hates raw meat! Sharing the front cabin with the stallion is our well experienced and traditional Helena homey Matty who loves cooking and cannot stand people who don’t eat raw meat! Then we have our Italian food specialist and also all the way from Italy, Mauritio! And last and least of course the captain who cannot do anything without any of these guys, me!

Yesterday we finally got our engine back from a long lasting problem-solving exercise and we are now underway towards Cocos Keeling. We had planned our departure for yesterday, but since we needed some more time to do all the necessary sea trials, we had decided to finish up our Singapore dollars at a nice restaurant and to enjoy just one more night of good sleep. This morning we left Singapore to finally start our trip towards the first destination, Cocos Keeling. Since we have had quite a few delays already, we will not be stopping anywhere else while underway, except for a few hours to let the engine cool down and changing the oil and filters. We expect to arrive in Cocos Keeling in about 10 to 11 days.

Sunday 16 September

Local time: 19.30 Position: 1.06S 104.31E, Course 126 T, speed 6,8 kts, True Wind speed 8 kts from East

We have had a nice motoring trip so far and we expect to be motoring all the way to the Sunda Strait. Everyone is slowly getting in the routines on board and things are going well. Mauritio has discovered that he doesn’t have enough books, Matty has re-discovered that sleeping can be hard, Rikard has found the best spot on board to be at the bow, getting splashed by the waves and Rolf has discovered that it is pretty nice having crew on board who take care of everything.

We’re looking at a bumpy night, but all should clear up towards the morning. We plan to drop the anchor for a few hours to let the engine cool down and do an oil change before we continue on towards Sunda Strait. If all goes well, we may arrive there a little bit ahead of schedule, so we may chose to anchor at Krakatoa for a night before going onto the Indian Ocean.

Monday 17 September

Local time: 20.00 Position: 2.12S 105.11E, Course 115 T, speed 6,1 kts, True Wind speed 10 kts from East

This morning at 07.00 we dropped the anchor at the north side of Palau Bangka after a bit of a rough night. We’ve been crushing through a bit of a rough sea for half of the night before we finally were sheltered by Bangka. After dropping the anchor we’ve all rested a bit and around 11.00 we started doing all the jobs we needed to do in the engine room. We finished it all at 13.00 to find out that we had a perfect, although short course for a bit of sailing. Yes, we actually had the sails up today! It is really nice for a change to move around without listening to the noise of the engine. After about 2 hours we decided to stop playing around and to continue on engine in order to make way again to Sunda Strait. We’re trying to make it before wednesday evening so we can find anchorage in daylight.

Besides the jobs for the day, we’ve also been working at making the ship child-proof. Yes, really, since it seems to be a very dangerous ship for (mostly) Italians. Mauritio now has already 2 cuts on his scalp because he keeps hitting his head in the doorway. We hope to keep him safe now with a nice slab of foam-rubber glued around the doorway. Next project is to install child safety all the cabinets containing booze and candy! 🙂 In the mean time Rikard has committed to eating raw meat in honor to his equator crossing. Since the baldness was too old-age for him and he apparently needs his hair for being successful with the girls, we have decided to let him go with the meat option. This means that we’ll be enjoying a nice steak tartar one of these days! Oh, and Rikard now knows how to fix a bilge pump as well! Matty has been very very successful with his cooking skills again. This afternoon we have been feasting on an incredible focaccia bread! The taste was great!

I am still getting used to having all these great guys around. For the record, the chemistry on board works out great and we are all amusing ourselves. Even though we have only traveled for 3 days, this will not be a boring trip at all! We are spending the days sharing lots of stories and discussing all sorts of things. By the time we have crossed the ocean we will have solved all the world’s problems.

Tuesday 18 September

Local time: 20.30 Position: 4.08S 106.22E, Course 188 T, speed 8,2 kts, True Wind speed 16 kts from East

We have had a very calm night last night getting through the channel between Palau Bangka and Sumatra. Only occasional fishing boats and nets, but everything was well lit and made for easy navigation. This afternoon we have started a little bit motor sailing and some actual sailing as well! The wind is a bit more favorable since this afternoon and therefore we are now making way at a much better speed towardds Sunda Strait. We keep motorsailing since we really want to drop the anchor at Krakatoa. We are very much looking forward to a bit of swimming and some necessary cleaning and laundry. We have not been able to sleep with hatches opened so we have been sweating a lot and now the boat simply stinks! We’ll get rid of that tomorrow.

