Sailing With Senta: Across Coral Seas by Faith Van Rooyen - Read Online
Sailing With Senta
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This second book in the Sailing With Senta Series describes life in the uninhabited Salamon Atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean and the subsequent 1700 mile voyage to Langkawi in Malaysia. After an extended period of land travel and cruising under sail in Malaysia, Singapore and Southern Thailand, Faith and her husband Pierre then sailed Senta westwards across the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Chagos. There they had to decide whether to continue to the west and be home in South Africa to welcome in the year 2000, or to turn back to the Far East cruising grounds.

Colour photographs and charts help tell the story.

Published: Faith Van Rooyen on
ISBN: 9781310136337
List price: $1.99
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Sailing With Senta - Faith Van Rooyen

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Other Books in the Series

Sailing With Senta - Eastward Ho!

Sailing With Senta - Across Coral Seas

Sailing With Senta - Africa Calls

Sailing With Senta - Tropical Dream

Sailing With Senta - Borneo Here We Come

Sailing With Senta - Playtime in the Philippines

Sailing With Senta - Small Boat Voyaging


Many thanks to

Judith Ryder, long time friend in Wakkerstroom, South Africa, who has spent a decade managing our affairs while we sailed among Indian Ocean islands.

All the new friends we made along the way who helped us find out how wonderful the cruising life style can be.

For Pierre, Brett and Ingrid.

-------------------- ooo --------------------

Chapter One Chagos to Langkawi

By mid 1997 Pierre and I, in our sailing boat Senta, had completed a shake down cruise to Madagascar, East Africa and the Mocambique channel.

We had returned to South Africa for a few months to make minor alterations and repairs and to re-provision.

We then sailed to Salamon Atoll in the Chagos Archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean on our second cruise.

Pierre relaxing at Takamaka island, Salamon Atoll, Chagos

After almost two months in this remote, uninhabited tropical paradise we were ready to move on further eastwards to Langkawi Island Malaysia, at the north end of the Malacca Straits. This was to be our longest ocean crossing so far, eighteen hundred nautical miles as the crow flies. But possibly a lot longer as a sailboat sails, having to follow the vagaries of the wind.

Senta left Salamon Atoll on Monday 1st September and made reasonably good progress in the moderate south easterly wind. We had been advised by cruising folk familiar with the route to avoid crossing the equator until we had reached 80 degrees east so as to stay in the southeast trade winds as long as possible and then cross the doldrums belt surrounding the equator where it was narrowest.

After four days Senta had averaged 110 miles per day, but the wind was becoming light and fitful. Light easterly breezes during the day forced us northwards and then disappeared in the early evening. We dropped all sails and sat rolling around until a light south westerly breeze came through a few hours later.

Senta ran goose-winged with the genoa poled out through the night until the calm returned in the pre-dawn light. We crossed the 80deg.East meridian, with the Equator 29 miles to the north thus achieving what we had been advised to do.

Poor to no wind most of that night changed to a fresh northeaster in the early morning. The 06h00 sight showed we had crossed another meridian, 81degrees. with the equator still eleven miles to the north, though it is possible that we may have crossed and re-crossed it during the night, with our doldrums dodging manoeuvres.

Pierre had been troubled by a tooth ulcer for a few days and this started to affect his ear, which became agonizingly painful. We started treatment with a course of anti-biotic and eardrops.

The morning was spent hunting cat paws, and in the middle of the day we drifted across the equator. Our first formal ‘Crossing of the Line’. The night was spent lying a-hull with all sails down to stop them shaking themselves to pieces.

A week out of Chagos the wind continued light to almost nothing, but what there was came from the east, forcing us northwards towards the Bay of Bengal and away from our desired course to Sumatra. The nights were interrupted by rain squalls, during which we had to furl the genoa for a few minutes while the wind increased to 25 knots, then followed by calms which had us flopping around in the waves left over from the squalls. Typical doldrums weather.

By Friday 12 September we were within 200 miles of Sri Lanka. We heard on the radio that a massive high pressure system had moved up the Malacca Straits and into the top of the Bay of Bengal, effectively nullifying all signs of the south westerly winds that should have been blowing.

An exhausted swallow arrived on board and spent the night sleeping on the curtain rail above the galley counter.

Senta’s galley - the swallow’s refuge

At dawn the next day he left in the direction of Sri Lanka after a couple of test flights away from and back to Senta. Before each flight he perched on my head as if to say goodbye and thank you. I hope he made it to dry land.

That night a light south west wind arrived and we could start on our way again. During the early hours of Saturday morning a green flare emerged from the water about a half a mile away to starboard. Our navigation manuals told us that this is the signal from a submarine that has just fired a test torpedo and might want to surface. We didn't see the sub, but the night was dark and it was unlikely that we would see anything so low on the surface of the sea.

The wind continued light to moderate from the south west and we made progress towards our destination of Bass Harbour, Langkawi in Malaysia at a rate of just under a hundred miles per day. After two weeks of our voyage, when we had hoped to already be at Bass Harbour, we still had 725 miles to go. This was turning out to be a frustrating, tiresome trip.

Senta’s Track - Chagos to Malaysia

We were unable to use our engine to help us through the calm periods. In our pre departure preparations back at Salamon Atoll we had detected a crack in the number one cylinder head. We had done what we could with Pratley’s putty and prayers to the patron saint of diesel engines. The crack was getting bigger and fed seawater into the engine when we ran it infrequently to charge the batteries and cool the refrigerator.