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"A Change of Plans"

Written on: Saturday March 1st, 2008

A journal entry from: Thailand to Turkey

First an apology to people following my blog.. I was in an area of no/super slow internet... what do they call a place like that, a 4th world country?!?!  I mean, Cambodia has internet.  They call it the Middle East. 


Here I am aboard "Albert II" typing away on their laptop.  The owner operators are Jim and Ged (male and female, respectively), a delightful couple I met in Maldives who took me diving a couple times and the first time I met them they shared fresh baked banana bread (the best I've ever tasted, by Thor's hammer? I think it's the orange zest which does it.)  Quite a different boat here than being on Quickstep, a different attitude entirely.

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I should back up a bit, and this is to cover the last 30 days I've been at sea or in remote areas w/ no internet (id est, Ulican, Maldives) so to be fair to the short attention span set, I will separate this entry into TWO entries and backdate the first; the heading for entry 2 is this prologue to inform you there is a back dated entry.  Not confusing in the least, I'm sure.


Part I.


Set sail on Feb 3rd for Maldives under benign if not optimal conditions (not enough wind!).  The trip as a whole was somewhat surreal when compared to everyday life.  There is just so much in our culture and our existence that exists to stimulate us that was not out there on the boat.  Oddly enough, I feel I can say these things but they won't really get through the way I mean.  No cell phone, no internet, no movies, no cars or traffic lights, booming stereo systems, angry shoppers, dog walkers, bustling restaurants, &c.  No noise but the wind and the water, no light but the heavenly bodies and bioluminescence. 

For those of you who do not know, bioluminescence is a phenomenon involving plankton, which light up at night like fireflies, but only when disturbed by an outside force, such as a ship rolling through the waves, a hand or a bucket dropped in the water.  I mention it since I was ignorant of this wonderful aspect of ocean life until a night dive three years ago.  We shut off our torches and lay in the dark of the ocean lapping around us, stars filling the sky.  Gentle swirling motions of our arms brought delightful whorls of neon green flecks in the water! 

This trip, I saw a wide range of bioluminescence, from light green to an almost electric blue, from a dim glow to a brilliant light that illuminated the sails of the ship.  It is ghostly and breathtaking at times.  Twice the sea was illuminated for about 100 metres around the ship in a milky glow, which I later found out is actually quite rare.  I also was blessed with a variety of marine life, whales, flying fish, jumping tuna and other species (?), a gorgeous mottled bird of some sort (like a kestrel or gull but not quite the same), pelicans, dolphins and more.  Two dolphins (or porpoises?) I observed at night, with the bioluminescence lighting up their path, illuminating them and adding tracers, biological, underwater meteors in the dark.  Dolphins dancing at the bow was always a welcome sight, by sun or by moon!

My MP3 player was a source of soul nourishment, sparking the imagination with images from past, future and never and ever.  Also developed a new love of the stars and can't wait to source some books for information about the various constellations.  I marked some constant ones and gave them my own names though I don't know if they are correct or not.  I think I found Cassiopea (sp?), Scorpio and the Southern Cross as well as Big Dipper and Orion, which I know already.    


A few days out (6-8), William informed me casually that we would be splitting the cost of diesel when we reached Ulican.  I objected to this, but what could I do?  I ended up paying not just for diesel but for water as well and the cost of my trip went up about 50%.  I decided then that I was going to part company with Quickstep, but would wait until I reached the mainland and had access to more travelling resources.  I just couldn't seem to justify paying $20/day for food and whatever else when I was "eating out of cans".  Typical day the fare consisted of mashed potatoes, rice, canned corned beef or SPAM, oatmeal or pancakes, ramen noodles or other pasta and a "pudding" or dessert, usually consisting of a can of mixed fruit in syrup with a splash of milk.  I started tallying the costs and could not find a day where more than $7 in food was consumed.  This leaves plenty to "chip in" for fuel and the agreement had been set already.  There were other small things that bothered me like William snapping at me needlessly or his hoarding of food.  He had a cabinet he told me was off limits (but he ate out of), and he had a special compartment next to his bed full of things like the good granola bars that only he had access to.  I felt I couldn't eat unless he was eating, and several times when I got a snack like a granola bar or some dried fruit he would make me feel bad, generally under the guise that whatever I had opened was for a specific mealtime.  "Those granola bars are for breakfasts." "I though you opened that dried papaya for cooking." Dried fruit is not a snack?!?!  Come on!  Even worse, the next morning he put chunks of dried papaya in the blueberry pancake mix which left a nasty tannin flavour throughout.  I had to pick the pieces of papaya out and toss them overboard when he wasn't looking. 


I started the practice of sun gazing as illustrated at www.solarhealing.com at the beginning of the trip and am now up to over 5 minutes.   I guess I should do a little research as I have a lot of questions like what if it is a cloudy day or I miss a day or what if I want to do the sunrise AND the sunset can I do an "accelerated" program?  I just see some problems coming up soon when I start working the fire season and want to take a half hour to stare at the sun every morning. 


Had two small storm experiences, both of which were exhilarating.  The first happened on my watch only a few days out from Phuket.  It was swift and suddenly upon me, I barely had time to stow my journal below when the wind was howling and William up above decks yelling.  The first event was the wind clocking round to the wrong side of the sail, throwing the boom across the deck and snapping the preventer line (not so aptly named, eh?) like a slim jim, meaning now the boom was swinging back and forth dangerously.  Imagine getting hit in the head with a baseball bat swung by a professional.  Only now imagine the baseball bat is the length of your car, the diameter of your head and made of metal.  It is a deadly force, no two ways about it.  And at one point it swung past my innocent dome about 3 inches away as the boat rocked violently back and forth.  About a year ago a psychic told me I would have a near death experience, and I feel that night sufficient to mark it off my "to do" list.


William took the helm and gave me instructions as he steered us out of the storm.  We were soaked through in less than a minute and spent the rest of the night running from thunderheads we were picking up on radar.  It was at least warm enough to be practically naked and soaked to the bone! 


The second squall occurrence was actually just some heavy winds with a light rain but William was stressed out because we were close to reefs and shallow water which added to the excitement


In Maldives, I managed to get a little time off the boat.  I would wake up pre dawn and take the zodiac to the island.  I walked across town and through the jungle to the other side of the island to watch the sunrise and observe the little hermit crabs all along the coral beach.  Though "across town and through the jungle" sounds like a bit of a healthy jaunt, in reality it was less than a mile and took me about 15 minutes.  I started smoking again and handed them out like candy.  The men of the village would gather and talk, play a board game and smoke cigarettes.  I learned the game "Ting Hamah" with a hard "h" sound at the end.  I then proceeded to whoop ass at it much to the delight of my new friends.  I trounced some of the older "experts" on a regular basis until they brought in the true island expert.  Going head to head with him, he won the first three games, in two of which we never got past the placement of pieces (you place pieces, as in Risk, then proceed with play).  Then I made a small comeback, winning three of the next five games, but the end result was still very much in favour of the local champion.  A good time was had by all.



From SY QUICKSTEP on Nov 5th, 2009

You omitted to mention that on reflection and review of our initial emails I agreed with you and gave you this diesel money back in Aden after you'd left quickstep..... or am I being picky?

From Bear on Mar 17th, 2012

A few years later, but yes William I am sorry I left out that part of the story. Once we had access to internet, William reviewed our correspondence and saw that we had indeed made the agreement before travelling that $20/day was to cover everything except visas and to his credit he additionally gave me another ($100? $60? Whatever the visa cost had been) when our trip changed to circumvent landing and needing an Indian visa. He was always on the up and up with money matters and I cannot say how much that was appreciated!