The crew on board Gold Coast Australia have now entered into the transit
section of the race to be completed under motor. The crews are competing
in the 7th race in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race sailing
from Gold Coast Australia to Singapore. Due to challenging navigation
through a series of straits this race is to be completed in two sections.
The 1st section was racing from Gold Coast to a way point off the Basilin
Strait. The time is then recorded and we are to motor to the re-start
gate just past the Balabac Strait where we are to start the race again.
After we dropped sails upon crossing the finishing line just outside the
Basilin Strait taking 1st place for the 1st section of the race we became
aware of the first navigational hazard to be encountered.
The Fish Agitation Device or also known as the F.A.D’s that are everywhere. These nifty devices look like a torpedo or a 2 meter large pill and are
fashioned from Heavy steel and are anchored to the sea floor sometimes
over 2000 meters deep creating an artificial reef for the local fisherman
to sit off and fish. Some are painted orange so that passing ships or
boats will spot them whilst others are just plain black so in the dead of
night you would not be able to see a thing. Spread far and wide and not
marked on any charts you just have to keep a good lookout and hope that
you don’t collide with one. I would put money on coming out second best
in an encounter with one of these.
So as we make our way through all of these passages and straits we enter
into a slightly different routine starting the day with an ocean swim then
moving on to maintenance for the morning, a stop for lunch and them more
maintenance for the afternoon finishing up at around 4pm with another swim
including the odd halyard swing from the boat or back flip off the bow.
After 4 days of motoring and 24 days at sea we were about to reach the
race re-start gate on the other side of the Balabac Strait only this was
too soon for us. Not because the break was a lovely change form always
racing but because as we looked around us to assess the weather there was
clearly no wind and it did not look like there would be any soon. The
question was then raised ‘would we reach port in time if we were to start
now’ the answer that was clear to everyone was no… As the committee
deliberated we were instructed to head to Kota Kintabalu in Indonesia to
pick up some more fuel while they came to a decision. At another 120
nautical miles away this pit stop was eating into the distance of our
second race so it was becoming clear that a re-start was probably not
possible given the circumstances.
Whilst on route to Kota Kintabalu there was one night that stands out.
The sky was lit up from end to end with blue, green and red flashing
lights. At first I thought that these might be navigation aid well the
green and red ones anyway but that idea was short lived as Derry
London-Derry the other boat that we were in transit with radioed to tell
us that they have just run over a net strung between two of the flashing
light. For hours that night we travelled at a snails pace as we tried to
navigate our way through the seemingly endless line of fishing nets but
eventually we did get through. We did raise the question. ‘What would we
have done if we were racing?’ As this was the path that we would have
The next challenge that arose was the oil and gas platforms that offered
us a spectacular view at night with great balls of flames and ships lit up
like a Christmas tree but with the oil and gas platforms come increased
shipping, tugs and lots of tow vessels. After 28 days at sea, 6 of these
under motor we received a very promising e-mail at around 4pm local time.
This e-mail stated that the second section of this race was to be
cancelled due to the fact that we were getting winds between 3-8 knots and
it would take us around 11-12 days to cover the remaining 400 nautical
miles and this would make us very late for all of our on-shore
Now that this has happened it give us the added bonus of making us the
winning boat because we were the first boat across the line that marked
the end of the 1st section of the race. Wahoo. We have put it down to
the fact that Nina is now back on board and so she must be our lucky charm
because the one race that she missed was the only race that we did not
come first in however second was not bad either. Celebrations were in
order so Derry London Derry pulled up near buy and we swapped a
congratulations prize. We gave Derry a bottle of Sparkling wine and they
gave us some amazing soda bread and some Vegemite. As the Aussi boat we
were devastated that we had run out of Vegemite the other day so it was a
great gift to receive. We now have one more day of motoring and
maintenance until we arrive in Batam. I am so excited to see this
wonderful and exotic place.