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Pick and Choose by Eric

Eric Rigney in appreciation of Indonesian temple art.

November 14, 2017

Mom fondly mused that children pick their parents. “For whatever reason, you chose me to be your mother.” Equally, I suspect we pick our life lessons. With time to reflect during watches (between Leslie, the boys, and me, we switch off taking control over our boat while we’re traveling across the sea: 2.5 hours on, 7.5 hrs off), I often mull over thoughts. This one bubbles up often, especially when I’m questioning what the heck I got my family and myself into.

The choices we make line up the challenges we’ll face: relationships, faith, education, career, health practices, entertainment, where we live, attitude, etc. “Why me?” thus becomes, “Why did I?” and “What did I learn?” or “Am I learning?” Finding myself in an overall healthy condition (kidney stones and depression are my crosses to bear), I realized years ago my problems were of my own making, and as such, took responsibility for them. I took the next step of preferring my problems over those of others, not wishing to swap mine for anyone else’s, instead, guarding mine jealously, appreciating I’d have to assume all of another person’s issues, not just some. In my view, one doesn’t get to select individual problems like dishes from a restaurant menu; we instead acquire a set of interconnected problems, more akin to owning a restaurant. My restaurant, I decided, could be made to work productively enough for my goals, even ambitious ones, like sailing around the world on our own.

Rapid river falling and making the most of it on Lombok Island, Indonesia.

To what degree we consciously, subconsciously, and/or unconsciously take on our challenges depends on our circumstances and our willingness to drive our own lives, and the goals we set forth for ourselves. Surging down the flow of life, it can be difficult determining the size of our rudder and how much of that rudder is actually in water. Given events effect how much we can steer our course. Am I in a rapid river in flood, a gentle stream in ebb, or a stagnate pond? Is my course with or against the flow? If against, how hard should I battle it? How big and reliable is my motor. In order for a rudder to have effect, the boat must be making way in the direction in which you wish to travel. Consider boat speed vs. speed over ground (SOG). Our boat can motor up to 6-6.5 knots. If I’m motoring against a 7 knot current, I’m going backwards, -1 knot over ground. Regardless how great the effort I make, I’m not going where I want to go. So I must ask myself, will the current change with the tide, a new phase of the moon, or a season? If so, when, and then what? Should I tuck away temporarily into an eddy, or anchor in place or somewhere downstream? Or maybe I should gamble and try to find if there’s a counter-current able to lift me against the prevailing current (In a current 4-6 knots against us in Indonesia, we found a 2 knot counter current motoring up Alor, pushing our 6 knots up to 7-8 knots over ground in the direction we wanted. In order to catch the counter current, we gambled, having to steer within 100 yards near shore where an uncharted underwater rock could have significantly damaged our boat.)

Heading up Western Alor, s/v Sundance followed closely behind. Note the many currents.

Or, is there something downstream that would be great to experience, taking the current I have and making it in my favor? (30 years ago in Hawaii, I skipped Molokai and sailed directly to Oahu for this reason). Or once secure, should I look into plucking myself completely out of the waterway and dropping myself into another, predictably more favorable circumstance. For instance, we sometimes leave our boat in a marina and drive, ferry, or fly to a location rather than beat ourselves up to get there in our boat. Choices – none particularly ideal over another, but rather, which ones get you closer to your ultimate goals. We weigh whether specific paths and ports support our overall goal of gaining worthwhile life experiences as a family sailing around the world. These decisions are impacted by the fact that we have limited time and funds. Clearly we have to respect seasonal weather patterns and political climates. Consequently, we don’t see everything that’s possible to see. “Can’t kiss all the girls,” as one sailor says.

Attraction, not rejection, drove me. My goal was conceived at age 14. I believed in it so much, I willingly chose, and asked my wife, to step away from an awesome job and neighborhood to achieve it: to sail around the world with our two sons. I did not move away from my land life, I was not fed up with America and the American way of life. I moved toward a lifelong goal, an experience. I had faith that in achieving this goal, my family and I would ultimately be the better for it, learning and growing in ways I don’t think we could have, had we stayed in our wonderful lives without interruption.

Crew Kandu crossing the international date back to the northern hemisphere.

Although I expected some, I really did not anticipate just how much emotional, physical, and financial pressure that decision would fully bear. Obviously, these problems arise from my decision to sail around the world. Thus there’s no place for “poor me.” It’s more, “Well I didn’t expect that one…,” and “Guess I needed to learn that lesson…,” and “Now what are we going to do?” Seldom are the lessons painless; rarely are they unimportant. The real test will be to see whether, after I return, I internalize and incorporate the lessons into daily practice. Consciously, I chose this path, for now, not forever. Hopefully I will return to California a tad wiser and happier. Interestingly, since leaving California, I have not suffered depression. I’ve had one kidney stone, and it was minor, passing within an hour on its own. And as for our sons, I can’t know the affects this trip will have on them. Regardless, it’s not my fault. For better or worse, according to my mom, they chose Leslie and me.

Time to wake Bryce up for his watch.

 

 

Singapore by Trent


In just 200 years the small island of Singapore, perched at the very end of the Malaysian peninsula, has turned into a high-tech city  country with a multitude of humongous high-rises housing 5 million people. Singapore is going to be celebrating their 200th year anniversary, from 1819 to 2019, in two years.

