Return of the PiratesI’ve noticed that most cruisers inevitably turn into pirates. Not your classical pirate with a sword and all that bloody screaming at work, but a progressive version concentrating on the important matters.
... more ranting here »

Return of the Pirates

I’ve noticed that most cruisers inevitably turn into pirates.
Not your classical pirate with a sword and all that bloody screaming at work, but a progressive version concentrating on the important matters.

To back this up I have prepared a list of similarities between historical pirates and the modern day cruising pirate. Both make their homes on the water, but spend most of their time ashore. Classically pirates amused them selves drinking rum. Modern pirates drink various beverages containing the basic ingredient of rum. This when taken in excess leads to cavorting, dancing, chasing wild women (or men), and in general having a good time ashore. A trait both groups have in common.

Pirates always employ a vocabulary of archaic nautical terms. For example Harr when used at the start of a sentence by an old time pirate usually meant the equivalent of our modern day well or even Duh . When employed at the end of a sentence it was more emphatic, with meanings such as will you get off that plank or must I stick you? or Surely you must remember where we hide the treasure . When used by a modern pirate Harr at the end of a phrase is more likely to mean, the marina fees went up again or What do you mean I must visit 7 more offices to check out ?

This ancient word is also employed as a stand-alone expression. Its meanings range from I think I ve had one rum too many or any minute now I ll use a hammer on this (censored) thing , to the indication of a private thought such as why wont this silly prat just stamp my papers and be done with it . More recently it has been used when paying a bar bill, cranking a winch, and when constipation strikes. The latter cases usually being accompanied by a gnashing of teeth and strange often-painful expressions on the speakers face.

That brings us to standard forms of piratical employment. The historical pirate was content with raping, ravaging, pillaging, and plundering, with the occasional yell of give us your women at a passing vessel. The modern trend is vastly different.

What with women's liberation and unisexual relations raping and ravaging are no longer as clear-cut as they once were. And with the liberalization of certain minority groups one isn t even sure who is doing, or should do, what to whom any more.

This has meant a vastly curtailed rate of raping and ravaging among the piratical community. Let s not forget the wide spread practice of karate and other such unfair tactics among the newly liberated he, she, it, population. Who wants to come home from a rowdy night of pirating with a broken nose, or find oneself ravaged by a transvestite. No, maties pirating has lost much of its appeal with these changing times.

Pillaging and plundering are done and gone forever. What once was an honest pirates main goal has now become redundant. That's right pillaging and plundering just isn't what it once was. Imagine you pirate a cruise ship. What would you get for your troubles? You would end up with a treasure chest full of plastic cards, most of them out of date or overdrawn. The real pillaging and plundering is done ashore these days, in bars, chandler's, and marinas.

So the good ole days of amusing ones self as a pirate are gone forever. No more chases across a crystal blue sea with treasure in sight and a night of rowdy fun in mind. Piracy just hasn t got what it takes anymore to attract the young blood it needs to remain a viable sporting activity. Little wonder that all the old pirates, and would be pirates, have all gone off in search of a place to establish their own chandlery, bar, or marina.


Vegabond establishes a new record

Vega's new dinghy

Rarely have we been so amazed as the day when crew member Alex Marsh managed to establish what we feel must be a new world record as well as adding a new word to the nautical vocabulary. be "Alexed" »

to be Alexed

Alex and Jo were cleaning the prop before we left East Timor. Jo was diving and Alex was on "croc-watch" from our very stable new dingy. When Jo finished the job she came up and passed her equipment to Alex who not realizing how heavy it was stood up and bent down to lift it. Hummmmm! Well some where between grabbing and standing she managed to go head over heals into the water. That was pretty funny until Jo reminded her she had put all three of our hand phones in her pockets. Needless to say Alex set a record in getting back out again, some say she might have managed to walk on water, but it was too late. The damage was done and all three handphones were hopelessly dead. Jo didn't cry and I didn't start yelling but from then on the term Alexed made its way into the boats daily vocabulary.

