Dodgeball in the Strait of Malacca

JC Strait Malacca

Whacked out from the lack of sleep and constant maneuvering in heavy shipping traffic–with 500 miles to go. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

It’s not just any dodgeball. The ships I am dodging in the Strait of Malacca are displacing up to 500 million pounds. A collision with one of those is gonna leave a mark. Underway on a rainy night in poor visibility, it is all I can think about. That, and the dozens of unlit fishing boats in front of me laying nets and longlines from the edge of the shipping channel to the shoreline.

I had always known that getting adequate sleep underway aboard Flying Fish was going to be the greatest challenge of sailing alone. A neurosurgeon who moonlights as my health counselor suggested that lack of rest might become more dangerous than any other risk I would encounter on this voyage around the earth. Until this week, lack of sleep had not been an issue. Then I entered the Strait of Malacca.

The Strait is a narrow, 550-mile stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. As the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the most important–and busiest–shipping lanes in the world. It is only about 1.7 miles wide at its narrowest point near Singapore but nearly 100,000 vessels pass through it each year. This shipping traffic accounts for one-quarter of the world’s traded goods, including some 16 million barrels of oil each day.  In addition, in 2018, there were eight reported piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Strait of Malacca and near Singapore, according to ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre, an agency that tracks attacks against ships in Asia.  In 2019, China raised the alert status to its highest level of security for their flagged vessels transiting this choke point. 

So what was Flying Fish doing among this volatile mix? Answer: Trying to get from Point A to Point B without coming into contact with rocks, drift nets, long lines, high-speed ferries, or tankers displacing a half-billion pounds of crude oil.

Flying Fish covers an average of 130 miles per 24-hour day. The 550-mile leg from Singapore to Langkawi is about four days of sailing. No big deal on a journey that has already taken me halfway around the globe, right? Wrong.

On the open ocean, I can sleep. I go over a formal checklist before I close my eyes: I review my charts for shallow water. I do a thorough horizon scan. I look at my radar and check for AIS returns. I check current satelite weather charts, I set a course and confirm the autopilot is holding accurately. Then I arm multiple alarms–depth, wind, shipping, proximity, and time. I set two alarm clocks with different tones and I wear a watch on my wrist that shrieks and vibrates like a creature in extremis. Then I can sleep for an hour or two and sometimes longer in the open ocean with good weather. This is how singlehanded sailors rest offshore.

Inshore there is always high anxiety when I close my eyes. I still use the formal checklist but the alarms are set for 15 or 20 minutes. In the Strait of Malacca I would sometimes find traffic converging in less time than that. In the 15,000 miles until now I had never encountered such busy water. Anchoring outside of the Strait was not always an option so I decided to stay awake at night and take quick catnaps during the day. That didn’t work, either. I became deliriously exhausted.

From the log of Flying Fish 14 January 2020:

“All is well at 03:00. There is traffic in the Strait, commercial vessels and fishing boats, but the spacing is good. An overcast sky hides the moonlight. There is light rain and a fresh breeze. Flying Fish is sailing well to windward. I am tired. There is no place within 20 miles to anchor. It is only three hours before first light, daybreak always energizes is me.

In the next moment it is 03:08! I stare at my watch in disbelief. What just happened? Proximity alarms are blaring. Control lights at the helm are flashing. I immediately look to the bow and see a bright green starboard running light directly in front of the mast. What is happening?

As I jump up from the cockpit seat my head, and then my mouth, collides with force against the hard fiberglass surface of the spray dodger. I hear my front tooth crack and then taste shattered enamel.

I disengage the autopilot and swing the boat hard to port. The rain on the windscreen of the dodger distorts everything. I brace for impact.

Within seconds I realize that I am looking at MY starboard running light. There is NO collision imminent. The shipping traffic priority alarm is just notifying me that a fishing boat has entered my radar’s Guard Zone perimeter a mile ahead. Everything is working just as it should—except for the captain.

I lost 8 minutes somewhere. I fell asleep sitting up. I was disoriented and nonfunctional when the alarms went off. It is unquestionably the worst mistake a helmsman can make. I fell asleep at the wheel. In a busy sea lane. With poor visibility … The blessing is that I did not hurt anyone.”

When I am finally at anchor in the lee of a small Malaysian island I put myself through a mental review to understand how to prevent this scenario from ever happening again. I realize that publishing this log opens me up to a rush to judgement regarding this mistake. A ship’s log is something different to each captain but I believe it should be a personal testament. Writing it helps me to organize my thoughts. In this situation, it is also a catharsis.

