Darwin, Australia to Thailand

we left Darwin mid September, 2007, for Ashmore Reef, which lies some 450 NM to the west, halfway to Bali. Ashmore Reef is a
National Marine Park administered by Australia. Only one of the islands there are open to visitors so we parked UHURU on one of
the moorings which have been installed by the Aussies to protect the reef from damage caused by anchors. We spent 4 glorious
days there, had the whole park all to ourselves,  except for a visit by the Australian Navy who came by our boat in their speedy
tender to ask whether there was anything we needed, anything! Wow, how nice is that! We assured them we were just fine, the only
thing we were possibly low on was diesel (we had no sailing winds since leaving Darwin and didn’t expect much different on our
onward leg to Bali) which they said they couldn’t help us with unless we had an emergency, which we did not. We explored the
island, the reef and our surroundings, we found turtle skeletons, an Indonesian grave site from another era, shells and even a fresh
water well on the island. As we were approaching the pass to leave the reef for Bali, the navy boat was still sitting there and we
received a radio call asking us whether we still wanted some diesel. The answer was yes and to make a long story short, they filled
our 6 portable jerry cans (120 liters) and we sent a case of VB (Aussie beer) across in return. Best barter deal ever! As expected,
we motored most of the way to Bali until the final night when the wind picked up south of Selat (Strait in Indonesian) Lombok just
east of Bali. The Indonesian selats in that particular neighborhood are known for their fierce southsetting currents during that time of
year and you can feel the effects far offshore. You can time your passage to avoid the worst by calculating the lunar transit and use
a table for the best time to cross, which we didn’t do, hoping our timing would be lucky enough to avoid the worst. No such luck. It is
a surreal feeling to find yourself in a tumbler going from  fairly smooth conditions to bad in 15 to 20 minutes, getting tossed around
like a piece of cork. To make matters worse, the winds from the southeast had picked up to 20 knots against a fairly large
southwest swell, which, together, collided with some 3 to 4 knots of southsetting current. It’s a recipe for very rough and confused
seas. It all ended a few hours later and at daybreak we found ourselves approaching Bali and Selat Badung,  which runs south
between the islands of Lombok and Bali. Again, conditions changed in a matter of minutes but this time it made our earlier
experience look like a warm up. By now we had daylight which helped. Again, UHURU got tossed around but the currents were so
strong we could not hold a course for Benoa, our destination. I have had some Gulfstream experience crossing from Florida to the
Bahamas, but this was much, much worse. With 2 engines running full out and steering some 100 degrees off course into the
current, forward progress slowed down to 0.5 to 1 knot and we still could not make Benoa. Our ETA of 0900 quickly evaporated,
welcome to Bali, have a nice day! We decided to set course for landfall much further south, figuring once we got closer to the coast,
the currents would ease. But all we could see ahead of us were waves crashing in spectacular fashion on the cliffs of the southeast
coast. At that point we were just hoping to make the east coast of Bali somewhere before missing the island altogether to the
south. As expected, the currents eased closer in and we gradually regained our course for Benoa. You just never stop meeting new
challenges and learning in the process out on the ocean. These were by far the worst, uncomfortable and intimidating conditions we
had encountered. Thank God it didn’t last for very long, but everything you read about these selats,  the currents and hair raising
conditions they can present is correct. Needless to say, we worked out our lunar transit and timing of departure very carefully
leaving Benoa heading north.

We have since visited the Orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo, had a wonderful time in Singapore and enjoyed
many stops up the Malaysian coast to Phuket, Thailand were we spent the Holidays.

I had this great idea that Wendy and I should have a checkup at the Phuket International Hospital, which we did on December 31,
2007.  Nothing like starting the New Year with a clean Bill of Health! Wendy of course passed with flying colours, I had a hiccup in
my stress test which was ended 7 minutes into the routine. The attending physician pointed out that there was a possibility of a
narrowing artery (reduced blood flow) and I should have an angiogram. Happy New Year! The procedure was arranged at the
Bangkok International Hospital in Phuket where they confirmed an 80 percent blockage at the beginning of the LCX (I think it
means the left circumflex artery) and another 70 percent further down the same artery (the good news is that there are no other
significant blockages elsewhere, so only a single vessel is affected). We decided right there and then to proceed with angioplasty
(insertion of a stent to open the blockage back up). This procedure was aborted since the surgeon could not get the wire passed
the blockage. We were told that with proper medication, which I have plenty of now, it would be ok for us to move on. So we
provisioned the boat for 6 months to depart Thailand for the Andaman Islands (India), Sri Lanka, Chagos, Seychelles, Zanzibar and
Kenya, a great sampling of Indian Ocean territory.  The problem, however, was that this thing just kept eating away at me, playing
games with my mind. 80 percent, in my book, is 4/5th reduced flow to some part of the heart, and that is significant.

Fast forward………we have made contact with a cardiologist in Switzerland, we moved the boat back to Langkawi, Malaysia,
where immigration rules are much more relaxed than Thailand and we are flying to Switzerland on March 14 to hopefully get this
fixed by attempting angioplasty again. So three years after starting this journey from Florida with 3 broken ribs and a punctured
lung, we sadly have to interrupt our circumnavigation for a medical condition that is potentially less manageable out there in
nowhere. The seasonal weather window to sail from Southeast Asia going west is closing from April until November and we don’t
want to leave the boat tied up to the dock here for this length of time, especially during the wet and humid southwest monsoon
season, so  we have arranged for a crew to deliver her to Israel. UHURU will continue without us for now, but with Screecher staying
on board, until we catch up with her again hopefully in early May in Tel Aviv. I have passed physicals including resting EKG’s with
flying colours for many, many years, all good, all great, and this one was no exception, except for the stress test. It’s the stress test,
stupid, insist on it!