alex -ed· verb
1. to drown 3 mobile phones or any other electronic item
2. to tumble into the water clumsily

timor leste

Timor Vet Receives Surgical Equipment

This year when Antonio de Karuma, East Timors only veterinarian, asked us for surgical implements for his small animal clinic we were able to help him out in a big way. more »

Surgical Instruments for East Timors only Veterinarian

Antonio is East timors only vet for both large and small animals. Antonio also provides a much needed service for pets and has a home for abandoned pets. His new small animal clinic has taken him over two years to build with his own hands. Now it is up and ready to work he needed surgical impliments and several other pieces of equipment to get it working. Lucky for Antonio and East timors pet population Vega was able to meet his needs and more. Antonio made his selection on board and when he left he was a very happy Vet indeed. So were we. After all his job is very important for the rural farmers as well as the pet population in Dili. Sadly the pictures I made when Antonio was on board were lost in a hard drive crash.

Ermera School deliveries with the Bakhita Boys

Over mountains, steep hills, bumpy dirt tracks, large ditches and broken about our deliveries to these two remote schools »
see the pictures »

Ermera Schools Deliveries with the Bakhita Boys

Our first morning back at the Bakhita center, Jo and I set out in the FWD which doubles as an ambulance with three of the Bakhita boys. The journey was only 6km each way but due to the road conditions; basically a very narrow, bumpy dirt path that winds its way through steep hills, across large ditches and is jointly-used by various animals, children, mothers, farmers and tree branches; it took four hours in total to reach the two schools and return to Bakhita again.

Madede Village School is made up of two traditional bamboo rooms that contain 77 children ranging between the ages of six to 12 years old. The kids surrounded the donated equipment as we asked them to hold up the white banner for our sponsor pictures and their beautiful smiles radiated as we called out “hamnasa! (smile!)” The innocence, shyness and joy these children exuded was truly heartwarming.

On the way to the second school the boys stopped the truck at a “milk bar” on the side of the road. Not your conventional milk bar, this one was a small wooden shed with wooden bars for windows and a very neat display of stock to be seen through these bars. Within seconds the shopkeeper is outside the building shaking the hands of the Bakhita boys and for the next 10 minutes he has them all in stitches, literally rolling around on the ground laughing. Jo and I can’t help but laugh too as one of the Bakhita boys tries to explain through gasping breaths and tears that “this man, very funny man!” “This man say you girls should marry a Timorese man” “Have café latte baby!” “This man, funniest man around”.

Olopana Primary School has 150 students ranging in age from six to 16 years old who are taught by are six teachers, four of whom are full time volunteers.

Both schools lack electricity or running water and the majority of children don’t have proper shoes. The kids were gloriously happy all the same and ran to converge in front of the classrooms and watch what we were doing.

The teachers invited us into their office where we asked the teachers one of the staple questions of Vega – “what do you need to be able to do your job effectively?” It took some time for the teachers to open up with their requests but once they did you could see them getting quite excited at the prospects.

At the top of the list were new chairs and tables for the teacher’s office followed by sports uniforms & proper shoes for the kids. Several typewriters were requested as currently an old typewriter is used to type up the exam papers and with 150 children you can imagine typing alone is one person’s entire job.) In addition to this the basics were very much sought after including chalk, pens, pencils, paper, flipchart, games, bags, musical equipment (especially a guitar), Portuguese reading books and six clocks with batteries. Solar panels, a generator, a computer and a photocopier were on the wish list also but the teachers realised this would probably not be possible.

Communicating through the Bakhita boys the teachers solemnly thanked us and said “we appreciate what you have brought us and would like you to know that the work you are doing is very important. Our schools do not have much and the equipment you bring to us is very much needed. Thank you and we hope to see you again next year.”

The message was so heartfelt, the principal had tears in his eyes and I immediately wanted to promise them their generator, photocopier and brand new Apple Mac 360! Of course I couldn’t promise these items but I was resolved within myself to do my best to collect together their basic requests and return next year to distribute them.