The country of Singapore is 269 square miles. Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, is 4 times larger with just a fifth of the population. The people in Singapore are a mix of 74% Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indian, and the rest are foreigners. They speak many languages Malay, Mandarin Chinese, English, and Tamil but they often speak ‘Singlish,’ a combination of Malay, Chinese, and English. Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore in 1819 when it was just a fishing village and turned it into what it is today. The favored Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, served from 1960 to 1990 after Singapore declared independence in 1963. Religions are freely practiced in Singapore and Mahayana Buddhism is the most practiced, but they also practice Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism. During my stay in Singapore my favorite spots were the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the adjacent Gardens By the Bay. We also visited Little India and looked in a lot of shopping malls.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel is impossible to miss. It has three 55-story hotel towers, and all three are connected by a roof terrace that looks like an enormous surfboard. The hotel has 2,561 rooms. Just across the street the Marina Bay Sands Mall has two movie theaters, an ice skating rink, and two crystal Pavilions. At the very top of the hotel they have an awesome infinity pool, one of the nicest swimming pools I’ve ever seen and certainly the highest.

Trent Rigney enjoying the high sights atop the Skypark of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore.
Downtown Singapore view from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel….forest of highrise buildings as far as the eye could see.

We ate ‘linner’ (late lunch/early dinner) on top of the surfboard at the ‘Skypark’ restaurant, but only guests can swim in the pool. But the best part about going to the hotel is The Gardens by the Bay, a nature park, located just across the street.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

The gardens are so big they’re divided into three sections: Bay South, Bay East, and Bay Central. It reminded me of Disneyland. The gardens were planted with over 250,000 rare plants, and of course the 16-story, man-made ‘supertrees’ that collect rainwater and solar power especially built for observation are impressive. Bryce and I walked on the skywalk, which is suspended between two ‘supertrees’ and has a great view of the garden and the hotel. At night they say they have a great light show.

Bryce and Trent Rigney strolling the Gardens by the Bay and Supertrees in Singapore.
Bryce and Trent Rigney enjoying the Supertree Skywalk at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Singapore has tons of high fashion specialty malls. Orchard Road is a great shopping center like Rodeo Drive in LA or Union Square in SF. We only had a little time in Orchard Road, so we visited the ION Mall. The ION Mall had the most expensive things I’ve ever seen. My favorite things in the mall were the Golden Phantom speakers, best speakers in the world. It’s too bad we couldn’t see all the malls but we had a great time visiting the best ones.

Eric & Leslie Rigney at ION mall, Orchard Road, Singapore.
Interior ION shopping mall, Orchard Road, Singapore. Xmas decorations in October!
Devialet’s Gold Phantom speaker.
Trent Rigney taking a break from window shopping at Orchard Road, Singapore.
Bryce Rigney posing for Hermes and CocaCola in Singapore.
Singapore’s Orchard Road – a high end shopping district on a late Wednesday afternoon.

At the entrance to Little India are two specially made great elephants decorated with colorful plastic flowers like a Rose Parade float. Little India is a great place to find cheap food and cheap clothing. I bought my favorite shirt here. They have many Hindu Temples in Little India. ‘Sri Veeramakliamman’ is the most colorful that we saw and well crafted in Little India. We spent a lot of time in Little India. We happened to be there during Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights celebrating good over evil. The streets and stores were festively decorated with hundreds of worshipers milling around in traditional Indian dress making their way to the temples to worship.

Deepavali decorations at the Serangoon Rd entrance to Little India, Singapore, Oct 2017.
Little India’s Deepavali elephant decoration demarking Sarangoon Road, Singapore, October 2017.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple with Rigneyskandu people watching during Deepavali Hindu Festival of Light Celebrations, Oct 2017.
Bryce and Trent Rigney thought Little India’s ‘celebration of lights’ decorations were impressive.

I had the best time in Singapore: hotel room, Wi-Fi, and hot showers are all things you forget are really cool until you have them again. It’s really interesting how often electric scooters are used in Singapore and they even have scooter tours which I would have loved to try.

So, over all, with so many cool places to see and things to do, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go back to Singapore in the future. Thirty-six hours just wasn’t enough time to spend in this interesting and complex city.

Before you leave Rigneyskandu.com, take a look at our new Singapore photo gallery located under ‘Recent Photos’ on the main page headers!

Daily Log Indonesia: Onward to Timor’s Wini and then Alor

Traditional Indonesian fisherman with his sailing outrigger.

8-29-2017

Much has transpired since leaving Rote Island. We sailed our way back to Timor and headed north of Kupang to a small village called Wini where the rally was scheduled to stop. Quiet place. Leaving Kandu for the day, we bus-toured east to the border of Timor Leste (East Timor). The previous Portuguese colony fought for independence during a twenty-plus year bloody civil war starting in 1975 until gaining full independence in 2002. Close to the border, a Leste guard beaming a smile, beckoned openly that we should break international law and come visit his country. We smiled back and waved.

Border marker between Timor and Timor Leste.

We also enjoyed a fabulous local market chock full of interesting vegetables and some tropical fruits we previously had neither seen nor tasted – the ‘specially fragrant’ and unforgettable durian being one of them. Once you smell it, you’ll never forget it!

Durian – the smelly tropical fruit prohibited on buses and indoor public buildings.
Bryce, Trent and Rainer eyeing the Indonesian pastries.
Eric Rigney befriending the Wini locals.

The Wini local rally organizers held a simple dinner for us with music and dance. They offered us gifts of their lovely scarves that the local women weave here in Indonesia.

Wini welcome dinner of Sail Indonesia Rally 2017. Pictured: Complexity, Grand Cru, Esprit III, Wassyl. Notice the colorful scarves around everyone’s neck.

