Wow! What a Crew!

all the crew looking for dragons

all crew represented, Greece, German, Brit, and the Indonesian courtesy flag

As the journey passes I look back at the wonderful crews I have had aboard Furthur. The list of countries from which the lovely ladies have originated has grown to 18. I could not have been more blessed. The current crew started in Thailand with Sam and Rosie, two widely different girls who have bonded like book ends. Rosie is half Brit half Greek and a product of both heritages, the sides meld into an amazing woman with a seductive charm. She is highly educated, well read and in the realm of literature quite sophisticated—the Brit part. She is also earthy, vivacious and a bit of a vixen—the Greek part. The parts make the whole and the whole is a wonderful girl. Sam is the “gold standard” of crew, loves everything on the boat, learns at lightning speed, and has taken Furthur as her boat all along with being “ a hoot and a half” always fun and the epitome of sweetness with a dash of trickster thrown in. I rely on her heavily and she has yet to let me down.

We picked up Venus at Bali and at first we did not have a chance to get to know her, she took every opportunity to experience Bali and did long land trips knowing the boat was staying at Lovina. Now she has done a long passage, experienced Gili A and Komodo. She has been excellent at helping in every way, even cleaned the bottom of the boat!

Sandra, me and Rosie enjoying the sunset

So I had all the crew I needed, three is the ideal number. I was certainly not looking and had put off many find a crew requests to join Furthur, until we met das fraeuleins, Anna and Sandra. We had been invited to a party of mostly dive pros on Gili Air. We arrived and were greeted warmly by a couple of the Indo boys from Blue Marlin Dive Center and asked to join them on one of the platforms that make the usual Gili seating. This gets you to know the others on the platform very fast as we all scrunch together. Seating with my friends were two very attractive young ladies, the conversation quickly grew to what we were all doing. As Sam and Rosie told of life on Furthur I could see their eyes grow big with excitement. I casually said, come join us not really thinking they would, wrong! All night they asked questions, really good questions so I could see the genuine interest. I began talking to them in a much more pragmatic way about being on the crew, the more I talked the more they smiled.

Sam and Anna prepare the PuPu platter, a daily ritual

I knew this would be a real leap of faith for two lovely 21 year old travelers so I invited them to the boat the next morning. They were to meet me at 9 am and after a very late night of dancing under the stars, I was not sure they would make it. So I was pleasantly surprised to see their bright albeit sleepy faces bouncing about the pony cart that delivered them to the beach. They came aboard and it was a natural, the girls all got on instantly. They stayed the whole day, chatting with the girls and basking in the sun. it was like they had been with us all along. I made the offer for them to ride to Komodo with us and stay a week. This would mean a distinct change of plans and a new flight connection so they said they would decide that night. Sam and I talked about what six people do the food supply and the sleeping arrangements and agreed it was all doable, she clearly wanted them to come.

Sandra and Anna basking in the Indo sun

Sandra relaxing under way

That night was my last jam with my good friend Agu at the Freedom Bar, so that was the rendezvous picked. The German girls got their first and as soon as we met told us they wanted to come for sure. My friends from Totem joined us also and we all piled in the seating platform. Behan looked at me surrounded by five of the loveliest angels on earth and sighed,” How do you do it, Brian”. With a first light departure we left Gili Air and headed east. I have done this leg non- stop in about 30 hours but decided to break it up in long day trips. The first day was a bit rough; we are doing something I usually avoid, traveling to weather. The one meter swells and wind waves made for a bumpy ride, Venus and Anna got a bit of ye ol sea sickness and slept most of the day. Sandra took to life at sea as she had been born there and did watches, along with all the other crew duties with curiosity and joy. The next day was a bit smoother and we decided not to stop and press on through the night. We had consistently picked up a helping current so we had made better than anticipated time. I pulled into a familiar anchorage at the tip of Komodo Island about midnight. I do not like anchoring in the dark but had been to this place twice before and the plotter knew just where to anchor.

Early the next morning we moved to the best anchorage in Komodo, a place my plotter has covered in past tracks, Gili Lawa Laut. We no sooner drop the hook than it is old home week! Boats full of old friends come by one by one. The guys who cleaned the bottom last year followed by others I had known on previous visits. My good friend Dona was told we were back and quickly made his way for a visit. It was so good to see his bright smile again. After the Indo boats left another friend dropped by on his dive boat, a Russian I had done some diving with. My Komodo smile grew and grew.

We quickly plan the first dive and I take Sam and Rosie, my experienced dive partners out to the mound. I give Sandra a quick dinghy driving lesson and like most things she takes to it instantly so she will be our tender for the dive. We drop on to the mound and I immediately feel at home, the massive schools of fish surround us and we see our first shark. I start the dive rotation so everyone gets a shot; next dive is with Venus a newly certified diver and Advance Padi diver and Sam. We do the mound again, this time at slack tide so it is easier and we see even more fish. Anna is certified but not current so I break out my Padi course plates and go through the refresher course with her, I take her for an easy dive to get her back in the water; she enjoys the dive but has ear troubles.

Later that day I take Sandra on a shallow discover dive, I go through some exercises and we swim around for a while, she holds my hand the whole time. She is extremely comfortable and even when her BCD fails she is composed. I see the smile grow around the regulator and mask and know she loves it. I take her on several such intro dives over the next few days, each time she is perfectly comfortable and clearly a natural diver. I encourage her to take the PADI class and get certified and I think she will.

We have two days of calm weather, blue skies, diving and feasting at Laut then the wind shifted and the bumps came. First we moved to the lee side of the island but the swell chased us around and the wind shifted again. We were clearly in the middle of a weather system common in the transition period from season to season and I knew it would pass. I took this opportunity to leave Laut and visit two “must do” places. The first is the small primitive village of Komodo, home of my good friend Dona. We were greeted by two small Indo boats and they took us to shore. All remembered our last visit and were very happy to see another Furthur crew. I was asked many times about last year’s crew, “where is Simone?” So I have been in Komodo, one of the most remote places on earth just a day and already been warmly greeted by so many friends from past visits. I laughed, I could walk around Seattle for a month and not find a friend.

The Komodo village is an amazing place; crude homes built on stilts with holes in the floors, walls and roof house multi generation families. These primitive houses are really homes full of love, more than any mansion could ever hold. Dona and his sister serve us Indo coffee and sweet biscuits, we know they are dipping into their very limited food supply and giving us the best they have; no feast ever meant more to me. The girls are instantly charmed by these people; Rosie befriends a couple of the young boys and shows them how to use the crayons and coloring book we brought them. Later she bonds with two angelic pre teenage girls in a way that moves her to her “teacher” core.

the crew in a home full of love

We walk about the village guided by our host, Dona. He is clearly proud to have us visit. I sit on a pile of lumber and break out my balloon kit and am instantly surrounded by a horde of jabbering, smiling eager kids. It seems my last visit became historical and all the kids wanted balloon animals. The crew pump and tie and I twist balloons into Komodo dragons and dogs; we go through an entire bag of balloons like a flash. I make my way to the school, sign the guest book and give a donation to the school. We head back to the wharf to be picked up when the talk of a “Pink Beach” comes up. it is decided that I will move Furthur to a mooring across the bay and Dona and a guy I call Captain will take the girls snorkeling on the beach. I plan a nap while they are gone but once again am beseeched by visitors who I met last year. The girls return with vivid tales of excellent snorkeling and then we head towards the famed Komodo Dragons but that is another story to tell.