1: Aussie Adventures 1
Journal 2: Aussie Adventures 2
Journal 3: Indonesian Escapades
Journal 4: Singapore & Malaysia
Journal 5: Langkawi, Malaysia
Journal 6: Thailand Trekking 1
Journal 7: Thailand Trekking 2
Journal 8: Indian Ocean, Maldives, & Oman
Journal 9: Oman & Yemen
Journal 10: Pirates, Eritrea, & Sudan
Journal 11: Egyptian Adventures 1
Egyptian Adventures 2
Journal 13: Egypt to Israel
Journal 14: Cyprus Crossings
Journal 15: Turkish Tales 1
Journal 16: Turkish Tales 2
Journal 17: Greek Odyssey
Journal 18: Italy & Spain
Journal 19: Why Go
Journal 20: Airplanes are Faster
September 28, 2004 -- We
are sailing the high seas from Darwin, Australia to Bali, Indonesia. After
slowly coming through the locks out of the marina we were on our way. Goodbye
crocodile land! This has been my longest passage to date -- 8 days without any
land in sight. Thankfully, it has been a safe passage. The weather has been
soooo calm that we have had little to no wind at all. And so the engine has been
puttering along for most of our sail. You might wonder how we could possibly
keep ourselves occupied for 8 whole days. We may not have the internet or TV on
board, but there is always something to do. I have made it through a couple of
great books. We watch DVD's. We dream about all the foods we will eat once we
get to land. We play games. We attempt to converse with all the dolphin pods
that come our way. Donna and I whip up some fabulous meals.
We have been sailing to Bali in the company of a few other boats. We have made
friends along the way with a South African boat called Sea Tjalm and the
family that lives aboard. On the way to Bali they whipped out their brightly
colored spinnaker (very large sail) to try and catch as much wind as possible.
And just like that it became a race! Some of the games we play include
circling around our friends. On one such occasion, we circled around Sea Tjalm
not realizing that they were trailing fishing line behind them!! And what do
you know, but they managed to snag a catamaran sailboat! We were very lucky in
that the line did not mess up our prop. We ended up with a very nice fishing
lure! I would call that an even trade!
But the best was yet to come when Sarah was voted most wanted for the
OPERATION RETURN LURE. So there I was in the middle of the ocean, precariously
perched on the bow of Exit Only. The lure was placed into a bucket and hung on
the end of a pole. Slowly, we came up on Sea Tjalm and the bucket was passed.
Only, the bucket was caught and pulling on the pole, and pulling on Sarah
closer and closer to the water! At the last second, I let go of the pole (not
wanting to become shark bait) and Sea Tjalm was able to snag the bucket. We
were all laughing hilariously! And David managed to capture the whole event on
video camera. If we get the chance, we will have to try and put the film
I am really looking forward to Bali. Just one more day of
sailing and we will have arrived. I can't wait to stretch my legs and get a
cold, cold, cold glass of water.
September 30, 2004 -- Hello from beautiful Bali. I feel as though I have
been dropped into that old movie, South Pacific. At any moment now, someone
may break out into Bali-Hai! It's just that Bali is way more crowded and
everyone seems to be zipping around on mopeds at break neck speed. Bali is
definitely a happening tourist place! We took a taxi into town today. Driving
here is like a near death experience. Lanes mean nothing. Traffic signs mean
nothing. The little streets wind this way and that. Everywhere you walk, the
Balinese have put out small baskets with offerings of flowers and food for
their Hindu gods. There are shrines and temples everywhere. Unlike the rest of
Indonesia which is Muslim, Bali has kept its Hindu heritage strong. On all the
crowded and narrow streets there are vendors selling everything imaginable --
Louis Vitton rip-offs, illegal DVD's, seashells, drums, blow darts, clothing,
teak furniture ... etc. And they will do just about anything for a sale. Hmm,
that must explain how we ended up with 2 blow dart guns, a few DVD's, a drum,
and t-shirts! Come see boss, they yell. You can bargain a sale down to
nothing. The American dollar is so strong here that everything is quite cheap
Bali is also known for its beaches and surfing culture. The surfers were
everywhere on the beach. I may have to head down there one of these days and
give it a try.
We will be in Bali for the next week. And there will be more to
discover in this very beautiful and colorful country including volcanoes,
temples, rice fields, sunken ships ... So I hope that you stay along for the
October 2, 2004 -- It's another beautiful day here in Bali. We have
been out and about the past few days discovering the area. Yesterday, we went
to an area called Sanur which is known for its shopping and beaches. All along
the beach were brightly painted boats that were fashioned after lobsters!