Off to the island of Alor, we stopped briefly at a fisherman’s pearl farm bay for a night tucking in along the southwest coast. We all wanted to swim, but instead explored from the safety of the siderail the world of rather innocuous yet scary looking jellyfish with Rainer Dawn and Sue Hacking from S/V Ocelot.

Later that evening, the adults from Grand Cru, Esprit III, Ocelot and Kandu enjoyed cocktails in the roomy cockpit of Ocelot, the lone catamaran while the boys enjoyed popcorn and movies. Great hors d’oeuvres and conversation made for fun camaraderie and conversation among cruisers. We miss our Polynesian cruiser family, yet we’ve been learning a lot from our new cruising family and are enjoying meeting different, yet like-minded people. We come in many shapes, sizes and from different countries: that night from Australia, South Africa, Washington and California states.

 

Map of Alor Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

Motoring north around the western tip of Alor island, our next destination, Kalabahi, is located at the very end of a long wide fjord found on western Alor. The area is known for it’s spectacular coral gardens due to the cold swift currents passing by the islands generally from north to south. We were dramatically introduced to these currents on our way to the fiord pushing against their strongest at 5 plus knots on our nose. For hours we inched 100 yards off the bank of the channel in search of a counter current, which we on occasion successfully caught. What would normally take with the current a couple hours, took us against the current most of the morning. Once in the fjord heading nearly due east, the current abated significantly and we made excellent progress with just a one-knot counter current while dodging large anchored fishing platforms. From the entrance of the fjord, it took three more hours before we made the end of the bay and finally anchored off Kalabahi.

Fishing platforms in the western fjord of Alor heading to Kalabahi.

Kalabahi city is not a usual Indonesian tourist destination. The streets are not slick and tidy. It’s a bit dirty with plastic trash littering the sides of the street, river bottoms and the water where we anchored. It’s the principal city of Alor and the center of that region’s administration encompassing 4 to 5 neighboring islands. Many children on canoes approached our boat hoping for treats or gifts. We gave out writing pens and paper, some canned meat that I didn’t want, and a few candy bars. After that, whenever we were aboard, the children returned demanding more.

While walking the streets, our tall, blond haired, blue-eyed boys were sought after for photo ops by giggling girls. The local boys looked on in bemused and rather sullen silence.

Several boats of our rally arrived a day before schedule. Rally tourist organizers quickly finished a specially made dinghy dock for us and scrambled to push up events, setting us up with a nice tour of the island including a visit to a traditional mountain village known for it bronze drums and where the religious structures were built side-by-side, Muslim and Christian. The Vietnamese drums, likely found or traded centuries ago from Chinese ships, are today used by families to support marriage proposals.

Rainer Dawn, Bryce Rigney and Trent Rigney at the Traditional Village near Kalabahi.
Traditional headgear of the Alor regency.

Later that day, we were invited to visit the Alor regional museum that was heavily guarded and only allowed visitors by reservation. It was rather sparse and limited in local information. Pictures of the past and recent Regent Governors were prominent – all looking like military dictators. The tour continued with a boxed lunch on the beach and culminated in a rather arduous hike to visit a waterfall, especially enjoyed by our rambunctious boys. Sporting a dress and flimsy flipflops, after slipping and sliding on the muddy path, I opted out of that activity.

Eric Rigney and Bryce Rigney cavorting at the Kalabahi waterfall.

The next day with friends Bolo and Natalia from S/V Wassyl hailing from Poland, we headed off for a day of drift diving. The density and diversity of coral life and multitude of colors were beyond our previous diving experiences.

Polish friends Wojciech Maleika (Bolo) & Natalia Ptasinska from S/V Wassyl getting prepared for our first dive!

There were fernlike plants (actually animals) that curled up when touched, and thousands of small iridescent colored fish darting and swarming all over the underwater landscape. We later learned that all the ‘soft coral’ can move around to more nutrient locations like starfish. Neat.

Fabulous cultural interaction included witnessing the Indonesian Independence Day (August 16th) where locals reenacted their fight for Independence from the Dutch in the 1950’s – It was an amazing show!

Indonesian Independence Day Festivities in Kalabahi, Alor.

The day after, local rally organizers honored us with a beautiful welcome ceremony featuring two beautiful local dance troupes.

Bryce and Trent Rigney surrounded by beautiful Indonesian dancing girls.

Later that day, we were invited to walk in the ‘Indonesian Independence Day’ Regency parade where participants wear costumes representing their customs and traditions. Plus, that night to top-it-off the outstanding festivities, we were dressed-up in local attire to share dinner with the Regent Mayor. Wow! Our experience in Alor couldn’t have been more full and dramatic.

Eric and Leslie Rigney dressed-up in Pantar costumes ready to dine with the Regent Governor.

The three teenagers Bryce, Trent and Rainer escaped the girls to have a bit of fun one early morning before the wind picked-up skurfing behind Wee Kandu in the middle of Alor’s deep fjord adjacent to Kalabahi city.

 

Surf – a priority

Ventura’s friendly and convenient surf scene made getting Trent and Bryce into the sport a natural endeavor.  We had previously provided them the “Waikiki” experience when they were very young, surfing in Hawaii on long foam boards with push-offs from the instructor.  Twice they had a week of summer camp surf lessons in Ventura, but nothing compares to the surfing experience they’ve had over this past year.  It’s made a significant difference in their abilities and in developing their passion for the sport.  They currently surf a couple times a week, and frequently more.  They have two surfboards and a Boogie board each.  Although Leslie and I do not surf (yet?), we’re making surfing a priority on this trip.  We’re getting great tips on where to surf in Baja and the Galapagos.  At Wood Shop at Cabrillo Middle School, Bryce laminated strips of wood and fashioned them into a beautiful hand-planer.  I never saw one before.  They are a micro wooden Boogie board that you hold on the hand, extends in front of yourself as you catch a wave, which creates a longer water line, making you go faster with greater accuracy.  As you glide through the water with accelerated speed, you take body surfing to another level.

