THE SPICE ISLANDS VOYAGE

QUESTIONS & RESPONSES May 1996

QUESTIONS - DATE & NUMBER

SENDER

(e-mail address)

TEXT OF QUESTION

TEXT OF TIM'S RESPONSE

MAY/20/01midleton@iol.ie Q1. How long did it take to paint the gecho? 1. It took Leonard one afternoon and one morning to paint the geckos (in black) on the sails which he laid out on the sand.
MAY/20/02midleton@iol.ie Q2. Did Yannis help build the boat?2. Yanis' workmanship is too rough and ready for building the hull of the boat which requires great skill, but he helped fit out the interior, putting up some shelves.
MAY/20/03midleton@iol.ie Q3. How long did it take to build the boat? 3. It took about 8 months to build the boat, with the builders working about one day every week. The rest of the time they went fishing or working in their 'gardens' growing food.
MAY/20/04midleton@iol.ie Q4. How far do you sail a day?4. In a day (24 hours) we can sail as much as 100 miles if we have a good wind.
MAY/20/05midleton@iol.ie Q5. About how big is the Alfred Wallace?5. The boat is 14 metres long and about 3.8 metres wide.
MAY/20/06midleton@iol.ieQ6. Has anybody on the Alfred Wallace been seriously sick? 6. Boby who started from the Kei Islands with us, had malaria so had to go back home after a few weeks. Most of the crew have had a fever from time to time, but nothing too bad, only a day or two.
MAY/20/07midleton@iol.ieQ7. Who is the oldest and youngest of the crew? 7. The youngest of the crew is Julia (26) the oldest is me (55)
MAY/20/08midleton@iol.ie Q8. How far have you travled?8. We have travelled about 1,800 miles so far.
MAY/20/09midleton@iol.ieQ9. What materials did you use?9. Our boat is made entirely of wood cut from the forest near the village of Warbal in the Kei islands, some of the rope is also made from the bark of trees there.
MAY/20/10midleton@iol.ie Q10. How many days do you spend on a island? 10. The normal length of time on an island is about one week, though I spent a total of about two months on Warbal island where the boat was built.
MAY/20/11midleton@iol.ie Q11. Was Alfred Wallace's boat smaller then Tim's boat? 11. Alfred Wallace travelled on several different sizes of boat during his travels in Indonesia. They ranged from Dutch mail steamers, to big sailing prahus with more than 100 people of board, down to the smallest sailing boat which he bought second hand and had fitted out by Kei islanders. He doesn't state the exact size of this smallest boat, but it seems to have been almost exactly the same size as our boat.
MAY/20/12midleton@iol.ieQ12. Is the gecho dangerous?12. The gecko is not at all dangerous. It looks like a small lizard, and is rather useful as it eats small insects. It can be found scuttling around on the walls of nearly every house in Indonesia. and has special suction pads on its feet so it can even walk upside down on the ceiling.
MAY/20/13midleton@iol.ieQ13. How do you put the pictures into the computer? 13. I put the pictures into the IBM Thinkpad Computer from the video camera which I am using to make a documentary film about the expedition. I plug a cable into the ThinkPad from the video camera, and run the playback on the camera. The motion picture then plays on the screen of the ThinkPad. When I see a picturethat I want to send, I can freeze the video film, and use the software in the ThinkPad to turn that picture into a computer file which is then sent by satellite and InterNet to the University of Limerick who send it on to you for the software in your computer to turn it back into a picture on the screen.
MAY/20/14cbsth@iol.ie14. Are there many gecko's left in Indonesia? What type of animals are they? 14. Geckos: There must be millions and millions of geckos living in Indonesia, where they are also called chikchaks because of the noise they make. It is said that if you say something, and a gecko calls just afterwards, then what you have said must be true. Geckos are small lizards, usually about three to six inches long. If they lose their tail by accident, the tail grows

again.

