So after leaving the beautiful Batavia Marina, stuffed to the gills with Burger King and carbonara we set off on the next leg to Bali.
Spirits were high and everyone ready – there was no way we could ever have foreseen what was in store. Pretty much from the get go the weather was against us, and by day 3 of sailing (we should of arrived in Bali already by this point) we’d hardly moved, averaging around 20 miles per night sail. The waves were so big (for the nautical amongst us there was 30 mph winds on the nose and 4 to 5 metre waves) everybody was staggering around hanging on to things like we’d drunk two bottles of whiskey each, people were no longer reacting to the sound of things smashing out the cupboards, I’d seen people slide from one side of the boat to the other on their mattresses trying to get some sleep, the rice cooker went for a burton and cooking was downright dangerous. We were still hanging on in there though, until one brilliant morning the engine cut out. It was the start of a hellish 24 hours.
It turned out the diesel we’d bought previously was what’s called dirty (basically there’s shit and water in it) and the engine couldn’t handle it. So Dennis was down in the engine room for ages cleaning the filters whilst we were still in 4 to 5 metres of swell being blown backwards down the path we’d worked so hard to snail up the night before. Caz and Paul were helping and it was a good job coz at one point Dennis, who was perched on the hatch lid, gracefully slid still sitting on it from one side to the other, taking out Paul and head-butting the other side. So in the meantime our boys managed to get the main sale up and we tried to sale into the wind. We actually had an hour or so relatively good going, and by that I mean we were moving. Until, in a spectacular blow from the universe, the top of the sale ripped wide open. Backwards we went again, with the waves tossing us around as if we were a salad in a bowl. I’m not easily ruffled (I’m not!) but I have to say it is slightly unnerving when you’re in the middle of the ocean with nothing but the ominous silence that no engine leaves you, and mildly apprehensive glances between some of the crew members.
Next plan was to get the genoa out ( not have a gin and tonic Dennis) and try to and sail with that. Except we couldn’t. Because the rope was stuck in the propeller underneath the boat. Dennis was still beavering away in the engine room, so Caz and Paul in a wonderful display of manlyness donned snorkels and jumped into the waves to dive down and untangle it. The genoa was up and then in a glorious moment Dennis emerged looking somewhat disheveled but the beautiful sound of the engine starting brought a smile to everyone’s faces. It was when Chaz bravely decided to go for a wee that we discovered the back bathroom was flooding. Seriously flooding. Dennis was summoned, hammers were produced, and it turned out the boat had been heeling over so far sea water was bubbling up out of the sinks. He managed to turn the taps off and I was left clutching a bucket and frantically trying to bail the water down the drain.
We had about an hour maybe less before the smell of burning rubber permeated the air and the engine shuddered to a halt again. Back into the engine hatch went poor old Dennis, and it turned out the exhaust had overheated because there was no salt water circulating through the engine. Me Chaz and Dustin were sliding round the entrance to the hatch, whilst feverishly trying to pass the right size spanners and whatnot down. During a particularly violent heave from a wave Chaz actually managed to surf from one side to the other without falling over, I bruised my back crashing legs akimbo into the door of a cupboard, Dennis took a box of power tools to the head and the air turned blue. It needed some kind of hose to fix it, which of course we didn’t have. Silence reigned, Dennis sat mutely musing the situation ignoring everyone, whilst Dusty looked stumped and me and Chaz continued to sit on all of the many tools, bits of pipe, cans of WD40 and jubilee clips which rolling freely everywhere. Then all of a sudden with a stout “Right” from Dennis, the stairs were pulled out, and electrical saw produced and from God knows where he triumphantly pulled a bit of pipe. Which then wouldn’t bend. With a look of grim determination he got out the heat gun, and whilst we watched mouth agape, he blasted it until it gave in and meekly bent the way it should of done at the start.
We were off. Trying to crawl back the miles we’d lost (we were now 5 miles behind where we’d started that morning). It was less then an hour before the spluttering started and off the engine went again. This time the anxious butterflies from the times before weren’t there. I think they’d all died of exhaustion. Instead was just a resigned sigh of a feeling, and Dennis expressionlessly getting back into the engine hatch. As most of the boat was wet at this point (Paul and Dust’s, and Hermy and Vicky’s rooms were actually submerged, their clothes floating serenely around the floor) some wires had got damaged and we had to wait for them to dry out before the engine would start again.
After this everyone had had enough and I think we sensibly decided to finally admit defeat and head towards the two big chimneys from a power plant we’d been watching move round us all day, miles in the distance on shore. We finally came up to a buoy line and Caz who’d just got dry and snuggled in his hoody had to get it all off, kayak over to it and pull himself up avoiding the barnacles. Unfortunately the boat pulled too tight too quickly and Paul wasn’t sure his knots were going to hold. Which then meant we had to get up all night and do hourly anchor watches each, which was exactly what the doctor ordered. Other then that though we all slept soundly between watches with the hope that the next day we’d get more diesel and have a better time of it. Little did we know though that it wasn’t just a power station we were moored up in front of, it was a restricted one….