A great system for supporting orphanages and schools

Several of the orphanages, clinics, and schools in East Timor help provide their food needs from their kitchen gardens. We on Vega have been assisting those programs with seeds and other important agricultural inputs. more »

Food for schools & orphanages

A great system for supporting orphanages and schools

One of these projects is the Fatumaca school and vocational training center in Bacau. Most of the schools food needs are provided by a unique system of community based agriculture where the center provides the inputs, along with technical advice, and the community provides the labor to grow various crops.

After the harvest the center receives 30% of the crop and the community the remaining 70%. This year they received an important shipment of 700 kgs of top of the line fertilizer donated by Yara Fertilizer along with part of their wish list of seeds donated by Kurnia for Hope, and our friend Ben Potter. This is an excellent system that not only provides food for the school and local clinic but also directly assists the local farming economy through proper inputs, seeds, and technical training.

You will be hearing more about this system as we intend to export it to other programs we are supporting.

Some of the fondest memories we have are in Vega’s wonderful galley. Nattering, scheming, sawing frozen chicken and stopping pots, pans and peas from rolling away.
the recepie »

Tandoori Chicken “Vega Style”

It might not look like your regular tandoori chicken, but it tastes just as good .
We got some of this recepie from the cookbook "Around the World in 450 Recepies".
It's a great inspiration and contains easy to follow recepies.
We hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

-- Alexis & Jo

  1. Ingredients
  2. 500 grams diced boneless chicken
  3. ¾ cup natural low fat yogurt
  4. 1 tsp. garam masala
  5. 1 tsp. powdered ginger
  6. 1 tsp. garlic pulp
  7. 1 ½ tsp.chili powder
  8. ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
  9. 1 tsp. ground coriander
  10. 1 tbsp. lime juice
  11. 1 tsp. salt
  12. 1 tbsp. oil
  13. 2-3 tbsp. sugar
  14. 3 tbsp sultanas, mixed dried fruit
    and/or nuts
  1. Combine yogurt, garam masala, ginger, garlic, chili powder, turmeric, coriander, lime juice, salt and oil and beat so that all ingredients are well combined. Cover the chicken pieces with spice mix and leave to marinate for between 2 – 24 hours,depending on how organised you are.
  2. Preheat oven to 240 C and place the chicken cubes on an ovenproof dish leaving aside some of the surplus spice mix. Bake the chicken for 15 – 20 mins or until the chicken is cooked right through and evenly browned on top.
  3. Remove chicken pieces from the oven and set aside. Mix the surplus spice mix and the dried fruit and nuts into the juices from the chicken pieces and stir over low heat to make a sauce. Add sugar to the sauce and continue stirring until it thickens. Add a mixture of corn flour and water to thicken sauce further.
  4. Serve tandoori chicken pieces on rice with sauce over the top and your choice of veggies. We stir-fried beans and garlic with garam masala spices. To be fancy garnish with lime wedges.

Our trip comes to an end... for now.
We have had a wonderful 2 months on the Vega. All the ups, downs and in-betweens have made our experience rewarding and unforgettable. To the friends we have made along the way, it's been a real pleasure getting to know you. We hope we see you gain next year!

- Alexis & Jo


There went the fresh water...

Death and Destruction in the fresh water department. For several months we had noticed the output from our water maker was going down. more »

Death, Doom, and Destruction in the fresh water department

It was to the point we were only getting around 25 liters an hour. Well that water maker is one of our mission critical systems, and a very expensive piece of equipment. All signs were pointing to the membrane giving up so it was decided to give it a good three stage deep cleaning in hope that would bring it back to its proper duty. We purchased all the proper chemicals from our friend and Spectra dealer in Singapore, Jason Queck, but there was really no time or clean water to do a proper cleaning until we reached Dili.

There we were in Dili with me doing, with great care, an in depth cleaning of the membrane when all of a sudden there was a clunk and the pump motor started to run a bit odd. A look over the side showed there was no reject water going out. Panic! PANIC! Tried all the resets etc then in desperation dismounted the pump not an easy task to find that the pump head had self-destructed. Well more panic and several emails later to our friend Jason made it clear we needed to replace that pump head.

