As the effects of the pandemic continue to unfold around the world, we wish all of you are faring the storm with strength. We hope that you and yours are healthy, and that you find the inner power to cope with these difficult times at all levels. This is a real tests to our resilience, but we will get through the other side stronger and better.
From our side, here in Indonesia we are somewhat fortunate not to have experienced a major health drama, at least until this day. Maybe because of the weather (some claim the virus doesn’t live well in heat and humidity), or maybe we have already been exposed earlier and gone through some sort of herd-immunity process, but for some, almost mysterious reason, we are being spared the hardships Europe and the US are experiencing these days. Our hearts are out to all our friends and families affected by this terrible health crisis.
Meanwhile, we continue to do our best, one day at the time, to protect our team and the boats here, in wait for better times when we will be able to meet again and sail away to new adventures.
By the time the borders were closing around the world, Ondina had four cruises left of the season, all fully booked. The last of these trips was meant to bring her from Sorong to Bitung, diving through Raja Ampat, Halmahera and Lembeh. After that, she was set for her annual maintenance break and dry dock scheduled for May-June. Since we couldn’t do these trips, we decided to relocate her to Kendari, in Southeast Sulawesi, a protected natural harbour and much safer anchorage for a long lay. After sailing the 600 nautical miles that separate the two ports in four days with crew only, we are now taking care of the boat and the engineers are currently overhauling the gensets and offboard engines of the tenders, in preparation for the next season. Some members of the crew have been sent home to spend time with their families, until we are able to reunite and get back to work.
Oceanic, on the other hand, had just finished her refurbishing works in Bali at the end of February, and was ready to hit the road (or the oceans) for the new season. The first cruise started in Bali and ended in Labuanbajo, Flores, through Nusa Penida, Moyo-Satonda, Sangiang and the National Park of Komodo. Once in Labuanbajo, when the crisis started, we decided that the best thing to do was to bring her back to Bali, where she has been laid since mid-March in Serangan, another safe natural harbour, the most protected anchorage in Bali. Part of the crew is looking after her whilst anchored and the remaining crew has reunited with their kin.
So far everybody is safe here, no-one from our team here has experienced any health issues, nor any relative or friend has had them either. On the other hand, the tourism industry throughout Indonesia – specially in Bali, Komodo, Raja Ampat and other famous tourist destinations – is being hit hard because of the lack of visitors. Thankfully, Indonesians are resilient people, and apart from the efforts the local government is making to support the small survival economies, people’s best asset is – as it tends to be the case, their families and friends back on the villages. Where before people employed in tourism supported their relatives with the higher income they were making, they now find solace in returning to their villages of origin, and some even reengage on agricultural or fishing jobs to get through these hard times. Like anywhere else in the world, this crisis is bringing forth the best in people, and charity, cooperation and support of communities in distress is being carried out in a daily basis throughout the country.
And as for the foreigners in the company, we keep working from home, preparing new routes, improving our website, discussing better itineraries, making presentations to provide clearer briefings on board, and discussing ways to serve you better once we can leave this nightmare behind and you can come back for a well-deserved holiday.
One day we will find ourselves again sipping a drink on the deck of the boat at sunset, breathing the fresh tropical air after a great diving day and some rewarding land tour, and we will recall this times of hardship as a thing from the past. Until then, stay safe, stay strong, and trust that this will end sometime, hopefully soon.
The Best Diving in the World.