Bryce monitors surf conditions in front of the Ventura Yacht Club.
Bryce monitors surf conditions in front of the Ventura Yacht Club.

Daily Log Indonesia: Kupang, Timor of East Nusa Tenggara Province

8-10-2017 Leslie. Once our paperwork and international clearance was handled coming into Kupang, Indonesia, we were treated to well organized Sail Indonesia 2017 rally events including music, dance and food.

For us newbies to Indonesia, all the new colors, sounds and tastes are magical. We enjoyed the above presentation of the Rote Island Hat Dance featuring a representative phallic appendage on the front of the hat; the dance is also representative…. The island of Timor is the furthest east in Indonesia in the East Nusa Tenggara province, so the residents don’t encounter many white-faced tourists. Many times we are approached to pose for selfies with the locals.

We spent two days with a wonderful guide touring the area. He brought us to visit his elementary students for an hour-long session of English conversation. The visit ended with a song – the all too familiar: ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes.’ We visited the local vegetable market seeing for the first time the many exotic food items for sale.

Kupang Local Market
Leslie Rigney with local watermelon seller.

A pause to feed local macaque monkeys peanuts was a highlight along with the chance to refresh ourselves hiking down into a deep cavernous cave where we swam and BnT jumped off boulders alongside a group of local boys.

Lokasi Wisata Alam Gua Kristal: Kupang Crystal Cave, Timor Indonesia

That clear water cave pool was a bit salty. It turns out the cave is linked to the ocean which scuba divers have been known to pass through. Our tour reached a climax at a local waterfall, Oenesu Waterfall, which was also being visited by local dare devil teenage boys who insisted on posing for a photo with me! Bryce, Trent and new yacht friend, Rainer Dawn, fit right in, jumping off the high wall into a deep pool below.

Leslie Rigney at the center of local teens at Oenesu Waterfalls, Kupang, Indonesia.
Rainer Dawn, Bryce and Trent Rigney jumping Oenesu Waterfalls, Kupang Indonesia.

Incidentally, on the first day of our arrival in Kupang, I was approached by Sue Hacking from s/v Ocelot regarding our sons. She and her husband Jon are hosting their 15-year old nephew, Rainer Dawn, and was excited for him to meet other cruising teenagers. The three boys immediately made fast friends and we invited him to join us on our upcoming quest to surf at a neighboring small island known as Rote.

Jon and Sue Hacking – Rainer Dawn’s Uncle and Aunt from Seattle, WA.

Daily Log Indonesia: Rote Island, Nembrala Bay

Kandu guys hoisting Wee Kandu onto the beach at Nembrala Bay.

8-11-2017 Leslie: 12:45 am.

Nembrala Bay on the southern tip of Rote Island was gorgeous with a wide white sand beach lined with palm trees. Numerous fishing boats of all sizes, makes and models anchor inside the reef that is renowned for its fabulous surf. Pigs and piglets run freely on the beach while people come and go loading and unloading boats. The tidal effects are dramatic with the water rising halfway up the beach during high tide, and disappearing at low tide leaving a wide grassy reef spotted by exposed starfish.

On Nembrala Beach, Rote, aside from surfers you find many fisherman and free roaming piggies.

The boys surfed everyday, the first day being the best due to a daily downshift in the swell. Rainer didn’t go out the first day as the wave action was too big, but by the second day, the swell died down and Rainer was able to join in the fun. He boogie-boarded with fins. Trent and Bryce both used their GoPro video cameras and captured some good images.

The second morning along with s/v Esprit III (Dirk and Annie), I had a chance to visit the local produce market. It was fabulous and colorful. I bought the local version of spinach and a zucchini type vegetable that I had learned to like in Vanuatu along with papaya, mangos and a full bag of little squids which I turned into the most delicious breaded calamari. MMMmm good.

Dirk and Annie from S/V Esprit III

We found the local road well paved and the town busy albeit small. Animals – cows, pigs, chickens and goats run around freely untethered…not many dogs, and didn’t see any cats. A group of girls went gaga when the 3 boys, trim and fit, sporting tank tops with their blond hair well-trimmed earlier by Eric, walked by. The threesome looked like movie stars straight from LA. We enjoyed a couple inexpensive dinners out: our first restaurant bar encounter was located right on the beach during the most exquisite sunset and low tide.

Nembrala Bay Sunset, Rote Island, Indonesia.

The last night, we walked through a well-maintained residential district looking for a local, but rather hidden away pension/restaurant/hotel that was advertised in lonely planet. We finally found it just after sundown – it got very dark fast! The location was cheap, clean and modern with good food, ping pong, CNN and interesting conversation with the local surfer/owner from Australia. We actually got a little international news for the first time in months, ie: North Korea and Trump butting heads. We sure hope no ‘fire and fury’ ensues on Guam. That would be a bad day! From the age old Spice Islands, all that drama seems so very far away.

Rainer Dawn, Bryce Rigney and Trent Rigney engaged in their ‘boat schooling’ lessons.

Daily Log: Indonesia, Here We Come!

Tipperary Waters Marina farewell to Uncle Joel Curry and Uncle Curtis Rigney.