MAY/20/15cbsth@iol.ie15. Are they hunted for food or medicine?15. No one hunts geckos, becuase they are so useful in eating small insects in the house.
MAY/20/16cbsth@iol.ie16. I saw the photo of you sailing at sunset and I was just wondering is The ALFRED WALLACE in good condition and how did it cope during bad weather? What is the sea like in bad weather? 16. ALFRED WALLACE is in fine condition after three months of voyaging. The hull hardly leaks at all, only the deck. In fact we had some rough weather one night last week, and the boat was thrown around a lot by the waves, which also crashed on (and through) the deck so we had to pump the water back into the sea every 15 minutes. But the boat stood up to the conditions very well.
MAY/20/17cbsth@iol.ie17. When was the last time the volcano(FIRE MOUNTAIN) erupted? Did it destroy any civilisations? Did you climb the mountain? Could you smell the sulphur from a distance? 17. Fire Mountain: I think that the last time the volcano, Fire Mountain, erupted on Banda was about eigth years ago. The people living nearby had to be evacuated to nearby islands. The eruption destroyed two villages at the foot of the mountain, but not the main town. When the mountaqin stopped sending out ash and lava, the local people returned to their homes. Joe climbed to the top of the mountain to take photographs, and said he could smell suplhur when he came near the top of the mountain, close to the vents. There the rock was hot to touch.
MAY/20/18cbsth@iol.ie18. Did you eat any coconuts the people collected ? How do they prepare the coconuts for eating ? Are the coconuts plentiful around the area ? Do they export any of these coconuts ? 18. Coconuts: We are sometimes given coconuts to eat by the villagers when we go ashore. They give us the young green coconuts which contain 'milk', a slightly sweet watery juice which is very refreshing to drink, and after drinking the 'milk' we then scoop out and eat the 'meat' or soft white flesh lining the inside of the coconut. Most coconuts are left to ripen when the 'meat' becomes thicker and harder. This is then dried in the sun and exported as 'copra'. Ground up, this is the coconut which you can buy in Ireland for cooking and flavouring. Here the people also use the 'milk' in cooking, and squeeze cooking oil from the copra.
MAY/20/19cbsth@iol.ie19. Was anyone thrown overboard by the strong winds? Did everyone have to wear harnesses while onboard the Alfred Wallace? 19. Heavy weather sailing: Budi was thrown overboard in a strong wind when the boat was being tossed about a lot, but luckily held on with one hand and pulled himself back on board. At night we always wear safewty harnesses on deck, as there are no hand rails around the deck, and if anyone fell overboard it would be very very difficult to see them in the dark and rescue them.
MAY/20/20cbsth@iol.ie20. How did the children react to the preserving of wildlife? Were they enthusiastic etc..Were the children on Baun Island - Aru well eduacated ? Do they realise the full dangers to there enviroment? 20. Children & Wildlife: The island children have been very interested to learn that their local wildlife is so special, and that some animals - particularly the birds - are found nowhere else in the world. So they begin to

appreciate that they must preserve these creatures. But they do ask how they will be able to expand their gardens and yet keep the forest habitat. Also they want to know whether foreign tourists will one day visit their islands to see the animals, and so bring money and work to the islands. The standard of education varies very widely. Near some towns the children have good classes, but in several of the remote places there is only one teacher in a village (sometimes none at all) and nearly everywhere the children have to leave the village and live in a small town if they want to go to school after the age of 12 or 13. The Indonesian government istrying very hard to educate all children, and make them feel Indonesian. In every school, all across the country, the children have to wear the same colour uniforms - white and red for primary school, blue and white, grey and white for lower and upper secondary - and study the same subjects, so they feel part of the same nation.