Joanne was coming out from Singapore in 7 days so Jason moved the world to get the parts we needed sent out from the U.S. in time for her to bring them with her. The operation was a success and Jo arrived loaded with various spares among which was the pump head. It took me the better part of a day under the table is not an easy place to work to get everything back together again. The moment of truth came, the power was applied, and contrary to popular belief it actually worked the first time - water was made. Not only that, but the trickle we had been living with for months was now the flow it should be. Our lovely Spectra water maker was not only back on line but making almost as much water as it did 3 years ago when it was new. Once again Jason not only proved to be a real friend, but also re-enforced all the reasons we had decided on purchasing a Spectra in the first place.

There went the power (Part. 1) ...

Concord Lifeline batteries fail, but the company came to our rescue. As if inflated fuel prices were not enough about the time we arrived in East Timor our Concord Lifeline AGM batteries started to fail. more »

Concord Lifeline batteries fail,
but the company came to our rescue

This was not a slow dropping off of capacity, but a major failure over only about 10 days. I should mention that we baby our batteries and have the Xantrex inverter with the Link 2000R controller set to cut out at 12.25 VDC which according to the information provided by both Xantrex and Concord / Lifeline should provide for about 3,500 cycles of charge and discharge.

I sent along a technical request to Concord Lifeline asking what could have happened and what we could do to avoid this is the future. They have so far been very nice about our problem and stated that this is the first time a whole bank has gone like this. I have checked the whole system and found nothing out of order, so lets see what happens. The key is how to avoid this happening again.

That said we are suffering along making our deliveries with the poor generator running about 10 hours a day and the solar panels running the boat for another 6 hours each day. The only battery that seems to have any capacity left is the engine start battery which I fear we are slowly killing from abuse. We dare not even use our anchor light at night and have started using a paraffin / kerosene lamp for that. It is just about all we can do to keep 1 freezer and the chiller operating at reduced levels. When sailing we must run the generator to provide power for the electronics, autopilot, etc. (at least we did do that until the genset died also)

These are only stop gap measures until Singapore where we must replace all of our batteries with new ones - from the same company. We have 6 Lifeline 255 Amp deep cycle AGM batteries. Those batteries cost us almost $4,500 (4 years ago) what with transport and the like. I really think they should have lasted a bit longer and Lifeline fully agree. Thanks to their kind attentions we will have all our new batteries waiting for us in October when we arrive in Singapore. As to the cause? It seems that the setting suggested for the Xantrex and AGM batteries are not the correct ones we should be using with these batteries. I will keep you posted as to how the new setting work out.

There went the power (Part. 2)...

Westerbeke Generator gives up on us just as we arrive in Nila What with the batteries down to about 35% capacity (or less) the generator was our main source of power for just about everything. That is until it decided to die. more »

Westerbeke Generator gives up on us in Nila

Just before we left Nila for Banda Islands our generator died on us. I tried all the tests suggested in the book - don't get me started about different colored wires, regulators, and other parts - with no joy as to why. It just puts out about 5 VAC rather than 240 VAC and nothing seems to be wrong with it. So rather than a lovely sail from Nila to Banda we had to keep the main engine running all the time at idle just for 12 VDC to run the boat. That is a noise we could have done without. In any case we have high hopes that we can get it repaired in Jakarta or at the latest in Singapore. Will keep you posted.

If Westerbeke wants a reference best not send people to me. That thing is the most badly thought out "marine" generator I think I have ever seen. If they called it a farm generator, and sold it at normal prices, then I could forgive many of the mistakes and down right stupid things about it. But since they insist on calling it a "Marine" genset... well enough said. Just never buy one of them is all I can suggest. And forget about the warrantee they promise you it is impossible to fulfill the requirements to get it validated so they fob you off and sell you more radically over priced poor quality spare parts like S$1,000 johnson pumps that really only cost about S$220 or how about the S$1,800 heat exchanger that we managed to get a much better made replacement shipping and all from Canada for S$390.

