Lisa Blair is attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate Australia solo, non-stop and unassisted. She is currently off the north-west coast of Western Australia, where she had an unexoected encounter with Indonesian fishing vessels. Here is her latest blog:
Well it has been quite the eventful 24 hours I must say. Yesterday just before sunset I happened to go on deck to re-trim the boat when I noticed a sail off my stern quarter. I squinted at it and realised that it was a wooden dow sailing boat like what a lot of island communities use. I was still so focused and the boat appeared to be about 5nm away so I set about adjusting the trip and moving away from the wind to sail a wind angle of 60 degrees and go for speed over height.
As I reached for the windward sheet I got quite a shock to see a second wooden dow just over a mile from me sailing on a parallel course to me. My initial reaction was that I had sailed into a fishing ground and I searched the waters around me for any more vessels that I may have missed. Coming up clear I altered the trip of the boat and bore away 20 degrees as this would take me further from this dow and give me greater speed.
Once I was making ground on them and pulling away I started to realise that none of my alarms were triggered. My radar didn’t pick them up as they are a wooden craft so there is nothing to reflect from. It was a shock and not one that I am very comfortable with given that I was alone on my yacht and 100nm from land. Given that darkness was falling and these boats were close and heading the same way as me I didn’t feel all that comfortable about the chances of me running out of wind and them not having honest intentions.
Feeling uneasy I contacted the local Australian Border Force Aircraft to confirm what these vessels were. It turns out that there is a box section of the ocean that I had just sailed through that was given a MOU by the Australian Government for Indonesia's Fisherman to to fish in. Knowing that, I wish I had a better look at their boats because they looked amazing from afar, all hand crafted with blue sails, but I was also glad to have pulled away from them and sailed clear of the area before it was too late in the night.
Following on from my shock I had another bird visit the Feathered Inn for the night which kept me entertained. It was the same type of bird as Simon but it was quite content even though I tacked the boat multiply times through the night it would just hop to the other side and go back to sleep. The winds were shifty and I had a really cool lightning storm not too far from me so I ended up doing a tack every hour or so but I also had to alter my course quite a lot and in the end I wasn’t able to get to my bunk until after 4am so today I am a little sleepy.
The winds today also went through a myriad of changes and I am now sailing with NNW winds in a very light breeze of 5 knots so my speed hasn’t been the best and it has again become very hot today with the light winds.