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Borneo ACT Project – Day 2

We awoke from our first night on Pangaea, at 8am, feeling rested, and excited about what was to come. Mike had yet to arrive (after taking a different albeit earlier flight than us), and his activities are still a mystery to everyone! No one minded though, because we were used to it, and in a way, we understood and appreciated his style. Mike is a man of freedom, not one to be tied down by fixed and rigid plans and schedules, for he valued flexibility, adaptability and ever-readiness. As such, we too learnt to maintain a perpetual state of preparedness, ready for whatever change in plans, however sudden, that may come.

Our first activity of the day was to go with our in-house chef, Yew Seng, to the market to get sufficient food to feed the 20 of us for the upcoming 10 day sailing journey. This was no simple feat, and required all hands on… the shopping bags! Andreas, our underwater transport specialist, showed his care for the environment by taking the initiative to arm us all with reusable bags, before we took our 20 min walk to the market. It was great to be surrounded by like-minded people, sharing such consideration for the environment. Not having had breakfast stocked on the boat, we were hungry, but definitely, our hunger to learn surpassed our physical needs.

Along the way, we had our first look at the marina’s waters: clear, pristine, and absolutely brimming with vibrant life! Simply walking by, we saw schools of tiger barbs, colorful corals, huge nasty fist-sized sea urchins, and even box jellyfishes! Let me remind you that we saw all these without even setting foot in the water, let alone diving under! Borneo was truly living up to its reputation as the diving hub of the world! This appetizer whetted our taste buds for all that was to come in the days ahead.

The walk brought us past a monsoon drain and exposed us to the culture of the Malaysians: the strong bare backs of men glistened in the morning sun, as they cast fishing nets that swooped down on the water, reeling in the lifesource of their families.

Speaking of the sun, it was absolutely scorching for us. Despite being shielded by sunhats, we were still melting from the heat. If we continue to heat up our world, I cannot possibly imagine what our future generations would have to endure.

The market was quite a culture shock for most of us, for they were rare in most of our countries, and we normally relied on supermarkets instead. Michael Scholl, project leader, insightfully remarked that paradoxically, in western countries, it was the rich, not the poor, that shopped in such wet markets for it was more expensive than supermarkets.

The raw meat was too fresh for some of us to tolerate. I admit that if I had to personally handle my food in this original form, I really wouldn’t eat much. As such, while we split up to scour the market for our desired food, Yew Seng was given the unsavoury task of dealing with the raw meat.

Given the time span we were preparing for, and the size of our group, our needs are understandably fairly substantial. We pleased the stall vendors tremendously, when we bought a whole 5kg of onions, 15kg each of chicken and fish. In total, we filled up our three full-sized refrigerators. So Mums and Dads out there, not to worry for your children have enough to eat!

In the afternoon, we began real sailor work – deck scrubbing. Donned in our dirty-clothes, we pumped sea water onto the deck, got down and dirty on our knees, and scrubbed like our lives depended on it. It was not easy work, for the dirt and our deck shared a strong affinity for each other. To make things worse, after our first round, the deck dried and we saw the “fruits” of our labour. Our scrubbing was not as thorough as we would had liked… It was supposed to be all brown, but turned out patchy brown with lots of grey. We realized we had to be very systematic and organized so we know which places had been covered, since it all looked the same when wet. Thus, we began our second round.

Another two hours later, our work was finally done. The deck was still wet and we still don’t know exactly how we did, but we prayed as hard as we could for the best. Alas, it was still far from perfect – more brown than before, but ~30% grey. To prevent having to do a third round, Stefan suggested that we kept the deck perpetually wet, so no one would be the wiser! I had a simpler plan, we had deliberately left patches of grey as a form of artistic expression, representing the diversity of our boat and its crew…

Well, in any case, we all did a good day’s hard labour, and if we were to be paid for our work, I reckon we be pretty rich now. Meanwhile, we keep our fingers crossed that Mike and the crew would be too busy setting sail the next day to notice anything – unscrubbed …

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Blog by Zofia Drapella

Back in the Boat! I think I am the only one, who has previously sailed on Pangaea. It feels so good to be here again, sleep in the same bunk… Oh, 7.00 a.m. time to wake up, it is going to be a big day! We need some energetic breakfast, and Grenola with milk, followed by a fresh fruit is an ideal way to start the day. We are now all familiar with the rules on board of Pangaea. Tristan showed us the engine room and explained the checklist telling us what we should pay attention to during our watches. Achier, the Malaysian lady responsible for the Turtle Sanctuary on Lankayan island visited us today and we had a chance to present her the project as well as ask some questions about the region and her program.

With help of dive instructors: Christian and Andree, we set up the diving gear and made buddy teams. Buddy check? Done. One, two, three – hold your mask and regulator, watch out for jellyfishes, one big step and jump into the water. Here we are. Everything works perfect. Wait for your buddy and you can begin the descending. Slowly go down, equalize and you have a chance to see the Pangaea from the less known side. There is it, the propeller and keels! Now it is time to practice few diving skills (mask removal, regulator recovery, hovering).  Although the visibility was rather low due to the muddy bottom composition, we had a great time and are all looking forward to the next diving. What we should focus on now is how to hover properly, obtain neutral buoyancy and beware of where are our fins, so that we don’t touch anything on the reef. Finally, we are here to help, not to destroy the coral, so we have to be careful about it!

On board there is a Malaysian cook who is keen on sharing his knowledge with those, who are interested in cooking. It is a great chance for us to understand the Malaysian culture, by trying the local cuisine. Let me tell you, that before every single meal, there is a bunch of people loitering around the galley, brought there by an amazing smell of local spicies, garlic, chili… ahh, Long list!

We need to go to bed soon, since early in the morning (5 o’clock), right after refueling we’re about to leave the anchor place, set up the sails and sail Pangaea to the north.  Let the work begin! We’re full of energy and optimism and want to do our best during those 10 days on boat.

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