Great news from Norway for Vega’s poor old spars

At last our friend Morten Hiesthammer head of the boat yard / museum that cares for Mathilda another of Ola Nerhus s fine boats sent me an email that our new spars have come down from the forest and are in his yard. more »

Great news from Norway for Vega’s poor old spars

Vega's Spars

For several years now we have been patching and splicing Vega s poor old spars trying our best to squeak another season out of them. Some like the main yard have been spliced so many times with teak that they too heavy for the job they do. (we now have a temporary yard made from 15 cm Bamboo from the forests of Nila doing that job) Others like the Mizzen staysail boom was simply too small to begin with, while the mizzenmast has never really seemed the thing as far as wood goes. Between small patches of rot we must always watch out for, and quickly cut out and patch, and basic old age Vega needs quite a few new spars.

Now thanks to Morten and his gang of very professional Hardanger fiord shipwrights Vega may at last have the new spars she needs and deserves. And they will have come from the very same forests as her original ones did. The trunks to make our new spars were cut last winter and are now curing. Soon he will start roughing them out into the basic shapes we need to replace all of Vega s often spliced and rather worn out spars.

Once that is done there only remains the problem of how to get them to us here in South East Asia. Fortunately we have friends that love old boats as much as we do and who also are constantly sending containers back and forth between Norway and this area. With a little bit of luck we should be able to sneak our spars into one of those containers and get them on board later this year. What an amazing 120th year birthday present that would make. I will keep you posted as this story unfolds.

Hurray for Hooray Solar Panels!

After our batteries started failing on us it was the solar panels that began taking the load and providing much of our on board power during the day.
find out more »

timor leste

Midwife Kits & School kits delivered to theses remote islands

Thanks to our friends on the Singa Betina we were able to reach out to two more isolated island communities located in the South Moluccas.
see the pictures of their delivery to Teun »

Thank You!

Many thanks to those who donated supplies from Melbourne, Australia:


The Alfred Hospital,
The Qi Crew, Prahran, Loretto Madeveille Hall School, Toorak, and McFarlane Medical Supplies, Melbourne.


Special thanks also to
Sail Timor Leste (especially the yachts Lorna Marlise and Parlay) for their assistance with delivering the donated goods to
Timor Leste.

The Captain’s Log

The captain's log

raw nye me hardies and I shall spin ye a yarn of a tall ship a sailing, tropical islands, volcano s glowing in the night, earth quakes, tsunamis, and a crew of adventurous hardies as they follow their hearts across thousands of miles of ill charted seas to fulfill their destiny. Theirs is a glorious destiny as bringers of hope, educational, and medical supplies to small isolated islands in South East Asia.

Tis a tale that rare be told...

I thought a bit of colorful sea talk for the intro wouldn t go amiss and would also let you know we have not forgotten that Vega is also a 120 year old historic sailing vessel as well as a humanitarian delivery boat. It is all too easy to become engrossed in the work we do and forget that it has more sides than just that work.

This issue is different from the last ones. Usually I put them together along with Meggi but this time we have contributions from Joanne Har and Alexis Marsh.

This year is turning out to be the year of failing machinery. About 3.5 years ago we purchased a load of new equipment. Every single one of the purchased items from that period are now giving us big problems. The good news is that some of those companies are proving to be very understanding about this "unusual" situation.

Vega delivers Midwives Kits to rural midwives in East Timor

Vega delivers Midwives Kits to rural midwives in East Timor

Read here to learn more about how Frontline and Vega are working to help rural midwives like Marcelina»
See our visit to Frontline's Mobile Clinics»

Vega delivers Midwives Kits to rural midwives in East Timor

With 47 successful births and a 0% post-partum infection rate in the past year, recently trained community midwife Marcelina is one of 50 isolated practitioners to receive a donated midwife kit for her rural community of Asulau in sub-district Ermera, Hatolia in Timor Leste during a visit by the Frontline Mobile Clinic and Vega volunteers. Marcelina was chosen by her community to be trained by organisation Frontline in an initiative that brings a nominated community member from rural villages to the capital Dili to receive three months of intensive midwife training.

Dr Aida, founder of Frontline explains, “If someone from outside of the community was given three years of training and positioned there, the women would not trust them and are less likely to use their services. What we do, works, because the community has chosen their own representative and with only three months training, her track record speaks for itself”.

