Category Archives: Experiential

Indonesian Variety by Bryce Rigney 2017

Indonesia, the planet’s biggest island country lying between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, consists of more than 17,500 islands packed into 735,000 square miles, an area one-thirteenth the size of America. Two hundred sixty-one million inhabitants make Indonesia the world’s fourth populace country, with more than half of the population living on the island of Java. Nearly 90% Islamic, Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. Considering the many immigrated cultures, religions, and 700+ diverse languages Indonesia harbors, it’s really a mystery how this archipelago ever came to be a single nation.

Centered in the middle of Arabian, Chinese, Indian, and Japanese trade routes, Indonesia was surrounded by great commerce and power. Indonesia’s wealth began around the 7th century when Asia first discovered and settled along the islands of Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan. To Asia’s surprise, valuable spices and pottery material were aplenty. In return, they bore gifts of forged metal, a new way of life, and new religions: first Hinduism and Buddhism, followed by Islam.

Buddhist Borobudur Temple of Central Java finished in 825 CE.
Hindu Prambanan of Central Java finished in 850 CE.

Christianity’s popularity grew later. For eight centuries the Asian powers controlled and held firmly their hand over Indonesian trade, until the 16th century. Hypnotized by the valuable spices and rare resources, Europeans such as the Portuguese, sailed across oceans, around continents, and unknown waters for the riches of the “Spice Islands,” taking over small ports along the way, eventually conquering Melacca in 1511. This was done in vain for once the powerful trade ports were conquered, nobody wanted to trade with them switching up trade routes. Eventually, after two years of spending money and losing lives, the Portuguese were squeezed out by the Dutch who gradually built-up trade with the locals and throughout the Indonesian archipelago and surrounding regions.

East India Co Trade Routes

In 1595, the Dutch set-up the United East India Company (VOC) and eventually ended up running what is now considered Indonesia. Grasping tightly onto their specialty of spices, the Dutch and Indonesians produced many crops. Indonesia’s early wealth revolved around their most profitable export crops, nicknamed “black gold:” nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper, sought after spices in Europe, more valuable than gold.

Nutmeg
Cloves
Cinnamon
Black Pepper

As the years passed, the Dutch became more and more entrenched, but despite imposed death penalties, spice plants were stolen and planted elsewhere in the world. Bit by bit the Dutch controlled Indonesia spice monopoly began to crumble in the early 1800’s. Housing a large population and a declining economy, the future seemed bleak. The Dutch crown had to take over the VOC and then lost it to France and then to Britain during Napoleon’s wars. Control to the Dutch was restored in 1816.

The Dutch then shifted their export production efforts to feed the growing demand for rubber, developing enormous rubber plantation, “white gold.” Tea, medicinal plants, cacao, tobacco, sugar, indigo and coffee exports were also developed. Due to their complete involvement in the various Indonesian islands’ economy, the Dutch improved infrastructure adding railway lines, shipping services and roads even while violently subduing the working people.

World War II was the final straw for the Indonesian people. They were taken over by the brutal Japanese where neither the Dutch nor the English were able to help. When the war was over, the Indonesians declared their independence on August 17th, 1945 from Dutch colonization. After several years of war with the Dutch, they were awarded complete independence in 1949. Today, they celebrate Independence Day every year on August 17th. We were in Kalabachi, Alor during this year’s Independence Day and were amazed by their incredible ceremony reenacting the gaining of their independence and the following day’s regional parade.

Alor Independence Day Re-enactment, August 17, 2017.

In most recent decades, declining rubber exports have caused Indonesia to shift development toward petroleum products (gas (LPG), crude oil, coal briquettes), gold jewelry, wheat, and the most profitable of all—palm oil or “yellow gold.” In 2016 Indonesia sold $140 billion (USD) worth of exports, palm oil contributing a tenth of that sum. Indonesia is one of the few countries with a trade surplus, compared to the USA who harbors a debt of $783 billion (USD). Yet even with a positive income of $8 billion (USD) Indonesia lies in a pile of trash.

Trash in the river water along a Kalimantan jetty.

