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Old 12-07-2011, 19:16   #1
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Worse and 'Worser'. . .

Poised to depart Darwin, Australia with the Sail Indonesia rally on July 23, 2011, I realize how fortunate I am to have sailed the South Pacific, South East Asia, the South Indian Ocean between 2000 and 2005. It is with some foreboding that I post this, because when I first joined this site in 2008 I was chastised for remarks made about less desirable aspects of cruising. My view is that one can ignore realities in favour of a feel good mindset, or prepare themselves for the worst by acknowledging aspects of cruising that are rapidly affecting relative levels of safety and enjoyment we experience while voyaging to distant lands. Simply put, cruising is simply not what it was ten years ago. I am not going to go into a lengthy discourse of how cruising has changed. I will simply illustrate for you how preparing an itinerary beyond Australia has been affected by developments in South East Asia and the Indian Ocean. Most significant is the issue of piracy encompassing a huge area that includes the Arabian Sea and extends downward to the entrance of Monzambique Channel. I have seen records of attacks as far east in this area as the Maldives. So, the dilemma now is deciding how lucky or unlucky you may be sailing westward from Thailand or Australia on your return trip to the E.U. through the Red Sea, or toward South Africa. The Red Sea route will only be taken by "brain dead" sailors whose body may join their brain in the land of the dead - or end up a hostage... Others like myself will go via Christmas Island, Cocos keeling, Rodriques or Chagos then sail close in around the top of Madagascar, avoiding locations where attacks as of today are known to have occurred; or fetch Mauritius and subsequently sail around the bottom of Madagascar to South Africa. Still, the risk of being pirated remains. The second trend affects our ability to find anchorages and increasingly inflates total costs of living the cruising lifestyle. See: Cruisers Paradise Lost This pretty well sums up the remaining most problematic trends. So, I have decided by a quirk of fate to join the Sail Indonesia rally out of Darwin in favour of a faster route in the direction of "home". This is because I found a crew member interested in sailing to South East Asia in Darwin. My thoughts about sailing to South Africa instead of to South East Asia occurred after I had already induced her into considering sailing with me to S.E. Asia, so I feel honour bound... I have a sense of foreboding about sailing to S.E. Asia due to relative political and social instability in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. What are the odds an earthquake near Indonesia will produce a tsunami? Will I be in close where my Nor'Sea 27's shoal draft enables me to go when and if a tsunami hits? And of course, there is the challenge of emerging unscathed from the rigid, bureaucratic, graft and corruption riddled waters of Indonesia on my way to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Where to go when I leave Thailand? Honestly, I would rather have gone to South Africa.... Bob Lorenzi S/V Armido Presently anchored Fanny Bay Darwin, Australia
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Old 12-07-2011, 19:46   #2
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Re: Worse and worser....

Sadly the phrase "Ya pays yer money and takes yer chances" comes to my mind.

Either way I wish you best of luck.

Because it seems to me that you need an element of luck... even if it's the "Luck you make" by preparing well and thoughtfully, which it seems you have...
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Old 12-07-2011, 19:52   #3
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Re: Worse and worser....

I skitter with the same thought as I think about my next boat becides cost and lifestyle change. Where to go? How can I not get ripped off by commercialism or piracy or crime? Is there anyplace to actually go worth going anymore etc. Pollution. The death of wildlife. climate change.

If I was where you were I would either head to South Africa and take that chance, or circumnavigate australia and NZ, or maybe hit northern canada or mexico.
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Old 12-07-2011, 20:42   #4
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Re: Worse and worser....

Just go around South Africa like we use to, no big deal. Plenty of placed in the South Atlantic that miss yachts after they reopened the Suez Canal.

Montevideo for example, when I was last there was absolutely beautiful and friendly...
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Old 12-07-2011, 21:16   #5
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Re: Worse and worser....

