RSS RSS News Feed

Keith's Blog

POSTSCRIPT: A Spectacular Finish — And Thank You!

Posted by Keith on September 10, 2007 at 7:02 pm | 4 Comments

Hong Kong
September 11, 2007

In a few minutes The Global Adventure will make her way up spectacular Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong, on her final journey as our ship.

On this, the anniversary of 9/11, and as she has always done when entering a foreign port, The Global Adventure will fly her 8′x5′ American Flag from high on her stack as she passes beneath what may be the most spectacular urban skyline on earth.

Our flag will be seen by thousands upon thousands of people, and so will The Global Adventure.

The ship will pass from a marina in the far west, Pacific side, of Hong Kong to The Global Adventure’s new home at the Gold Coast Marina on the east side of town near the airport.

There she will be offered for sale in a combined effort by Nordhavn Yachts and Asia Yacht Services. We will post listing information here on the site within the next couple of days. You may recall that we had planned to take The Global Adventure to the Nordhavn ship yard in Xiamen, China, and to sell her from there. But the mainland authorities imposed too many restrictions, so as we headed north up the China coast we turned left into Asia’s free-market capital, Hong Kong, instead.

The Global Adventure’s trip across Victoria Harbor is a fitting end not only for our relationship with a proud ship, but also for this trip of a lifetime.

Since announcing our journey’s end, and the end of our radio show, we have received many supporting, often touching, emails. They are posted in our chat room and after articles such as our August 26th JOURNEY’S END, and the September 4th FINAL THOUGHTS posts, below. There will likely be comments after this post as well. I encourage you to read them all. If you find them as uplifting as my family and I did, it will be time well spent.

THANK YOU ALL for your kind words, your support and encouragement. You have each touched us in a very real and positive way.

Sharing our adventures with you, and having the opportunity to visit with you each Sunday morning on the radio for so many years, has been a privilege and an honor.

You have enriched us beyond measure.

I will depart Hong Kong in a few days. I have not seen my family for nearly two months. I have not been home since late May.

While I’ve enjoyed every moment of every visit to foreign shores, safely setting foot on Arizona soil, and being home once again home with my family, will indeed be the crowning achievement of our Global Adventure.

–Keith

FINAL THOUGHTS: A Dream Come True

Posted by Keith on September 4, 2007 at 7:17 am | 4 Comments

Northbound on the China Sea
About 420 miles southwest of Hong Kong

A chat room participant recently suggested that our trip would have been more successful if my family and I had taken a cruise ship around the world.

I’m afraid this poor fellow entirely missed the point of our Global Adventure.

First and foremost: The beauty, excitement and challenge of being at sea in our own small ship – especially a vessel as seaworthy as our Nordhavn 55; the satisfaction of charting courses, traversing vast expanses of ocean, maintaining the ship, and arriving safely at our destinations; and the fun and flexibility of setting our own schedule – these are the elements of true adventure, and are just a few of the things that have made every moment of this trip a dream come true.

As we arrive in a few days at our final destination, Xiamen, China, we will have traveled 11,000 nautical miles, or about 12,600 statutory miles – a distance almost exactly equal to half the circumference of the globe.

After departing San Diego on April 1, my crew and I brought ourselves to, and called at: Honolulu, Hawaii; the island of Majuro, The Marshall Islands; Pohnpei Island, Micronesia; The island nation of Palau; Cebu, The Philippines; Porta Princessa, The Philippines; Kota Kanabalu, East Malaysia on Borneo; Pattaya Thailand; and finally Xiamen, China.

During this trip I made a side trip to Hong Kong, met my family, and toured Mainland China for three weeks.

Along with several thousand cheering fans, I watched the Micronesia games on Majuro.

In Pohnpei we saw fishing vessels at the dock next to us unload a huge harvest of Yellow Fin tuna, we toured the beautiful countryside, and visited ancient ruins.

We went scuba diving in Palau, took friends there on a sunset cruise, and in fact made friends wherever we went.

I toured Cebu, the Philippines, visited the first Spanish fort there, and the bay at which Magellan was killed, and I saw the gut-wrenching poverty in its neighborhoods.

I visited the base of Mount Kinabalu Sabah, East Malaysia, on the Island of Borneo, toured the legendary city of Bangkok, and strolled down infamous Walking Street in Pattaya, Thailand.

