On the attached graphic, wxchart21Aug10c.gif, I’ve tried to mark the locations Sumio mentioned in his last post:
. Ambon - Nirai arrived in Ambon at the end of July 2010;
. Wangi2 (an abbreviation for Wangi Wangi) - where Nirai arrived on 7 August;
. Flores (a large island, on which fossils of Homo floresiensis, a human species replaced by Homo sapiens just 12,000 years ago, were found in 2003);
. Komodo (with the neighbor island of Rinca, the homes of the eponymous dragons);
. Lombok island; and
. Bali (I’ve placed a blue blob at Denpasar, the location of Bali Marina).
The graphic, before I defaced it, is a small scale chart of surface streamlines in the western portion of the Great Archipelago. Wind barbs accompany the surface streamlines. The numbers are temperatures in ?Celsius.
The National Environmental Agency of Singapore produces this graphic, the Regional Weather Chart, as a service to mariners. You can see the latest Regional Weather Chart (RWC) at http://www.weather.gov.sg/wip/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=PUB.1023.8
In the tropics, atmospheric pressure charts with isobars have little value. Surface streamlines, based on winds at an altitude of 10 metres are the answer.
What I call the western portion of the Great Archipelago suffers a crisis of identity.
Much of that crisis of identity is associated with a political crisis of identity in each of the nation-states in the region and in the attempts to craft a regional political entity.
Just the western portion of the Great Archipelago is divided amongst Burma (or is it Myanmar?), Thailand (or is it Siam?), Malaysia, Singapore, China, Brunei, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Philippines, and Taiwan (or is it Republic of China?).
[A totally unrepresentative government changed the colonial name ‘Burma’ to Myanmar; not all members of the international community have accepted that name change. The 1939 name change from Siam to Thailand has been reversed once, reinstituted once, and is still resisted by many of the non-Thai ethnics. Malaysia is hopelessly divided along ethnic lines. And so it goes …]
Professional meteorologists call it the ‘Maritime Continent’. A good name, even it embodies a contradiction.
Others call it ‘Maritime Southeast Asia’, tying it specifically to the southeastern corner of Eurasia and specifically to the lands between the two great civilisation centres of China and India (and hence the moniker ‘Indo-China’, which some think of as limited to the former French colonies of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia). Since several of the cultures in that area developed civilisations independently of China and India, and continue to assert their independent identity, they are not too fussed with being submerged as just ‘Indochina’ or being other than the centre of the world. The Bugis, who not too long ago ran the biggest fleet of sailboats on the planet and operated trade sailboats from China to Australia and west to India, from their homeland on the southwest leg of Sulawesi, sure don’t see themselves as being on the southeast periphery of anywhere.
One yachting entrepreneur, frustrated that the world’s best cruising grounds were not delivering wealth to him, coined the term ASEANarean. That’s splicing the ending from Mediterranean to ASEAN, the joke of a regional political entity (Association of South-East Asian Nations) that survives only because no one has challenged it. The new word has not won any applause, just like ASEAN, but one marina promotes itself at ‘the premier marina in Aseanarean’. And it’s a pleasant marina, if you can afford the dock fees.
Roger Olson, the great BCC owner, former Sam L. Morse Co. president, and all-round guru, sailed Xiphias into the western portion of the Great Archipelago three decades ago, making him the great pioneer (yet again!). Roger reckoned the cruising coast between Pangkor (Malaysia) and Phuket (Thailand) was one of the most beautiful he’d seen on the planet. It’s changed a bit since then, but it’s still pleasant. Roger enjoyed cruising through Indonesia and fondly remembers anchorages off villages in the outer, less-developed, islands. Roger sold Xiphias to Chris Edwards, who cruised and raced her in the waters from Singapore to Burma. Mark Fuller now owns Xiphias and can speak for himself about the region.
Meryl and I brought Zygote into the region in 2001 and enjoyed cruising the Malacca Straits from Singapore to Phuket. We based ourselves in Penang, Malaysia, and several times verified Roger’s observation about the stretch from Pangkor to Phuket. In 2005-06 we cruised from Singapore through Indonesia to the east coast of Australia.
Douglas Walling sailed Calliste into the region in 2002 on a long voyage from east coast Australia through Indonesia to Singapore and beyond, taking him into Malaysian and Thai waters. Douglas didn’t have the best introduction to the region: he arrived off Bali just as a bunch of crazy young guys exploded bombs in the tourist district. In December 2004, a tsunami wave train entering an otherwise safe marina in Langkawi, Malaysia, caused damage to Calliste. Douglas and Calliste have largely recovered from that disaster. Douglas, Calliste, his wife Lang, and Lang’s sailboat, are currently based in Singapore.