DAY 71 UPDATE FROM SIMPSON’S DONKEY
Day 71 update from the Timor Sea
We are sending this from the Timor sea, position 100nm south east of Timor Leste and around 150nm off Cape Fourcry on the Tiwi Islands. Conditions have been variable during the last three days of the crossing with head winds from the South West slowing our progress to a crawl on days 69 and 70. Day 70 we made only 5nm in 8 solid hours of rowing during the day time. Fortunately last night the winds turned to the North West and we picked up speed making 23nm over night. Apart from a rain storm in the early hours of the morning which had a massive down pour and some strong southerlies for 1.5 hours, the north westerlies have stuck with us and we still made great time today at 1330 hrs (Singapore time), with speeds hovering around 2.5 knots. The wind is blowing in around 16 knots currently so the sea state is lumpy and interesting. Now at 1730hrs we are fighting beam on wind from the west and slowed to 1.2 knots. This morning we got our first feel of Australia when the Australian coast guard flew over us in a large plane making two very low passes, it is nice to know we are on their radar.
Last night a bird landed on the bow solar panels and sat there and went to sleep for over 5 hours which was very cool. It is a mental battle at the moment as the end is so close we can almost feel it but we are so at the mercy of the winds here. If they turn to south east as they were yesterday it will kill our progress again. The wind forecasts do not seem to be very accurate for this area so we just have to keep battling along and take it hour by hour. We have crossed the very deep area of the Timor Sea at over 1000m water depth and are now in less than 100m water depth approaching some shoals which are even shallower, down to 20m or less. It will be interesting to see what the currents are doing around these shallower areas. We are hoping to at least make it to the Tiwi Islands within the next 3 – 4 days where we will feel much safer than being out here in the open sea during cyclone season. It is not a nice feeling as we were yesterday to be plugging away at 0.4 knots for hour after hour in this area. Speed is equal to safety to try and get across before something nasty blows in. Apart from that – we have plenty of food on the boat, lots of water and battery power, are both feeling as fit as can be expected, rowing in shift patterns and continually keeping the boat moving. We have not stopped the boats progress since we departed Dili which is great, let’s hope the winds will not cause us to do that. Hopefully the next blog update will be with the Tiwi Islands in sight. Cheers for now,