Friday, 22 June 2012

GO Canopus sea log 21st June

I woke to my alarm at 23:30 as intended, although I don’t really think that I had been to sleep. After a quick shower I was on the bridge for the handover of the 8 – 12 watch to the 12 – 4. As expected we had arrived at the entrance to the Torres Strait channel at 22:00 and by midnight were heading WSW. The duty mate had called up the Reef traffic reporting system and advised them of our planned transit through the passage. All was going well. I explained to the 2nd mate that it was his watch and that I was there to observe. He was happy with that. By 01:00 I could tell that he had regained his confidence and had everything in hand, so I left him to it and tried to get some sleep. I awoke at 06:00 to a most peculiar and unusual motion, of a short jerky roll and waves banging on the hull. It was caused by the short sharp waves inside the barrier reef, induced by the steady trade winds. They were striking the hull just forward of the beam, hence slapping against the curve of the hull. There is no swell inside the reef. There had been minimal traffic encountered overnight, but at dawn we overtook the “Natuna” an accommodation barge being towed at 3.5 knots by the “Lewek Eagle”.

Nantuna and Lerwick Eagle
The Natuna appeared to be similar in dimension to the Smit Borneo, although with significantly more accommodation, a smaller crane and less deck space. The Lewek Eagle is a supply boat, slightly smaller than the GO Canopus. I certainly did not fancy being on either of them. I am guessing that they would be returning to Singapore for a refit or awaiting their next project. They were the only vessels we encountered throughout the 14 hour reef passage, which struck me as odd, as we had been expecting more. When the Islands and channels were first surveyed and charted up here, the surveyors must have quickly run out of imagination when it came to naming them. They are sequentially called Tuesday Island, Wednesday Island, Thursday Island and Friday Island. At least when Captain Cook named Piercy Island (Hole in the Rock) in the Bay of Islands, he did so with a wicked sense of humour. He named it after the First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, Lord Piercy, who felt most honoured, when advised of this. What he didn’t know was that Cook did not much like him and thought Lord Piercy had a hole in the head, hence named the hole in rock after him. End of the history lesson.

Booby Island, Torres Strait

Booby Island was the last Island in the group that we passed and I snapped a shot of it as we passed close by. It will be the last bit of land we see for several days as we head across the top of the Gulf of Carpentaria, through the Arafura sea to the North eastern tip of East Timor. The seaman who had been pooped on the previous day became quite ill last night and I had to consider the possibility of a medivac for him as we passed Thursday Island. It was not needed however, as he had just become dehydrated and came right overnight with water and electrolytes. Everyone is now upping the water intake to avoid the same fate. 

People are now getting a bit cranky and tired after being 4 days and nights without air conditioning. By keeping some doors and port holes open and others closed, we have managed to get a cooling draft flowing through the accommodation. It cools somewhat, but comes a very poor second to air conditioning. Enjoying a beer in the cool comfort of an air conditioned hotel room in Bali is sounding very attractive right now. 

The fishing has not improved at all, in spite of us passing some schools of shoaling fish soon after exiting the reef passage. Most disappointing. We met several ships over the afternoon, two containerships and one bulk carrier. Nothing overly impressive. They probably thought the same about us. We slowed down briefly to allow the engineers to clean the lenses in the oil mist detectors in each engine. They detect any signs of vaporized oil within the crank case of the engine, a precursor to a crank case explosion. Very important that they are clean and work properly.

I refitted the repaired DP console screen this afternoon, with the help of the 2nd mate. It worked for an hour or so, but then reverted to the same rainbow screen fault that had necessitated its replacement many months ago. Not too much more need be said about that is there. We continue to make a voyage average speed of 11.3 knots, however this evening I received instructions from the Perth office to increase speed to arrive at the pilot station at 07:00 27th June. I nudged the pitch up to 80%, which will increase our speed to the necessary 11.7 knots, increasing our fuel consumption commensurately.

Signing off ninety miles West of Booby Island

Captain K.

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