Roused by the sky in my porthole brightening into a rosy red, I venture from my cabin into the salty morning air to begin yet another day at sea. Strolling along the top deck, coffee in hand, I take in the sun making its morning debut against the jagged volcanic peaks of Mt Rinjani.
Our trusty vessel is the Ombak Putih, a traditional Indonesian Phinisi. She has navigated from Bali across the deep waters of the Lombok Strait throughout the night, one of several crossings we will make as we cruise along the islands of Nusa Tenggara. High from the decks of our wooden ship, it is hard to fathom the sheer depths and tremendous volume of water that churns below us in these mighty channels, but even more staggering is the sight of the tiny company we keep on these waters.
Against the glimmer of the rising sun, I can make out several small silhouettes, their numbers slowly multiplying along the horizon. These miniature figures flicker on the sea’s surface, disappearing into deep liquid troughs, and re-appearing with the rise of the next wave. Our maritime neighbors are local fishermen returning home from a night harvesting the riches of the sea, expertly steering their “perahus” towards the safety of shore. The sight of their dwarfed dugout canoes has become familiar to me, yet continues to inspire awe. How brave to undertake such vast and tumultuous waters in so tiny a craft! Was this what it was like for those first brave souls to explore these far- flung islands?
When I first arrived in Indonesia nearly a decade ago, I had little concept of the vast and diverse country that lay beyond Bali’s blissful beaches. Even after several years of equatorial exploring, this girl from the frozen climes of Alaska is only beginning to grasp the majesty of this archipelago, whose islands and peoples are so diverse that it’s hard to believe they fall under the banner of one nation. Gazing upon a map of this island nation and realizing how much more there is to discover, I feel compelled to explore, just like those miniscule canoes branching out across the great blue expanse before them.
And so I find myself once again climbing aboard our faithful ship, armed only with my camera, my thirst for knowledge, and my appetite for exploration. I invite you to stow away with me by following this journal of images that will reflect on past voyages as well as document my new adventures as the Ombak Putih embarks on its voyage to faraway lands. By posting these nautical chronicles I hope to share with you the wonders of discovery as we set our course for the distant horizon, uncertain of what adventures we might find across the stretch of the great blue sea.