I understand I must better manage fatigue at the helm when I am sailing alone. I have also decided I am not going to fix my tooth. Every time I look in the mirror and see the chip out of my front tooth it will be a visual reminder to me of how a simple mistake can have serious consequences in a place like the Strait of Malacca.

AIS

The AIS (automatic Identification System) returns shows shipping traffic in only a few miles of the Strait of Malacca near Singapore. Flying Fish is in the crosshairs at the lower left.

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2020

 

 

 

Singapore to Suez (maybe)

Singapore Skyline.sm

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 go.statue.sm

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2020

 

 

Indonesia Farewell

326DE474-6B09-4A9A-A797-9DD3CA24E463

Dayak children in the river village of Sungai Sekonyer want to save the world. The village is comparatively prosperous with half of the adults working as river guides and rangers in the national park, and the other half working for the palm oil industry.  Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

Indonesia, its people and their environment, are on the threshold of a major sea change. The capital of Jakarta, already overcrowded and toxically polluted, is now sinking into the ocean.

The proposed solution: Move the capital to the jungle of Borneo and start from scratch–the equivalent of moving Washington D.C. to the Florida Everglades (no wisecracks please about Washington already being a swamp.) This move to Borneo would install Indonesia’s government seat of power in a place where nature already rules.

Jakarta’s proposed move to Borneo is a metaphor, of sorts, for issues bedeviling many developing countries I have visited on my circumnavigation in Flying Fish. It is a familiar story of unchecked commercialism fueled by the overwhelming pressure of tourism complicated by too many mouths to feed resulting in the degradation of the natural resource and the quality of life of its inhabitants.

Jakarta is currently sinking at a rate 6.7 inches per year, and in 30 years it is estimated that 95 percent of North Jakarta will be submerged, according to a report in Singapore’s Business Insider. The rapid urbanization of 30 million people in Jakarta’s greater metropolitan area as well as the uncontrolled extraction of ground water for mega malls and luxury hotels is draining the Java aquifer. The result is that the ground under Jakarta caving in.

Critics say that dropping the government seat of Indonesia and 1.5 million new residents into a natural habitat like East Kalimantan, Borneo is a recipe for environmental disaster. The location of the proposed new city is surrounded by Kutai National Park, known as a sanctuary for some of the last wild orangutans in existence. Deforestation has already been a problem in Borneo for decades. Its rainforests have been slashed and burned to make way for gold mining and palm oil plantations. Between 1973 and 2015, Borneo lost some 16,000 square miles of its old-growth forests due to land clearing and burning. That deforestation has released a steady torrent of carbon emissions, along with other forms of pollution such as carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ammonia. In 2010, land clearing for palm oil plantations in Kalimantan alone released more than 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – about the same as the annual emissions of 28 million cars, according to the research journal Nature.

7402B94D-4CC5-4F87-A999-C63758BFF247

A wild orangutan mother nurses her baby with equal attention focused on potential threats from human visitors. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

Everywhere Flying Fish has visited in Indonesia there have been similar conflicts of man and nature competing to survive.

In Bali, the long-tailed macaque monkeys are so integrated into human society that in places like the Uluwatu Temple they harass visitors for food (and sunglasses, jewelry, wallets) and then masturbate in front of tourists if they don’t get what they want.

From Lombok, Flying Fish sailed to the Gili Islands where the water demand for tourist resorts is so acute that small vessels work at all hours transporting tanks of fresh water from the mainland to the resorts.

At the remote island of Bawean in the Java Sea there is a stunning variety of coral species. Sadly, some of the most exquisite coral has been trampled underfoot by subsistence fishermen who walk over it at low tide.

Nature is not at fault here. We are. We are loving the world to death.

Other examples in Southeast Asia of extreme human pressure on the environment: Maya Bay in Thailand had the misfortune to be chosen for the set of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach. Before the movie, Maya Bay received about 100 visitors a day. After the movie that number climbed to 5,000 people per day. Over a million tourists swarmed the beach in 2017 and an estimated 80% of the coral in the region was destroyed due to the impact of overtourism.  In June of 2018, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation announced that the natural habitat might be irreparably damaged. Four months later, the Thai government shut down the beach indefinitely.

