Category Archives: Leslie’s Posts

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!

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.

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!

Daily Log: Bucking Bronco is Kandu

July 10th, 2017 Monday 23h20. Jiggling it up with boobies.

Kandu is acting like a Bucking Bronco, but she’s keeping it altogether. With the heavy movement, the crew and captain are lethargic. Tonight, we are still benefitting greatly from a slightly waning moon. It makes a great difference when you can see the surrounding ocean and waves instead of just feeling it by how the boat reacts to the swell. The sea has been so turbulent, we’ve been attracting red-footed booby birds and other marine birds as a resting haven. Last night one landed on our solar panel. It did not want to budge. Finally when forced to fly away, he left a rather large wet present behind. Ugh! Tonight during Trent’s watch, he heard a bit of racket behind the cockpit and thought he saw something fall. It turns out, after he scrabbled for the flashlight, two boobies had boarded. One was laying dead on the stern poop deck with it’s neck broken, the other flapped around nearby startled by the light and lodged itself under the starboard genoa lines. The swell was so that every time the boat heeled over, and that was often, rushing saltwater would run down the starboard deck right into the birds face. Yet the booby refused to leave until Eric eventually pushed it overboard in preparation for a jibe as it would have gotten crushed. It’s funny how the booby bird in every language has a silly name. All consider it a very dumb bird. The next morning, we had to jibe again and called everyone up. Eric asked Trent, “Please get rid of that dead booby bird over the side. Do you want gloves?” Trent replied, “If I’m going to touch a booby, I’m not wearing a glove!”

July 11th, 2017, Tuesday 23h15. Torres Strait.

Darwin is getting closer but is still far far away. We entered Torres Strait around 19h30 this evening. No boats along the shipping corridor, just a couple off to the side quite a distance away. We sure are loving our AIS (Automated Identification System) transponder right about now! We’re moving fast for Kandu between 6.5 and 7.5. We don’t really know how fast the wind is because our wind gage is broken, but we’re thinking it is blowing about 30-35 miles per hour with a swell of 2 or 3 meters. It’s overcast and stormy, yet Kandu is handling very well. The cockpit is pretty wet. I’m enormously thankful to have our solid dodger instead of a canvas one blocking the saltwater spray, and our newly constructed cockpit canopy built in Raiatea to keep out most of the rain. Our previous canopy had slipped off and fallen overboard while crossing to Tahiti from Fakarava in 2016. Expensive loss that was!

We continue to attract sea birds. Booby birds seemed to have gotten the word that it’s not safe aboard Kandu, but the medium sized black petrels with red webbed feet didn’t get the message. One landed on top of our canopy during sunset. He couldn’t find grip so relocated near the stern BBQ. I haven’t shewed the petrel away mostly because it’s been keeping me company during my watch, hanging on for dear life. Two others that night didn’t make it aboard instead flying into our wind generator. When that happens, the sound it makes is rather chilling. It’s not ideal sailing the Torres Strait at night. However, with our radar, AIS and mapped out waypoints, ‘We Kandu.’

Little Petrel sea bird taking a rest aboard Kandu.

July 12th, 2017 17h00. Reprieve at Coconut Island.

Shortly after I finished my log notes last night, a large wave struck the boat healing us over 50 degrees or more partially filling the cockpit with water. Immediately after the wave hit, Kandu started to head forcefully downwind into the oncoming swell causing the boat to dangerously heal over again. Our Monitor wind vane had been steering us steadily up until that point, but it wasn’t correcting itself. I grabbed the helm and pulled it to starboard, but alarmingly the helm would not budge. At that point I yelled to Eric for help. I put all my weight on the helm and suddenly something gave. By that time, Eric had flown up into the cockpit and was asking what happened. He took over the helm and while steadying Kandu, realized it was loose.

For the third time since leaving Polynesia, the control line had chaffed. In this case, the frayed section must have gotten hitched on an interior bolt and with my forceful tugging on the helm was shredded in two. Chaffing of the control line has been a problem since using the wind vane continuously while sailing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. We thought we had the problem fixed in the Marquesas: the Monitor manufacturer replaced the suspect bolt with a shorter one and gave us new lines. Evidently, after three separate incidents of a frayed control line since leaving Polynesia, the problem is not yet solved.