Just two days ago, while in international waters off the coast of Vietnam, a patrol boat fired several flares across our bow, attempted to cut us off by pulling directly in front of us, and tried to board us. They said we passed too close to one of their offshore natural gas wells. We raised our U.S. flag, held our ground and refused to pull along side their ship, or to let anyone from their ship board ours. We put out an alert on our VHF radio, and after a one-hour stand-off, they pulled away.

Throughout the journey we fished, and kept only what we could eat, and sometimes we watched in awe as 400-pound Marlins danced across the surface after striking our lures (almost always biting through them within minutes).

Sometimes we fought 15-foot seas, and sometimes we enjoyed perfectly calm days. We stopped our ship and went swimming in thousands of feet of water whenever we felt like it.

We ate well thanks to our fully equipped galley; and we lived every bit as luxuriously aboard our Nordhavn 55 – the aptly named Global Adventure — as aboard the most opulent cruise line.

Thousands of miles out to sea, I’ve seen fishes that fly, birds that swim, whales and dolphins, and, as at this very moment about 420 miles southwest of Hong Kong as we head north in the China Sea, we’ve enjoyed empty horizons in every direction where we alone momentarily ”own” the entire sea around us.

Some nights we’ve seen hundreds of small fishing vessels light up the horizon in all directions, and sometimes we barely missed tiny unlit vessels, and their nets. We’ve stood watch in rotation, and sometimes doubled the watch in cluttered seas. Meanwhile, we’ve seen colorful vessels of every conceivable sort, some little more than canoes fifty miles from shore.

And other nights, and sometimes for nights on end, we alone have owned the stars and the moon and the breeze.

And throughout it all, we’ve had the privilege of sharing our videos, photos and commentary about our adventure with thousands of radio listeners and website visitors.

As we arrive in Xiamen we will have crossed not only the entire Pacific Ocean, but also the Sulu Sea, the South China Sea (twice) the Gulf of Thailand (Siam), the China Sea, and even the Formosa Straight.

What made the trip possible in the first place was my family’s enthusiastic support of my dream. But my wife, Lynn, and I agreed more than a year ago that yanking our youngest sons from school was not in their best interests; so the possibility of the family traveling together at this time was never on the table.

It was I, not they, who called it quits. In fact, my ten-year-old son, cried when he heard the news. He thought I’d be sad.

There may come a day when we complete the second half of the journey. Or not. It doesn’t matter. The Global Adventure has always been about the journey, not the destination.

It has always been about dreams come true.

KEITH’S FINAL RADIO SHOW — Pattaya, Thailand

Posted by Keith on September 2, 2007 at 2:39 pm | 5 Comments

JOURNEY’S END: Time to Come Home

Posted by Keith on August 26, 2007 at 3:40 am | 44 Comments

Pattaya, Thailand
(Near Bangkok)

Time to Come Home

First and foremost, I want to assure everyone who has followed our journey that I am fine, and that my family is fine. There is no emergency bringing me home. No crises.

However, having crossed the vast Pacific Ocean, the Sulu Sea, the South China Sea, and the Gulf of Thailand; having visited Hawaii and seven countries since our April 1 departure from San Diego; having made many new friends along the way; and having enjoyed and shared with thousands of listeners and readers the adventure of a lifetime, I’ve decided to conclude our trip over the next couple of weeks and to return home.

Why is The Global Adventure’s journey coming to an end?

It’s simple: I miss my family. Despite their incredible continued support of this adventure, and despite the countless hours I have spent arguing with myself to the contrary, I can’t shake the feeling that I am missing a much more important adventure at home.

If we go any further west from here we would most likely need to complete our circumnavigation in order to return the ship to where it could eventually be sold. This would probably require an additional 18-month commitment due to seasonal weather considerations around the globe.

While every member of my family would support me if I continued the trip, I am electing to do my future world travels by plane, with them, and to capture that 18 months at home.

To bring the trip to a prompt and successful conclusion, my friend Dan Streech, President of Nordhavn, has recommended that we return to the Nordavn production facility in Xiamen China so that The Global Adventure can be spruced up and resold from there. For the record, not much sprucing up will be necessary. The Global Adventure is as Bristol as the day she left San Diego. In fact, she looks awesome.

Therefore, we will backtrack across the South China Sea; then head north well clear of the coast of Vietnam, and return The Global Adventure to where she was born, at the shipyards of Xiamen.