In 2012, the magazine Travel+Leisure declared Boracay in the Philippines as “The Best Island in the World.” Boracay is less than four square miles but by last year 6.6 million people annually were inundating the island. Sewage was running from hotels directly into the ocean. Inspectors found over 800 environmental violations. Figures showed that the rubbish generated per person on Boracay was more than three times higher than in the capital of Manila. The Philippine government shut down the entire island to reconstruct the infrastructure and give the natural habit time to rest.

In July, the Indonesian government announced that it would close one of its most iconic destinations, Komodo Island, amid concerns that increasing numbers of tourists were affecting the animals’ mating habits. Food handouts were making them docile. In addition, there were also people stealing dragons and selling them on the black market. Last year, nine men were arrested on suspicion of selling more than 40 Komodo dragons for about $35,000 each. Then, in an abrupt about-face, the Indonesian environment ministry cancelled plans to close Komodo Island to tourists and instead proposed targeting visitors with a $500 USD entry fee. Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat, governor of East Nusa Tenggara, told the UK Guardian, “Only people with deep pockets will be allowed to [see Komodo dragons]. Those who don’t have the money shouldn’t visit the park since it specifically caters to extraordinary people.”

Nearly 200,000 tourists visit Komodo each year, many with a bucket list ambition to pose in a selfie with “one of the world’s most deadly reptiles.” Aboard Flying Fish I had intended to do the same thing until I realized how humiliating it would be to both the lizards and me.  Flying Fish sailed past Komodo Island and I wished the dragons good luck.

Humanity.sm

Graffiti marks a hewn tree stump on the beach at Gili Air. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

I did not begin this voyage with preconceived ideas of how, or exactly where, I would travel. The joy of travel, for me, is in its fluidity. As I prepare to leave Indonesia I do so with a heavy heart. I have fallen in love with this country, and with its people.

I think about Commandant Lahan Bacho of the Indonesian Coast Guard who welcomed me onto his ship and into his home in the Kai Islands. Despite knowing I was Catholic, he invited me join him at his mosque where we prayed together.

Indonesian Commandant Lahan Bacho, at the helm of Flying Fish. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

Jamil Udin is a Renaissance man in the tiny Lombok village of Ekas. He is an entrepreneur in his 20s who runs a single-counter general store, a homestay for surfers, he’s a mobile phone provider, a tour guide, and a fixer. He’s also the village nurse, and he delivers babies.

On Gili Gede I met Alain Nedelec, a French expat and his Indonesian wife Ita, owners of the eclectic Tanjungan Buket restaurant with a kitchen serving exquisite French/Indonesian cuisine.

A happy mob of Indonesian kids entered my life (and my heart) one Saturday on the beach at Selong Belanak as they joined 20 million volunteers worldwide picking up garbage on World Cleanup Day.

One night in Bali I fell under the spell of the gorgeous Yeye Luh Swastini, a living Hindu deity, who presented me with a bronze statue of the Indonesian Goddess of the Sea, Nyai Roro Kidul. The goddess is often described as a mermaid, a mythical creature said to be able to take the soul of anyone who she wishes, and she usually prefers handsome young men. That rules me out.

Forever memorable was 20-year-old Diaz Nugraha, aka the Reptile Boy of Borneo. For three days he showed Lilly and me the wildlife of Tanjung Puting National Park, including a baby spitting cobra, brightly speckled water monitor lizards, tarantulas, scorpions, hornbills, a spectacular False gharial crocodile. He also introduced us to the magnificent orangutans of Borneo.

Croc.sm

A False gharial crocodile warming in the sun near the headwaters of the Sekonyer River in Kalimantan, Borneo. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

In my farewell to Indonesia I cannot help but wonder what the future holds for these people, and the places that they call home.

###

I want to extend love and gratitude to my daughter Lilly who joined me for six weeks aboard Flying Fish as we sailed through Indonesia.

LC Diaz River.sm

Lilly and Reptile Boy Diaz Nugraha riding the riverboat deep into the jungle of Borneo. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

I will be taking a short sabbatical from Flying Fish to visit my home in Key West for the holidays. I will return to the boat in Singapore in mid-January to continue my passage west toward Africa and eventually back to Florida. I hope you will continue to follow to voyage of Flying Fish.

NOTE: On passages when I have no cell or WiFi signal, I activate 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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

 

 

 

 

Into The Northern Hemisphere

DCIM136GOPROG0065428.JPG

Flying Fish, becalmed, at Longitude 105 03’.603 E and Latitude 00 00’.000 N. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

It is now autumn in the South China Sea. An hour ago it was spring. There was no winter. It is always summer on the equator. We have sailed from the Southern Hemisphere into the Northern Hemisphere. The ship’s log shows 14,971 nautical miles.

