2 August 2008 Saturday
Tonight was the presentation of race prizes. Malaika was 6th across the line, and placed 10th on handicap. Didn’t know we were such a contender! Especially as we weren’t actually racing, but seemed to get included anyway. The booby prize was reserved for us – we got back to Malaika about 10pm to find she had dragged inshore and was sitting on the rocks, quite upright but just touching at the stern end of her keel. A short swell had us thumping on the rocks below however. The boat beside us was worse, about 3 feet out of the water and leaning over to one side. Nothing to do but wait for the tide to lift her off. As soon as we could we moved her forward and re-anchored, and then found we had no steering – the rudder was jammed. Decided to wait till daylight to deal with it, but we sat watches through the night to make sure we didn’t drag again. I came on watch at 3am, and Lex had only just gone to bed when I realised we had let go and were heading straight at Lothlorien. We woke Richard who leapt into the dinghy and acted as a tug, but the current and wind made things very difficult. We cleared Lothlorien and then were headed straight for the most expensive boat in the fleet, Helsal 2. A freak gust of wind at the last moment pushed us clear of her at the last moment, and then we headed down the harbour as far away from other yachts as we could go, only able to steer straight ahead, all the while trying to raise another boat to help us. Finally we were heard by Jan off Necessity, a Halberg Rassy which had been in Tipperary marina a few weeks before we left Darwin. Jan and Richard were able to push us into a better anchorage, well clear of everyone else. Just as things settled down, and Jan had left and Richard went to bed, there was another call for help. Serenity 2 was dragging, with her prop tangled in another boat’s stern line. Jan and Lex both went out in their dinghies, Lex waking up Cruise Missile on the way past. He came home a couple of hours later looking dead tired.
We weren’t the only boat by a long shot to have trouble at Amahusu anchorage. Most boats dragged, or fouled their anchors on old ropes, netting, coral and anchors on the sea bed. Lothlorien’s anchor chain wrapped itself around a huge bommie, and took a lot of work to get free. The stern line system didn’t seem to suit most boats, and the anchorage was very poor. Worst of all was the plastic floating in the water. They say if you’re not an environmental fanatic before you come to Ambon, you are when you leave. It’s a beautiful island (or so I believe – we were so busy with boat dramas we didn’t get to see much of it!), and has friendly inhabitants, all keen to help and talk to you, and put up with your feeble attempts at Indonesian with great humour, but the rubbish is so depressing. It washes out into the harbour every time it rains (BY THE WAY – NO ONE TOLD US IT WAS THE WET SEASON HERE!!!) and then gets sucked up into any available water intake, or wraps around propellers, let alone what it does to the sea inhabitants, and the general aesthetics. There’s no system for rubbish collection as far as we could tell, apart from an attempt at burning it in between rainstorms. Everything you buy is wrapped in several layers of very strong plastic, and the shopping bags last forever.