Near dawn we saw something few humans will ever see, and many wouldn’t give a hoot.
It was inspiring to me, being alone so close to the Equator and with land more than 1,000 miles from us in any direction. The sun was about to rise, a ginormous red ball creeping into the sky due east while the moon was setting due west. Polaris (the North Star) was still visible looking north and to our south, barely touching the horizon was the Southern Cross, a bright but small constellation never seen above 20 degrees north. Both are major navigation aids, our friends, and seeing them at the same time was for me awesome. I thought about the ancient Christian belief that the dasappearance of the constellation was linked to the crucifixion of Christ. I couldn't recall ever hearing of a constellation disappearing but I took a moment to thank God for allowing me this moment.
Morning sun was behind us, perfect for spotting underwater coral heads. Denise went to the rigging to guide me. Endymion moved cautiously through dubious uncharted patches of a complicated reef system.
We picked our way carefully, plotting every move and believing maybe, just possibly, we were someplace on earth no other human had ever seen. To be safe we anchored before the sun dropped too far for us to identify coral bommies that could end our pleasure. We dropped our hook in a tiny circular lagoon not more than two hundred feet in diameter.
Twelve feet of crystal-clear emerald cut blue-green water was below us. Exposed portions of reef eight inches to a foot high nearly surrounded us two boat lengths away in any direction. These were tight quarters, but weather was “fine” as Australians like to boast, wind only a teasing whisper. Tides were slight, generally measured in inches.
By dusk the wind freshened. We clipped along at seven knots in moderately choppy seas, the confused kind that prevails in the Malacca Strauit where traffic is heavy and water is shallow.
At 1930 Roo, on the wheel, sniffed the first of Denise’s perfume drifting into the cockpit, signaling her watch and a rest period for our mighty man Roo Biram.
Preparing to take the helm an exceptionally cheerful Denise brought a lengthy music play list. She tuned in Alabama and James Taylor to while away her shortened one hour watch, thinking, I’ll just pass my time and go back to bed.
“Wow Denise, you’re a cutie this noight” Roo said with authentic Australian twang. “She be a bit pitchy roight now and the winds hankerin to puff up. Best get your harness on there missy, before litin up the tunes.”
It now late October 2018 and production is being completed to the compelling narrative crossing the Pacific from California to Australia- storms- military action, a knockdown and close encounter with freighter are but a few. Watch for the audio book everywhere they are offered... and for a special deal including a free E-book version check out www.scribl.com. It should be avaiklable for sale or download by November 15, maybe earlier.
The mighty volcano Krakatoa has been much in the news the last several months.
Last erupting in 1883 it was the second largest in recorded history. In 2019 it's happening again in this remote area of the Sunda Straits, Indonesia, formally called Dutch West Indies.
This is not an easy area to access. I am one of few alive today ever to sail in Karakatoa’s shadow since the 1883 eruption.
Following is a portion of my experience from Chapter 44 of my second book No Return Ticket- Leg Two- Australia to Thailand.
"Our wind crossing the Sunda Strait was 25 knots and a broad reach.With the remains of mighty Krakatoa looming before us that wind died.
“OK you guys,’ I announced to my crew, “Here’s a couple of facts- pre-eruption. Krakatoa was spread over 5.5 by 3.2 miles and 3,200 ft high. Only a third remains and we are about to see it.”
To get things rolling—a little history. The elegant vessel shown here is my Granddads 130 foot schooner Endymion. The photos were taken in the mid Atlantic with an early box camera during the 1905 Transatlantic race for the Kaisers Cup (Germany). The starting gun fired at 1300 0n May 10, which historically is nearly the exact moment the first car (Ford) was pushed over the Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State. Think of the traffic now on our highways and waterways.
Gramps placed third in the Transatlantic race, winning a lavish cup, that during World War Two was melted down and found to be pewter beneath the brilliant silver exterior.
Look closely at the pictures. You’ll see the paid crew at the gigantic wheel and Grandpa is his Pea Coat standing to the left. What you won’t see are hydraulics, winches or instruments. In the photo looking forward, just imagine handling those lines or reefing that huge heavy mainsail.
"Volcanic disturbances could occur at any moment.” I read the caution aloud to my crew. Though a yacht is not a democracy, I followed with a question; “What say you guys? Are you up for going where we are told we should not go?”
What saved us was Denise vehemently stating “You take my dog-you take me too.” The thing is, they could have. It’s all in timing, perspective and luck.
Pay attention to diet and environment. Have ample supplies of your pets preferred meals. Foods, like chicken or pineapple on a stick in Thailand are pet temptations but can carry unwanted consequences. Malaysian ticks were nearly invisible until they ‘hatched’ in the cockpit causing untold misery for our small dog.
Among my memorabilia are these pictures with this post. Try to imagine what it must have been like to handle the rough lines or huge amounts of canvas in that era with only might and men- no conveniences. On the picture looking aft note the paid hand at the wheel while owner in a proper ‘P-coat' of the day stands to weather. I’m told there was a piano below deck. And BTW (as we say today) my Dad claimed these exceptional pictures were taken with a simple box camera.
Of might and men on several occasions including the 1905 Transatlantic Race for a cup sponsored by the Kaiser of Germany. Yachting in the ‘golden era’ was strictly a gentleman's sport - Corinthian style, meaning no professionals aside from paid hands serving as deck apes. Big brawny men with Popeye muscles were needed because there were no hydraulics, winches or turnbuckles.