It is fitting that my daughter Lilly has joined me on this passage. Exactly 620 days ago, Lilly and I sailed together from the Northern Hemisphere into the Southern Hemisphere, at a point southeast of the Galapagos, on a westbound passage to Tahiti and beyond.

The equator is 24,901 miles long. On land it crosses the Batu Islands of Sumatra, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The equator passes through the mouth of the Amazon River, the pre-Colombian ruin of Catequilla, the island of Isabela in the Galapagos. It continues westward through Oceania near the atolls of Aranuka, Nonouti, and Kirbuti. The equator meets Indonesia at the Gebe Islands and continues through the Halmahera Sea, the Molucca Sea, and the Java Sea. It crosses Borneo at Pontianak. Finally, at Longitude 105 03’.603 E and Latitude 00 00’.000 N, it is where we meet the equator today.

Sailors have always noted crossing the equator. In the 19th century (and later) line-crossing ceremonies were sometimes brutal events. Pollywogs, as first-timers were called, were beaten with boards and wet ropes, and often thrown over the side of the boat and dragged from the stern. Charles Darwin notes in his diary that on his first crossing of the equator he was “placed on a plank” and tilted into the water after having his face and mouth “lathered with pitch and paint.”

Lilly and I have celebrated our two crossings more moderately. A small ration of rum followed a voluntary swim as we crossed over the invisible line. Our event is recorded with a portrait of a young sailor at peace in the sea.

Surface of Water

The equator, from above the surface of the water in the South China Sea. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

Indonesia: Part One

Tuti and Friend.sm

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

Flying Underwater

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A purple Porite dome suddenly appears out of the underwater haze. It is a massive community of living coral polyps. Photograph: © Jeffrey Cardenas

During a drift dive the underwater world passes by as if in a dream.

Usually I search for clear and still water where I can free dive slowly to observe the minutiae of subsurface life. On this day, however, I am letting the wonders of the ocean unroll before me like a movie reel as I drift over the reef in a three-knot current. I am being towed along by a rope attached to my inflatable dinghy. The water is silty, stirred up from a large breaking swell, but I savor the muted detail and color as I am pulled swiftly past the underwater landscape. I like knowing that my propulsion today is powered solely by the gravitational pull of distant celestial bodies.

It is said that these large underwater boulders known as Purple Porites are the most unappreciated of all coral species on the reef. They wow me. I like how they suddenly appear out of the underwater haze—a massive community of living coral polyps that somehow has evolved to be colored purple when everything else around it is tan or green or brown. They are sometimes etched with the bite marks of parrotfish. Often the Porites will have colonies of Christmas Tree worms flowering in their substructure. I wiggle a finger at a worm as I drift past and its spiral of feather-like tentacles zips closed into the security of an inconspicuous exoskeleton.

A drift dive is like listening to soft music. The current carries me in a state of consciousness that seems just out of focus. It is meditative and relaxing. I have to remind myself not to become so complacent that I drop the line to the dinghy as I drift swiftly toward the Indian Ocean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Christmas Tree worms blossom on a mound of tan Porite coral. Photograph: © Jeffrey Cardenas

###

 

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

 

It’s What’s For Dinner

Chicken dinner plucking

Fresh ingredients: From free-range chicken to dinner table, an Indonesian reminder of where our food originates. © Jeffrey Cardenas

I often forget about the process necessary to bring food to my mouth. Tonight that process is in my face.

I have ordered grilled chicken from the blackboard menu at Nusantara, a tiny, thatched roof Indonesian eatery on the water at Gili Gede. Casual restaurants like this are common everywhere in Indonesia but two things make Nusantara stand apart.

It begins with the restaurant’s proprietor. Fitriah Rahmadany is a 25-year old who has just embarked on her first entrepreneurial enterprise. She was born here. She is bright, happy, and optimistic. “Some days we don’t have any customers,” she says with a smile. “But we are always ready for them.”

Chicken dinner hug.sm Chicken dinner Fitri

Fitraih is always ready because the ingredients for items on her menu are walking around in the restaurant. There is no sentimentality about preparing them for supper.

The process begins when a chicken is caught by the feet. A quiet prayer is said and the chicken’s head comes off with a swift cut of a knife. The body is dropped briefly into a pot of hot water which allows the feathers to be easily plucked. The organs are carefully removed and threaded onto a homemade bamboo skewer for later preparation. The whole chicken, feet included, is then lathered with a creamy coconut curry sauce. Ten minutes after the knife, the chicken is becoming food cooked over a fire of sweet-smelling coconut husks.