The idea of these comprehensive midwifes kits was conceived in 2010 when Frontline were asked what equipment they needed to be more effective. Dr Aida requested 50 midwifes kits including bandages, sutures, scissors, fetal heart beat monitors, natal clamps, etc. From last October until May, Vega's crew began collecting the necessary equipment. Dr. Aida aims to train another 35 community midwifes and with the help of Vega she hopes to equip them with one kit per midwife.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand most of the equipment and supplies requested were collected and added to the kits .

Unfortunately those kits were still missing the Blood Pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, and thermometers, but we are determined to find more help to update and top up these packs.
Please contact us if you would like to help out in any way»

School Kits Delivered to Asulau Village School

Asulau Village School is a community run school and receives no support from the government. If not for community schools, childern in remote villages have little or no chance to attend school because of the far distance to travel to attend public schools.
See our visit to this community school »

We left East Timor early in the morning with calm seas and light winds. The weather was perfect for motoring andagainst the prevailing winds to make the easting we needed before heading North East for the islands. The morning and afternoon went well and we managed a good bit of our easting until late in the afternoon when rounding Tanjung Bandura the wind set in against the two currents buffeting that cape making for a rough roll. All was going well until...
Rogue Wave strikes Vega off of East Timor »

to be Alexed

About half way round the cape just as we were starting to set our sails I looked up and saw a real monster of a breaking wave bearing down on us from the port bow. I yelled "Hang on" and tried to turn into it, but time was too short bang! splash! balush! it hit us about the first batten on the rat lines high (that's about 4 meters above the calm water level), washed across the decks in a rush then into the aft skylight and aft hatch with a vengeance. Needless to say the foredeck gang were well soaked as was my side of the bunk - again. That was the only one of those waves - just one all alone and it came from a completely different direction from the normal swell. Took us a few hours to get the place dried out. Fortunately nothing was damaged, no electronics were dunked, and all that happened was our bunks were soaked.

Learn from this. Even on a calm day there are times when the odd wave can pitch up and make a mess for you. Always a good idea to keep your windward skylights and hatches closed. If nothing else it will help keep your bunk dry.

Pulau Nila





Vega goes AGROUND
on the sprawling reefs of Nila

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. In Nila I managed to get us hard aground. There is an old sailors expression about going aground that says: Any sailor who says he has never been aground is either a liar or never goes sailing. more »

Vega goes AGROUND on the sprawling reefs of Nila

The entrance to Nila's anchorage is a maze of reefs that twist and turn with little apparent rhyme or reason. Our electronic charts were completely useless for details and the detailed 2010 charts we had from the Indonesian Hydrographic service were so far off that they showed 15-20 meters of water where we were hard aground and completely failed to show any of the reefs that surrounded us at all. We had managed to work our way into the anchorage and put down an anchor but it began to drag rather than setting. So up it came and we reset it again but with the same results. Mind you it was not easy getting that anchor up without the aid of our anchor winch. It takes time and in that small space there simply was not enough of that. Try as I would to keep us positioned in the deeper water we drifted off to the port side and were soon on the reef.

By then we had three of our friends from the island on board helping out but we went aground with the tide falling and managed to sit there through the whole cycle until the next high tide using our booms for stands and with an anchor out from the mast head. That tide was much less than the day time tide and it was only at the very last seconds of the high tide that we managed to break free and haul off on our stern kedge anchors into the deeper water. Meggi made a few good pictures of us high and dry, but they were about half way through the falling tide. At the lowest of the tide Jo polished the prop and we checked a few things that needed looking at. All very useful but I can think of better ways of doing them. Ones that are not so embarrassing for the skipper.

Nila was so special
we wrote a poem...

Read it here »
See the pictures»

Pulau Nila

Have you ever been to a place, that you just adored?Have you ever been to a place, that you just adoredcdfsdfsdfs?

Have you ever been to a place, that you just adored?
When you reminisce, it makes your heart soar.
Though first time we saw it, it brought us some grief,
As we landed our boat on a beautiful reef!

