On March 9, 2016, tracking directly over the Equator above Indonesia’s remote Maluku island group, a handful of guests aboard a classic two-masted sailing schooner will witness a total solar eclipse surrounded by a jungle landscape of uninhabited islands and towering volcanoes.
Well-known for such unique and inspiring expeditions, Seattle-based Wildland Adventures (www.wildland.com/) has sweetened the offer by knocking $1,000 off the 12-day Spice Islands Solar Eclipse Sailing Adventure package that runs March 7-18, 2016. This brings the per person double rate to $5,495 for the privilege of witnessing one of nature’s grandest shows in a setting that defies description.
Accommodations for the luxury cruise are aboard the 24-passenger phinisi Ombak Putih, a traditional two-masted Indonesian schooner. Guided day excursions and evening lectures by escort and guest lecturer Jeffrey Mellefont, research associate of the Australian National Maritime Museum, enhance the on-board experience of the rich natural history, cultures and customs in the archipelago.
Flying out of Bali and embarking in Ternate, the ship sails across the equator encountering diverse cultures and pristine island habitats while re-discovering the dramatic history of this fascinating maritime world sought after by fortune hunters and adventurers for its exotic cloves, nutmeg and mace. Hidden for centuries by the same remoteness that keeps these islands unspoiled today, the ship anchors in turquoise-colored coves so that guests may visit isolated villages and spice plantations, ancient forts and trading posts, and snorkel over stunning coral reefs. The loveliest and most remote of the islands is kept till last. This is the glorious Banda group that guests visit before disembarking on historic Ambon.
Snorkels, kayaks and paddleboards are kept on board so that guests may enjoy activities in the warm water when they are not on walking and birding tours, enjoying a community beach dinner and touring farms, a clove plantation and a distillery producing ‘kayu putih’ oil. The oil, extracted from Melaleuca tree leaves, is a universal panacea that no Indonesian household is without. It is used as a topical for aches and pains, an inhalant for colds and a remedy for stomach unrest.
On the island of Ternate guests visit the old house of Alfred Russel Wallace, the British naturalist and explorer who spent many years based here exploring the archipelago and independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection when Darwin was in the Galapagos. Here, too, is ‘Afu’, the oldest clove tree in the world, representing a fascinating history of intrigue, greed and hope
On Wednesday, March 9, the ship anchors at 0.4˚N, 127.4˚E, just 24 nautical miles north of the Equator and centered directly beneath the track of the umbra, or moon’s shadow, to experience the sun’s 100 percent occultation for the longest possible time. The partial eclipse commences at 08:35 am local time (23:35:45 UTC + 9), with total eclipse starting at 9.51 am. Maximum eclipse is at 9:52:38, and on Ombak Putih the total eclipse lasts for three minutes and 16 seconds. This is followed by a crossing-the-line ceremony transiting across the equator.
In the Banda archipelago guests will stroll through a nutmeg grove where the shapely nutmeg fruit-bearing trees grow in the shelter of towering, gigantic ‘kenari’ or native almond trees. Visitors when leaving Banda are typically escorted by a ceremonial canoe called a ‘kora-kora’ propelled by banks of warrior-oarsmen, an apropos departure from paradise.
For complete details and itinerary see: http://www.wildland.com/files/brochure/trips/Indonesian%20Adventure%20Cruise%20-%20Solar%20Eclipse%20FINAL.pdf
Jeffrey Mellefont, research associate of the Australian National Maritime Museum, is a former blue-water mariner and navigator; a writer, photographer and editor who has made a lifetime study of the fascinating maritime world of Indonesia. Along with regular host and guide, Frans Huneker, special guest and fluent Indonesian speaker, Jeffrey Mellefont will guide the group ashore. At the end of each day, in the comfort of the Ombak Putih, Jeffrey will reveal more of this amazing maritime realm.
The Ombak Putih is a mix of traditional and modern design. Her hull and rigging are traditional, while the deck house and interior were custom designed to adapt to Western tastes of space, privacy and comfort. While Indonesian traditional sailing vessels are customarily referred to as Bugi Schooners, strictly speaking she is rigged as a Ketch, the foremast being higher than the aft mast. Of the 12 cabins, four have double beds, four are configured as twin-bunks and four as triple, with a double and an extra singe bed. All cabins are air-conditioned (individually controlled) and have private bathrooms with warm and cold water.
Wildland Adventures was established in 1986 by Kurt Kutay, Founding CEO/President, and Anne Kutay, Vice-President. As active managing directors they are continuously refining and evolving their Wild Style of travel. The ‘Wild Style’ is based on an ethic of sincerity, compassion and understanding that breaks down barriers of separation to build lasting intercultural, interpersonal, and environmental bonds designed to enhance rather than exploit the people and places where they travel. By fostering genuine connections to create personalized experiences their travelers, Wildland fosters a growing and vibrant community of enlightened and compassionate travelers. Rated by National Geographic Adventure as the #1 Best ‘Do–it–all’ Outfitter on Earth and Fodor’s as one of the World’s Best Tour Specialists, Wildland Adventures offers more than 150 unique itineraries on 6 continents in 37 countries.
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