A number of cliches come to mind. "It is what it is." ~ Anon (many times over) "Fear is just a wilderland, stepping stone or sinking sand." ~ Joni Mitchell "Things done well and with a care, exempt themselves from fear." ~ William Shakespeare

I have a vague wish that I had begun cruising when I first wanted to do so 48 years ago. But I didn't. I couldn't get there from where I was. Most reactionary thought is based on the notion that things were good, or better back then than now, in a remembered past that is at best a hazy construction of reality. Even most "progressives", who claim a belief in a better future, if poked in the ribs at 3 in the morning will cop to a nostalgia for a time gone by. But what a sailor needs to do, IMvHO, is to chart the next leg of the journey based on the best available info from those most experienced in it's doing, most recently. I think he must accept what is evidently given.

Glad you've found crew and hope you can suck the last drop of juice from the mango of life that is about to be presented to you on your platter. really! I believe in the slogan, "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Good luck with yours. Good luck with all of ours.
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Old 13-07-2011, 09:47   #6
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

Thanks for this post. We are prepping for this trip in a few short years and feel like the prudent options are narrowing. We hope to cruise the Solomons/Bismarcks to get a feel for "exotic South West Pacific cruising, old school style" but feel like Indonesia and Thailand, etc. are perhaps best seen via other modes of transport.

A 27 footer, eh? Meal planning must be the biggest part of the day!
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Old 13-07-2011, 10:08   #7
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

Political instability is nothing new. From the 1960s-80s, you wouldn't have made landfall in Vietnam or anywhere in the Soviet sphere. But now, you can sail to all of those places with only marginally onerous red tape (I have personal experience in 'Nam).

At various times it was unwise to approach certain coasts of Africa. Remember the Barbary Coast conflict? Well, me neither, but you get the point.

Having lived in Southeast Asia, I feel like your portrayal is an exaggeration. Yes, Indonesia doesn't make it easy, but it is definitely doable. As for Thailand and Malaysia -- piece of cake.

Instead of seeing the changing political and security situations as a no-go, why not see them as an opportunity to get off the beaten track a bit?
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Old 15-07-2011, 05:31   #8
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

Sneuman, I have already done Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. That was on the occasion of my first circumnavigation - 2000 through 2005. I don't believe I said either of the were no go destinations. If that were the case I would certainly not be going there now. Maybe I did not clearly express my concern for what is going on. Thailand is periodically in cross border shoot outs with Cambodia. None of us know whether or not that will ever become a full blown war. The hazard of war is that innocent people sometimes get caught up in the conflict - wrong place at the wrong time. While Thailand has just elected a new leader, the vote is being challenged. The various coloured "shirts", red (and I cannot remember the other at the moment) are on as knife's edge with one another. The red shirts met an armed response from the Thai police and security forces (army?) on the occasion of their last public demonstration. While the red shirts were apparently unarmed on that occasion, I would expect that next time they will be prepared to shoot back. Tourists in Thailand may not be the intended target of violence, but there is a real possibility of being in the wrong place at the right time. There was significant violence last time with businesses attacked and burned. I'll probably go there, unless there is a huge blow up there tantamount to civil war or armed insurrection. Keeping abreast of developments is always a wise thing to do, no matter where you intend to go. Malaysia is in my view a safe destination. But, even then there was a very recent incident where peaceful demonstrators met with forceful opposition from the police. Is this incident significant? We simply do not know at this point. I definitely plan to visit Malaysia. Did I say that a cook who apparently did not like Americans, or perhaps any westerners, fed me a rat. My illness was not a consequence of eating the rat, it was due to the rat poison used to kill the rat. I know this because a policeman I met while in Muar, and who knew of my illness - sent an email saying "maybe he fed you a raaaat". I imagine the policeman, the cook and others had a great laugh over it. To ignore that in certain parts of the world there are folks who dislike westerners, in particular Americans, is folly. I stand by by depiction of Indonesia. But, let me state unequivocally that I am talking about corrupt officials. I am not denigrating every day people of Indonesia. Were you a sailor when you lived there? If not you could not have experienced the treatment sailors receive in the area - no matter how simple their need is. The aforementioned officials will find a way to enrich themselves, or if they cannot delay your progress significantly. Bob
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Old 15-07-2011, 12:43   #9
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by svarmido View Post
Sneuman, I have already done Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. That was on the occasion of my first circumnavigation - 2000 through 2005. I don't believe I said either of the were no go destinations. If that were the case I would certainly not be going there now. Maybe I did not clearly express my concern for what is going on. Thailand is periodically in cross border shoot outs with Cambodia. None of us know whether or not that will ever become a full blown war. The hazard of war is that innocent people sometimes get caught up in the conflict - wrong place at the wrong time. While Thailand has just elected a new leader, the vote is being challenged. The various coloured "shirts", red (and I cannot remember the other at the moment) are on as knife's edge with one another. The red shirts met an armed response from the Thai police and security forces (army?) on the occasion of their last public demonstration. While the red shirts were apparently unarmed on that occasion, I would expect that next time they will be prepared to shoot back. Tourists in Thailand may not be the intended target of violence, but there is a real possibility of being in the wrong place at the right time. There was significant violence last time with businesses attacked and burned. I'll probably go there, unless there is a huge blow up there tantamount to civil war or armed insurrection. Keeping abreast of developments is always a wise thing to do, no matter where you intend to go. Malaysia is in my view a safe destination. But, even then there was a very recent incident where peaceful demonstrators met with forceful opposition from the police. Is this incident significant? We simply do not know at this point. I definitely plan to visit Malaysia. Did I say that a cook who apparently did not like Americans, or perhaps any westerners, fed me a rat. My illness was not a consequence of eating the rat, it was due to the rat poison used to kill the rat. I know this because a policeman I met while in Muar, and who knew of my illness - sent an email saying "maybe he fed you a raaaat". I imagine the policeman, the cook and others had a great laugh over it. To ignore that in certain parts of the world there are folks who dislike westerners, in particular Americans, is folly. I stand by by depiction of Indonesia. But, let me state unequivocally that I am talking about corrupt officials. I am not denigrating every day people of Indonesia. Were you a sailor when you lived there? If not you could not have experienced the treatment sailors receive in the area - no matter how simple their need is. The aforementioned officials will find a way to enrich themselves, or if they cannot delay your progress significantly. Bob
Bob - I think you expect things to be perfect - a beer and pizza in every port. It ain't that way and never has been. The developing world is just that - developing. Stuff happens there. I know from experience. Dealing with it in a pragmatic way is part of the adventure. If it were all A/C and chocolate on the pillow, it would be BORING.