Many village canoes quickly arrived,
To help us and wait for the very next tide.
No one was worried, “It’s calm here”, they said
So our day filled with laughter - rather than dread.

It was later that evening when the tide it did rise.
So that good Vega was floating, what a happy surprise
Our friends helped us anchor then left us to rest
But not before a meal was had with our lovely guests

The next day in a dugout, we were paddled to shore,
To make new friends and to find out more.
We asked, “do you have a doctor, do you have a nurse?
From the looks on their faces, things couldn’t be worse.

“The last health worker left us in ‘78,
Now “needle-man” and midwife, that is our fate.
So we ask that the midwife and needleman they call
As for the children there was no teacher at all.

With the medical duo we sat in the shade,
While they told us of surgery using dull blades.
Or Delivering babies with a string and a knife
On this island abandoned how they fought to save life.

Proud honorable people doing their task
Only tools and supplies that was all that they ask.
So early next morning we all went ashore
A midwife’s kit to deliver and so much more.

The village was happy and opened a keg
These proud honest people never would beg
These people you see only use barter.
Don’t offer them money; you’ll just cause laughter.

Coconuts, nutmegs, cloves, fish and rice,
Bananas as big as your Uncle Ron’s wife.
Every morning a boat would arrive
With more fresh fish or bananas to fry.

A new yard was needed for a sail to hold
So the question was asked in a manner bold
To cut a bamboo; strong, thick and straight,
Up the volcano, we all went post haste.

Jungle drums sounded, each mans call unique.
“We’re calling for food, there’s no need to freak!
Our wives will arrive, with fish for our lunch
Let’s sit here and wait, look almonds to munch!”

Then Sunday it was and to church we must go,
And to our delight, wooden flutes and trombones.
The service nearly over, the berating began,
The young boys in trouble, for not lending a hand.

White steaming beaches, burning volcanic sand
Hot water flowing, through all houses on land.
More than once were we caught, unawares by the tide
And our poor little tootsies, ended up slightly fried.

Everyone was happy, with the trade they had done
Now it was time, to go have some fun!
Our fellow travellers, three merry men afloat,
Night after night, they were the party boat.

Sunset would fall, dugouts would arrive,
Home made ukeleles made the deck come alive.
Language no barrier, dancing reigned supreme
Mark’s cry “disco, disco!” rang out crisp and clean.

Our last night in paradise, a feast was thrown,
But before it had started, the men snuck off alone.
“Secret Men’s Business”, we were not amused,
For when they returned, they’d drunk all the booze!

A pig, it was slaughtered, opossum stew made,
Both Villages together, to wish us on our way.
Departing that island was a sorrowful day.
The people….incredible. Good friends now are they.

Our thanks to Captain Jamie, Singa Bettina his boat,
For sharing his treasure, this island so remote.
And to the people of Nila, our hearts are with you,
Next year we’ll return, so save us some brew!

There are two villages on the North of Nila each with its own headman. Pak Hecki is the headman of Lakotani Village and is also the local “Needleman” a local way of saying “Health Worker”.
Read more about this dedicated man »

You have given us so much. What can we give you. We have nothing. - Pak Heki

Pak Hecki has little in the way of official training, but was an assistant to the last official health worker and has been forced by circumstances to keep learning as best he can. When he showed us his “tools” we were shocked. There was really nothing in his kit other than a few old glass syringes and several boxes of double sided razor blades. His stock of medications was just about as bad. That said the man has done some amazing operations in his time, like two years ago when two excited boys both tried to spear a big fish and one managed to spear his friend through the chest. “I started at 7 PM and ended at about 3 AM”, says Pak Hecki, “That was a 5 razor blade job. The hardest part was the shaft right against his lung between two ribs”. The operation was a success and the patient even lived.

We were able to assist Pak Hecki with bandages, surgical supplies, sutures, and disposable syringes with needles, among other things. The list of needs he gave us is very basic but shows a good understanding of the local problems. He also gave us a list of problems to show a doctor and ask what treatment would be best. So do not be surprised when we start asking for help to purchase antibiotics and other supplies needed by this community that has been totally abandoned by their government for over 30 years.