With a decreasing economy and low income, we found ourselves surrounded by piles and piles of trash. During my time spent along the coasts of Indonesia, I developed a sickness of heart as the result of the expanse of polluted beaches, oceans, rainforests, and streets. While crossing over bridges, I saw painful amounts of plastic trash discarded along the riverbanks waiting for the rain to flush it all out to sea. This floating trash makes it dangerous for boaters to motor in Indonesian waters for fear of catching a few plastic bags in the prop like our friends on s/v Ocelot.

In the large fjiord of Alor looking toward Kalabachi from Kandu – plastic trash in the water.

In addition to polluted waters, hoards of fisherman struggle everyday, completely de-fishing their local oceans. Catching pre-mature fish, turtles, manta rays, crocodiles and sharks the size of your arm, these fishermen are relentless!

Indonesian fishing boat.

While passing nets 4 miles long and experiencing these haunting actions first hand, this traveling forces me to open my eyes to really see how humans affect their surroundings. Yet this traveling through Indonesia also brings me to appreciate the incredible beauty we have seen and been a part of.

But unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Like at home where precious resources have been squandered, Orangutans indigenous to Indonesia, are regularly killed and/or stolen for money. Palm oil implants destroy ecosystems full of endangered trees, monkeys, birds native to the islands along with the precious orangutans.

Palm Oil trees as far as the eye can see.

Yet in my three months of traveling in this region, the amount of “bad” in Indonesia doesn’t begin to measure against the overwhelmingly loving embrace the islands and the people give to total strangers like us. Exemplifying a generosity level of 100 percent, it’s hard to judge Indonesia just by their poor circumstances. Besides the trash and the loss of rainforests, it’s quite easy to love the culture and its people. With the hundreds of dinner invites and bonding photos with the local girls (etc.), I developed a great affection for the islands and their rich colors.

Medana Bay, Lombok Muslim Temple invited us to celebrate end of Ramadan fasting.
Belitung Students who came specifically to speak with Sail Indonesia cruisers.

Due to the many quick visits during the rally, it was difficult to appreciate all of what the villages had to offer. There is so much more than we got a chance to see: Raja Ampat and Papua New Guinea for the diving, and the Mentawai Islands of Sumatra for the surfing.

In just three months of sailing around, we experienced orangutan feedings, river tours, incredible surf, jungle hikes, national holidays, local feasts, temple & mosque visits, drum troupes, traditional dances, elephant rides, deserted white sand beaches, and we made life long friendships. My time amongst the Indonesian peoples was truly a blessing in “5D.” From inexpensive delicacies and ethnic spices, to billions of treasured photos, there will always be a place in my heart for the beauty of Indonesia and its culture!

Variety is the one word that best describes Indonesia. From the clearest of waters to the darkest of forests, Indonesia exhibits diversity of all kinds, most noticeable in their many cultures made up of varied peoples. Through the eyes of a 16 year old who has now left Indonesia with a sad heart, my hope is that more travelers will see and experience the fullness Indonesia can offer.

Sources: Website – Wikipedia, Indonesia history; Book – Lonely Planet, Indonesia; Kandu – Traveling by sailboat through Indonesia Aug-Oct 2017.

Leslie’s Letters: Kelimutu, Flores Island in Indonesia 2017

Kelimutu Tri-coulored Lakes, Flores Island in Indonesia

August 24, 2017 – Hello from Indonesia!

We have left Alor to visit the famous Komodo dragons, the greatest and most dangerous of monitor lizards. Along the way, we sailed over the northern side of Flores and anchored at Wodong Bay on beach-lined Maumere Coast where we took a day tour to visit the tri-coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu and to see the inland rice terraced agriculture.

Flores, Indonesia countryside: terraced rice fields.

We had the most incredible tour across Flores Island two days ago to see Kelimutu: the tricoloured lakes. In a van/bus for 14 people, 13 of us from the Sail Indonesia Rally traveled 4 hours up up up on solidly paved roads to the volcano craters. Gorgeous sites. Evidently, the crater pools change colours during the seasons and they were steaming – so must have been hot. The liquid looked viscous and thick like paint. The sides of the craters were so steep, there was no safe way to hike down to test the temperature.

Bryce Rigney pointing out our hike to the trip-coulored lakes of Kelimutu.
Eric & Trent Rigney hiking to the top crater lookout of Kelimutu.
Eric & Leslie Rigney at the tri-coulored lakes of Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia.