7-30-2017 At Sea After Darwin

Eric: 1:00 am. Left Tipperary Waters Marina yesterday. Uncle Curtis and Uncle Joel returned Bryce and Trent to the boat from Zen Hotel at 6:30 am. I was still asleep having rebuilt the head and solved the RO unit’s airlock problem up until 1:45 am. Took last hot water shower for a while during which Bryce and Trent rinsed the deck with fresh water one last time. Said our goodbyes to Curtis and Joel. Sad. They were so generous to us. Their presence with us made Darwin a special stop. Entered lock at 8:15 am.

Eric Rigney getting Kandu in position for the start of Sail Indonesia Rally.

Motored for 60 minutes to the start line. Passed the start line 5 minutes behind the first boat under sail. Curtis and Joel hitched a ride on the committee boat, Spirit of Darwin; we saw them waving. We sounded our siren and air horn and waved goodbye while Trent made bubbles. Flew genoa, staysail and main. Lots of fun sailing so close to other boats. Very festive!

Trent Rigney bubbling-it-up at the start line of Sail Indonesia 2017.

Winds bearing to broad on starboard. Sailed 7 knots average for first 6 hours. Great start. Delorme inReach not working. Frustrating. Another thing to fix. Ugh! Tonight, winds are light. We’re motor sailing with several boats, about 4-5 nearby. Pleasant. I had a terrible headache before dinner. Thought my head was going to explode. Must not have drank enough water. Better now. RPM meter having problems. Another must repair.

Leslie: 7:00 am. Beautiful sunrise and sky: mauve color at the horizon until just before the rising of the sun, changing color to a fluorescent-like brilliant salmon color, then morphing to yellow rose or peach. Now the sun is peaking out. The small crescent shape changes quickly into a half sphere. A minute later the entire body of the sun is a brilliant incandescent yellow ball of fire. From its first appearance to completed sphere the process is less than 3 minutes. Once above the horizon, the blazing ball is so bright that I can no longer stare at it. My vision has sun spots. The color of the ocean was black and now it’s indigo. There is just a slight breeze dimpling the sea; it doesn’t have the smooth mirror quality when there is no wind. We are motor-sailing. The light swell is perhaps 6 seconds apart and 2 feet high. Our sails are constantly luffing making shuffling noises. The engine keeps us in a forward direction at just under 4 knots.7:20 am. The sun has risen a foot above the horizon lighting up the entire sky. Wispy clouds of soft grey purple still reside in the west. The clouds are too far away to be color infused by the brilliant ball of flame. 7:23 am – only just now do I sense heat radiating from the sun’s powerful flames. It’s going to be a hot day on the sea if the wind doesn’t pick-up. During the sunrise, I’ve been sipping my mocha and munching on apple slices plus day-old carrot bread that I prepped in advance to munch during the sunrise show. Four boats from our ‘Sail Indonesia’ fleet are plugging along northside of us. We’re all traveling a similar speed, motoring steadily along. I think we’ll raise the gennaker today. It looks like the weather conditions will be perfect for it.

Kandu flying her colorful gennaker and staysail.

8-2-2017. We made it to Indonesia and are anchored off Timor just outside the city of Kupang, our check-in destination, also Captain William Bligh’s ultimate arrival destination after being set adrift by mutiny first mate Christian Fletcher. Approaching the anchorage, we passed many fish pod bouys bobbing up and down. The south-western coastline up until the city is dotted with industrial-type manufacturing plants. Not many other structures. The flat land is dry, covered in yellowed plant-life. It is the dry season. Not mountainous in the southern part of Timor, the scenery is stark. Coming up on the anchorage, the many seaside block buildings announce a substantial population.

Kupang waterfront ocean viewpoint, Timor, Indonesia.
Kupang, Timor, Indonesia dinghy beach and waterfront.

Immediately surrounding the anchorage, cement houses are built atop boulders at the water’s edge. There is a small section of beach left vacant for dinghies and swimming. We later discovered that the town uses that beachside area for its public events.

Our check-in process went smoothly. All the officials were assembled in one room. We were boarded by 5 people: one was a jilbad head covered woman who acted as translator. They asked if we had drugs or alcohol. We admitted to both: morphine to counter the pain of Eric’s occasional bouts with kidney stones, and some bottles of rum and wine in our alcohol bin. They wanted to see the morphine, which I store in a plastic Kirkland vitamin bottle. The packet wrapped in unopened plastic is still intact since we first brought it aboard in January 2015. I explained that Eric hasn’t had to use it, but we have it on hand just in case. Regarding the alcohol, they simply indicated that we musn’t bring it ashore. We soon discovered that delicious inexpensive Bintang beer is available throughout Indonesia. In the hot heat of Kupang, a chilled beer hits the spot!

The Kandu guys: Eric Rigney, Trent Rigney and Bryce Rigney.

Finally, Darwin by Trent Rigney

Aerial view of Coconut island, Torres Strait, Australia

Sunday, July 30, 2017

It took us 24 days to get to Darwin, Australia. It would have taken 20 days, but we were getting so beat-up by the waves along the way, that we stopped and anchored at Coconut Island in the middle of the Torres Strait. After 13 days at sea, Bryce couldn’t stand staying on the boat, so he swam to the island not knowing that he was breaking the law. When he got to land, everybody said that he was really lucky that he survived because there are a lot of sharks and huge crocodiles swimming around there.I finished reading “The Golden Compass” series by Philip Pullman. I loved the books – They are now my second favorite series after the “I Am Number Four” series by Pittacus Lore.

Gorgeous Cullen Bay and the entry clearance pontoon pictured down right.

