I’m standing on the beach, an endless run of surfers running for the water like newly hatched sea turtles, leaving me to watch as I have no board. I stand, jaw-gaped in awe at the huge 30-foot waves coming in.
They flow like an endless waterfall, glassy, holding their shape. The conditions are perfect. They crash on the hidden sandbar when on the horizon a rogue wave – had to be 60-foot – rises like Poseidon from the depths.
It lingers patiently as every boardrider in the water paddles for it. It’s big enough to accommodate all the surfers, many more still running in.
And me, still standing without a paddle.
As the wave momentum peaks and the lip closes over, the white stream of wakes from all the boardriders heading left (goofy) and right (natural) look like a Blue Angels maneuver.
And then I wake up, wide-eyed, a light buzz and whir coming from the overhead ceiling fan reminding me that I was still in Darwin.
Still unable to find a boat to take me to Indonesia.
Still in a seaside town where entrance into the water is as safe as lighting a cigarette at a petrol station.
The lack of surf has now taken on the form of an IV drip bag, slowly dripping insanity into my well-being. The waters here in Darwin are of a green, brackish shade. Its got me looking at the sky for a daily dose of blue.
I need a new strategy. I made up new signs to post at the yacht clubs. I’ve headed down to the Darwin Sailing Club on their busiest night of the week. I mingled with sailors and skippers, got email contacts, tips on when to come and ask for basic sailing experience (Sundays, when they have local races), when to find the boat owners (morning, when they head in for their morning routine or the better option, afternoon when they sit around with a drink and surf the web) and when my best chances of finding crew would be – in a few weeks when most of the boats taking part in the Sail to Indonesia rally will arrive.
I’ll be starting my fourth week in Darwin next week where I’ll be moving to the boat where I’ve been doing some volunteer work as I’ve stayed longer than I should have at the Sariks, a wonderful and accommodating family that took me in without question, fed me, provided a shower, a bed and some good times.
“You’ve earned a week’s accommodation,” said Jackie, owner of ‘Jaz’.
I figure if I do some more volunteer work I could stay longer.
My guess is that I’ll only be hitting the water in about three weeks on one of the yachts taking part in the Indo rally. If I’m really lucky (and generally I’m not) I might be able to go earlier, in mid-July to Dilly, East Timor, cross the border to Indonesia by land and ferry it across to Bali.
I looked up volunteering positions in Borneo, Malaysia to help with the conservation of the majestic, and very much endangered, Orang utangs and Pygmy elephants.
I emailed an organisation and received a prompt response. They were very excited in my interest and even took it upon themselves to place me on tentative booking. All I need to do to confirm my place was pay the £195 deposit. “The remainder payment should be made as soon as possible.”
I was confused. I’m pretty sure that offering to volunteer hands-on meant that by giving my personal time and effort was reward enough and self-satisfaction once the objective was complete.
Has it come to this? That in order to volunteer my services in saving the planet I need to pay money? To help save animals whose habitats are being destroyed for money I needed to put in some greens?
This was to be one of the main objectives of my world-wide expedition – helping animals in need of help. Protect the endangered from the greed-hungry corporations destroying what they can to earn a buck.
Isn’t that why they have fundraisers and pledges? Telethons and vast amount of flyers and brochures pleading for you, the good citizen to donate a buck or two for the cause? “All donations are tax deductible” being the collective catchphrase to entice you to give the loose change hiding in your couch to a good cause.
Is nothing sacred anymore?
I was disappointed.
My new plan of action will have to be to show up on their doorstep and say, “G’day, I was in the neighbourhood and wondered if you needed a hand.”
I’ll be saving costs and paperwork for the organisation and being a persistent bastard, they’ll have no choice but to let me help.
Of course, I need to get to Indonesia and its surroundings first.