After leaving the Maumere coastline yesterday morning, we anchored around 4:00 pm in a lovely and wonderfully calm bay, Batu Boga East, last night on our way to Labuanbajo of the Western tip of Flores to try and witness some Flying Fox bats. No fox bats appeared in Boga but we got a chance to swim in unpolluted waters, take showers and get a great night’s sleep on glass as if we were docked in a marina. The surrounding countryside reminded us of California’s rolling hills or the Channel Islands like Santa Cruz or Anacapa, dry scrub. Civilisation felt very far away as there were only three minuscule fishing boats floating about and not one person around until we left this morning and saw those three fishing boats trailing lines or nets.

Batu Boga East, Flores, Indonesia.

It’s very warm out on the ocean – full sun from crystal clear blue skies. No wind – motor sailing on flat seas. Been having a little trouble with terrible noises howling from our engine room blower. Eric confirmed this morning that it wasn’t the water pump thank goodness. We will have to replace the blower sooner than later – maybe in Bali.

The locals have been extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Full of smiles. Apparently, Indonesia has the most muslims of any country. The outlying islands are 80% Christian, but as we approach closer and closer to Java, Bali and Sumatra, the muslim population will become more concentrated. Women and young women muslims wear scarves over their heads. The girls in Kupang, but especially in Alor were enamored with Bryce and Trent. They surrounded BnT constantly asking to take pictures. After the first hour, the boys lost their enthusiasm for it, but graciously continued to pose with them every time they were ashore.

Alor is considered the 4th most popular dive spot in Indonesia after Bali, Lombok, and Labuan Bajo. The four of us experienced the most marvellously scenic coral diving ever during two dives. The underwater flora was brilliantly coloured and enormously diverse due to the fast cool currents. There were no pelagic fish to be seen, yet the wall dive was swarming with small multicoloured specimins of the usual tropical suspects including banner fish, clownfish, moorish idols, etc.

We were in Kalabachi Bay, Alor when Indonesia celebrated their Independence Day on August 16th. Early at 7:00 am, an organised group reenacted the battles fought after WWII to become independent from Dutch colonisation…a five year bloody war. The spectacle was impressive.

The day after was truly incredible. We cruisers of the rally were treated to a beautiful opening rally ceremony complete dance troupe and special indigenous foods.
And later that afternoon we were asked to walk in their Alor Regency parade. It was a parade of all the peoples in costume, young peoples’ music bands, some cars but no floats. Pretty much everyone, even those from outlying neighbor islands and their small children under the Alor Regent seemed to be in the parade. It went on and on until dark…yet it was so very interesting as they all wore costumes from their region. We loved it. Then that night, we were invited to dine with the Regent of Alor and neighbouring islands…his position is similar to a Governor of a US state. The organisers of the rally dressed 7 of us cruisers up in their local costumes and we paraded into the dining hall as if in a fashion show. Eric and I actually sat at the Regent’s table, and while we couldn’t communicate directly, a translator stood nearby and helped the conversation along. A cappella, I sang “Quando m’en vo” from La Boheme as a surprise. The acoustics were perfect and there was even a stage. The Indonesians were quite astonished as were our fellow yachties! The food was spicy, many choices of meats and vegetables – lots of breaded and fried options. Instead of potato or taro chips, they serve deep fried shrimp chips and popcorn with peanuts. Tasty! No alcohol served. The prayers were Christian and ended in ‘Jesus Christ.’

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

Leslie’s Letters, August 17, Alor Indonesia

Traditional Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia headdress for men. Why is Leslie modeling it?

August 17, 2017    Hello Mom and Dad –

We have internet and I have a moment to write you a note.
Prior to arriving in Alor, we had used up all of our internet wifi credit – so late the first afternoon we arrived, we headed out to buy some ‘pulsa’ or phone and wifi credit for our devices. It’s all working great  now.
What a great few days we’ve been having since we arrived here in Alor, number four of the best dive sites in Indonesia. The first afternoon, after motoring just about all the way from Wini, we arrived around 2:30. We were anxious to head ashore, so the boys quickly unloaded the dinghy and attached the BIG outboard. We buzzed over to shore and were greeted by the tourist people who gave us the lowdown on the activities they had planned for us, where to pull out cash, to get diesel, to buy ‘pulsa,’ to get a friend’s front tooth veneer re-glued, to book a tour of the area for the next day and a scuba dive for today. So much to do!