I think your concerns about a full-fledged shooting war between Thailand and Cambodia - while not entirely misplaced - are, at least overblown. A) It's not likely to go beyond skirmish stage and B) unless you're standing in the line of fire along the border, you're not likely to be affected. The political strife between pro-Thaksin Red Shirts and royalist Yellow Shirts isn't over yet, I agree, but last year's violence was isolated to a relatively small part of the capital. I toured the Red shirt fortifications last year just prior to the violence. True, it was in the tourist district of Bangkok, but a mildly resourceful person could have avoided it.

That illustrates what has become a truism for me in my journalistic career in Asia and (sometimes) Middle East: it's never as bad as it looks on TV. Most violence is NOT widespread. Instead it is localized. If you're a journalist (and/or holding a TV camera) run toward it; if you're a tourist, run away from it.

It's also very much about perceptions. After all, America is a land of gang violence, child abductions and terrorist attacks, isn't it? Don't you watch television?

Corruption in Indonesia is something you deal with, as you do in India and Thailand, and a dozen other places. Having to "tip" a local official to get something done is annoying, but it's usually relatively painless for a tourist. It's not your country, so stop trying to fix it. And, there's nothing wrong with rat sans the poison. Tastes just like chicken.
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Old 16-07-2011, 04:04   #10
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

The big change is more news. Time was when off the beaten track folk were lucky to find out anything away from there locale (and maybe not even that!), let alone 24/7 news with streaming pictures......nor cared. The world has always had dangerous places and people.

My favourite story from ye olden days (1962) was a yacht that sailed from the Falkland Islands to the UK - One of the questions they asked upon landfall was "did anything come of that Cuban thing?"
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Old 16-07-2011, 07:31   #11
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

Bob,

You really are overstating the danger.

We are currently in the Malacca Straits and sailed through Indonesia last year with the Rally, We have spent the last 8 months in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore and not once have we ever felt threatened or in fear. In fact Darwin was probably the last time we felt that way.

