29-Dec-2004 -- 5S119E is located 48 km west by north west from Makassar in the Makassar Sea. There are two small islands, Pulau Lanyukang and Pulau Langkai approximately 10 km to the east of the confluence. These islands have a small population of fishermen, and are visible from the confluence although not enough to show up well on a photograph.
The Makassarese fishing boat which I chartered along with two crew and Mustaria, my trusty English speaking guide was delivered to the sea wall directly opposite my hotel. This location for boarding resulted in some comedic slipping and sliding whilst trying to alight on the vessel, much to the delight and mirth of whoever wasn’t slipping or sliding at that particular moment. We set off into a light westerly swell and wind at around 0300z. As we headed west, the weather deteriorated with an ever increasing swell and our speed consequently decreased from around twelve knots to an average of perhaps three or four knots. The boat was occasionally slamming down from the top of a wave, and rather alarmingly split a plank in the bilge resulting in the occasional fountain of water jetting in. The pumps (a polythene scoop!) took this leakage easily in it’s stride.
We anchored in the lee of Pulau Lankai to refuel and deballast. The fuelling consisted of transferring gasoline from a large plastic container, which appeared to have been originally intended to hold hydrogen peroxide, into the Yamaha outboard fuel tank. The deballasting I will leave to your imagination. Suffice to say that doing it in a pitching boat, you would have got your own back.
The swell continued to increase as we motored out of the lee of these last islands to around three metres. Mustaria pointed out to me rather worriedly that there were no other small fishing boats out today! The last ten kilometres took a bracing and exhilarating, (or miserable depending on your viewpoint) hour to cover.
To my surprise, we homed in on the confluence pretty much at the first attempt which given the prevailing weather was fortunate as there possibility of broaching if we went beam on to the swell. The closest we got was 37 metres, but the GPS picture of this is pretty dire due to the bouncing platform and spray, so the 47 metre photo will suffice.
After taking the requisite photos we commenced the journey home. This was a bit more pleasant than the passage out as with a following sea we were pretty well surfing. Again we stopped in the lee of Pulau Lankai to refuel, and rather worryingly our skipper chose this moment to have a smoke. The rest of the passage back was fairly uneventful with a best speed of eighteen knots and an average of around twelve. This high speed may be responsible for the final fuel stop about one km from shore where the peroxide drums were drained dry to get these last few essential drops to finish the passage.