We hope to leave here — Pattaya, Thailand — in a few days to begin the 1800-mile trip to Xiamen – our last great adventure aboard The Global Adventure. The trip should take 10-12 days.

But it’s typhoon season here; and if our weather-routing service alerts us, we’ll duck into Vietnam, or into Hong Kong, or wherever, to avoid the excitement of 70-knot winds and 30-foot seas.

Captain Wolfgang Petrasko and Engineer Brian Wallace will be making the trip with me. Alida Christiansen, our fourth crew member, has already headed home.

I’ve Asked KFYI to End the Radio Show

After more than 18 years on Arizona radio – more than 16 years with KFYI, and two years with KTAR — I’ve asked KFYI to end our show after the September 2 broadcast. They may carry the show for an extra week or two. Or perhaps they’ll end the show immediately. That’s up to them. KFYI has been great to work with. I’ll miss them!

I love doing the show! But it’s time to turn the page – and to be home on Sunday mornings for a change!

Sincere Thanks

Some great people helped make this trip possible:

Gordon James of Gordon C. James Public Relations is not only a good friend, but a great PR representative. My thanks to him and to all of the great people he works with.

Tammi Gauthier is my administrative assistant back in Phoenix. Without her help life would have been infinitely more difficult for both Lynn and me.

Dan Streech and all the folks at Nordhavn have been beyond spectacular. If I started again tomorrow, it would be on a Nordhavn.

Smokey Rivers, Dan Garcia, Jason Wilmot, Doug Burkhizer, and Bryce Carmichael, to mention just a few of the great people at KFYI, have been tremendous to work with.

Chris Crump at Comrex, Steve Buckingham and Steve Griffin at KVH Industries, the folks at Medlink, the folks at Commanders Weather, and a long, long list of other professionals all made the trip possible – and safe. We are in their debt.

The Global Adventure’s Captain, Wolfgang Petrasko, is a serious seaman and a good friend. He has taken us safely half way across the globe; and I know he’ll make our final 1800 mile passage to Xiamen a success as well.

Engineer Brian Wallace was a late addition to the crew, starting in Majuro; and we could not have done it without him. He too is a fine seaman, and I’m very pleased and grateful to be traveling with him.

Rip Knot, Kate Chapman and Alida Christiansen also contributed as crew; and their help is much appreciated.

At each port of call we made new friends and were extended countless courtesies. To everyone who made each stop an immensely positive experience – thank you.

Each week I receive many positive emails from listeners and website visitors. I can’t thank you enough for your support and encouragement. Many times I begin my day by reading your emails. They – and those who write them – make a huge difference. Many of you have written to say I was living your dream. I hope I have not disappointed you.

Having an audience with which to share his adventure made it all much more meaningful. It was always a pleasure to know that our shows, the photos and videos, and the articles were appreciated. Thank you all for listening and for visiting the website!

What the Future Holds

I’ll be sure to post at least one final dispatch when we arrive safely in Xiamen, and I do look forward to what will probably be our final, September 2nd, radio show.

After securing the ship in Xiamen, I’ll return to Phoenix. I hope to be home within about three weeks.

What’s next? Time with the family! In addition, I certainly want to do some investing based on what I’ve learned on this trip! Many other opportunities also present themselves. But I think I’ll wait until I unpack before I make any major decisions!

It’s the Journey…

Sitting here, looking over the Gulf of Siam (Gulf of Thailand) on a clear, hot humid day, I can honestly say I would not trade away a single moment of this journey.

But having come this far – half way around the globe – I’m reminded that it’s the journey, not the destination, after all, that matters most.

There are journeys occurring back home right now as well: The journeys of my two youngest sons, Sam and Mac, ages 14 and 11; of my adult children, Keith Paul, Chris and Laura; of my grandchildren, Marie, Nora and Anthony; and of my daughter-in-law, Kiley.

And then there’s Lynn. She’s waited five months now without complaint; and she was fully prepared to wait as long as it took for her husband to return.

We have a journey of our own to continue.

–Keith

Will Thailand’s Democracy Re-Emerge? Today’s Nationwide Vote

Posted by Keith on August 19, 2007 at 2:11 am | 2 Comments

Pattaya, Thailand

Today, Sunday, August 19, Thailand is holding a nationwide referendum on a proposed new constitution. While it is expected to pass, regional vote tallies will give Thailand’s currently unelected leaders some insight into the level of resentment many, if not most, Thais still feel about the military coup they staged here on September 19, 2006.