We followed a path a lot less traveled in Indonesia through the Southern Islands and met nothing but smiling faces and friendship and when we came North on the milk run the only bad experiences we encountered were caused by fellow cruisers with bad attitudes.

There was the very odd occasion where a Government Official may have asked ( politely) for a small fee that we knew was not "OFFICIAL" however this was never a big issue and was nothing compared to the piracy Western Governments "OFFICIALLY" impose on cruising boats.

Considering we are paying 1/3 the price for fuel and we can eat and drink for only a fraction of what we experience in Australia, Europe and the USA I would have to say life in SE Asia is very good.

You will find that Raymond and Dewi are two of the nicest, hard working people that you will ever meet and they will make your experience traveling with Sail Indonesia a delight.

I think what you need to do is have a cold beer at the Darwin Sailing Club and Chill a little. Relax you are going to have a great time in Indonesia and paranoia over graft, corruption and politics will spoil the experience for you and your crew.

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Old 16-07-2011, 08:35   #12
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

I know you ... the cup is half empty ... just enjoy it while you can ....
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Old 16-07-2011, 11:06   #13
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

With veitnam,the phillipines,china and the US heating things up in the s.china sea or the phillipean sea( which ever side you stand on)it only seems natural that the rest of east aisa and the indonisean archapelago would start to feel some pressure building ..Look at the carribean with all the robberies and such ..It dosent take a thinking man or woman to realize that if times are tough in the US,UK,EU,...Haiti, then things are going to be extra tough in developing countries I think it makes perfect sense to be concearned about these areas..they will feed you rats ..they will sell you silver rings with the backs of the ring filed to a very sharp edge so that when you splash your face with water the sharp edge cuts your nose wide ass open!they will steal the pink slip from you if you rent a car or motorcycle then tell you you have got to pay 100.00 US to replace it .they will plant 2 lbs. of ganga in your bags when you are going to the airport to go home after you have given them everything you have.. except the clothes on your back!! I live like the romans when in rome and.. they do it to me..I really feel sorry for those who wear their gold watchs and fancy clothes and gold earings while in developing countries and the local populas sets there thinking, that watch cost more than Ill make in a life time..wonder how easy it would be to borrow that watch for a while??!!Ive been to Jamaica 19 times since 1982 and ive been thru many economic periods and when times are good for everyone the locals are good ..when times are bad seems like the locals can be bad.. worse than usual anyway..these people belive all westerners are rich..one Jamaican fellow said to me once that I was a rich man and I said no Im not rich I had to sell my car to get here..he said Im forty years old and have never had a car your 19 yrs old and have had several I could not argue with that ..and Im far far far from rich but compared to him and most of the world I guess I should feel very fortunate and I do.I will end by saying dont go to third world countries and act like my brother..he is rich and wants you to know it even if you do live on 500.00 a year...man thats just wrong. be careful people use caution bolt your hatches and take care ..hope I didnt hurt anyones sensabilites DVC
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Old 17-07-2011, 12:46   #14
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

Re Worse or Worser.
Having read your post i wonder why you are going at all. We left Australia 2 years ago having sailed thru P.N.G. Indo,Malaysia,Thailand ,2 months in Chagos and now in Mauritius we have encountered none of the things you have mentioned in your post.
The world is a mad and crazy place it always has been today and 10 years ago . Unless you change your attitude i fear you will spoil what should be a great exsperience for you .

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Old 17-07-2011, 13:08   #15
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Re: Worse and 'Worser'. . .

fact--world is changing in every way.
fact-- we must adapt or die.
fact--we all will die eventually
live in or with too much fear and lose flexibility
flexibility is requisite to cruising and relocating in an ever changing world
do not keep expectations, as you will always become disappointed with whatever it is you have expectations of or with.
and=-----
SAIL LIKE TH WORLD IS ENDING TOMORROW!!!!!! because mebbe it is... we dont know this---live and love life--is for LIVING!!! all our adventures are sweeter with a tad of skeerededness----just make sure isnt over edge of enjoyment. if i can conquer fear of lightning then you can do whatever ye like to do .
just dont do anyhting reaally really stoopit....like sail to somalia....
or die a dock queen.(fate worse than death to me)
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