There is an article in the current issue of OG called Alor, Again & Again. This is where Michael AW details some of the more memorable events diving in a very remote part of the Lesser Sundas Archipelago in Indonesia. His latest trip back to Alor was just last summer and he got to travel in style on a very nice boat. In the article, he talks about two previous trips as well; those were somewhat less stylish. I was on one of those trips. Let me entertain you with some stories from one of the earliest expedition's of Michael AW in this series of travel blogs I am calling the Alor Diaries.
I know a lot of you have traveled with Michael. The trips that Ocean Geographic runs are amazing. That trip I went on to Alor was amazing too, but in a completely different kind of way.
Alor is a tiny island in the Lesser Sundas, near Komodo. The trip was billed as an exploratory diving trip. Fabulous, uncharted dive sites awaited us. In this respect, I was not disappointed. I signed on as the camera assistant. For those of you not familiar with this job description, it's very glamorous. It involves lots of carrying, cleaning, categorizing, charging, labeling, and general gophering. This was long before digital photography, folks, so we are talking loads of film canisters to manage here. Apparently, it also involves not flooding or losing camera gear, but more about that later.
We arrived in the city of Maumere and transferred to the boat, the Baruna Adventurer. From the dock, she didn't look too bad. She'd just spent months being refurbished. There was plenty of lounge space for camera gear and charging stations, the dive deck was a nice size and even had lockers, the dining area was lovely, the tables were set with china, and the lounge chairs on the upper deck were cushioned. Nice, right? Of course, this was only my second liveaboard, so I wasn't super experienced in judging the quality of dive boats. But I had my own cabin this time, which was a thrilling prospect because it meant I got to sleep in a bed. My very first time traveling with Michael as an assistant I spent most of the entire trip sleeping on a lounge cushion on the deck of the boat due to the meat-locker-like temperature he keeps inside the cabin. But as I said before in a previous blog, I don't like being cold.
I unpacked and headed to the sink to wash my hands. It seemed strange that, while washing my hands, my feet were getting wet. I placed my hand on the sink and leaned down to look underneath. The sink came forward with me as I leaned down. That seemed odd. I looked under the sink. The PVC that was supposed to drain the water out of the sink and into the boat's grey-water system was not actually plumbed into anything at all. It was instead about 6 inches long and then opened up into….nothing. I didn't take too much note of it at the time, after all, this one sink in this one cabin might have been overlooked during the remodel…..but this initial warning would set the stage for the rest of the trip.
Check back next week for the second installment in the Alor Diaries!