When we finally got to the Cullen Bay pontoon at Darwin on Friday morning, July 21st, I really wanted to go to land, but I had to wait for quarantine and that took an hour or so. Once cleared by biohazard, customs, immigration and two sniffing dogs, we went looking for lunch. We found a great burger place called Lola’s.

Lola’s Restaurant Bar at Cullen Bay, Darwin, Australia

It had a ton of cool vintage stuff and colorful hanging decorations almost like going to the fairgrounds or Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. After lunch, I wanted to stay on land, so Bryce and I walked to the city to find a city tourist map, a McDonald’s, a skate park and the movie theater to find out the movies playing and their times. It was an hour walk both ways. It felt good to walk, but it was hot.

Later that evening, it was decided that we’d all take a bus back into town even though dad hadn’t slept for 24 hours. Bryce and I wanted to watch Spiderman, but it was very expensive, so just Bryce and I stayed to watch it. Mom and dad left to explore the city without us because we had already done that. The movie was great. We all took a cab home.

Kandu at Tipperary Waters Marina

The next morning, we motored over to Tipperary Marina Waters where we had a dock slip waiting for us. Before leaving, we filled up our diesel tanks with a hose. That was one of the easiest diesel refills ever…no jugs, no filters – diesel pumped straight into the tanks without worries of poor quality, dirt or water! It took us an hour to motor over to the marina, and since they have an 18-foot tide in Darwin, the marina had a lock. It was really cool entering into the lock, having the solid doors close behind us, and then rising up to the level of the marina water. We entered the lock at the closest time to slack tide to make the levels as equal as possible.

We washed down the outside of the boat and cockpit. Then, I took a long hot shower. It was very nice. A little later we got dressed-up and left for the ‘Sail Indonesia Rally’ Welcome BBQ held at the Darwin Sailing Yacht Club to meet all the other people sailing in the rally. The Bali dancers and the food were great, but the event got boring once we ate, so I played rugby with some little kids on the grass.

Uncle Curtis arrived the next day on Sunday, but before he arrived we had to do boat work like cleaning the back lazarette and anchor locker, dry the gennaker, new measurements for staysail halyard, washing and scrubbing the deck twice, fixing toilets, etc. Dad had a huge list that we worked on all week. Once Curtis arrived, we all ate together at the local Frying Nemo snack bar and then Bryce and I got to go with Uncle Curtis to sleep at his specially reserved hotel room. It was really nice with air-conditioning, a living room and separate bedroom, a small kitchen with fridge, stove, oven, sink, dishwasher, pots, dishes, a balcony, hyper fast wifi, a pool, a small washing machine for laundry, and most importantly, hot showers whenever we wanted with fancy towels!

Monday morning, we had an amazing tasting breakfast at the hotel buffet with Curtis before we had to return to the boat to get to work. Mom washed our massive 24-day collection of laundry at the marina coin operated laundromat, and we worked on cleaning the bottom of the boat. Dad had to replace the heat exchanger and repair the engine with a marine mechanic specialist. Curtis picked up some chicken for lunch, which was a tasty break. We worked a bit more on boat projects, then skateboarded to Curtis’ hotel for the night. Mom prepared dinner from the rest of the wahoo fish that Bryce had caught in the Torres Strait and we taught Curtis how to play Carcasson, our favorite board game that Curtis had actually given us before we left. We also enjoyed the speedy wifi!

Bryce’s second wahoo was WAHOO BIG!

The next day, Tuesday, mom and dad came to the hotel and ate breakfast with us because we said it was so good the day before. And it was great again! Bryce and I skateboarded back to the boat for more work projects. We finished at 2:00 pm. Without mom since she was working at the hotel on our website, the four of us drove to the mall. We ate at Pizza King and I had a double chocolate muffin. I also bought a really nice metallic figit that was Aus$30 and got a cool plastic one for free – or two for the price of one. Bryce bought a high quality JBL speaker that’s supposedly waterproof. When we got back to the hotel, Bryce and I worked out at the hotel gym and then went swimming in the modern looking pool.

The following day, Wednesday the 26th of August, Uncle Joel was coming, but we had to work some more at the boat after all of us enjoyed another great breakfast at the hotel. We met Uncle Joel at the airport with Uncle Curtis around 1:00 pm. He dropped his stuff off at the hotel, then the four of us went to the mall again. I got an Australian straw cowboy shaped hat and Bryce got new wheels for his penny skateboard. We ate at Subway. I LOVE Subway!

Massive brute! This Australian Saltwater crocodile weighs close to 2,000 lbs.

Thursday, we went to Crocasaurus, a saltwater crocodile marine aquarium where they breed crocs and feed huge ones in front of the visitors. While the trainers are in a croc’s habitat to feed the beasts, they never turn their back on the massive creatures and always carry a big stick. The zoo had viewing glass tanks where you could watch the crocs up close swimming in the water. They had an area with a hundred small juvenile crocs, which we could actually feed with a bated fishing line ourselves. It was kinda like a carnival game holding the bate out to tempt the juveniles.

Plus – we had a chance to hold a baby crocodile while getting our pictures taken. The babies are already quite heavy. The massive male adults can weigh over a ton. The Crocasaurus marine park takes care of the troublemaker crocs taken out of the wild…ones that have gotten too close to humans. They breed the crocs for their expensive leather hides and good quality meat. Burgerstyle, the meat has the texture of chicken and a light flavor of fish. I liked it, but they oversalted it.That evening, we ate at a really nice restaurant where the beef steaks are known for their high quality, but are very expensive. I ordered the meat lasagna, which was so big I couldn’t finish it. Bryce split a steak with mom. Joel ordered fish. Uncle Curtis and dad both ordered the huge fancy steaks. It was all delicious. Bryce and I even got FREE ice cream. Yum!

