Sailing to Indonesia
During our sailing through PNG in the months of July through October, we have lost any faith in weather forecasts. Each time we prep for a longer passage, Mark sits at the nav desk diligently pouring over various forecasts that often contradict one another. Inevitably, two of the four models would be similar, while the other two were exactly opposite. Which one to believe? Does majority rule? In our experience, it is Russian Roulette.
The passage from Cenderawasih Bay around the corner to Sorong was predicted to be uncomfortable - winds on the nose and nasty CAPE activity that would surely result in many storms along the way. One forecast of the four, however, showed very light winds and calm seas. Mark’s mom was scheduled to arrive into Sorong in only a few days’ time, meaning we didn’t have much cushion in our sailing itinerary. We’d have to take what we were dealt for the 200-mile trek from Manokwari to Sorong. I popped a Stugeron tablet, doubled the Chana Masala I was making for dinner to use as leftovers, and mentally prepared myself for a rip snorter.
Turns out, the winds never came. The first 24 hours was supposed to be rolly and raucous, but instead it was placid and tranquil. Nada. Elizabeth kept looking out at the flat horizon sarcastically quipping, “Man, it sure is rough out here! This is one of the worst sails ever!!” Yep, this time, we were all relieved that the majority of the prediction models were completely wrong. However, I couldn’t shake off the tense anticipation, expecting the winds to pick up and the seas to churn beneath me at any moment. Turns out, the motors ran all but three hours of the trip, propelling us through glassy seas.
Timber wasn’t the only thing for which we were keeping careful watch. Occasionally, our radar would pick up tiny, motionless blobs. As we approached, a quick look in the binoculars would reveal a haphazardly rigged bouy, some marked with flags, others with a vertically lashed palm frond, somehow moored to the seabottom in a thousand feet of water. These Fish Attraction Devices (FADs) dotted the horizon and challenged even the most skilled radar-reading captain. All these possible obstructions required constant monitoring. Even a bathroom break warranted a substitute (usually junior) crew at the helm.
|Houses on water in Sorong, Indonesia|
|Diving live aboard boats in Sorong Harbor|
In the last few countries we’d cruised through, the cultures and lifestyles had been very similar to each other - Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and PNG. I’d grown accustomed to starchy root vegetables, chatting in rudimentary Pidgin English, and the slow, easy, no-fuss island life. Indonesia, however, offered our first glimpse of Asia. Somehow the few words and phrases in Bahasa Indonesian that we’d been studying on flashcards and the travel information I’d read in the Lonely Planet guide seemed alarmingly inadequate!
I remember having this same feeling many times during our travels. Initially, our move from suburban Colorado into a downtown apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina really rocked our world! I remember standing in the elevator of the apartment building, taking deep breaths and giving myself a pep talk just to get as far as the grocery store to buy something to make for dinner that night. Small steps. The past six years have required hundreds of similar small steps and pep talks. This travel thing is not for the weak or cowardly. We’re not vacationing here, this is an expedition into the unknown that requires extreme grit and grace. A journey of discovery about the world around us and the spirit inside us.
|Field Trip's new whisker pole!|
|Nice beach in Cenderwash Bay|