Matty has served us again today with magnificent food. Sundried tomato bread and Shepherd pie for dinner. Yummie!

We have been enjoying a lot today with lots of relaxing, a bit too much sun (yeah I’m a lobster now) and a lot less bumping around. Only one bit of bad news is that all the effort we have put into getting the best quality fresh provisioning was in vain. Most of our fruit and vegetables are already turning bad so tomorrow we’ll start tossing some of our food overboard. I guess that we’ll start living on canned veggies on the way to Cocos Keeling.

Wednesday 19 September

Local time: 19.30 Position: 6.05S 105.27E, At anchor

At 16.45 today we dropped the anchor next to Krakatoa. Now, this may seem like a pretty average thing, but actually it is something quite spectacular. We are INSIDE what used to be the island of Krakatoa… We are now located on the inside part of the north-east flank of the original volcano and about 1 mile further is the actual LIVE volcano, smoking with lava flows!!! Ok, don’t worry too much, because this has been going on for many many years now, but seeing the lay-out of this place makes you think about the immense force of nature that was involved with the explosion of this island. To our south is a very high mountain which used to be the south flank of this same volcano. It is really impressive to see.

Right now we do not know for sure what we will be doing tomorrow. We’ll get the weather information in when we send out this message and then we will decide whether we want to leave tomorrow or if we want to stay here for a day or so.

We have transferred our extra fuel from the containers on deck to the main tank, filling up our water tank with the watermaker and doing our essentail laundry at the moment so that we will be ready to leave whenever we want to. Tonight is going to be a calm night of sleep if the weather works in our favor so that we can be well rested for the next leg of our passage. We are happy to have left the Java sea and the Indian ocean is now on our doorstep. As soon as we leave from here we are finally underway on our ocean passage!

Thursday 20 September

Local time: 21.00 Position: 6.05S 105.27E, At anchor

Today is Boukje’s birthday! Sadly she is not on board, but nevertheless we have celebrated with singing and a satellite phone call. Here it goes again: Happy birthday Boukje from all four of us!

We have decided not to leave today and get a complete rundown of the ship before we leave. So today we have spent doing lots of laundry, cleaning, reorganising and several outstanding jobs. Busy, busy, busy today.

We have not had any visits from local officials so we did not have to declare an administrative emergency. As we are here without clearance or permits, we are technically not allowed to be here, unless we declare an emergency. Since we have done several jobs in the engine room, we considered it would not be hard to convince a park ranger that we are having engine problems or something of the sort. Anyway, it was not necessary so we have a fully cleaned and prepped ship now for our passage to Cocos.

We are all looking forward to the ocean experience again and the weather looks ok for now. Therefore we will be leaving tomorrow morning. We have 620 miles to go so we expect to arrive in Cocos in about 5 days.

Friday 21 September

Local time: 20.00 Position: 6.26S 104.29E, Course 253 T, speed 8,0 kts, True Wind speed 20 kts from South-East

We are on the ocean again! It’s windy with continuous wind around 20 knots and a bit rough, although nothing we can’t handle. This afternoon we left Krakatoa with an impressive goodbye. After leaving the anchorage we passed the volcano on the other side and we saw a large lava flow coming off the hilside which was smoking from top to bottom. Very cool to see this sort of natural action from so nearby. Mother nature at its most impressive action!

Mauritio is exercizing his balancing and acrobatics skills, Matty should get a medal for rough weather cooking and I am a highly valued cockpit sitter (well, management has to keep an eye on things eh…). Rikard is finally starting to understand what we have been talking about for all this time. The ocean is an experience so different from the expectations anyone might have before actually being on it. The swell and waves are playing with the ship and we’re having a good time navigating them. We’re in for a slightly rough and sweaty night since we cannot open the hatches due to the occasional roller coming over the bow. To make up for this, we’re making great speeds (about 8,5 knots) and there’s plenty of stuff to see. We’ve already seen some marlins and/or dolphins (bit hard to distinguish with the waves) and tonight we’ll see the stars again in a proper way without any light pollution!

We expect the wind to decrease a bit tomorrow and the day after tomorrow should be light winds only. Therefore we’re happy to make this progress today already.