The next day, Friday, was our last full day in Darwin. We worked a lot that day on the boat with dad while mom, Curtis and Joel went shopping to bulk up on staple western type food provisions for the next few months while traveling in southeast asia. When we finished our work, Curtis drove Bryce to the fancy skateboarding park that we located the day before, and I stayed at the hotel to do internet because I wanted to research buying a new penny board on amazon. That night we all went to Mindil Beach where food trucks and local artisans set up shop. Tons of the local people were there swarming the food trucks and cool artisan stalls. It was really festive. The food choices were incredible: Greek, Indonesia, Malaysian, Indian, baked potatoes with chili and most importantly, Australian kangaroo, croc or water buffalo burgers served with huge french fries.

The Road Kill Cafe offered Australian burgers of Crocodile, Water Buffalo & Kangaroo

There were amazing street musicians playing didgeridoos where a group of local Aborigines were inspired to get up and dance – Wow! Dad bought two didgeridoo music albums, I bought myself a cool tiger eye crystal pendant for improved concentration, Bryce bought a crocodile spine wristband, mom got a couple Indonesian looking longer length dresses in preparation for Indonesia and Uncle Curtis and Joel bought two Aborigine paintings to add to their art collection.

Didgeridoos for sale

On Saturday, having enjoyed our last night at the hotel, we woke up early because Kandu had an appointment to exit the Tipperary marina lock at 8:00 am. Uncle Curtis and Joel were at the lock waving goodbye. We made it to the starting line on time for the rally kick-off signal. While sailing past Uncle Curtis and Joel waving goodbye on the big rally coordination boat, we blasted our horn and I waved a bubble stick up in the air. Turns out the bubble stick presents that Joel gave were more fun than I expected.

Even with all the work and shortened time window, we had a great time in Darwin especially due to being able to spend so much quality time with Uncle Curtis and Uncle Joel. I liked the area so much, I hope to travel there again someday to visit the sites we missed: Kakado National Park and Aboriginal peoples, and the Litchfield Park termites.

Fortunately, we did get to see those scary crocs. The saltwater crocs live near rivers because they have to detox from the saltwater every so often. All river outlets in the Northern Territory are extremely dangerous. Did you know that Australia’s saltwater crocodiles were endangered and have now increased in numbers from 100,000 to 200,000 adults in the wild? The population of crocodiles in Darwin is as big as the population of humans. Those statistics are great for the crocs, but there is a price. People cannot swim in the local waters for fear of attack – no kayaking, long board paddling, nor surfing in the Northern territory. Instead, fishing excursions are very popular along with boat trips into the mangroves to watch wild crocodiles jump for fish on a stick!

Shades of Sea

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary definitions:

  • Blue- one of the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue); a hue of the clear sky or that of the color spectrum lying between green and violet
  • Turquoise- a variable color averaging a light greenish blue; bluish green
  • Aqua- a light greenish blue color
  • Aquamarine- a pale blue to a light greenish blue
  • Blue-green- a bluish green pigment
  • Cobalt- a greenish blue pigment; a tough lustrous silver-white metallic blue
  • Light Blue- a pale sky blue
  • Cerulean- resembling the blue of the sky
  • Azure- lapis lazuli- the blue color of the clear sky; the heraldic color blue; unclouded sky
  • Royal blue- a variable color averaging a vivid purplish blue lighter than navy
  • Sapphire- a transparent rich blue edging toward navy; a variable color averaging a deep purplish blue
  • Navy- a variable color averaging a grayish purplish blue
  • Slate- a grayish blue with a silver tint
  • Indigo- a variable color averaging a deep grayish blue; blue w/ a coppery luster
  • Silver- a nearly neutral, slightly brownish medium grey having a white lustrous sheen
  • Blue-brown- a group of colors between red, yellow and blue of medium to low lightness and of moderate to low saturation
  • Inky-black- like oil, very dark with no spectrum of light, almost seems viscous
Inky Black or Indigo?

Today, 2 days past the Torres Strait now sailing in the Gulf of Carpenteria between Cape York Peninsula and Darwin, Australia, the color of the salt water surrounding us is a translucent aqua, the color of an aqua marine gem, like the gem that my mother passed down to me set in a ring designed by my Uncle Denny. The water is so clear, if it weren’t for the whitewater chop and 6-foot swell, you get the sense that you could see exceedingly deep. The color gives me the false impression that the gulf is quite shallow, maybe 10-50 feet deep with a sandy bottom like in French Polynesia’s lagoons. However, consulting Kandu’s depth gauge, we measure 175-feet. As far as oceans go, this is somewhat shallow, yet no lagoon.

Aquamarine Blue

“Trent, what color is the sea to you?” sitting across from me in the cockpit. “It’s green and blue, so turquoise,” he said gazing at me uninterested while listening to ‘The Sing-off’ on his iPod. With the angle of the sun shining from the west at a little past noon, looking behind me to the east, the water is aqua with shimmering highlights of baby blue. There is a definite sense of coolness, but not cold, a thoroughly welcoming sight under the hot sun. Gazing west toward the direction of the intense sun, the color morphs into a deep sapphire or indigo blue with silver glistening on top as the swell leisurely rises and falls. Light winds, no clouds, slight cirrus wisps visible on the horizon 360 degrees around.

