Posts related to the RV Heraclitus, an oceangoing pirate vessel, arrr matey!
- GPG key, better late than never Thanks to go to ana for her howto.
- linux.conf.au, I hear awesome folks are going to be there!
- battery, sucks to be at a conference with a crap laptop battery
- regret, using and working on non-free software is driving me insane
- hope, to meet Debian folks in Thailand again and eat Thai food
- want, to escape the internets for the sea and local wilderness
- wish, that there was more time in a decade, year and day
Thanks to all the Debian, FLOSS and Indymedia folks out there, you've made the last decade much more enjoyable.
Arrived at Ko Phuket a few days ago, I'm off the ship and at a hotel. In Bintan, we saw an interesting looking resort with plenty of coconut trees, logs and other stuff floating in the harbour, a snake oil merchant (with a live cobra), barges and transformer ferries, pouring rain and bad drainage. We left Bintan, went south for Selat Durian, then north past Singapore Straits, into the infamous Straits of Malacca and north past Malaysia and to the tourist island of Phuket. Along the way, we saw the coals of sunset, massive jellyfish in the dark green water, huge queues of massive ships covering the horizon as we passed the entrance to the Straits of Singapore, lights from Singapore in the distance, the pirate-free Straits of Malacca, where many large cargo and other ships passed us, the fleet of lights/boats that sprung up as if from nowhere some 50 miles off Phuket, the last sunrise on the ship (in a bay near Phuket) and an awesome NYE party on the ship.
Leaving the Heraclitus has been hard, I'm gonna miss that black and red ship and the awesome crew who got us the 3000 or so nautical miles from Cairns to Phuket. Now it is time to visit some Thai Linux developers and return to Australia.
The past few weeks, we changed our route to visit an uninhabited island (aka Ko Pulau Island) said to be "National Geographic, man" by some Americans we met in Kupang. On the way to Ko Pulau Island we saw a large school of pilot whales and dolphins, a humpback or other whale close to shore, a blue starfish and hot water vents nearby on the same mostly dead reef, a flock of birds feasting on a dense school of fish, a manta ray, a bonfire on the beach shared with the kids of Rote (who we swapped roast banannas and coconuts with), a clean hull and renewed sea-sickness. At Ko Pulau Island, we saw a long white beach made of small bead things instead of sand, with surf at either end and reef in between, a green lagoon with islands being eaten away at the base, a monkey-head rock, pink coral, reef fish, sea urchins, various pieces of flotsam washed up on the beach (flip-flops, a light-bulb, bottles, wood, burnie-beans, nautilus shells, a seabird egg, a dead seabird and other crap), sunset over the ocean with golden cirrus in the sky, turtle nests, tracks and hatchlings scurrying off into the water, Indonesian fishermen in need of water and turtle eggs, tidal pools with the occasional crab, ghost crabs darting towards the water, a pandanus stand, a small cave surrounded by discarded turtle eggshells, spinifex, hermit crabs, scrambling lizards, sunburn and other things. Later in our voyage, we saw a big lone flying fish, land looming mountainous on starboard, TNI, gratis reef fish, water buffalo and threatening rain clouds. The next major stop was a bay on the south side of Sumba, black cliffs to port and an eroded hillside to starboard. There, we enjoyed the excellent snorkeling against the cliffs and off the beach, birds calling from the forest, wasps - shiny blue and otherwise, meeting roaming cows in the forest, forest fungi and other sights. We met some fishermen and drove through the forested slopes toward a nearby city. On the way, we visited an Indonesian village and saw their traditional animist temple, ample baby pigs & dogs, tons of kids trying to get in photos, satellite dishes and graves in front of houses. Unfortunately, I crashed once we reached the hotel, missing eating and night life, but I did enjoy the sights from the windows of the cramped 4WD we were in. We headed for the 9.8 knot passage of Selat Sape, complete with eddies, currents, a barracuda and the steep slopes of a silent volcano. Since there, we saw an increasing number of interesting and curious Indonesian vessels, fish traps, the grey shapes of dolphins swimming in the aqua water under the bow, a floating sandal, a school of mahi-mahi jumping out of the water, a misty night, numerous schools of feeding fish, entangled luminescent trails left by dolphins swimming in the phosphorescent water beneath the bow, flashes of lightning in the distance, our first rain since Cairns, the associated storm, Jack the fisherman (a mast hallucination) and other things. Our next stop was Kalimunjava (north of Java, Indonesia), more than half way to Phuket. We spent a week there, watched lightning, collected rain, visited the local school, dived and snorkelled on the magnificant reef with some really nice university students (hi Lely, Dudu, Jaos and others) from Java who were doing a study on the corals and hiked up the steep slopes of the island. From there we ambled past Borneo, towards Bintan, near Singapore, experiencing the first non-calm seas in ages, dolphins in the storm, floating lines of debris, big barges, container ships and megatankers, a fancy, shiny yacht, fishing vessels with 50,000 lights, Rain Drop and it's egg (child of Rain the gecko), amazing cloudscapes at sunrise, throughout the day and at sunset on the way. Amazingly, we met the ∞ (Infinity, the new PCRF vessel) one find day in the South China Sea on their way to Bali. Eddie saw them from 5 miles away and knew almost straight away it was them. Michelle came on board and a lone daytime cumi (squid) swam between us as we parted. Before we arrived at Pulau Bintan (near Singapore), we saw seasnakes and a palm tree floating and lots of wind and rain.
