1996 Voyage of Kris – Bali to Brisbane

1996   Voyage of the Kris             by Kevin “Hub” Jones

Lang and Bev purchased a 49ft yacht in Bali during a trip to Indonesia in 1995. She was called the Ocean Lady and was renamed Kris. Following is the story of the trip from Bali to Thursday Island the following year told by Hub Jones a friend and experienced sailor.

Monday February 5th   Departed Brisbane at 11 a.m. for Brunei, arrived there at 7 p.m. after a 1 hour stop in Darwin. 

Tuesday 6th left Brunei 6:30 a.m. for 2 hour flight to Bali, when we arrived we hired a car then went to some accommodation near the harbour. We stayed with the owner of Ocean Lady in one of his guest rooms. 

The rest of the week was spent going through everything on the boat and checking that it worked. This yacht has only done day charters for the last three years, so I expect breakages when we hit the open sea.

Lang’s (the owner and skipper) father looked after supplies while I arranged everything on board and Lang looked after the electronics.

Friday 9th. Had the last supper with past owners and present at Nyomen Bar. Nyoman Harris from Kingaroy, her brother arrived to pick up the gifts for his baby that I had brought. Lang and father went back to the boat at 9pm while the other crew member Dave Parkison, Nyomenn’s brother, driver and I stayed until 11pm gas-bagging and drinking.

Sat 10th Feb       0630 Departure

Departure this morning was pretty uneventful. Woke up seedy and tired from the last five days. We motored for an hour to get out of Benowa Harbour, Bali, then came the big test. Up with the sails, full main and  rolled out genoa, sailed all day until about 1500 hrs and wind started to die so poled out head sail to windward with with a pole that was meant for a 28’ or 30 footer with no downhaul, then we got out the multi purpose spinnaker, secured to the mooring bollard, hung to leeward and took off at 8 kts until about 1800 hrs when all wind died after a storm passed ahead of us.

We saw about 80 little Ka Ting Tings trolling with one person and one sail, some had a little 1 cylinder petrol Honda hanging out the side, they were a colourful sight as they were trolling about for tuna, mackerel and sharks off the NE tip of Bali. 

I was very tired after the first day as there was so much running around. The ropes were prestretched nylon so the hands and legs were rather sore. The crew are in age Dick 76 (Lang’s father), owner Lang 48, Dave 50 and me 39 yrs. Off to bed in this stinking sweat box.

Sun 11 Feb       Day 2

Wind died kicked in from the west at 10 knots at 0800 hrs so we are sailing again. 0900 hrs first fish, 3kg Dorado or Dolphin fish, it spat the hook as soon as it hit the deck and I spent 30 seconds jumping on this slippery free fish trying to get hold of it before it jumped over the side. It was a success and I filleted, skinned and boned it and we ate half for lunch.  In the middle of the night the roller furling halyard snapped due to another small rope at the top of the mast stopping the guide from turning, also broke the snap shackle and dead eye in the deck which held the preventer for the main. A job in the middle of the night rendered the preventer and deadeye useless.  So today it was time to try and get the head sail off the roller furler and 20 ft from the bottom it jammed so about 3 attempts to attach a spare halyard on a pitching, rolling boat to haul it back up, third time lucky.  We still couldn’t roll it up as we were to find out later at 1600 hours when a storm hit at 30 knots for an hour. We could only get 80% furled up and had to leave the last 20% set with the inner self tacking headsail (which doesn’t self tack)

 Dave’s sea sickness has not improved, it has got worse and Lang is still a little off colour I’m OK, thank god I don’t get seasick I think if I did I would do something else Tired again from up and down the mast and changing sails and I can look forward to it again tomorrow to fix and thread a new halyard down the mast from the masthead 60 feet above deck. It is really moving around up there due to wave motion. At least during the storm which lasted 2 hours I had a good wash. The motor came back on 2000 hours to warm the boat up and make a noise! It is looking like sail 10 to 12 hours and motor 10 to 12 hours. 

Mon 12th   Day 3

The wind stayed down all night and so the swell was two to three feet and I decided to splice the  new halyard which I tied to a filed down sinker to help the rope fall down inside the mast. I also made up a small chain with shackles to replace the quarter inch rope which stops the guide at the top of the roller furling from turning,  which in turn is connected to the halyard.  Half an hour spent aloft and success. The halyard didn’t wrap around any others inside the mast.When I got down we got underway again, my arms and legs were feeling tired from the strain. Had the last of the fish today for lunch. Dave still unable to eat and today Lang’s dad had to come up on deck as he was feeling a bit off for a couple of hours.  We had some wind today day 20 kts and the sea was up to 7 foot side on so that didn’t help. The wind it died at 1600 hours and we were left with this annoying swell. I decided to haul the multi-purpose spinnaker up again to stop the roll, so we dropped the main and ran until dark under MPS alone. Just as well we took the MPS down before dark as when it came down, another halyard was just hanging by two strands, 5-10 minutes more and we would have lost another halyard down the mast. That’s the end of the MPS until we get better gear and a swivel block at the top of the mast. At 2000hrs out of wind again so on with the iron spinnaker for the night. We are running down the 8 latitude which seems to be the main shipping route through the Flores Sea. At noon 8 south Lat 119.45 East Long.