Everywhere you go people ask what you may need -- transport, driver, massage,
manicure, pedicure, and even marijuana! (Just Say No!) I am beginning to
become an old pro at this whole bargaining thing. They may ask up front for
$10, but usually you can get the price down by 50-60%. So we have been doing
some fabulous shopping here. The Indonesians are known for their colorful
prints. I have been able to get some beautiful skirts and pants for next to
nothing. Today, our goal was DVD's. All over Bali, DVD's are sold at a
fraction of the US price -- $1/DVD!! So we went on a bit of a shopping spree.
So now you know what we will be doing tonight!
October 3-5, 2004 --
The past three days have been filled with adventure and intrigue here in
Bali. We have done and seen so many amazing things that it will be difficult
to capture them all in this journal entry. On Sunday, we hired a car and
driver to give us an in-depth tour of the island of Bali. What an amazing
educational experience we had! First, we attended a showing of traditional
Indonesian dance and theater. The story was based on Hindu mythology and the
performers were dressed in elaborate and colorful costumes. The dancing was
a series of jerking movements, almost break-dancing-like in nature.
After the dancing, we headed inland towards Ubud which is the cultural center of
Bali and home to the ancient kings. In Ubud, we discovered the king’s palace
which was like a house without walls. It was ornately decorated with gold lame,
statues, gardens … etc. The relatives of this royal family continue to inhabit
the palace to this day. Ubud is also known for its markets. Small booths were
set up along the street and squares, selling everything from sarongs to fruit to
wicker to woodwork. I managed to find a few great deals there. Once you get away
from the markets, you enter a whole other world of narrow streets, small houses,
rice paddies, and palm trees. The rice paddies were amazing. They rose like
giant green steps leading up to fields of palm trees. Bali is still largely a
third world country. Although their standards of living may be far below those
of the western world, extreme poverty hardly seems to exist here.
Bali is a land of volcanoes. As we drove deeper into the interior, you can see
the peaks rising into the clouds. Along the way, we were stopped by the police
who demanded a little under the table payment. Apparently, it is quite common
for them to line their pockets on known tourist itineraries. And once we arrived
-- WOW! You could see the lava and pumice fields, volcanic lakes, and occasional
wisp of smoke. It really was fantastic as we ate lunch over-looking the
mountains. We may not have been able to climb the volcano, but it was a very
enjoyable experience just the same.
The holy springs of Tampaskring were our next destination. The springs were
discovered in 952 AD. A temple was built around the springs and many of the
Balinese come here to help their dead relatives make the transition into the
afterlife. The springs are used to create pools which people also go to swim in
and wash away the evil spirits. While we visited, there were multiple ceremonies
Our final destination was the temple of Ulu Watu on the most southern shore of
Bali. The temple sits on a cliff over-looking the Indian Ocean. It was first
established in the 11th century. The inhabitants of the temple are
rather annoying and aggressive moneys who like to snatch anything within their
reach. One monkey managed to snag Donna’s hairpin with a hard yank and then
proceeded to eat it. What is really worthwhile at Ulu Watu is the view of the
Indian Ocean, sheer cliffs that drop straight into the pounding surf, and the
sunset. It was a great way to finish off the day.
For the past 2 days, we have been working on getting the boat ready for our
journey to Singapore. There has been shopping and cleaning and engine work to be
done. Somehow David and I managed to work in a little surfing and shopping right
at the tail end of our stay in Bali. You can go right down the beach in Kuta and
rent a board. The waves are lovely and small which is great for beginners like
us. David has been doing pretty good, but I have yet to really make any progress
in my fabulous surfing career.
So we had a great time here in Bali. Hard to believe that a week has gone by so
quickly. We will be off to Singapore tomorrow morning. It should be another
week-long sail and then more adventures will come. I hope that you all manage to
October 6-10, 2004 -- We
left Bali on a beautiful morning. As we sailed around the island making
our way north to Singapore, a large and dark cloud formed over the water.
We monitored it for a little while, but finally decided that it was not
threatening. Not 10 minutes later our sailing companion, Sea Tjalm, called
to ask if we had noticed the large water spout that was heading our way.
As we looked off the stern of Exit Only, we saw a large spout surrounded
by a fine mist reaching out from the dark clouds above. Now as I
understand it, waterspouts are basically like tornados on the water. So we
gunned up the engine and within another 10 minutes, the waterspout had all
but disappeared. I think that
we all breathed a sigh of relief thinking that this would be the end of
our adventure. Unfortunately, it was not. As we rounded the island of
Bali, strong winds kicked up (40-50 knots) and started pounding the boat.