Eric re-rigged the wind vane right away and it continued to work fine after that. But the weather continued to be terrible all morning. Fortunately, we positioned the plexiglass divider between the cockpit and the interior as we took a couple more BIG waves filling the cockpit halfway. Our electric generator stored in the cockpit got completely doused with salt water and then our wind generator failed. Craziness! By 10:00 am, we were all wiped out by the pounding. Eric was stressed and exhausted. After discussing our situation, we decided to see if we could find a place to hide from the heavy swell and winds. Eric contacted the Australian Coast Guard and arranged permission to duck behind Coconut Island, a sliver of an island four hours away, to wait out the bad weather for two days. Anchored in 60 feet with all but 3 feet of our 300 feet of chain out, we collapsed for a much needed nap.

Torres Strait. Note Coconut Island in the middle.

 

Daily Log: Kandu To Darwin by Leslie

Leslie Rigney – on the road again!

July 1, 2017 21h30. Off to Darwin for a 20 day passage.

July 4, 2017 21h30. Fourth of July. No celebrations on Kandu, however, the day passed cheerfully. Everyone helped themselves to breakfast: cereal, leftover banana bread, or toast and grapefruit. The boys and I played 3-way cribbage for the first time to great success (Bryce won) and after dinner, we played a round of monopoly, which Bryce also won. Stinker! We listened to loud music and the boys showed off their growing arm strength by trading off doing pull-ups hanging off the top of the hatchway. Before dinner, I read out loud three or four chapters of “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch,” a book I assigned the boys to read during this voyage. Turns out I had two identical paperback versions on board. Before we left the states, I guess I really wanted them to read the book. And in fact, they are enjoying the story as it’s about a boy indenture apprenticed to a chandlery on the East Coast of the US in the 1780’s, who improves his lot by intense individual study and ‘Sailing by ash breeze.’ Oars are made of ash. Can you divine the meaning of the turn of phrase? It’s a lesson the boys are slowly learning. Early education isn’t about teachers teaching you, it’s about learning to learn and taking it upon yourself to study the materials presented so that you absorb them and make them a part of you. The ultimate goal is learning how to teach yourself.

I took the first watch tonight as I had a late afternoon nap and was wide-awake. It’s a peaceful night: less wind so less swell. Not as scary as the two previous nights, hence my ability to write. We’re steadily heading northwest toward the Torres Strait. It’s also getting warmer the more north we sail. All the port lights and hatches are closed tight. We had some moments early on during this passage when salt water shot inside due to our laxity. Don’t want that to happen again. Yesterday, Eric fixed the stalling engine problem, a second time. He had replaced the filters before we left, but the new ones were still not filling up with diesel, even after Eric worked to solve the problem in Espirtu Santo. Fortunately, he figured the problem was still the same and it was an easy fix, thank goodness. So far, the engine hasn’t stalled again.

July 10, 2017, Monday 7:15 am. Full moons & illegal fishing trawlers. We’ve been enjoying the fullest of moons during the last three night watches. The days are passing slowly. Still an estimated 8 days to go – Eric thinks it will be a total of 18 days at sea. Sailing downwind, we are rocking a lot side-to-side and moving at a snails pace of 5 knots. Now in the Coral Sea, we’re pulling close to the Torres Strait. We are not yet sailing inside the shipping lane but have already encountered a good share of boats. Two nights ago, little 42 foot Kandu was sandwiched in between two 770-foot cargo ships within 2.5 miles. They were traveling north and south while we were heading west. Everyone’s AIS systems were working that night!

Kandu’s Navigation monitor.

Yesterday morning, Eric and I were enjoying the cool cockpit breeze when a 60-foot fishing trawler surprised us. In the cockpit covered by a towel in order to block the light, I had been intently watching a movie with headphones. It wasn’t until the trawler was 50 yards away to our aft port that Eric heard a strange engine noise, looked up and turned around from sending inReach delorme text messages.

Eric Rigney in the process of texting.
Crystal 102 looked a lot like this.

He shouted in surprise. The trawler had approached dangerously close and all their men on deck were staring at us intently. Bryce quickly hailed them on channel 16, but they didn’t speak English or French. He thought perhaps Chinese, Taiwanese, or Korean. After a few minutes, they fell off displaying their name: Crystal 102. There was another twin trawler about 1 mile to our north. We figured they were illegally fishing in Papua New Guinea’s waters. It’s a shame we didn’t have the foresight to jot down our latitude and longitude in order to report them to the international authorities later. It’s possible that we had crossed over their fishing nets. The way they acted, they were definitely aggravated. They didn’t wave, nor did we.