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Raja Ampat (Northern and Central), Indonesia

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King of Wonders With Mark’s mom safely on board and all the provisions stowed away, we headed north to begin our exploration in the underwater world of Raja Ampat.  If you are a scuba diver, you have likely heard about this group of islands and seen fascinating photos in diving magazines.  This area is world renowned for its vibrant reefs and amazing sea life, and we couldn’t wait to check it out.  In all, we spent 3 months in the Raja Ampat waters, with sights and experiences that could comprise an entire book, but for now, let’s dive in and look at some of our favorite field trips through this spectacular archipelago.

From Sorong, we sailed directly to the northernmost island group to Wayag.  The mushroom-shaped outcroppings were reminiscent of our time in Fulaga, Fiji, and the turquoise waters surrounding them is what makes Wayag so picturesque.  One afternoon, we hiked up one of the jagged rock faces with spears of limestone jutting up from the nearly vertical path.  This hike is…

Southeast Asia Paparazzi

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I’d recently read that Indonesians tweet the most and are among the top populations posting on Facebook. At the time, I could hardly believe this statistic, but after spending a few days in Sorong, I am not surprised at all. These people are crazy about their smartphones. Everyone has one. Many have two or three.

The first full day we were here, Mark had the privilege of navigating through the entrance procedures - Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, etc. (If you’re sailing this way and would like notes on this, check out his update on Noonsite.) Michael decided to tag along, and when they returned that evening, they had hilarious stories to tell. Turns out, on the bus, Mark had been accosted by a gaggle of high school girls who were more than elated to see a ‘mista’ on their bus! They promptly snapped selfies with him and then grabbed his phone and took a few selfies with it, too, giggling the whole time.

Later, when Michael was with him at the Quarantine office, the young female offi…

Sailing to Indonesia

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During our sailing through PNG in the months of July through October, we have lost any faith in weather forecasts. Each time we prep for a longer passage, Mark sits at the nav desk diligently pouring over various forecasts that often contradict one another. Inevitably, two of the four models would be similar, while the other two were exactly opposite. Which one to believe? Does majority rule? In our experience, it is Russian Roulette.

The passage from Cenderawasih Bay around the corner to Sorong was predicted to be uncomfortable - winds on the nose and nasty CAPE activity that would surely result in many storms along the way. One forecast of the four, however, showed very light winds and calm seas. Mark’s mom was scheduled to arrive into Sorong in only a few days’ time, meaning we didn’t have much cushion in our sailing itinerary. We’d have to take what we were dealt for the 200-mile trek from Manokwari to Sorong. I popped a Stugeron tablet, doubled the Chana Masala I was making for …

The Ninigos Islands, PNG

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Our Papua New Guinea home.  Funny how the first islands we visited and the last would turn out to be our favorites by far.  The Mortlock Islands in the east and now the Ninigo Islands in the west created beautiful bookends for our time in Papua New Guinea.  As we sailed into the pass and across the lagoon with a brisk 18 knots of wind, we saw in the distance an outrigger sailing canoe.  Its sails were tight and full, the wind on its beam, one hull lifting in and out of the water as it skidded along.  They were absolutely flying and caught up with us in no time at all, screaming past Field Trip to wave hello!  We hooted and hollered at them, egging them on as they zigzagged all around us, showing off those sailing skills that the islanders here are known for.  What a welcome!
MAL ISLAND Puhipi Village on Mal Island was our first stop in this remote island group.  Thomas, the father and quiet leader of the familial village came out right away to meet us once we settled in.  He brought …