Welcoming committee including our fabulous tour guide Itha Peni on the right.
Welcoming committee at the specially built Kalabachi dinghy dock.
 Yesterday’s tour started up the mountain to visit a rustic village. Not many people really live so rustic today, but it gave us an idea of what their huts looked like (raised with bamboo floors, a short ceiling on the first floor with a reinforced stone area for cooking all open air with a couple low partitions to designate kitchen and living spaces. A wood ladder directed to the second floor, where I believe they had their beds. A rather flat yet pointed in the middle thatch roof topped off the structure. Neat. There were women selling their wares and I bought an intricate bamboo specimen that I just couldn’t resist.
Rainer Dawn, Bryce Rigney and Trent Rigney at Kampung Traditional Village near Kalabahi.
Celebrated Alor Village wedding drums
Village Bamboo hut interior, Kampung Village, Kalabachi, Alor, Indonesia
Kampung village drums, Alor, Indonesia
Kampung Village, Alor, Indonesia.

The sights of the hillside were beautiful and then off to the hot water springs which were located very far inland via rough roads. It was rather underdeveloped as a tourist place, but interesting. Hot. Then to lunch on the beach. Lovely views under the shade.

Kalabachi, Alor countryside, Indonesia.
Bryce Rigney and Rainer Dawn building a rock cairn at the Alor hot springs, Indonesia.
Southern Alor beachfront – a perfect spot for our picnic lunch.

After lunch, we headed up the local hillside to a waterfall hike which was too much for me at a certain point wearing a dress and flip flops. The path was covered in slippery leaves and steep with no steps plus nothing to hold onto. I was certain to fall and didn’t like that prospect. The guys went (Eric was wearing his Teva’s and work shorts – well, and you know the boys – sure footed as goats). Off they went and had some great exercise visiting a small yet charming waterfall while I chatted with Ocelot’s Sue and John who are aunt and uncle to Rainer.

Eric Rigney and Bryce Rigney cavorting at the Kalabachi, Alor waterfall.
Today, we climbed aboard a very cool scuba dive boat, Indonesia style but designed by a German. The all day tour was GREAT – perfectly organised and wonderfully safe. The first dive was a fast current drift dive. I was wearing too much weight, so couldn’t get balanced right – yet I still enjoyed the absolutely stunningly glorious coral. The soft corals were the most alive and diverse I’ve ever seen. The second dive was even better as we swam about 55 feet down along a coral wall where the most beautiful ferns and glowing coral reflecting all colors of the rainbow were thriving from the cleanest and clearest water imaginable. Wow! The boys did great too considering how little dive experience they have had!
Idyllic blue waters of Alor, Indonesia.
Leslie Rigney getting mentally prepared for the first Alor drift dive.
Rigneyskandu Kandive Alor!
Polish friends Wojciech Maleika (Bolo) & Natalia Ptasinska from S/V Wassyl getting prepared for our first dive!

Delorme log Vanuatu to Darwin 2017 posted by Eric

This post is a little out of order (late) and perhaps a bit redundant,  but it’s a new category that we’re introducing since Eric recently figured out how to save our Delorme In Reach Satellite texts posted while sailing open ocean without wifi. Good luck deciphering the shorthand!

Avoiding a splash, Eric Rigney saves his dry clothes!

July 2, 2017 – Had a few probs yesterday. Water thru aft port lt, indoor fruit hammock ripped ceiling panel in half (too much fruit), engine won’t start, engine sips coolant (heat exchanger leak? $3k?), engine won’t start (fuel issue somewhere), and prop shaft leaks after 24 hrs of use. Have to tighten packing gland weekly. Might have to replace in Darwin. Always something.

But we’re hauling ass at 7kts on a broad reach with mostly clear skies, ok seas, & the crew is in relatively pos. spirits.

L worried we’re screwing up the boys’ education & social culture. No proms for either. I say they’ll be motivated to catch up & so far no bullying, peer pressure, consumerism, drugs, alcohol, or sex. Their resumes will state: High School “sailed around the world.” That alone might get them the interview. It’s what tipped Nick’s job application w/ Disney over 300 other applicants.