The popular Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra (Thaksin), was in New York last September to address the United Nations. And well should he have been. He had made tremendous strides to eradicate the drug trade from Thailand, he had instituted many basic reforms, and he was presiding over solid economic growth at home.

Thaksin was nearly as popular as the Royal Family here, which is beloved.

Mr. Thaksin was already a very wealthy man when he took office, having made hundreds of millions – perhaps billions – in Thailand’s telecommunications industry.

But as he made last-minute refinements to his speech in New York, the Thai military marched into the seat of government here and declared to the world that Thaksin had engaged in corruption for himself and his family, that the current constitutional system of checks and balances here had failed, and that they would relinquish power to an elected government under a new constitution at the first opportunity.

Nobody particularly believed the corruption accusations. And nobody believed that the military had acted on its own. Numerous powerful interests here seemed behind the coup. Thaksin had clearly upset some people.

Since then, in addition to stupidly hurting the Thai economy by freezing the exchange rate of the Baht (a move the generals quickly undid), the military, and the officials who support it, have thrown nearly every criminal charge imaginable at Thaksin.

Perhaps the most serious accusation is that 2500 alleged drug dealers in Thailand were murdered during Mr. Thaksin’s war on drugs, and that somehow he was responsible. Scanning the papers here, I have seen no direct evidence presented that Prime Minister Thaksin was directly or indirectly linked to these deaths; and there seems to have been little effort to explore the possibility that many of the alleged victims were killed by other drug dealers, or by authorities in the course of their lawful duties. Anti-Thaksin conspiracy theories abound in the national press here, which either voluntarily or through coercion seems generally to support those who undertook the coup.

Charges in connections with many of the drug-related deaths, along with a constantly expanding list of corruption charges, have been brought against Thaksin. The current Thai government is expected to begin extradition proceedings against Thaksin who now resides in London, and who has already retained counsel to fight extradition.

Thaksin, it seems to me, has taken the perfectly reasonable position that he cannot possibly obtain a fair trial in Thailand under the current regime. How would people who violated Thailand’s constitution to remove Thaksin from office be trusted to abide by Thailand’s lesser laws to ensure a fair trial?

Meanwhile, a committee appointed by the leaders of the coup have prepared, and have presented to the people, a new 200-page constitution for their approval. They say the constitution will avoid the alleged abuses that occurred under Prime Minister Thaksin.

Remembering that the U.S. Constitution is only a few pages long, the idea of a 200-page national charter does not strike me as particularly enlightened or practical. But that’s the document about which all Thais will vote today. Few have read it. Fewer still even pretend to understand it.

Many Thais supported the old, simpler, constitution – the one that was ignored by the leaders of the coup. Still, to move the country forward, most Thais will probably support the proposed charter. Certainly the papers here that I’ve seen have assumed the role of virtual cheerleaders for the document.

Wrong Conclusion – and a Remarkable History

Despite this political melodrama, it would be wrong to view Thailand as just another petty kingdom unable to get its act together. Even from my limited perspective here in Pattaya, it is obvious that Thailand is a nation of wonderful, productive and peace-loving people, who have eagerly embraced the 21st century. It is business as usual here despite the histrionics emanating from the generals and their supporters.

Although its political situation is certainly complicated, Thailand remains a nation on the move; and one where an observer can readily believe that democratic traditions will be fully restored (they were not undone at the legislative or local levels) soon.

Thailand has a tradition of overcoming delicate situations. It, for example, has never been occupied by a foreign power, often using guile rather than military strength to protect itself. Even when the Japanese occupied all of Asia during WWII, Thailand exempted itself by signing on as a Japanese ally while quietly helping the Allies defeat them.

Time will tell whether that sort of creativity will propel the people of Thailand past pompous law-breaking generals, past a 200-page constitution, and into a democratic and prosperous future.

Pattaya, Thailand — R&R of a More Acceptable Sort (Sort of)

Posted by Keith on August 18, 2007 at 10:35 am | Leave a Comment

Pattaya, Thailand
August 18

After a very choppy six-day passage across the South China Sea, we arrived at the Ocean Marina in Pattaya, about forty miles southeast of Bangkok, early this morning.

