Trip Reports

Java Jive (19-Nov-2001-12-00):
12 Noon local time, Monday, Nov. 19 (0400 Nov. 19 UTC) 06 36 S 114 40 E. Temp. 85, Humidity 79%, Cloud Cover 90%. Java Sea.

Greetings from the crew of Maverick.

We had returned from our little sojourn around Bali and were attending to some boat jobs. We had hired a young man named Sonny to do some detailing on Maverick (!) and he yelled down to me. Emerging from the cabin, I saw another cruiser was pulling in to the slip next to us so we needed to attend to fenders and lines. Something seemed familiar, and I glanced up to see, who is that, OH NO!, it's Francis from Okiva! Unfortunately, this means we might have to party.

No boats were stolen, but we did hoist a few. Paul had been back to the US to deal with his business, and when he returned to Papua New Guinea, he and Francis left for the Torres Strait where they saw a sailboat on one of the reefs we had been warned about. It wasn't there when we went through. They skipped Australia completely and from the Torres Strait went directly to Indonesia, and stopped at Kupang and Komodo, where they scared the guide by getting too close to the dragons. They reported seeing dog heads lying around in a village where dogs are on the diet, so they were careful about restaurants. Even the crew of Okiva has limits. They also reported nothing but warmth from the people they encountered, whether in Christian or Muslim towns; and when Paul and Francis encounter people, they don't mess around. They are leaving for the Kumai River in Kalimantan on Monday, the same place we're headed now, but since they have the range to motor all the way to Singapore and we have to sail, they may beat us there in the expected light conditions. We left Bali to them and hope they are gentle with it. Not everyone here experiences the Bali we do. The above-mentioned Sonny (pronounced Sony, on the left in the website photo) solicited some work on Maverick when we arrived. Ship's Human Resources Manager Terry Shrode negotiated a deal where three guys would work all day in the very hot sun, cleaning, polishing, sanding, etc., for $35. This works out to $1.45 an hour, but the locals told us we were grossly overcharged, and are just inflating the cost of hiring the working class, as the going daily wage for a laborer is $2.50. I expect an email from Megawati any day about our ruining Indonesia's economy.

I've always read about cruisers raving about how cheap the labor is here and there in other parts of the world, and it gives me a weird feeling. There are two sides to the story, one being, this man will spend a day working hard in the sun for $2.50; the other is, this man will spend a day working hard in the sun for $2.50. So it is with decidedly mixed feelings that Mr. Shrode and I engage in any bargaining for goods or services, and if Sonny's crew made out like bandits we don't care, and hired them for two more days at their inflated wages.

At age seven, Sonny was told by his parents on his native island of Java that they could no longer afford to support him. With many tears (I would think so; the mind does boggle imagining this scene), he left home to reside in the local bus station for two years where he polished shoes. By fifteen he had worked his way onto a fishing boat, where he could earn $2 US per day for 21 (that's twenty-one) hours of hard labor, thirty days at a time. The men on the boats you will see on our web page are making that wage today on the same schedule. Now 22, Sonny has not seen his family in a decade, having made his way to Bali some years ago and not having the money to make the calls or travel to locate them. But he has had the pluck to hustle up some jobs around the marina here, works very hard, and hopes to save his money and, guess what: just like nothing has changed, he wants to come to America. If you sail down here, you can give that argument about inflation to him personally. He's a very sweet guy--who knows where that could have come from--but streetwise. He'd have no trouble at all understanding where you're coming from.

I got this story out of Sonny while spending some time with him on an extensive mission to buy teak oil, which was a sightseeing experience a bit different from our trip to the tourist centers, and equally strange. The details of his life came only after prodding, and only after our deal was said and done, for those of you who may think it was a negotiating ploy. It's a bit of a trick to keep these real world facts from invading your consciousness so that you can just cruise by, drinking beer on your big fat American yacht, and enjoy yourself. That there are poor people in the world would be such a tired idea, if only it weren't true. On our last day we went to a temple called Uluwatu and that night to yet another dance performance, this time of the Legong dance. Yow! We had already added the Kecak or monkey dance to our list of weird events viewed. At the temple they tell you out front that the monkeys will steal your glasses, so you best take them off. Which for me would make the experience a little like, not an experience. But if you must wear your glasses they've got you covered, they say, and send a kid with you to keep the monkeys away, whom you have to pay of course. He does a pretty good job for awhile, but he's not as smart as they are (unless it's planned that way, in which case I'm not as smart as either of them) and finally, a monkey comes out of the proverbial nowhere, where lots of stuff seems to come from, considering it's nowhere and all, and takes them off like lightning. Then a couple of people show up and give the monkey peanuts and with no little effort get him to give the glasses back, and they of course want some cash. The monkey could easily have dropped my glasses over the 300 foot cliff once he got his peanuts, but whether or not this is a total scam, they're de facto training the monkeys that if they get glasses and give them back they get peanuts. Everybody including the monkey made out a lot better than me, though, especially cuz he chewed them up for awhile. That's the part where he doesn't seem as smart as me unless the nose sweat absorbed by the little pads is more delicious than I think it is. Neener neener on him.

We left Bali yesterday morning and have had all kinds of conditions, but mostly no wind, or wind on the nose, or light wind on the nose, and rain, and thunder and lightning and Terry saw a waterspout, so throw in some current and we're having a pretty slow trip so far. I can almost hear the reggae music from Okiva, and they're still in the harbor. After sailing along the southeast coast of the island all day, through the Badung Strait and past Candi Dasa to the Lombok Strait, we were treated to a lightning show over the island as night fell. Bali sent us on our way with a magic farewell.

PS to Nataraja, Lance, Nancy and Robert: Keep them cards and letters coming, email style

PS to Sandra and Brad: Congrats again!

Next report more-or-less from this location: From Bali to Singapore: Gentlemen Don't Do It

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