Tues 13th    Day 4

My shift finished 0200 hrs, still motoring and I woke to set the sails at 0500 hrs as some wind sprang up from the NW at about 10-15 kts but was all gone by 0800 hrs. No breakages last night so my upgrading jobs included taking a snap shackle off the broken halyard and fix our boom vang which doubles as a preventer, also freed up the jam cleat on the preventer and fixed a new dead eye to deck for preventer, the starboard one will be next. Today changed the fuel filter and checked for leaks as motor gave a few splutters last night and there was the dreaded scum in the water trap. Started motor at 0900 hrs and still motoring at 1600 hrs. Sun out today for the first time, dead calm and steamy so we all did some washing and had a shower. Decided to grow a beard today as I couldn’t be bothered with shaving. The feeling is we may go to Darwin, weather depending we will decide that in two days.

Wed 14th     Day 5

Noon position 8 S 124.50 E which made our worst days run of 135 miles and we motored most of that, only turning the motor off and sailing at 1300 hrs. Reasons for the slow down were we stopped to try and receive Darwin radio for a weather report which we got and it informed us of a tropical low forming in the Gulf of Carpentaria off Gove. Tried to transmit to Darwin radio but no success, also had no luck receiving 1000 hrs weather report so will try for the morning forecast. Another reason for the slow down was a W flowing counter-current of 1-1 ½ kts. I was down checking the engine when we hooked another dolphin fish and it got away. Next hold up was the header tank ran out of diesel so we ran temporary lines to fill it and bled the fuel system, fixed the problem with the header tank lines and electrical switch and just as we got it going up came the wind and we are sailing at 6 kts, 5kts over the bottom. Wind died at 2000 hrs so with the iron spinnaker for the night. Midnight we passed 28 miles from Dilli, East Timor.

Thurs 15th     Day 6

We just had our worst days run, noon to noon 122 miles due to a 2 kts W setting current. It seems we have elected to go to Darwin, it will only add 60 – 100 miles to the trip and two days in Darwin as we arrive late Sat 17th and Sunday everything will be closed. We are cooking up a 10kg barracuda which didn’t get away. It will be interesting to taste  as I have not tried any since 1988 1500 miles out in the Coral Sea and didn’t like it and threw it over the side probably because we were comparing it to dolphin fish – no comparison. It has been the hottest most humid day I have ever experienced, doesn’t matter where you sit or hie you are in a ball of sweat. It is 1500 hrs and we are about 3 hrs from the end of East Timor and then it’s turn right 330 miles to Darwin and hopefully some winds. We have been motoring all day. This part of Indonesia  is very deserted and East Timor is barren looking.

No fish poisoning from the barracuda.

Fri 16th     Day 7

No wind all night so we have been motoring for 2 days. The humidity is horrendous as the sun is overhead on it’s way to the Northern hemisphere.

About 5 kts of breeze had strung up from the NE, not enough  to sail or relieve the heat downstairs where the motor is running. We hand washed the sheets today as they absolutely stink of sweat,B.O. and diesel. I think sailing in the temperate latitudes is better as there is wind and cool weather. I changed the shower pump today as there is no ventilation at all in there. I also attempted fixing the galley pump but it is shafted. Caught a 8-10 dolphin fish as we have no refrigeration we left him on the end of the line and two hours later he was gone, something big got to eat him.

2100 hrs, down in the stinking engine room changing filters and bleeding fuel systems to no avail. All night long the motor kept racing ahead, I think it is the hydraulic governor. 0230 hrs off to bed, dead tired, hot sticky and diesely!

Sat 17th         Day 8

Third day – no wind. In the 170 hrs since we left we have motored 125 hrs so have sailed not even 50 hrs – a bit off-pissing (Lang’s phrase) The stars were wonderful again last night on watch. 0700 hrs Still no radio contact with Darwin and we are only 150 miles away. They could just faintly hear us so it looks like a radio technician’s job. Darwin ETA probably tomorrow afternoon. I went back to the engine room this morning and bled the system and one line I had not done and we thought it was fixed but ½ hr later it was surging again but not as bad. I still suspect air in the governor or a fuel leak. We just hooked a 20kg Spanish Mackerel about 4’ long and I did not want to kill it like the last Dorado for no reason. We finally got some wind as we neared the mainland and it held all night so we will be sticking close to the coast on our way to Thursday Island to get wind. I suspect for the last 3 days in the Timor Sea we were in the Tropical Convergence Zone where the wind from the two hemispheres meet – The Doldrums.