MAY/20/21cbsth@iol.ie21. How superstitious are the people over there? Are only certain people allowed to paint on the magic "eye"? From what religion does this belief originate? Does the head of the team always make the pupil of the "eye"? Is the painting of the "eye" generally sucessful on sea journeys? 21. Superstition: Indonesians are very superstitious. They believe in good luck and omens, and consult soothsayers to explain dreams they have had or to look into the future. In Warbal the magic eye on the boat was painted by the head boatbuilder, and only he could do this. Certainly we have had a good voyage so far. The 'tuan tana' or local shaman said the prayers to the local spirits when we launched the boat . He is the man who arranges good relations between the village and the spirits which the people belive live in the soil, the rocks, trees, air, and sea all around them. The tuan tana is always from the same family, and this belief in the spirits of the surroundings is the foundation of most of Indonesian superstitions.
MAY/20/22cbsth@iol.ie22. I have seen the pictures of the islanders making sago and it looks like a very difficult task. it has to be said that it does'nt look very appetising. Did you try any sago ?And how was it ? 22. Sago: It is not too difficult to make sago. In fact you can make enough sago in less than a week to feed a whole family for five months. The trouble is that it tastes like nothing - very bland. We sometimes have sago bread, and it tastes like cardboard.
MAY/20/23cbsth@iol.ie23. Have you ever tasted the nutmeg and do you ever use it in food? Have you ever used it in medicine? Is there much nutmeg exported? Does nutmeg sell well in the Islands? Is it an expensive spice? 23. Nutmeg: We have also eaten nutmeg, both the powdered nut for flavouring food, and the flesh of the fruit which is soaked in sugar water and then tastes a bit like an unripe pear. There is also rather a tasty, dark brown jam made from nutmeg. The powder is sometimes put into local folk medecine, and nutmeg is quite cheap because it is now grown in many islands when once it was only grown in Banda. This is because the nutmeg trees grow without any need to look after them, and so the crop is very easy to raise.
MAY/20/24cbsth@iol.ie24. Did you see any of the Green tutles being robbed or the eggs? Is there many turtles being saved out there and is there a patrol unit out there? Is there a huge black market for the eggs? Did you see any eggs for sale in the markets? Have you seen any of the Green turtles laying eggs? 24. Green turtles: We did not see anyone robbing the turtle nests,just the empty nests like big holes in the sand. The eggs we saw were those which the turtle laid during the night, just before she buried them - and some eggs in the nearest town which a man was carrying from dooor to door and offering for sale. The problem was that the Baun islands were declared as a protected zone for turtles, but there was no patrol or guard living nearby, so the islands were not really being protected - and there is no law against taking and selling turtle eggs so the salesman can say he collected the eggs from a different place.
MAY/20/25cbsth@iol.ie25. Did you see any of the Green tutles being robbed or the eggs? Is there many turtles being saved out there and is there a patrol unit out there? Is there a huge black market for the eggs? Did you see any eggs for sale in the markets? Have you seen any of the Green turtles laying eggs? 25. Kora Kora races: A kora kora needs as many as 40 paddlers and as we are only 7 people aboard ALFRED WALLACE we did not have enough to enter a team in the race. Also to paddle a racing kora kora you need to be really expert, and very strong and well practiced, which means that your usual job is a fisherman paddling a dugout canoe to work every day. The teams for the twice a year races are formed from local districts, traditional to the island, with their own team colours. I think the team in the photo, from one of the central districts, has been doing best in the last few matches.
MAY/20/26petwalsh@iol.ie 26. Do many of the Indonesian schoolchildren know about Wallace? Have they heard about Joseph Conrad and his travels in the archipelago? 26. Many of the schoolchildren in Indonesia know the name of Wallace, but in connection with 'Wallace's Line' (the dividing line between the regions of the animals of Asia and Australia) which is taught as part of the Indonesian school curriculum, in both primary and junior secondary biology classes. Few know much about Wallace the man and explorer. No one has yet mentioned Conrad, possibly because he travelled and wrote mainly about western Indonesia.
MAY/20/27petwalsh@iol.ie 27. Has Leonard done many paintings?27. Leonard has now done, or begun, about thirty five small paintings.

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