Friday, June 10, 2016

Crossing the Equator for the 5th Time

Yesterday, on our way from Urani to Minyafuni, we cross the equator into the southern hemisphere. I quickly ran down below to flush the toilet and see whether the water circles the bowl in the other direction (rumor has it that it is supposed to). I didn't notice any difference.

While crossing the equator, I got out a precious bottle of fine Philippine rum and shared a toast with King Neptune. No other silliness was necessary because we're already "shellbacks" 4 times over. But it's always good to give King Neptune his due.

The 25 mile trip south was strictly motoring, as what wind we had was pretty much on our nose. Fortunately, we had lucked out and managed to leave at the right time of the tide. We had at least a knot of following current, rather than on the nose. The currents here are something one has to pay attention to--both the prevailing ocean currents and the tidal currents. It makes planning a passage or a dive quite the exercise.

We only have one tidal point in this area, but it's good enough to get a feel for what the tides are doing.

On our motor south, in company with Evia Blue and Sapphire, we amused ourselves with fishing (once outside the park boundaries, it's permitted). Jan on Evia Blue's successes in the last couple of weeks has spurred Dave to make more effort, but so far we've only landed a barracuda, which we immediately released.

We have cruiser's notes, tracks, and waypoints from the last few years of cruisers exploring Raja Ampat, and I've incorporated them into my growing Indonesia Compendium ( But pretty much all of the cruisers who have visited here have done so in the "winter" (Oct-Jan), and the cruising is quite different in June from what it is in December. So we took the time to explore a few possible anchorages that would be untenable in the northerly winds in winter, but good in the light southerly summer winds.

We arrived at Minyafuni at mid-afternoon, and anchored where our friends had anchored previously, about a half mile west of the tiny town. It was as reported, 15 meters in sand. Dave is worried about mozzies and no-see-ums, so we edged out into the middle of the area between Minyafuni proper and the little offshore island. John on Sapphire tried to find an anchorage right off the town, but only found deep water. He ended up anchoring in a shallow sand spot on a pinnacle off the end of the little island. (In 10 feet between 2 coral heads).

The current in the anchorage ripped through all afternoon. When I took my shower off the stern of the boat about sunset, I had to hold on when I jumped in the water, it was still flowing so fast. I wondered if the current was a prevailing ocean current, or whether it would ever reverse, but it seemed like it was never going to change. But at 3:30 am, I was awakened by a different motion of the boat. On investigating, we were hanging backwards to 10-15 knots of wind! Make another note in the tide log, and go back to bed!

Minyafuni was in the news a few months back--a Russian tourist was found dead and slightly mangled by a saltwater crocodile. He'd been snorkeling on his own in a mangrove area. We only ever heard the headline version of this gruesome news, and not any follow-up. So, we're wondering... did they get the crocodile? I read that the croc is a sacred animal in Western Papua, so maybe they didn't. We opted not to go snorkeling, but Jan on Evia Blue did (away from the mangroves).

One cruiser had said they found a small market in the town. John on Sapphire went looking to see what he could find. He said the only provisions available were bananas and eggs. He bought a big bunch of bananas and shared them with us.
At 6/8/2016 10:58 PM (utc) our position was 00°19.52'S 130°12.17'E

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