Indonesia: Part One

Tuti and

The daily burden of subsistence fishing to feed their families doesn’t diminish the welcome Indonesians offer to a stranger.  Photograph: © Jeffrey Cardenas

As Flying Fish continues its aquatic walkabout around the globe, I sense an acceleration of the calendar and de-acceleration of time spend under sail. It’s time to start moving again.

This week begins a new chapter in the passage of Flying Fish. My daughter Lilly joins me in Bali and we will spend a month together sharing the view of each new horizon. This is every father’s dream.

This shifting of gears also gives me an opportunity for reflection on the past 60 days in this unique and surprising country.

I had originally intended to bypass Indonesia completely. “You will hate it,” a sailor told me on the dock in New Zealand. “I just got back,” she said, “and every beach was knee-deep in garbage. You will suck up plastic into your boat engine intake as soon as you start it.” She continued: “Nothing you have is safe from theft. Indonesians will steal you blind.”

I wonder what Indonesia she visited.

Her exaggeration was unfair. Of course Indonesia is not as clean as New Zealand. Nowhere is. Indonesia is a developing country, and perhaps that is what makes this place stand apart. The Indonesia I have encountered is a country that shows its visitors no acrimony–regardless of differences in race, religion, nationality, economic disparity, or even awkward bad manners. I have never felt threatened. Nothing has gone missing aboard Flying Fish, not in the most remote anchorages or the busiest of ports.

No person is a societal expert of a foreign country after only a two-month visit. I have prayed in mosques and churches and temples where I was warmly welcomed regardless of which deity was in my thoughts. Indonesian Muslims and Christians and Hindus are not fighting each other over words and possessions. They co-exist in kindness.

That’s not to say this archipelago of 18,307 islands is Eden. There is more plastic in the ocean and on the beaches than in many other countries I have visited aboard Flying Fish. The coral reef is extraordinary but in some place locals still utilize blast fishing methods, stunning fish and destroying coral with homemade bombs in Coke bottles filled with layers of ammonium nitrate and kerosene. On some islands there are areas of poverty that are heartbreaking.

Nonetheless, whatever Indonesians have they are willing to share, even with those of us who come from the land of plenty.

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It will be nice to become reacquainted with Lilly. I haven’t seen her in more than a year–she’s a pilot now!–and an expert sailor. Lilly will help me guide Flying Fish through the wilds of Borneo. We will take river trips in search of wild orangutans. We will look for the primitive divers of Sulawesi who spearfish using only their lungs and a pair of wooden goggles. Our destination will be Singapore from where Lilly will return to her work in Lahaina and I will leave the boat for a month to visit family in Key West.

Going forward after the new year… who knows? Maybe Phuket and Sri Lanka. Africa for certain, either via the rough-water routing around the Cape of Good Hope, or the risky passage through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal and Eastern Mediterranean. There is only one shot at life and the acceleration of the calendar reminds me to live each day.

Lilly JC Duke

“Out Of The Water I Am Nothing” — Duke Kahanamoku. Lilly and Jeffrey after a morning surf session together at Dreamland, Bali. Photograph: Ria Wahyuni / Drifter Surfshop

I hope you continue to follow to voyage of Flying Fish

For upcoming passages when I have no cell or WiFi signal, I have activated a satellite tracking link that shows the daily position, current weather, and includes a few personal thoughts from the daily log of Flying Fish. I will not be able to respond to messages via satellite but I love the idea that you are sailing along with me. If you would like to follow the daily progress of Flying Fish into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean via satellite you can click this link:

Please subscribe at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update, and consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish.

To see where Flying Fish has sailed in the past year click here:

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

14 thoughts on “Indonesia: Part One

    • Hello Charlene, As a fellow ocean voyager you know that the number of destinations possible to visit is limited. I want to be everywhere and see everything but the reality for me is to find the joy and beauty in whatever place I drop the anchor, and not to angst over places I might never see. I’ll experience Raja Ampat through your words and photos 🙂


  1. Jeffery, It was 47 years ago I spent 3 months in Bali. Surfing such great breaks as Ulu Watu, diving and touring the island. Was a wonderful experience and its great you can share that now with Lilly. Safe travels…. Gary


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