July 4, 2017 – Ships have been passing us every night these past 3 nights. Glad to have AIS transponder. One even radioed us to confirm our course.

July 8, 2017 – E wind last few days inhibited N progress, adding mileage (1/2d) to trip. Trying to balance btwn course & comfort/spd. SE forecast not yet valid.

July 9, 2017 – B caught 20″ albacore! Fresh tuna for lunch & dinner. Wind direction changed. No more calm sailing. Rolly Polly.
Once we get our refurbished pactor modem reinstalled in Darwin, we’ll be able to email while at sea along with sending Delorme text messages. While at sea we’d use our sail mail email addresses…small attachments can be sent too if our pactor modem were working! I’m looking forward to reading emails.

A Taiwanese fishing trawler snuck up 50 yd behind us. No AIS (required by maritime law). Guess they were curious. Woke me up!

We’ll be halfway to Darwin by midnight tonight our time (6.5hrs dif). Pleased w/our progress. Moderately comfortable seas.

18d psg. Won’t sleep much thru Torres Strait. Navigated between natural obstacles while in major int’l shipping corridor. Good practice 4 the Red Sea.

July 10, 2017 – Fulllest of moons. Makes for a bright night watch. Guys all watched first. Mine started at 5:00 am – very unusual. Good to change it up. I enjoyed the sleep.

Hard to believe we still have 8 days to go. This passage seems interminable esp. following the shorter ones to Samoa, Fiji n Vanuatu. We’re only 55 miles off the Papua New Guinea coastline. We’re approaching now the Torres Straights but not yet traveling along the shipping lanes. We’re traveling in the Coral Sea rt now.

Watched movie “Australia” last night. Features Darwin just before and during WWII. All of us ready to get off rocking boat. Rocks esp side-to-side when running.

July 11, 2017 – Stormy wx as we enter Torres gauntlet. 30-35mph wind. Running w/staysail & furled main. Rockiest night last night. Boobies tried landing aboard last night. 1 broke neck on poop deck, 1 hit wind generator blades, 1 landed on boom, 4th on poop deck. Scared live ones away. Asked Trent to throw dead boobie off deck, did he want gloves? He said, “If I’m grabbing a boobie, I ain’t gonna wear a glove!”

July 14, 2017 – We had to stop sailing & hide behind an island in the Torres Strait to escape the 30-35 knot winds that were pounding us. Things were breaking making it an expensive xing. We’re safe. Plan to sail tomorrow am. ETA Darwin on the 21st.

Coconut Island viewed from our anchor.

July 15, 2017 11:13 am – Beautiful sailing conditions. Hoping to clear Torres Strait b4 midnight, then hazard free for 4 days until we approach Darwin. Bryce prepping to catch fish again. Getting back on track. So glad we stopped. Border Patrol helicopter questioned us via radio. Normal.

July 15, 2017 17:20 – Beautiful sailing. Should clear Strait by 11pm. O Happy Day. B caught 2 fish..bam-bam. Tuna (20″) & wahoo (40″). Done 4 the trip!  B cast 2 lines, one lure floats, the other slightly submerged while sailing the shallows of Torres Strait btwn 2 small islands. With setting sun, a tuna strikes. As we drag the fight out of him, Trent goes to pull in the 2nd line before sun disappears–then bam….a Wahoo strikes. Quelle chance!

We drag em til no more fight, pull them in, then bleed & drag em by tail, then gut & behead over the water. Rinse once more b4 filleting in cockpit. Minimal mess, although clothes get a little bloody. After this, we will remove our shirts and shorts to avoid difficult laundry….

Bryce Rigney snags a Wahoo!

Fresh fish if not frozen & then thawed, is rubber-like, not very good to eat. We’ve learned all good sushi is quick frozen ASAP. Leslie finishes filleting fish & skinnin em. Cuts, packages, & freezes the fresh catch. We’ll eat fish tomorrow!

Kandu in the Torres Straits 2017.

July 20, 2017 – Should arrive Darwin Tomorrow. What a passage! Thank goodness the boys are growing up. They have assumed much responsibility since our first passages sailing the large Pacific Ocn: now Trent age 13, Bryce age 15. What a difference a couple years make!

 

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.

 

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.
Rigney bros ready to surf Rote!
Rigneyskandu in Rote!

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.