Considering there has been no official health worker on Nila since 1978, and then only a nurse, we are hoping to find a young volunteer Indonesian doctor to accompany us next year to these small islands to do clinics along the route and immunize the children. Your help will really be appreciated when the time comes.

The midwife on Nila is Mama Ross. She is the wife of Pak Jop the headman of the other village. She also acts as the nurse when Pak Hecki has an important problem or surgery.
Read more about this amazing woman and the midwife kit we brought her »

You have given us so much. What can we give you. We have nothing. - Pak Heki

The other village has Pak Jop for its headman. His wife, Mama Ross, is the island midwife and acts as the nurse when Pak Hecki has an important problem or surgery. Pak Hecki also attends whenever there is a birth – just in case he is needed.

We were pleased to present Mama Ross with a full Midwives kit, Pleased, but not as pleased as she was. It can be rather emotional seeing a woman well over 50 start crying. That kit had everything – well almost everything – she needed to do her job in a proper manner. We were also lucky enough to have found a “lost” box of bandages and surgical tape, etc. which we could donate to her efforts.

Her list was very modest and consisted of a blood pressure cuff with stethoscope and several medications that are used by midwives and for infections. Next year we will be topping up her kit and providing more of the supplies she needs to provide for her community.

Bamboo Yard

Ancient Chinese rigging materials for Vega's Main Yard

For some time now we have been struggling along with our old yard. While on Nila we used an ancient Chinese rigging material to solve this problem - at least for the time being.
Read about the hunt for the perfect yard»

Ancient Chinese rigging materials for Vega's Main Yard

For some time now we have been struggling along with our old yard. It has broken once and been spliced to the point it was to heavy for even three men to lift. Needless to say all that weight aloft was causing undue strains on Vega's poor rigging and a lot more roll than was healthy. While on Nila we used an ancient Chinese rigging material to solve this problem - at least for the time being.

Vega's Main yard had become so heavy that it was too difficult to get up and down as needed, not to mention the roll all that weight aloft was causing. So when we discovered that on Nila they had several stands of very large straight bamboo, Meggi brought out an idea she has been nurturing for several years now… replace that heavy yard with one from Bamboo. Granted it would not look truly traditional - which had me a bit set against it - but it would be light and strong. So after evening of discussions it was agreed and with the help of two of Pak Henki's sons we set out the next morning to climb the islands Volcano in search of a proper bamboo pole.

It seems that on Nila everything is up the mountain and the best bamboo is found half way up the mountain just beside the best canoe building trees. It took us about an hour of climbing to reach the sheltered grove of Nutmeg and clove trees where the paths divide into one that crosses the island and the other that goes to the hot volcanic springs. It was along the path to the springs we were assured the best bamboo would be found. Another 20 minutes walking with a visit to where a large new canoe was being carved from a fallen tree trunk brought us to the bamboo forests of Nila. Most think of Bamboo as a modest decorative plant found around hotels and in gardens. This was the real full grown wild bamboo reaching over 20 meters high and well over 20 cm in diameter in some places. It took us some time to pick a proper "stick" with the needed 15 cm diameter in the middle as well as a good straight run for at least 12 meters. At last one was decided on, cut, and trimmed. That was the easy part. Next came the task of getting it down from the mountain and out of the forest. What started out as a combined effort was soon taken over by the two local lads who simply shouldered the thing and took off running down the path.

To cut the story short we drilled it the next day and left it immersed for the next three days to soak up salt and that way avoid splitting when it dried. Before leaving we loaded it on board Vega lashing it down opposite the old yard. It stayed there drying until we had been several days in the Banda Islands. Rigging it was interesting but posed no real problems since the center diameter was the same as the old one. It does lack the distinctive double taper typical of most yards and is heaver on one side than the other, but then again I was able to hoist it up with ease - something the old yard took three men to accomplish. Meggi painted it a nice shade of brown with white center and yard arms to make it look a bit more traditional. Will keep you posted as to how it works out. In any case we hope it is only a temporary measure until Morten's lovely Pine spars arrive from Norway.