August 2011

School Visit and Beach Clean-up in Cocos Keeling–Day 11

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Current Position 08:00 UTC +6.5
Speed over Ground 0.0 Knots
Course over Ground   Degrees
Heading   Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 12 05.4019
Longitude East 096 52.9931

Image of the Day:

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The town on Home Island in the Shire of Cocos Keeling, Australia

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Beach Clean-up with other boaters – we collected plastic garbage from the ocean side of the island and then wrote “No Plastics” with the garbage.  4 teams of 3-4 players – judged on how quickly they could gather a large garbage bag full of plastic – sadly, this took less than 5 minutes – then on their artistic expression in saying “no plastics”

Highlights:

Shortly after breakfast, Dario and I headed over to “Home Island” with Vigar and Lizbeth who were kind enough to shuttle us over there in their dingy – dingy with a 4-hp engine that is as we’ve only got a human powered one on board… 

Given that the population of Cocos is primarily of Malaysian decent and Muslim, most places were closed given the EID holiday. However school was in session, the internet café was open as was the local supper market – with avocados at $5 a pop! 

IMG_5452They dropped me off at the internet café to make the updates to the http://www.expedition.toptotop.org/ expedition log as well as my own correspondences.

It kind of makes one proud to be a Microsoft employee to find that they are running Windows 7 Professional in the Internet Café on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean with less than a 100o inhabitants!

Dario and the others headed off to the school for an impromptu session with the local school kids while I wrestled with the not so fast internet and upload woes….

Finding them later at the school we finished up there – really nice folks working the school – all surfers, of course and very environmentally turned on.  The school has actually won awards on their environment work and awareness raising of the rising sea level impacting the islands.

back at the boat we had a quick peanut butter and honey sandwich and then Dario and I cleaned Pachamama’s bottom and unblocked some of the barnacle encrusted seacocks so as to increase our speed, reactivate the water maker and as a kicker clear the transducer for speed through the water measurements.

At 4pm we gathered on the beach with other folks from the anchorage to do the clean-up mentioned above.

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The winning design with NO Plastic written out in 4 different languages!  Following the competition we collect all our combined garbage, dug a big hole and buried the plastic deep under the sand.

Though symbolic at best, this clean up connect about 20 people in a group effort where we all took part in taking care of our planet and leaving the place we were in in a better state than we had found it.  Many of the participants were children and adolescences and all were actively engaged.  I was very impressed with how successfully Dario pulled this off and how good the connection was with all these perfect strangers.  Every little bit helps and every little bit counts.

Reflections:

Being on land again was interesting and a bit chaotic and full of different tensions and pressures.  I was reminded of the time I worked for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) on the R/V Knorr and how rough the port stops could be.  Sailors don’t fight openly at sea, though definitely settle their scores in port.  I tended to break away from the group and ensure that I was no where near anyone from the trips on the first night in port.  Conditions here are different, though the tension of being with others, different desires and tensions made it for a good through bumpy at times stop.

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Cocos Keeling–Leg 1 Day 10–Voyage Day 10

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Current Position 08:00 UTC +8.0
Speed over Ground 6.0 Knots
Course over Ground 240 Degrees
Heading 186 Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 11 42.909
Longitude East 097 29.711

Image of the Day:

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Arriving at the anchorage at North Island

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Clearing Australian Customs, well almost…

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Michael picking coconuts in Cocos Keeling

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Cycles of Life

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Sunset from the water –  over Cocos Keeling

Highlights:

We arrived in Cocos Keeling about about 3pm yesterday – came in anchored off the Direction Island, at the north of the atoll with a half-dozen other boats.  Very nice Australian customs official had us fill out mountains of paperwork and then sped off on his jet ski.  Not a bad job…  we then put the dingy in the water and paddled into the beach to wander, play in the sand and swim.  Dreams of showers and steaks forgotten – there is NOTHING HERE!  but boy is it beautiful!!!

Reflections:

I sat for a long time the other night and though my mind cleared and calmed for a while it still was jumping around like a racehorse. It’s a problem solving machine and in spite of myself in this quiet moment I did solve a few problems. 

I’m ok with this and wont’ lose sleep over failed meditation resulting in good progress elsewhere Winking smile

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Day 9–legs up and cruising–avec le bon vent

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Current Position 08:00 Singapore Time
Speed over Ground 7.1 Knots
Course over Ground 240 Degrees
Heading 181 Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 10 02.446
Longitude East 099 50.637

Image of the Day:IMG_5347

Dario and Sabine share a quiet moment together at dawn while the kids are a sleep and just before I take my morning watch.