The Ocean Marina is large, new and beautiful. The people at the Marina office were wonderfully hospitable. Unfortunately, because we arrived on a Saturday, and because Monday is a national holiday here, we remain unable to clear through either immigration or customs until Tuesday.

Therefore, I will not be able leave Pattaya until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest; but once able, I hope to visit Bangkok, and from there to visit other points of interest in Southeast Asia. I will continue to file dispatches and post photos during my travels.

Pattaya is an energetic seaside vacation town. There are, I’m told, more than 70 hotels and resorts here. It fronts on the east coast of the famous Gulf of Siam, now known as the Gulf of Thailand, and it bustles with tourists amid the construction of new condos and hotels everywhere.

Many Thais and foreigners maintain second homes here; and many more stay at the hotels that range from one to five stars.

The Quintessential Wartime R&R Location

But it wasn’t always this way. Until the 1960s Pattaya was a sleepy fishing village. But then the U.S. Military settled on this location as an “R&R” destination for its personnel fighting in Vietnam.

Their decision spurred the establishment of countless bars and hotels, and drew young women from throughout Thailand to the young Americans desperate for human contact of another sort.

Those of us in Vietnam who were married took our six-day R&R in Honolulu, where we met up with our wives and, in my case, where I met my oldest son, Keith Paul, for the first time.

But the single Marines in my unit usually opted for right here at Pattaya, Thailand. Many would return with new stereos, stories of bar fights and sexual exploits (never verified, of course), and often with a souvenir of another sort in those pre-AIDS days — for which the U.S. military provided prompt medical attention.

The night life is still wild here, I’m told, and military personnel still visit; but today Pattaya, with its upscale resorts, condos, restaurants and shopping is also firmly established as an upscale vacation destination.

A Birthday to Remember

It happens that today, August 18, is my birthday. The crew and I will have a nice dinner this evening to celebrate. But I most look forward to the birthday phone calls I’ll enjoy with my family tomorrow, where back in the States it will still be August 18. Thanks to the international date line, you might say I get to celebrate twice.

I’m staying at the beautiful Sheraton Pattaya Resort — a five star hotel — waiting for that passport stamp on Tuesday and to rest that cracked rib of mine (see previous dispatch — “Rugged Adventure on the South China Sea”) for the next three nights. Being in this region of the world I can’t help but remember that I spent my 20th birthday not too terribly far from here in a foxhole south of Da Nang. Without a doubt, I recommend the resort!

–Keith

–Keith

KEITH’S RADIO SHOW — UPDATE

Posted by Keith on August 18, 2007 at 4:20 am | 1 Comment

On Sunday, August 19, and on Sunday August 26 we will air previously broadcast editions of Keith’s Global Adventure finance show.

Live broadcasts will resume Sunday, September 2 in a new 2-hour format that will air from 8–10 AM on NewsTalk 550, KFYI in Phoenix.

All new radio shows will be posted here to the site within hours of being broadcast on KFYI.

Dispatch: Rugged Adventure on The South China Sea!

Posted by Keith on August 16, 2007 at 4:30 am | 2 Comments

18:30 Local Time
About 400 Miles South of Bangkok
Entering The Gulf of Thailand from The South China Sea

A Major Change in Conditions

In my last dispatch I described the South China Sea as bright and calm, even benign.

But within hours of sending that report things changed dramatically.

We entered a vast shallow area of the Sea, where the ocean floor rises from an average depth of more than 4000 feet to only about 100 feet, and sometimes less.

Water this shallow promises two things: An armada of fishing boats, and rough seas.

The Fishing Fleet

They began appearing en-mass our third night out: Fishing vessels of every shape and size — hundreds of them scattered in long lines across the horizon in every direction. Many carry the flag of Vietnam. Most carry no flag at all.

At night we watch their lights, if they have lights. Some ships are lit up like a bright city street. Others carry a single weak lantern. Many of the smaller boats carry no light at all. During the day we scan the horizon in search of vessels to avoid.

Day or night, only a few of the ships reflect on our radar, so we must maintain a constant vigil. We look not only for ships, but also for the nets they often leave, marked only by a few bamboo sticks that float vertically at the surface.