Saturday 22 September

Local time: 20.30 Position: 7.49S 101.46E, Course 235 T, speed 6,8 kts, True Wind speed 15 kts from East-Southeast

Today we are all tired. We have had a bit of a rough night with rough seas and 20 to 25 knots winds on a close hauled course. The ship has been battered by the waves with continuous seawater flushing over the decks and the starlit sky was reflecting on the deck in between the white crests of the sea. You may think that we’re mad, but really, it was quite alright! We have had continuous speeds of 8,5 knots, although we were fully reefed and we kept on battering through the waves. The only downside of this was obviously the lack of sleep we all had because of this. The first sea sickness has presented itself, but nothing too serious. We are REAL MEN!!! I think we’ll all put an anchor tattoo on our right arms when we arrive… 🙂

This morning the wind became a lot easier on us and we have had a very comfortable sail today. We’ve been doing good speeds (around 7,5 to 8 knots) and now the wind is slowly backing to east and decreasing further to about 15 knots. Nice, pleasant and comfortable. The swell has increased to about 4 to 5 meters, but they are shaped like a magnificent hill landscape and this swell rolls harmlessly under the ship without so much as a tiny vibration.

We expect to arrive in Cocos Keeling on tuesday morning if all goes well.

Sunday 23 September

Local time: 20.30 Position: 9.34S 99.58E, Course 230 T, speed 5,3 kts, True Wind speed 12 kts from East

It was another fine day on Helena. We’ve been making good speeds again during the night after a brief dip in the wind in the evening. This morning we were still ploughing through the ocean with 8 knots speed and during the day the wind slowly dropped to 10 knots and shifted east. We are still sailing and we’ll keep doing so during the night, although at much lower speed (about 4 to 5 knots). The arrival on Tuesday is looking good so we’re looking forward to the first landfall of this trip (and of course the mandatory anchor-beer that comes with that).

Today we have tried to do some fishing since the ocean has calmed down somewhat. We actually got a fish on the line, but while reeling it in, the hook snapped off the line. We immediately started putting a new lure on it and within a minute we had one again. After a long struggle we managed to get a glimpse of a beautiful mahimahi, but then he snapped off the hook. Too bad… So we settled for chicken instead. We’ll try the fishing thing tomorrow again.

Last night we started a poll on our arrival times. The winner gets to open the wine and is allowed to give a small toast. Yeah, big prices here! Since Mauritio loves his wine, he is trying to ensure his place in the poll by slowing down the ship. He insists that he wants to practice his skills at the helm without the autopilot and then abrubtly steers the ship in all directions except where we need to be. It seems that this tactic is not really working so well, since the wind was good enough to keep the ship going at a decent rate anyway.

Rikard is practicing his ukelele and will probably drive us crazy at some point, but for now it is nice to hear him practicing in the cockpit while we are all very stressed out and busy with our books and drinking water instead of beer.

Monday 24 September

Local time: 20.00 Position: 11.10S 98.12E, Course 242 T, speed 6,3 kts, True Wind speed 14 kts from East-Southeast

We’ve had good sailing again (yeah I know, it’s getting boring by now) during the night and the whole day. We are still making good speeds and we expect the wind to increase a bit during the night so we should arrive in Cocos Keeling in the early morning. We are looking forward to all the snorkling and fishing and checking out the local culture. The island population is supposedly mostly muslim from Malaysia.

We’ve been trying to do some more fishing today, but without success. It seems that the fish don’t like us that much anymore. We’re going to toss the line in the water again when we get close to Cocos, in the hope that we can catch something nice while getting through the pass into the lagoon. In the mean time we’re preparing for another shakedown of the ship and to do some minor repairs as soon as we arrive, so that we can get the ship ready again for the next leg to Mauritius.

Since Mauritio has started cheating yesterday due to our arrival poll, we decided to all get into the cheating business. I have banned Mauritio from handsteering while making captain’s decisions forbidding ourselves from arriving any later than noon. Matty is trying to sabotage our fast arrival by secretly using his nightshift to send the ship in the opposite direction and Rikard is planning to engage in live man-overboard exercizes! (hmm, we might fail on those exercizes… 🙂 Since the poll is based on the time that the anchor is “down” we may find the anchor to be hidden somewhere or glued onto the deck somehow. We’ll see who wins and we’ll keep you posted!

Tuesday 25 September

Local time: 19.00 Position: 12.05S 96.52E, At anchor!


  1. Fair wind guys!!
    Have à save journey. Respect THE capatain.

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