Highlights:

Spent the day on the computer today – first time really and though I have sought to avoid helping out with some video editing as well as writing the trip report for Dario to post on the www.TOPtoTOP.org web site for Leg 1 got the better of me.  There is no way that I want to be spending too much time at Cocos in front of the machine rather than wandering, exploring, surfing, etc.  We’ll have less than 24 hours there, if that and much work to do for the boat as well as a clean-up planned with the local school, so the time will be full. 

I’m really looking forward to taking my second shower in that last 2 weeks – and a fresh water shower at that!  Washing, or at least rinsing my cloths will be a real treat as well as perhaps having a nice piece of grilled meat…

Reflections:

After living in Paris for nearly 3 years back in the early 1980’s I went to say goodbye to my friends and teachers Jose & Michel at their apartment. 

Jose wished me: “Bon Vent !”

Michel retorted with: “Le bon vent n’a pas de sense si on ne sait pas ou on va ?”

I’ve thought of this a lot these past days for multiple reasons.

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Day 8–Wonderful Distractions

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Current Position 08:00 Singapore Time
Speed over Ground 7.1 Knots
Course over Ground   Degrees
Heading 181 Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 08 38.67
Longitude East 101 58.34

Image of the Day:

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Sunset over the Indian Ocean – Great winds and following seas.

Highlights:

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Sunday Brunch at sea – Mama bear feeds the baby bears!  We’re out of bread and onto the Muesli now – the kids were loving it, being the first day.

We’ve started our second week, now well on our way to Cocos Keeling and beyond.  We had a quiet Sunday with constant and consistent wind.

I even worked on my guitar today.  I bought a ‘sing-a-long’ book to finally learn some of those songs everyone wants you to play, so “we can all sing-a-long… 

Funny how I still gravitate to the more interesting guitar bits in here and just don’t ‘get ‘ the sing-a-long, perhaps in time…


I have been still trying to do many things, write a great deal, learn things and so on.  On of these intentions was to listen to my grandmother’s reading of G.I. Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson.  I had a wonderful early morning watch and even didn’t wake Dominique and took hers so was along on deck from 2-6 in the morning – heaven!  I’d been reading, sitting, and was just getting going to listen to the recordings when like furious burning comets they arrived!  A small school of porpoises came to play in the bow wave of the  boat.  The phosphoresce this evening was intense so their shapes and the trails they left as they shot through the water was incredible! 

Describing phosphorescence is hard.  Describing porpoises playing in it around a boat…? just not sure how, you gotta be there…

Great wake-up call to just stay present and be here now, at sea, on a boat, in the middle of the night, alone with nature.  Needless to say the reading was curtailed

Reflections:

More on the idea of “Right Livelihood”  I believe that living one’s values and one’s dreams must be possible;  though is so often clouded by the adoption of dreams and value that are not one’s own.

I keep getting lost in the “save-the-world” type systems and beliefs – I sincerely do want to “give back” I want to keep the planet green and the seas blue as well as increase harmonious interaction between all of the world’s creatures. All these things are true for me; yet, what I really want is to live joyfully and I want others to live this too.  The planet’s much more fun to be on when people are joyful, alive and engaged in what-ever life they lead.

Let go of the self-imposed oppression and martyrdoms. Do your work and then go out and play!  Both are possible and I would argue, more and more, both are required.  That is having your cake and eating it too!

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Day 7 – We’re in the Indian Ocean

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Current Position 08:00 Singapore Time
Speed over Ground 6.8 Knots
Course over Ground   Degrees
Heading 175 Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 07 07.39
Longitude East 104 05.36

Image of the Day:

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The “Pamona” with Vigar and Lizbeth team up with us in for the Indian Ocean crossing – we’ve had radio contact with them for the past couple of days and did some video drive-by’s this evening around sunset to wave at each other and capture images of each others boats under sail.

Highlights:

We’re finally out in the Indian Ocean and definitely know we’re there!  Had the nets up on our bunks last night to keep us from falling out and have been bumping into things a bit more than usual!

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Pachamama on the Indian Ocean – Day 7 of our voyage and first out on the Indian

Reflections:

“Doing Good” has this great ring to it and “Doing Well” while “Doing Good” captures much of my earlier theme for this blog of “having your cake and eating it too.”  However, experience has shown me that this tag line often only a great justification for all kinds of crazy stuff people do and sadly may only be a cloaking device for some individuals ego trip.