The water became quite rough. At first, we thought that we might be able
to outrun the winds, but even after going out 5 miles the wind had not
lessened. So David and I went up to help bring down the sails. It was a
little scary being up front while the wind whipped around us. As the sail
came down, it started flailing in the air and hit one of the small
windmills that Exit Only uses to create power. One of the blades was
knocked off by the shear force of the impact and now our sail had a new
hole in it. Not exactly a happy day on Exit Only.
Thankfully, the weather did not last. As we distanced ourselves from the
island of Bali, the winds died down -- completely! For the next 3 days, we
motored 90% of the way to Borneo. The only obstacles in our way were small
fishing boats that seemed to appear out of nowhere every night. All over the
horizon you could see dozens of blinking lights. It can be pretty treacherous
dodging fishing boats and their nets. You could definitely tell that these
fishermen were not fond of cruisers. A couple of times during the night
someone would shout out over the radio “F--you” as we passed by. Definitely
not friendly waters. The further north we went, the more smoke we encountered.
All over Boreno, the forests are being burned down as companies set out to
find minerals such as oil, coal, gold … etc. The smoke would be a thick blanket
over the ocean.
Our goal was to reach Kumai, which is a small town in Borneo. Kumai is on the
edge of a National Park which is home to orangutans and many other wild
animals. But before we could get there, we had one more snag in our travels.
We have been sailing with another boat for the past 2 months -- Sea Tjalm. As
we were heading into Kumai, they happened to go in a little to close to shore.
We the tide going out, they got caught on the sandbar. They struggled for a
good 15-20 minutes with us circling nearby until a friendly little fishing
boat came up and rescued them, throwing them a line and then pulling Sea Tjalm
to deeper waters. The strange thing is, we were given precise instructions to
sail through that area, as were other boats. Not 2 days later, another cruising
yacht ran aground in the exact same place.
Kumai is a small town that sits on a wide river. We anchored in the river
along with many other sailing boats. David and I explored the town with
Richard and Mandy. Not much to see, but everyone was quite friendly. We were
invited to join a town festival and dance. Women weaving thatch asked to have
their photo taken. Small children would yell out whatever English they knew.
That evening, Harry came by to organize our tour into the National Park to see
October 11,2004 --
Our orangutan adventure began precisely at 7 AM. We were picked up on Exit
Only by one of Harry’s boats, called Spirit of the Forest. We had decided on a
one day tour of the forest. The boat was pretty basic, but was it ever
comfortable. We all sat on the roof on comfortable cushions and mattresses as
our guide Danson began tell us about the Park. As we began motoring up the
river, the banks were lined with palm trees. The further we went in, the
denser the jungle became. Occasionally you would see a small settlement or
rice paddies not far from the edge of the river. Small motor boats acting like
taxis would zoom by at incredible speeds.
At our first stop, we hiked into the jungle where a viewing platform had been
built. The guides would begin to call the orangutans -- Oooo-aaaah. Slowly, we
would start to see the trees swaying and a rust colored shape moving about.
There were 2 sets of orangutan females with their young who came to the
feeding station. The guides laid out bananas and milk for them. The orangutans
would contentedly sit at the feeding station or hang in the trees while they
were eating. But if you got too close, up into the trees they would go. It was
amazing to see just how expressive their faces could be. At times they seemed
inquisitive, scared, bored … And the babies are incredibly strong, hanging
onto their mother’s long hair or even by themselves in the trees. What amazing
animals!! And to see them in the wild was a unique experience.
After our first encounter with the orangutans, it was back to the boat for
lunch. We had an exotic Indonesian meal prepared right there on the boat as we
motored down the river. Every so often our guide or driver would yell out,
“monkey” or “crocodile” or “snake”. We would crane our necks out from under
the awning to get a better look. There would be Dutch monkeys hanging on
branches right over the river. Apparently, these monkeys were so named after
the former colonists of Indonesia, the Dutch, for their large noses. And so
deeper into the jungle we went until arriving at Camp Leakey. Orangutans are
only found in Indonesia. This camp was set up as a research station about 30
years ago. We learned so many things about these animals. Thousands of
orangutans are killed each year as the jungle is torn down. Orangutans who
have prolonged contact with humans (orphaned or injured) have quite a bit of
difficulty being re-introduced to the wild. They continue to rely on humans
for much of their feeding. A female will give birth and wean roughly every 8
years. Orangutans are solitary animals although they do live in very loose
groups. One dominant male may have up to 30 females for the taking. Orangutans
live up to 50-60 years.
At Camp Leakey, we had to hike deep into the jungle. It was incredible hot and
humid. Sweat would just be pouring off our bodies. But it was well worth it.
