Tag Archives: sailing

Kupang to Dili: this sailing life

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head down, bottoms up – Keith inspects the anchor locker

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Dili street scene

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provisioning the boat with real food grown by real people, Kupang market

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main sail

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sailing Timor-Leste waters

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dragging the tinny down to the water, Kupang

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marine-induced-semiotic-delirium

IMG_5359 Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea
– Keats ‘On the Sea’

Kupang is not Kupang: it is Tangier, Barcelona, Venice, Castellorizo, Istanbul, Kas rolled into one. Day 500. Day 9 at sea. Nothing is itself anymore. Under the solvent influence of the sea memories and vistas are breaking apart, dissolving. They’ve lost their crystalline objective quality. Physical form is detached from meaning. Signifiers bear no relation to signified. Places have lost their peculiarity. Everything is the same.

To my eyes, vexed and tired as they are, everything is composed of common attributes. Nothing is unique. Even the people I meet are not themselves anymore, they remind me of people I’ve met in other places. I glance about me at the boats, the shops, the cars lining the foreshore of Kupang and I’m confronted by a queer sensation. Places have lost their unique aspect. One is the other. One stands for all. Everything is familiar and strange. I’m neither here nor there.

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75 nautical miles northwest of Kupang we pass a village in the Solor Archipelago that, for all appearances, could be my Yiayia’s birthplace on Castellorizo. The Solor village convenes in a crowded fashion around the nucleus of mosque and marina, but substitute mosque for cathedral, coconut palm for plane tree, satay for soutzoukakia, and it could be Castellorizo, could be Istanbul, could be Tangier. The configuration is different but the elements are the same: trees, shops, houses, roads, parks, schools.

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The outcrop of rocks on the foreshore of Kupang is to my eyes, Sydney Cove. The sinuous camel-hump profile of Banta Island is the Olgas. 9 days prior , off the East coast of Lombok, we passed the Wallace line, the ‘faunal boundary’ between Asia and Australia, so it’s conceivable that the coastline here was once part of the Kimberley, part of the landmass I call home. None of us are strangers. All of us are kin.

Approaching a city from the water smooths out the differences. Buildings, objects and people come into focus slowly. There’s time to recollect. As Lea steers the boat headlong into the breeze and Keith drops the pick I hold on to Richie, hoping his presence will anchor me to the moment, preventing me from drifting 14,000km to Tangier, where 16 months ago we strolled along a seafront promenade not unlike the one here at Kupang and found ourselves seduced for the first time by the grace of mosques, palms, and the heady piquancy of anonymity.

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Voyage home: boat-hitching to Oz

All journeys eventually end in the same place, home.”
– Chris Geiger

Fletcher ship

The bank balance was telling us what neither of us wanted to believe: the journey was coming to an end. Time to think about heading home…

It had been an expensive few months: purchasing visas, long distance travel, a parcel home, new DJ equipment and a visit to Angkor Wat. 50 and 100 baht notes coursing through our fingers, flowing out like folded paper boats on an outgoing tide. And not just baht: riel, US dollars, Lao kip and renminbi: tiny slips of colored paper with embossed kings’ heads and national monuments – bound for other places, other peoples’ pockets. It was as it should be. Flowing out, flowing in.

Despite the recent bout of spending we were still proudly more or less on budget: roughly 140 pounds (AUD$200) p/week for the two of us – gas, food and lodgings. In this way, we’d managed 14 months of travel in 15 countries: by our standards, it was a triumph!

With less than one thousand pounds remaining we decided to turn all our energy toward what really matters: completing the journey overland from England to Australia without flying, at the least cost, maximum fun and adventure.

Problem = solution!

The answer was simple: boat hitch-hiking.

A friend of Richie’s had made the reverse journey a few years ago, travelling from Hobart to Bangkok, via New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Soloman Islands: looking after children, scrubbing decks, cooking and keeping lookout. It was possible. It had been for her, and it would be for us.

We put out our feelers. Phuket and Langkawi sounded like the most probable destinations from which to hitch a ride. Our friend Bonnie, a seasoned sailor, recommended a number of crew-seeking websites, and Dad forwarded links to cargo ships plying the route from Singapore to Sydney. We ruled nothing out, piracy and people-smuggling included!

Today you can find us shacked up in old town Phuket, waiting for the tides to turn: haunting marinas, liaising with salty-dog sailers, eavesdropping on itinerant surfers, and taking advice from yacht-club veterans who have seen more than their fair share of vagrants and hopefuls board ship, bunker down, and sail home.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
– Ernest Hemingway

CREWAD 

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