Turquoise

My unblemished mood is directly related to today’s genial ocean temperament.Circumstances in life provide a multitude of colors and moods, all of which are left to our own interpretation: good, bad, happy, sad, like the sea: magical, mesmerizing, meandering, monotonous, massive, morphing. Today the sea is kind and mesmerizing, tomorrow maybe not. She is a fickle beast, undeterred in strength and hue by us voyagers. But like all things in nature and circumstance, she isn’t personal in her charm or rage. We simply float on the surface, riding along while it suits us, tucking away close to shore if we can when her condition no longer warrants safe and breakage-free passage.

Royal Blue

When fathoming her magnitude, strength and changeability, this day, her color is expansive and her mood gentle, inviting. Aboard Kandu, we have witnessed most of her colors, those found in the color spectrum between green, blue, purple and inky black at night. One of my favorites being shiny slate, normally glimpsed at twilight or on a 75% cloudy day. Most other cloudless windy days her color all around is navy blue with sky blue highlights. That’s when we’re sailing in deep waters. When first approaching the more shallow Torres Straight, the shiny bright blue plastic color on the boys’ Skylander figurine Freezeblade, offered a distinct demarcation between deep waters and this new ‘other water.’

Freezeblade

It was as if we were entering an entirely different ocean, passing from cavernous shadow into liquid light suggesting a certain mystery. However, this afternoon, there is no hidden secrecy. The path is straightforward, lucid and clear, no humidity thus no haze. The sun shines brilliantly and the winds are fair, steady, not cold nor hot, not too strong – just right.

Leslie

 

Daily Log: Are we there yet? We’re coming Darwin….

Exhausted Captain Eric

July 12, 2017 – Damage Report – Eric

Damage Report: wind generator (dead), wind vane (chaffed), electric generator (doused), alternator belt (loose), sail sheets (frayed), water maker (impossible to run in bad swell), boat (water intrusion in unexpected places), propeller shaft packing gland (leaking profusely), forward head, (leaking), crew (tired), US flag (shredded like a Fort McHenry replica).

High winds 30-35 mph gusts +40 mph and 2-3 meter seas made upwind sailing difficult. Tried to use engine, but squeaky alternator belt made me nervous. Weather forecast 2-3 days same, so would have to navigate a precise route through Torres Strait at night with a tired crew, and a hard worked, wet boat. Leslie suggested anchoring somewhere. I made a VHF 16 call hailing the coast guard, but there was no response. When I asked “Any boats in the area?” a patrol boat “Cape Nelson” replied. I asked for advice and approval to anchor off Coconut Island. He agreed and said he would notify Australian authorities of our circumstance. Though choppy and windy, the anchorage along side the small island strip was a great respite. I slept for hours. When I awoke, I learned Bryce had swum ashore. I couldn’t believe he could be so ignorant: 1) no knowledge of tides or currents, 2) no knowledge of wild life – jellyfish, sea snakes, crown of thorns, crocs or sharks, etc., and 3) landing before we’ve officially cleared. At a loss as to what to do, I texted Curtis with our Delorme to make contact with the Coconut Island Police. They found and returned him via boat stating, “He is a lucky boy. Lucky to be alive.” The local policeman went on to explain that a previous boater who swam to shore was mauled on his shoulder by a tiger shark. Further, Bryce was swimming ashore close by where sea turtle entrails were being tossed in the water. Bryce was lucky also that his misstep (breaking international law) happened in Australia and not in a strict Islamic country. Before leaving, the policeman mentioned that the officials in Darwin had been contacted and would not be pleased.

7-13-2017 – Coconut Island. Got much work done on the boat!

7-14-2017 – More work, prepped for the next day’s favorable forecast.

Trent Rigney replacing our beaten American flag.
Retired American Flag

7-15-2017 – Pulled anchor 9:00 am. Passage through complex Torres Strait route went smoothly. Very relieved. Bryce caught 20” mackerel and 40” wahoo over 20 minutes. Awesome! Smooth sailing expected all the way to Darwin. Hope we can arrive during daylight hours. No moon then and the tidal variation is high: 18 feet low tide to high tide. Yikes!

Good fishing in the Torres Strait. Bryce landed two Wahoo and one mackerel.

7-20-2017 10:05 am. Almost there – Leslie

This morning the boat movement changed from slow and gentle downwind sailing to a close haul but with gentle seas. We are now healed over on a port tack flying all three sails: white reefed main and genoa sails plus our fluorescent orange staysail. A large pod of small dolphins played around our boat surfing the swell for about 15 minutes until they tired. Only five miles distance to Cobourg Peninsula on the top of Australia alongside Melville Island to starboard, saw a 3 foot sea snake squiggling on top of the water near the dolphins and a very large turtle just under the surface. Maybe the turtle was chasing the snake and got confused among the playful dolphins.

We were just hailed by an Australian Border Force aircraft flying over. The first time we were hailed was shortly after leaving Coconut Island by a border patrol helicopter. After the radio contact, Eric stated, “I read to expect many inquiries from Border Force aircraft almost daily upon entering Torres Strait. Afterall, neighboring island nations could experience unrest at any moment.” Since exiting Torres Strait, it was a straight shot of 550 miles with no obstacles except moving cargo ships. Now that we’ve turned the corner over Cobourg Peninsula heading south into Darwin, we are entering ‘Torres Strait’ navigational circumstances with obstacles and shoals, along with large commercial ships. Eric has configured myriad waypoints on our electronic navigation chart to direct our path avoiding all hazards. We expect to arrive tomorrow morning if the wind holds.

Wahoo tartar made with ginger, garlic, capers and olive oil. MMMM good.
Popcorn for dinner!