“Right Livelihood” – that’s different, in that it doesn’t pretend to be solving some greater cosmic problem or truth and may in fact be more my thing.  Make whatever you do fulfilling, fun and inspired.  More on this to follow…

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Smoking Krakatoa at Sunset

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Krakatoa – at the gateway to the Indian Ocean and last sighting of land (with Island below) until we reach Cocos Keeling

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Day 6–Selat Sunda

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Current Position 08:00 Singapore Time
Speed over Ground 0.0 Knots
Course over Ground   Degrees
Heading 182 Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 05 29.62
Longitude East 106 02.44

Image of the Day:

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Through with work, beginning our Indian Ocean crossing – time for Chuang Tzu

Highlights:

No wind, no seas, we’re motor sailing to Selat Sunda this morning.  Quiet night coming down in light winds through the oil wells of the Java Sea.  The group’s coming together and we spent the morning preparing for arrival to the ocean – refueling from the 5-Gallon jerry cans we’ve with us, stowing lines and fenders, etc.. It’s been really hot…

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The big moment of the day was that it was shower day! First shower since last Saturday night – 1 week!  – Don’t get too excited here, it was a salt water rinse and soap down followed by a 1 liter fresh water rinse. 

 

Alegra went first, of course Open-mouthed smile

 

I had my last moment of connectivity today before leaving the Indonesian coast.  I’d been haunted by an email I had neglected to send regarding a personnel issue at work and finally managed to get it out of my Outbox in the afternoon.  Now I’m free – and interestingly enough immediately got quite sick – between throwing up and diarrhea – it made for a lovely evening.  I think it was too much diesel fumes and the intense heat from the morning.

We said goodbye to Asia tonight as we sailed past Krakatoa at sunset and finally were in the Indian Ocean!

Reflections:

I feel this strange pressure to write, to capture this voyage in some way or form – it strikes me at times as if I’m more focused on how to capture it than to actually live it!

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Day 5–Phantom Boats

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Current Position 08:00 Singapore Time
Speed over Ground   Knots
Course over Ground   Degrees
Heading   Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 03 17.16
Longitude East 106 18.75

Image of the Day:

 

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Dominique’s feeling much better and the sea’s are kicking it – like you wouldn’t believe!

Highlights:

Windy Day as we came out into Five Fathom bank – uncomfortable heading and lots of little bumps in the way – a leaking hatch soaking me with a big wave – harsh wake up from deep sleep, backed up head, etc.

At dusk, barely light, we steamed into 20-30 small fishing boats with no lights – freaky –scary, followed by a night full of fishing nets, tugs with monster barges and friendly ships…. 

Reflections:

It’s strange how perspective and sense of direction can be altered by the night. Ship’s lighting is consistent (fishing boat’s not) – yet motion is not always clear.

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Day 4– How many more minutes ‘till we get there?

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Current Position 08:00 Singapore Time
Speed over Ground   Knots
Course over Ground   Degrees
Heading   Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 02 05.10
Longitude East 105 04.94

Image of the Day:

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You’ve got to get this right, or else what goes down comes back, Shaken and Stirred and back with a force you will definitely regret… One might ask, but why did you give me a 3rd option with the arrows?  Danger! Danger!

Highlights:

Motor Sailing this morning towards Sunda Straight – still a long way to go.  Have connected with a Norwegian boa, Pamona t and may team up for the crossing to Cocos Keeling.  All is well and getting used to each other, the seas and the boat.  Was blowing 30kts last night and really happy to have our new slickers Smile

Reflections:

“Make your dream devour your life, so that life doesn’t devour your dream.” [ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry] merci Bernard

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Day 3–Equator Crossing

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Current Position 08:00 Singapore Time
Speed over Ground   Knots
Course over Ground   Degrees
Heading   Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 00 22.69
Longitude East 105 05.47

Image of the Day:

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Michael steering the boat and feeling very nautical…

Highlights:

We crossed the Equator this morning between 6-8, just off Cape T. Jeng.  It was a bit of a nonevent as most of us were sleeping… 

We’ve Good winds now and are moving quickly. 

Reflections:

Finding harmony amongst 8 people of multiple generations on a 50ft boat takes time and has its challenges.  For me, just being able to sit out here, alone on the water makes it all worth it.  People are people and getting lost in their stuff leads nowhere.  I have the right to chose my own experience as well as to positively influence how things go here – make it happen!

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