Reflections on our passage to Kupang

We are anchored along with about 60 other boats off of the waterfront of Kupang, the provincial capital of the East Nusa Tenggara province, after a 3 day sail from Darwin. We finished our check-in today. There were numerous stations to stop at – quarantine, health, customs, immigration, and port captain – some stations had multiple stops. Everyone was very friendly as lots of forms were filled out, and each form was stamped multiple times, and entries were made in log books. We attested that no one had died en route, that there were no stowaways onboard (if you know about them then are they still stowaways?), etc. We then found a bank with an ATM that worked, a telcom office from which we bought a SIM for our cell phone and a cellular modem, and then a Padang restaurant for lunch where Laura could finally eat some rendang (buffalo meat boiled in coconut milk and spices), one of her favorite dishes, for the first time in 30 years.

The sail here from Darwin was very good – on average. The first day we had light winds and seas that we could sail with a poled out spinnaker on one side and a poled out genoa on the other. The wind slowly died late in the afternoon but then came up briskly and on the beam (from the south) just at sunset, so we rushed to take down the two headsails and reset our sails. The wind became light and right from behind late at night, the waves became steep and from three different directions, and the boat started to roll uncomfortably. We reset a sail on a pole but every few minutes the sail would collapse as the boat rolled and then come back with a jolt that shook the rigging. I hate conditions like that. If the seas are uncomfortable you should at least be able to go fast. We wound up motoring for most of the second night as the shock loads on the rig made me uncomfortable. Dawn brought some relief – the seas became more regular and the wind picked up a bit. As the sun rose, we reset the spinnaker and genoa on poles and hoped for the best. What we got for the rest of the journey (about 25 hours) was as nice of a sail as one can possibly have. Conditions became perfect – plenty of wind and swells so rounded and well spaced that down below in the boat you thought we were still sitting in the marina. Plus, dolphins kept stopping by for a quick visit to leap for us and then dart off. At one point, Laura called me down to the head (bathroom) to check on a squeaking noise. When I went down to check she came up to the cockpit and discovered the source of the noise – small whales were around the boat squeaking to each other. Just before sunset, a big pod of dolphins decided to put on a 30 minutes exhibition of synchronized swimming and jumping. The night was clear and full of stars and the ocean was glowing with phosphorescence. So a glorious day 3 more than made up for a crummy day 2 and was more than enough to make this a very good passage overall.

It is very nice to be back in Indonesia after so many years. I had nice chats in Indonesian with the Port Captain and the Customs guy, who invited me for a beer, with people in the street, and with the mother-and-daughter restaurant proprietors. After all those years of Indonesian language study, and all the time that spent in Indonesia mostly many years ago, it is nice to find out that I have still retained my language skills.


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