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Day 9 - April 30, 2014 - En route to Leti Island, Indonesia

By Uli Erfurth, marine biologist

Co-ordinates: 011° 09.5’ S and 127° 69.0’ E
Weather: Sunny with passing showers
Air temperature: 32°C
Pressure: 1006 hPa
Wind: 6 Knots


We had set the clock one hour forward last night as we left Wyndham to cross the Timor Sea to Leti Island, Indonesia. Disregarding the one hour loss, this first real relaxing day is a well-deserved break from all the activities of the days gone by. Blessed with sunshine and a partly cloudy sky, plus a slight breeze from starboard and less than a meter wave height, the Silver Discoverer rolls gently and sails at about 12 knots over the shallow (~ 60 m depth) and nutrient-poor blue waters above the continental shelf of Western Australia.

After breakfast Expedition Leader Mick Fogg welcomes some 50 guests in the Explorer Lounge for a picturesque history lesson called “Footprints on a Forgotten Land”. The lure of spices, such as nutmeg, cloves and pepper, and the need to evade Ottoman blockades led the Spaniards and Portuguese to explore the sea routes to East Asia and the Moluccas. Yet it was the Dutch Willem Janszoon to be the first European to see the coast of “terra australis” when he sailed from Batavia in 1606 to discover new spice islands for the Netherlands East Indies. And so a tumultuous tale of further discoveries, conquest, betrayal, bloodshed, mapping and mutiny on the northern Australian coastline began.

After a delicious lunch (with a huge roasted crunchy pork leg and cabbage for me, the German boy) Brad Siviour gives an in-depth look at the S.S. Koolama incident in his talk entitled “Captain Courageous” -followed by the screening of the documentary drama “Malice or Mutiny” on the dramatic events to follow this first bombing of an Australian vessel by a Japanese aircraft in WWII.

An ice cream social on the Pool Deck briefly interrupts our educational program until Chris Cutler discusses with the guests the four seasons he spent on NOAA research vessels in the tropical Pacific.

About an hour before sunset it is time to dress casually-elegant as our Croatian Captain Luksa Plecas invites us to his Farewell Cocktail. Seeing all his cheerful and hard-working crew on stage we all feel sad to have nearly reached the end of our voyage.
Executive Chef Pia (from Germany) has prepared another delicious 5-course-dinner for the 96 guests on board. After this Farewell Dinner Jorge entertains on his piano in the Lounge, but most of us prefer a drink and one last –actually next to last- glance at the tropical night-sky on the outer decks before we withdraw to our suites to recover from this “strenuous” day at sea.

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