The breeze was perfect for taking a gentle cruise around the port of Jakarta. Our friends Genevieve, Thierry, Phillip, and the owner of the boat Tom had invited my husband Dom and me to join them on an amazing voyage around the bay. We eagerly set sail aboard a charming fifteen meter French sailboat named Michelle.

We were the only ones on the water to simply have fun. Those who shared our magnificent view were local fishermen, oil tankers, and industrial cargo ships which were there for the sake of making money. It was surreal to have this oceanic stage all to ourselves. Later on I learned about the unfortunate lack of marine tourism in Indonesia. In most any other part of the world this setting, with its perfect weather, would have summoned ocean lovers to set sail.

As an archipelago, Indonesians have a long and rich history as boat makers, sailors, and fishermen. It is a culture that has seduced many travelers. Once upon a time, there was a yacht club called the Jakarta Offshore Sailing Club on the harbor of Pantai Mutiara, which was founded in 1973. It hosted many regattas and cruises, and promoted the splendor of Indonesian nautical activities. Due to a very convoluted issue with the local authorities, many boat owners have lost their licenses and have abandoned their boats on the pier. All activities have been put on hold since February 2008. It is sad to watch this sailing tradition slowly dwindle as the water level rises gradually around the luxurious residential area of Pantai Indah Kapuk. One can glimpse the once beautiful docks, now virtually unrecognizable moldy structures, submerged under three meters of water.

My thoughts drifted off as I gazed towards the islands of Rambut, Damar, Onrust and Bidadari. Tom’s voice broke my contemplation, “Ready about!” he called. Everyone shouted back “Tack!” as Michelle took a turn and followed the wind gracefully to the quay.

Triple kisses with salutations to Tom, Phillip, Thierry, and Genevieve, for teaching me how to tie a bowline knot and instilling in me and appreciation for sailing, Melissa Sunjaya.

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