In the dark we use the night vision camera mounted on the brow of our ship to help us avoid ships or nets at the last minute. But it’s a backup tool at best. Mainly we spend each watch scanning the sea with binoculars, estimating the distance, size and course of each vessel we see, and trying to surmise where they might have set nets or lines.

Fortunately most of the ships anchor in these shallows. But still, more than a dozen times we have found ourselves on an intercept course with ships that are also underway.

This area is vast, but based on the size of the fishing fleet we’ve seen – often more than 200 miles from shore — it is easy to suspect that these waters are being over-fished.

But still they come, as they have for thousands of years, but in greater numbers now, in small boats and large, plying these choppy seas in search of fish for profit, or fish for sustenance.

Storms from Nowhere

The storms come from nowhere. One moment the horizon looks fine, the next it is black with low ominous clouds. They sweep through quickly, intensely.

The storm video I took, and have posted here, does little justice to the impact of a storm’s leading edge on the water. By the time I grabbed my camera and made it to the the aft cockpit, that particular storm’s leading edge had passed. But initially, these storms whip the water into a frenzy, kicking spray high above the waves.

Just behind the wind, they bring torrential rain. The rain actually flattens, or calms, the sea. Then lesser winds are brought by the trailing edge of the storm, and then it’s over, usually in minutes – until the next one arrives.

Heavy Seas and a Cracked Rib

I grew up in Cleveland on Lake Erie. I remember being told that because the Great Lakes are often shallow, they can be very rough.

I believe that this portion of the South China Sea – extending south to Singapore from beneath the southern tip of Vietnam, then west to the Thai-Malay Peninsula – may be much the same, and for the same reason.

Vast quantities of water are pushed up from the ocean depths across these thousands of shallow square miles. The water surges to the surface and above it forming intense, choppy waves.

We’ve been in heavier seas as we crossed the Pacific. But those were swells, often ten seconds or more apart. These waves are relentless, and push each other against and past the hull of our ship one after the other in staccato fashion.

The Global Adventure continues to acquit herself most admirably; but there is no denying that it’s a rough ride.

In these conditions, and with the bow into the wind, the salt spray constantly attacks the forward windows of the pilot house, but the ship’s wipers are equal to the task.

At night we lower the brightness on our navigation monitors to make the pilot house quite dark and to increase visibility out the forward windows. But there is still a bit of reflection on the windows from the monitors’ glow, and with a constant spray against the forward windows, it can be quite difficult to see outside at night.

To get a better view, last night I stepped out of the pilot house and stood on the starboard companionway next to the pilot house hatch, just above the stairs that lead to the lower deck. I was attempting to use a pair of hand-held night vision goggles to search for unlit ships.

A wave hit and nearly threw me down the steps backwards. The impact slammed me against the starboard rail, cracking a rib. At no time was I at risk of being tossed overboard, although at the moment of impact, I would probably have preferred that.

Not to worry, this particular rib and I have a long history. I manage to crack it about once a year in the same spot. Let’s see, once I broke it trying to jump across a small stream while hiking with the family; twice I’ve snapped it wrestling with my boys; and on one occasion, while coaching flag football, a third grader the size of Refrigerator Perry blindsided me with an excellent demonstration of his blocking skills.

But nursing a cracked rib in rough seas is not something I would recommend, if you can avoid it.

On the other hand, if that’s the cost of my ticket for this E-Ticket ride, its one of life’s great values.

–Keith

VIDEO: Storm on the South China Sea!

Posted by Keith on August 16, 2007 at 4:25 am | 1 Comment

Dispatch: Greetings from the South China Sea!

Posted by Keith on August 14, 2007 at 2:33 am | 2 Comments

17:30 Local
August 14, 2007

Smack Dab In the Middle of the South China Sea

We are about 400 miles east-northeast of Kota Kanabalu, East Malaysia, and about 325 west-southwest of that southern-most tip of Vietnam located at the southeastern corner of the entrance to the Gulf of Thailand. When we reach that point we’ll take a more northerly heading past the Vietnam and Cambodian coasts toward Bangkok. But for now our course is 282 degrees true (west-northwest) – straight across the South China Sea.

We’ve been at sea for two days.

The water was dead calm when we left Kota Kanabalu. We enjoyed a serene and picturesque sunset the first night as we slipped between the many brightly-lit off-shore oil rigs and fishing vessels scattered along the East Malaysian-Brunei coast.

