We slowly made our way westward through the string of islands. We rarely saw other cruising boats, and many of the islands appeared uninhabited. When we found a spot we liked we would stay a few days, swimming, snorkeling, hiking. Greg and I would take the dingy upstream on the coast of an island, get on our snorkels, and let the dingy drift with the current, holding on by a rope and seeing all the underwater sites.
Needless to say, there were no grocery stores. If we did come across a village it may have had a market, usually consisting of a few vendors selling meager selection of this or that on the side of a dirt road.
I was so glad we had provisioned so well in Darwin. Many pounds of chicken and beef (frozen in Cokocai's freezer, powered by the generator), dozens and dozens of canned foods, wine and coffee etc... The only thing we lacked by then was fresh food, so we bought what we could at these markets.
Greg and Jen had an ongoing relationship with the sailing magazine Latitude 38, so during the long four day passage to Kupang I wrote this for them:
Cocokai — 65-ft Schooner
Greg King and New Crew
Oz to Thailand
After five years and 25,000 miles of ocean sailing, boatowner Jennifer Sanders and her daughter Coco are taking a break back home in California. So captain Greg has taken on two new crewmembers from the Latitude 38 Crew List to make the 3.5-month trip from Oz to Thailand via Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. The two crew are Joe, 62, a real estate professional from the Bay Area, and Mora, who would be me, a 44-year-old nurse from Northern California.
We met in Cairns, Australia, in the last week of August. Cocokai was looking good after all the work — new deck, new batteries, rewound genset, resolved rigging issues — Jen and Greg had done to her in Townsville. Joe and I both wondered at our luck, as we checked out Cocokai and became acclimated to life on the water. We're pinching ourselves, having been invited to sail on the schooner all the way to Thailand.
Since Greg's Australian visa was expiring on September 23, we needed to make our way up the Queensland coast without delay. Southeasterly winds of 25 to 30 knots moved us up the coast quickly, although we got to enjoy stops at Lizard Island, Margaret Bay, Seisha and Gove.
My first-ever night watches were challenging, as we had to maneuver through the Great Barrier Reef and along the shipping lanes. But I have come to love the solitude and beauty of night watches. The Milky Way is so bright that it illuminates the opaque sail. And when we had wind, I found the sound of waves rushing by to be exhilarating.
Along the way we've met many friendly Aussies with warm smiles. The fishing has been great, too, as Greg has caught big mackerel and wahoo without much effort. In fact, his only complaint has been that he only gets to fish for five minutes every other day before we have all the fish we need! On the downside, we've encountered outrageous prices — the Aussie dollar is sky high, which is why Aussies are coming to California to buy boats — for everything from food to engine parts. Then there's the murky water, which, although we haven't seen any yet, is supposedly home to Australia's notorious human-eating crocs.
The Torres Strait featured big breaking swells and 'the hole in the wall', which is a narrow passage between interesting rock formations. We are currently in the middle of what probably will be a five-day passage from Darwin to Kupang, Indonesia. The seas are flat and there isn't a trace of wind. Our next stops are Flores Island, Komodo Island and Bali.
— mora 9/30/11
I sent a photo with this article. It was of me, Greg and Joe standing together.
But Latitude 38 edited it by cutting Greg and Joe out of it. That was one of only two times I ever saw Joe upset. He wanted his picture in Latitude 38!