Sun 18th       Day 9

Still motor sailing with a lot of current (tidal) against us. Should arrive 1100 – 1200 hrs. Arrived Darwin 1130 hrs. Out of water and thirsty. One hour to clear customs and through the lock onto our berth at Cullen Bay Marina – complex 12 mths old.

Days 10,11 and 12 Darwin

We did lots of repairs and maintenance and left about $2000 poorer. Saw very little of Darwin will have a closer look in the middle of the year.

Thurs 22        Day 13

Fuelled up and left 1030 hrs. The low in the Gulf appears to be weakening, hopefully. We spent $300 on the HF radio for a new tuner and now we get nothing. At least before we could receive weather reports, so if the low deepens we won’t know until we are upon it. Uninteresting day, motoring and sailing. Caught a 7-8kg Spanish Mackerel today, but by the time I had skinned and filleted it a storm was upon us with all sail set. Two crew disappeared downstairs which left Lang on the wheel and me to get the sails down. It was a good blow, the sea just turned white with foam and spray, well in excess of 40 kts. I wanted to get a photo, but the camera owners were downstairs  and when they did finally emerge it was down to 30 kts. Sailed until midnight then motored again until the sea breeze comes in to feed the storms.

Fri 23     Day 14

Same as every other day, hot, sticky, no wind and the noisy motor all day, definitely no radio, waste of  $300. At noon 140 miles, 600 to go to Thursday is. I haven’t been to TI for 18 yrs. Just had a dozen or so dolphins surfing and playing in the bow wave for 15 mins. I did an engine check at 1800 hrs and discovered about 3 gallons of diesel in the bilge, I found the problem quickly. Yesterday the engine was still revving and running on. After the work in Darwin! I could see bubbles in the line so I cut that filter out and it still played up, tonight I blocked off the return leak off from the injectors, did away with the water trap altogether and presto all fixed. No air in the system and no leak in the bilge and motor running perfectly. 2000 hrs still motoring.

Sat 24th     Day 15

We are heading directly for the low which developed a week ago crossed Cape York turned into a mild depression and turned W again yesterday. It was back where it started just N of Gove. We should pass through the centre sometime tonight as it moves W right on our track. Hopefully it won’t deepen. Turned the motor off at 0900 hrs and sailing with 10-12 kts on the nose.

Sun 25th      Day16

We are receiving weather again but no transmission. There was no wind all night and there was no sail put up. I woke at 0800 hrs and heard wind so we got sailing. It has kept at 10 kts all day so we have been motor sailing to make up for yesterday’s terrible noon to noon run of 75 miles. We were motoring straight up the wind hobby horsing up and down as low as 2 kts.

Mon 26th       Day 17

I am writing this a day late as nothing of interest happened yesterday. We had a blocked filter all last night so at 0800 hrs I changed the filter. I slept on the floor beside the engine trucking away all night. The fresh water tank leaked all over the floor and the cushion I was lying on soaked up all the water so it was a wet noisy night. Motored sailed night and day to establish 120 miles noon to noon, better than the previous day.

Tues 27th      Day 18 

Last night was the worst nights sleep of the whole trip, the next filter on the diesel was blocked so the motor sped up and slowed down all night. When I was on watch the wind was everywhere, and Dave followed me and did not know what to do so I reduced sail and told him to motor at 200 rpm so we made about 3 kts for the rest of the night. At the 0800 hrs service I changed the filter and bled the system and next minute the SE died and within 2 minutes a NW sprung up so it was all sail up and averaging 7 kts over the bottom – that makes TI tomorrow. We are now plugging along at between 6-8 kts with reduced sail in 20-25 kts and 2-3 metre seas. Dave and Lang’s dad down with sea sickness, Lang and me OK. At noon today 190 miles to TI. 

Wed 28th       Day 19

Ducked between two developing cyclones across the Gulf and managed a good run under sail.

Thur 29th  Day 20

Finally arrived at Thursday Island. Dave had to get back to work so flew out leaving me with, Lang and Lang’s dad to complete the next leg through the Great Barrier Reef to Cairns.

Hub Jones

Post Script : They sailed down the coast calling in at Cairns, and made it through to Tin Can Bay where Hub and Dick finished the trip. Bev joined Lang and they did the last leg to Brisbane together. Lang and Bev lived aboard the yacht at Scarborough Marina Brisbane for a year then sold it to a buyer in South Australia.