After an equally spectacular sunrise, the sea presented a light chop from the southwest yesterday, and has continued to build today. Winds have increased a bit but are still only in the teens. The skies are blue with little sign of storms on our radar. We are surrounded by an endless blue horizon.

Our weather routing service has warned us that seas and winds may continue to build a bit, but to nowhere near threatening levels. Still, this is typhoon season here so we continue to watch the weather carefully. We will not linger out here, even if fish start biting by the dozen the two lures we usually have out!

Today is Tuesday. We should arrive at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club near Sattahip, Thailand – about 30 southeast of Bangkok — by Saturday, August 18 (My birthday!).

Our intrepid Nordhavn 55, The Global Adventure, is heading almost directly into the wind and waves, so things are a bit bouncy, but not too uncomfortable. For example, at this moment, with Alida on watch, Brian is napping in the forward crew’s quarters, Wolf is here with me in the Salon reading, and I’m sitting in one of our two leather recliners typing this dispatch. Obviously, we are not suffering.

Before we left Kota Kanabalu, the crew did a particularly exceptional job of cleaning the interior and exterior of the ship. While she is now covered with salt spray outside, the ship’s interior remains so neat and clean that life is particularly comfortable onboard. It’s like traveling in a five-star resort.

Before we shoved off from San Diego April 1, my family gave me the “Complete Alfred Hitchock” DVD set. I had forgotten we had it, but earlier today I rediscovered the set and enjoyed the film classic Rear Window.

We have two flat-screen TVs on board: One on the wall in my stateroom, and another larger set that emerges from the starboard cabinet in the main salon with the push of a button. As I said: Five stars.

Our Watch Schedule

With four persons aboard, we each take two three-hour watches during each 24-hour period. This leaves every member of the crew 18 hours per day to sleep, take photos and videos (see yesterday’s postings) write blogs, cook, read, attend to minor repairs or equipment adjustments (everything is working splendidly), eat, sun bathe, talk and watch movies.

Here’s the watch schedule we’ve maintained since Pohnpei, Micronesia:

00:00 – 03:00 Engineer Brian Wallace
03:00 – 06:00 Crew and Steward Alida Christiansen
06:00 – 09:00 Me
09:00 – 12:00 Captain Wolf Petrasko
12:00 – 15:00 Brian
15:00 – 18:00 Alida
18:00 – 21:00 Me
21:00 – 00:00 Wolf

Wolf sleeps right behind the pilot house and is available 24/7 to assist the watch person with any issues that may arise.

We use local time, and when we pass into a new time zone we typically adjust the schedule accordingly.

The South China Sea

The South China Sea covers almost 1.5 million square miles, at an average depth of 4800 feet. But there are many sea mounts, reefs, and small islands here as well. While not difficult to avoid, they force us to stay alert, as well we should under any circumstance.

The Sea extends as far north as Taiwan opposite the central coast of China, and as far south as Singapore at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Below that is the Java Sea that extends to Indonesia. The South China Sea is bounded on the east by Taiwan, The Philippines, East Malaysia and Brunei on the island of Borneo. The islands and land masses occupied by these nations separate the Sea from the Pacific Ocean.

To the west, the South China Sea is bounded by China, Vietnam, and the Malay Peninsula. Cambodia, arguably also fronting on the South China Sea, is oriented more toward the Gulf of Thailand, as is Thailand itself. The Gulf of Thailand is the comparatively small gulf in the northwest corner of the South China Sea.

For some reason – perhaps the adventure stories I read as a boy — I always thought of this Sea as dark and foreboding. But it has been very kind to us, offering up blue skies and fairly gentle seas.

Unfortunately, even out here there are logs and debris floating by with regularity – an indication of man’s carelessness, particularly on the Malay Peninsula. But it is truly beautiful out here. There are fish that fly and birds that swim, warm breezes and plenty of sun. Even the Sea’s water temperature is comforting: close to 90 degrees.

Adventures await us in Bangkok and in all of Thailand, as well as in Cambodia and Vietnam.

But for today, with gratitude and excitement, we embrace the adventure of crossing The South China Sea.

–Keith


Next Page »

Our Sponsors


Nordhavn

Onboard medical equipment and MedLink telemedicine service provided by:

MedLink www.medaire.com/medlink

Communications are reliably provided by:

KVH www.kvh.com