I am not being flippant about this process. It is a meaningful experience for me to watch an animal killed to feed me. The meal is delicious, but it is more than that. There is a life force that accompanies my grilled chicken supper tonight.

Chicken dinner.sm

###

 

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

The Eternal Life of Medusa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some species of jellyfish have evolved to allow perpetual regeneration–the secret of eternal life. © Jeffrey Cardenas

This exotic Indonesian bell jellyfish first made its presence known to me this morning as a splash of fire against the side of my neck. The microscopic nematocysts—spring-loaded darts of toxin—got my attention as I snorkeled over a coral wall near Pulau Gililayar. The pain was not as intense as that of a Portuguese man-o-war, and nothing like the box jellyfish that can and has been fatal to some swimmers.

Once the sting subsided I took a few moments to observe my antagonist, and then later read up on it.

According to Dr. Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a jellyfish researcher based in Tasmania, when some species of medusa die they sink to the ocean floor and, amazingly, their cells then regenerate into polyps. From these polyps a new jellyfish will emerge. This means that when certain jellyfish become weakened either by age or illness they can call up this incredible survival mechanism and transform into an entirely new being.

Jellyfish have evolved to learn the secret of eternal life.

“This was a real mind blower for all of us,” said Dr. Gershwin in a recent BBC interview. “It’s one of the most amazing discoveries of our time.”

I’ll take a little shot of pain anytime to learn about something as fascinating as the life, death, and rebirth of jellyfish.

###

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

The Colors of Tual, Indonesia

Tual City.med

On the Tual side of the archipelago of Kei Islands these homes–and a mosque–were painted to honor a visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

In the Kei Islands of Dullah and Kecil a narrow wooden bridge seperates the cities of Tual and Langgur. One side is Muslim, the other side is Christian. Together they are one Indonesia.

Centuries ago, the islands were located on a key maritime route of the spice trade which extended from the Moluccas southwards towards the Lesser Sunda Islands and Java. By 1610, the Dutch East India Company had become the dominant power and Indonesian elders were replaced by Europeans.

During the Second World War, Japanese soldiers landed in the islands. The Dutch were unable–some say unwilling–to defend Indonesia, and two days after Hirohito surrendered in 1945, Indonesia began a bloody war of Independence with the Netherlands to gain their sovereignty.

Tomorrow marks Indonesia’s Day of Independence.

Tual Indonesian Girl

A young Muslim girl wearing a hijab meets Flying Fish docking at the Tual Coast Guard wharf. Photograph © Jeffrey Cardenas

###

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: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish 

Please subscribe at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new post, 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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

Goodbye Oceania, Hello Southeast Asia

Wing and Wing Westward.sm

Flying Fish sailing westward, downwind, wing-on-wing. © Jeffrey Cardenas

I remember with vivid clarity the moment 20 months ago when Panama’s Miraflores Locks opened and Flying Fish was floating for the first time in the Pacific Ocean.

Tomorrow I begin my departure from this beautiful ocean–with so many memories–and sail onward toward the new and strange world of the Indian Ocean.

There is no mechanical demarkation between these two oceans as there was at the Panama Canal. Still, I sense the mingling of these ocean waters. I am leaving the Coral Sea to the east, transiting the Torres Strait, and crossing west into the Arafura and Timor Sea–from Oceania to Asia. I will linger for some time in Malaysia and Indonesia before deciding how, when, or if Flying Fish will make the nearly 5,000-mile passage across the Indian Ocean to South Africa.

It was suggested that better routing might be across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and into the eastern Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. If that happens, Flying Fish would be hitching a ride on the deck of a freighter in an armed convoy past Yemen, Somalia, and the Gulf of Aden. I’m no Rambo.

But those are thoughts for another day… Now, the focus is on tomorrow.

There are 18,307 islands in the Indonesian archipelago and I don’t want to touch any of them with the keel of Flying Fish. I am prepared and well-rested. My various body parts have healed completely from previous onboard dramas. The sailboat is tuned and ready for new water. Onward!

FF pano

###

Today’s log entry and position of Flying Fish. 

As I mentioned in the last post I have activated a satellite tracking link that shows the daily position, current weather, and includes a few personal thoughts from my daily log. 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 you can click this link: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish 

Please subscribe at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new post, 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: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019