Singapore to Suez (maybe)


The architectural brilliance of Singapore rises from the South China Sea. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

Just as I was finalizing the complicated routing of Flying Fish from Singapore to the Suez Canal, a war of words punctuated by rockets and drones once again inflame the Middle East. The shipping lane where the Gulf of Aden meets the Red Sea passes a mere .88 nautical miles from the shoreline of Yemen. Suddenly, I really miss Polynesia.

I have returned to Flying Fish after a six-week sabbatical in Key West where I was wrapped in the love of family, friends, church, and community. I even managed a rendezvous with my wife in Paris on the flight home. I also found time to visit the family I love in Havana. I share this personal information because it adds relevance and a point of reference to my decision to continue sailing–often alone–around the world. This short sabbatical at home reminds me that I need to make my decisions very carefully now. 

Flying Fish has logged some 15,000 miles–halfway around the world–since leaving Key West two years ago. There have been visits to paradise along the way (Huahine!) and a few moments of drama (nearly losing a toe to an errant hatch board) but no leg of the journey so far has presented the challenges that lie ahead.

I set sail tomorrow into the Straits of Malacca, a narrow, 550-mile stretch of water between Singapore, the Malay Peninsula, and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. This is the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 100,000 vessels pass through the Strait each year, carrying one-quarter of the world’s traded goods. Flying Fish will be one small blip on a very busy radar screen.

Ahead lies Malaysia with its historic megalopolis of Kuala Lumpur and the scenic wonderland of Langkawi. At the northern end of the Straits, Thailand beckons with the crystalline water and sugar sand beaches of Phuket. Then it is time to turn Flying Fish westerly and follow the path of Venus into the Indian Ocean.

The journey going forward will take me past Sri Lanka, India, and to the Maldive Islands some 1,500 miles away in the center of the Indian Ocean. The Maldives are made up of a thousand individual islands and some, like those on the Baa Atoll, have bioluminescent beaches that glow at night.

I plan to linger in that glow of bioluminescence because it will be at this point that I will have to choose to sail Flying Fish to either the north or the south of the continent of Africa. Either way I go, this will be a sailing passage that will require my undivided attention.

Cape Agulhas at latitude 34.8311° S is the geographic southern tip of Africa and the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It is one of the roughest bodies of water on earth. North through the Suez Canal is the more logical route except for its history of piracy and the fact that the United States and Iran are threatening mutual mass destruction. Conflict in the Middle East goes back 1,400 years to the death of Mohammad in 632 A.D. The Red Sea Passage transits the heart of one of the most contentious places on earth. 

I never anticipated that this sailing voyage around the world was going to be all coconut palms and hula dancers. I have always accepted the risk because the rewards are so great. I can imagine no fate worse than ending my life on earth fat and bored and sitting in a chair in front of a TV with a gin and tonic in my hand…

I know a surgeon who volunteers vast amounts of his time, talent, and treasure working with Doctors Without Borders repairing gunshot wounds in war zones around the world. He sent me a note this week, signing off with the well-known quote from Friedrich Nietzsche:

“The secret of realizing the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment of existence is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships out into uncharted seas!”

And so I

NOTE: On passages when I have no cell or WiFi signal, I activate a satellite tracking link that shows my 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 2020



21 thoughts on “Singapore to Suez (maybe)

  1. So glad Hayden shared your post as I’ve been wanting to see what is new in your journey. Absolutely love your posts! I’m all signed up so as not to miss another update. Keep your toes out of the hatches!


    • Scott, I like my toes. I don’t want any more toe trauma. It took doctors in Australia a month to get the wound closed and the infection out after that “flying hatch board event.”
      Thanks for reading the posts.


    • Key West was more beautiful than I remembered, Marilyn. It has recovered from Hurricane Irma, the orchids are beginning to blossom, and it’s still a little island where you can get anywhere on a beat-up bicycle. It’s a good place to come home to.


  2. An interesting post Jeffrey. Both of us decided individually to make the African choice. Reason being is that you are in charge of your destiny. You can chose the weather to make the rounding and there is much support and experienced advice. The other Middle East choice is totally out of your control and in the hands of religious maniacs. Please keep up regular posts on your journey as many will be thinking of you. Our blessings go with you. Patricia and david.



    • Dear Patricia and David, You two were in contact with me during one of the darkest moments of this journey. Knowing that you had handled emergencies during your circumnavigation gave me the confidence to keep calm during mine. I will carry that confidence as a gift from you to me until the day I secure Flying Fish to the dock for the final time.
      Thank you.


  3. I love you, Silver Fox. Tom and I looked for you in the Charlotte airport. Our heads and hearts are with you. Safe travels to you, our Amazing Adventure Dude!


  4. Sending you my love and prayers for a safe journey across the other half of our world. What an amazing journey. I admire your endurance, bravery, knowledge and Free Spirit! May God continue to hold you in the palm of His hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeff Part of your ongoing journey sounds scary.Hope you won’t need them but be sure you are WELL stocked on shot gun shells.Watch out for pirates.They can be nasty,just ask Tom Hanks.God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Phil. I appreciate the advice but I’m not a gun guy. A gun onboard Flying Fish would cause more danger than good. Research the sad death of Sir Peter Blake, one of the most acclaimed and experienced sailors of this age. He was killed when he emerged for his ship’s cabin with a gun in his hand to confront pirates who had come aboard in South America.
      Guns work aboard boats for some people but I don’t believe a gun would be prudent aboard Flying Fish.
      Thank you for your thoughts.


  6. Jeffrey
    I would love to suggest you take a chance and go the Red Sea route (without flying your American flag and removing Key West as your home port). So memorable and photogenic. Suakin in Sudan was perhaps the most memorable place I have ever been and I learned a great deal about grace in poverty. Oh, I forgot to mention the diving! The people we met along the way were cheerful and non threatening. Of course I know the warnings are dire and things are more tense now than they were ten years ago but perhaps you could convoy with others daring to go the same way.

    Take care,

    Let’s Go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim, Your comment means a lot to me. For a guy who has sailed more than 40,000 miles to recommend (with caveats) the Red Sea Passage carries a lot of weight.
      What I have learned from this most recent leg up the Strait of Malacca, however, is that singlehanded sailing doesn’t not work well in tight quarters with shipping and fishing traffic. (Read: Broken Tooth ) You gotta sleep sometime. Long open water passages might be better suited to my style of sailing.
      Thank you for your thoughts.


  7. Follow your dreams Jeffery. Thank you for allowing us to follow along. So sorry I missed you and Ginny over the holidays. Safe sails! Sending love xoxo


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