By mid-afternoon it started to get a bit windier, and we thought it prudent to put a couple of reefs into the mainsail. We were surrounded by other members of the fleet, and as the boats stretched their legs, things started to heat up. As dark came in, gusts were up to 27 knots and seas were approaching 3 metres, and things were fairly hectic. It was a rough night, and with big "El Gato" cracking over 10 knots we furled the jib to pocket-handkerchief-size and were still flying along at over 8 knots. And it rained. And the swell picked up. For another day. And another night. And at one point I pined to be sitting at home in front of the fire with a warm dog at my feet. Some of the comments on the log sheets read..."Not Pleasant", "Cold", "Raining", "Rolly", "One engine running" "Port engine dead". GRIM Indeed!
Yes, on the second night out, the Port engine decided to retire, so battery charging with the remaining engine became rather....critical. Paranoia set in.
But when you've been left port for a couple of days and have a stiff breeze behind you, there's not much chance of turning back, so pressing on is the only option.
By the Sunday morning, the wind was easing and the sun poked through and the world looked a better place, and we were happily cruising at 6-8 knots. And now the depth meter has malfunctioned!
By Monday morning, things were even easier and I crawled into the engine bay to replace an alternator belt, and our engine troubles were over. Until Tuesday, when the OTHER engine lit up its battery charging light and we had to turn that one off. And we'd just used our last spare belt...
But we were almost there. We sailed slowly to the entrance to the channel at Tual, waiting for the sun to appear, and then had a lovely sail until arriving into the port, and anchoring right in front of the Customs Office . Quarantine and Immigration officials boarded us promptly, and took great delight in photographing themselves doing their job on this glamorous big catamaran. Customs weren't quite so slick, and we had to be content with staying aboard until we were cleared in by them the next morning.
And finally, we were ashore. We showed our host, Raymond Lesmana, what we needed in the way of spare alternator belts and before long we'd found our spares (in the most fabulous Chinese hardware store that sold EVERYTHING) and were tucking into a very tasty Indonesian fried chicken lunch.
Later in the day I installed an Indonesian SIM card into my old iPhone, and we were connected to the World. And feeling pretty good that we'd just executed our first big International crossing, and all of the fears and anxiety about engine and electrical failure had simply washed away with calmer waters and an anchor planted in the sand.
From then, we started to relax and enjoy the company of our fellow cruisers, and the hospitality of our Indonesian hosts. Welcoming ceremonies, buffet dinners, visits to the markets and tours around the island....Whoop! We're in Indonesia!
Fishermen called out to us as they motored past our boat, and we always had help tying dinghies up to the dock or a convenient fishing boat as we clambered over their decks. Kids (and adults) lined up for photos and so did we, subjects for a thousand mobile phone snapshots and selfies with the foreign yachties.
The food was fabulous, too, and we ate like there was no tomorrow.
But Tual was just our first stop, and we were reminded that we had another 19 stops to go. So, just after 0700 on Monday 25th, it was up-anchor and out to sea again. An easy sail overnight in 10-15 knots, a couple of stints with the motors running for battery charging, and our final approach to the Banda Islands just after midday on the Tuesday. We ran our generator for the last couple of hours and made fresh water for the first time since Margaret Bay in Queensland.