We will probably arrive in Thailand by January and I'm thinking of passing thru Sydney on the way home, so let so please mail me if you want to meet up.
We arrived in Kupang (West Timor), will be heading off on Tues 7th to motor through Indonesia and towards Thailand, hopefully visiting Roti, Flores, Sumbawa and or other islands in the area along the way. We've seen the ever-changing iridescent colours of a dying mahi-mahi, tuna blood, misty hills of a strange new land looming on the horizon, the unfamiliarly shaped Indonesian fishing and other boats, dead-calm seas in the early morning, a bossy French warship, customs planes flying overhead and calling us every day, the eerie blue of the deep ocean with floating jellies at a swim stop, taking down the mainsail in the channel, shitter crabs, oil platforms in the distance, flocks of flying fish getting out of our way during a calm sunset, bird-stowaways, the amazing crystal goo of phosphorescence off the bow, zillions of mini-buses (taxis) in Kupang and many other things. The open-sea sailing has been mostly relaxing, although we motored a lot of the way from Thursday Island. I'm hoping there will be some more wind, but it looks like we'll be motoring to Thailand (to arrive after Christmas), maybe against the wind since the season has changed. I'm looking forward to finally doing some diving and snorkeling during the next leg of the journey.
If there are any Indonesian Debian or Indymedia folk that would like to meet up with me for a keysigning and or bintang, please send me an email and I'll try to let you know if an opportunity arises.
So tomorrow, we leave Australia from the administrative center of Thursday Island, just past the northern tip of the Cape York. The past few weeks we've been sailing successfully through the dangers of the Coral Sea. I've seen a lonely seagoing turtle, the fine coral beaches at Lizard Island, sunrises and sunsets, dolphins playing with a fish underneath the bow and surfing the waves, many anchorages we didn't have time to go ashore at, reefs we didn't dive at, a torn sail, huge freight ships doing 20 knots (RVH did 6 maximum so far), kilometers of coconut trees on Chili beach near Lockhart, the hospitality of folks in "the last outpost of civilisation" (Portland Roads), some great Aboriginal art at the Lockhart River Community, amazingly huge white sand dunes on Cape York and lots and lots of ocean. I've felt sea-sickness, home-sickness, missing-the-internet-sickness, love of the sea and an assortment of other emotions. The past weeks have been a huge learning curve, nothing we could have done in port would have been preparation enough for raising anchor, docking, motoring out of the harbour channel, navigating, raising and lowering sails, helming, 30 knot winds and big swell. We've survived so far though and I'm looking forward to open-sea sailing without constant dangers all about, which we will probably get some of during the next 3 weeks sailing to Kupang (Timor).
Unexpected, but pleasant, has been the lack of distraction provided by the Internet, I've found I've been able to work on my personal free software projects more effectively without it. That is, when we have generator power available (ships batteries are old and not so good). It is times like these I wish I had 1) a Debian mirror 2) a distributed VCS (quilt will do for now though) 3) tried to get wireless working before I left 4) solar panels.
So, I've been on the ship for a week or so now, learning knots and nautical stuff, cooking, cleaning, making inventories and otherwise preparing for the voyage. So far, we're just sitting in the harbour in Cairns, learning and working until the 24th. It feels weird to be away from the Internet for so long and the communities with whom my main contact has been Internet based; Debian, Perth/Indymedia & Cat@lyst. Kinda like being shipwrecked on an island, cut off from the outside world; no access to communication networks or ability to move around. However, the ship has an SSB (single sideband) radio (as well as VHF), I'm hoping that will satisfy my communications addiction. I've been learning about the SSB radio; if anyone knows of any information about, or free software (gratis and/or libre, preferably Windows based as there is only Windows - and a Mac and a Knoppix CD on board) that can access WEFAX (weatherfax) or the Internet via SSB, please email me about it.
argh! damn German keYboards have the Y and the Z in the wrong places!!!
Escaping for 3 months to sail the high seas in SE Asia! flickr photostream is: pabulous_katastrophic_adventures. Please email me if you wanna meet up in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand for GPG signings/whatever.
I feel a bit sad leaving Debian just before the etch release (and just before I become a developer) and leaving synfig (GPLed 2D vector animation studio) just when more people are needed to help out.
Hopefully I'll be able to get some work done on hhm/chmdeco/chmspec while I'm away, I especially look forward to figuring out some of the stuff that Matthew's ITSF spec got wrong and bits that are unknown, especially the weird things with CHW files.
I'm going sailing through SE Asia for the next 3 months. I'll fly to my departure point (Cairns) on September 4th. I'm leaving from Cairns (Australia) on the 20th September, sailing through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and ending up in Phuket (Thailand) in December.
Unfortunately I won't be visiting Cambodia, but if any KhmerOS people are in Thailand towards the end of the year, I'll be glad to meet up with you. Please email me if you want to meet up.