We saw a large orangutan group at the feeding station. The dominant male was
called Winn. He was huge, maybe +200 pounds and one of the ugliest animals I
have ever seen. And there he would be hanging in the trees like all the other
monkeys. Except that every so often a branch would crack under his weight and
he would scramble to a better holding. There were a few other tourists at Camp
Leakey, including a very annoying Japanese photographer. It seemed like his
mission was to antagonize the orangutans. He would start shouting, “Winn,
Winn!” Well, at some point or another, Winn decided that he had had enough and
charged the guy. He came huffing and puffing down the path with the guide
behind him fending off Winn with a stick. The only other dangerous position to
be in was between Winn an his females. There were 4 other females in the
vicinity all munching away on the bananas we provided. We tried to keep our
distance. Other than orangutans, we saw gibbons, wild boars, macaques, and
Coming back on the boat, evening was already falling. There was a magnificent
sunset right over the river. We could hear the monkeys and birds cackling in
the trees. The jungle is never really a quiet place. And there were fireflies
everywhere along the river. Christmas lights is what our guide called them.
You couldn’t help but break out into a Christmas carol. It was a very full and
fun day. It was almost sad to get
back to the boat because it meant that we would heading off to Singapore the
very next morning.
October 12-18, 2004 -- The journey to Singapore was a long one. We started out very early from
Kumai in Borneo, where there was a terribly heavy fog. Out into the Java Sea
we went, but there was absolutely no wind. We basically ended up motoring for
700 miles. We had days where the water was so calm it looked like glass.
Every night we got to dodge cargo ships, fishing boats, and fishing nets.
Just about every day we would take a lovely shower off the stern of the boat
using seawater. This means getting a bucket and then dumping lovely, cool
water over your head. With the weather being so hot and humid, showering was
definitely the high point of the day. On days like these, you have to keep
things interesting. Thankfully, we have a good supply of books and movies on
board. I read at least 4 books on the way to Singapore. We must have watched
at least 10 movies: I Robot, Elf, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (don’t
waste your time on this one), Under the Tuscan Sun, Zoolander, Ocean’s 11, The
Manchurian Candidate … etc. And then of course, there are board games. Now, I
am not claiming to be a genius, but I am a fairly good Scrabble player.
Scrabble can definitely make a passage more interesting, especially when the
opposing player wants to change all the rules. (I will not be naming anyone,
but let‘s just say that I squashed him!) <smile>
The big event during this passage to Singapore was our crossing of the
Equator. When someone crosses the equator for the first time, there typically
is hazing or a party or something. Well, the Abbotts suggested a few different
scenarios: walking the plank, climbing to the top of the mast, … What we ended
up doing was rigging a hammock up to the boat which could be raised and
lowered. I was then ceremoniously placed into the chair and at the appropriate
time lowered towards the swirling sea where I could dip my toes into the
water. I was a little scared at first to think of being dangled over the edge
of the boat, but it was actually quite a bit of fun and very comfortable just
hanging there in the sea breeze. Now David was controlling the wench that
raised and lowered the hammock. I ended up getting a little more wet than
expected. However, I can now officially claim the title of Shellback (one who
has crossed the Equator).
The last obstacle we faced before arriving in Singapore were the shipping
lanes. Singapore has a huge harbor with hundreds of ships coming in and out
every day. Getting through the
lanes of traffic was kind of like playing that computer game Froggy. You have
to dodge this way and that just to get out the way of enormous cargo ships.
They come roaring down the shipping lanes at 30-40 knots. As we sailed into
the Singapore Straits, Sea Tjalm’s engine stalled and sputtered just as a tug
was bearing down on us. We thought were going to have to tow Sea Tjalm, but
thankfully their engine started back up again. You have absolutely no rights
as a sailboat in the shipping lanes. Just about all you can do is bounce in
the wake of these huge ships. Singapore was covered by a layer of smog, but we
could just make out all the skyscrapers rising out of the haze. It looks like
we have arrived in the Big City. We are going to be staying at a place called
Raffles Marina and I am sure we will have more adventures to tell.
October 19, 2004
-- What a cool place we are staying at. Raffles Marina is by far one of the
nicest marinas we have stayed at. There is a hotel here and a great pool with
water slides and waterfalls. Our very first evening here we jumped into the
pool for a rinse off and it was fabulous! Singapore gets better and better.
Their public transportation system reminds me of places like NYC, Chicago, and
Paris. It is just a hop, skip, and a jump to get anywhere. This city is very
much East meets West. I have never seen a place so well organized, marked, and
clean. Singapore is an island, a city, and a country all in one. They have 4
official languages here: English, Chinese, Malay, and Hindi, which reflect the
major ethnic groups living here. Today David and I walked all over the city
exploring different streets and shops. We are planning on staying here for at
least 1 week, so there will be lots to do and see. More adventures to follow.