Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Adventurous Kate Gets Shipwrecked in Indonesia

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I survived a shipwreck.

Saying that feels unreal – like it happened in a dream, or a really bad Lifetime movie.  Seriously, did this actually happen to me?!

But it did happen, and I survived.  This is my story.

The Beginning

I was invited to join Perama Tours’ Hunting Komodo by Camera tour as a guest. Perama is a well-known tour and transportation operator in Indonesia.  In exchange for a complimentary trip, I was to write about my experience on AdventurousKate.com.

The five-day Hunting Komodo by Camera trip departs from Lombok. The tour then visits several islands off Lombok and the north coast of Sumbawa before landing on Komodo Island for a dragon-spotting hike.

After docking on the island of Flores for the night, the tour visits Rinca to see more dragons, then sails back via Sumbawa and Lombok.

The first day of the cruise was pleasant, if slightly drizzly. Rainy season in Nusa Tenggara, this region of Indonesia, lasts roughly from November to March.  The sky cleared up just in time for a breathtaking sunset over Lombok.

The next day, we spent the morning swimming and snorkeling on Satonda Island off Sumbawa, then returned to the boat for lunch.

By the time we arrived at Sumbawa’s Kilo Beach, our afternoon stop, rain had begun to pour down.

“Do you want to stay here, or do you want to keep going?” our cruise director, Nardin, asked us.

I shrugged.  I didn’t care either way, nor did most of my shipmates.  Was there a point to staying at a beach when it was pouring?

We left the beach and sailed on.

At the time, I remember thinking that Nardin’s question was strange. Did he really just ask us what time to leave?  Weren’t the trips timed so they’d sail the right areas at the right times?

The seas were quite rough that evening.  I get seasick from time to time, and I usually just watch the ocean to feel better.  But with two-meter swells and rain coming down, the windows and doors were closed, turning the covered deck into a box of torture.

During dinner, one of the girls gave me a motion sickness pill.  I took it, curled up, and fell asleep right on the bench.

I opened my eyes briefly as everyone was getting ready for bed at around 10:30, then fell asleep again.

The Shipwreck

At 2:17 AM, I heard a deafening groan and felt the boat slam forward. The curtains flew open and I was drenched in rain.  I scrambled from the bench down to the floor, crawling between my shipmates.

And then the lights turned on and the crew ran in.

“Everybody, put your lifejackets on.”

No statement has ever frightened me so much in my life.

I jumped to the benches and tried to grab a life jacket.  The mesh divider was holding them in.  For several minutes, I pried and pried, my heart beating wildly in my chest, but it was no use.  I began undoing each knot and managed to pull a life jacket, little by little, out of a narrow hole in the mesh.

The jackets were knotted together. I discarded the first unusable jacket and grabbed another.  It didn’t zip, but its straps weren’t tied together.  It would do.

Lifejacket on, I surveyed my belongings.  In the drybag next to me, I had my iPhone, camera, and the mini-purse I was using as a wallet. I ran to the luggage storage room, grabbed my little green backpack, and ran back to the deck.

Inside my green backpack were the rest of my valuables: my computer and my big purse, which was filled with credit cards and my passport.

I unlocked my bag from its Pacsafe and held it in my lap, sitting on the bench.  By this point, the boat was jerking irregularly, throwing us all over the place.

That’s when I lost it.

Please God, please God, please God, please God, please God,” I chanted between sobs, tears pouring down my face. “PLEASE, JESUS!” I yelped after being thrown particularly hard.  Alicia from Canada, sitting between me and her boyfriend, Matt, put her arm around me and comforted me.

All along, the boat was speeding toward land. Soon, we were told to come outside onto the bow.  The lifeboat would be waiting to take us to shore.

The rain stung bitterly.  I was ready to jump into the lifeboat, drybag and backpack in hand, when we got an unpleasant surprise:

The lifeboat is not working right now,” our tour leader, Gerry, told us.  “You must jump into the water and swim to land.

By this point, the starboard (right) side of the boat was rapidly sinking, putting the boat at a sharp angle. Gerry directed us to jump from the port (left) side, several meters high in the air.

At this point, I should probably mention that we had a baby on board.

This little Danish baby was only ten months old. It was a surprise to have a child on board, but everyone fell in love with this adorable, Woody Woodpecker-coiffed cherub right away.  The Indonesian crew were especially crazy about her.

So knowing that she was still on board, that she would have to jump, made me hysterical.

With so few life jackets on board and life boats that didn’t work, obviously, there was nothing for the baby.  Her father tied a scarf around her and tied the other end to his wrist.  He jumped into the rocky ocean, holding her high above his head.

I later found out that her father was 26 – the same age as me.

Could you imagine holding your child and jumping off the end of a sinking boat, not knowing what you would land on?

I can’t even begin to imagine what her parents went through.

At that point, something in me snapped.  Emotions left my body – it was time for business.

I hurled myself over the edge of the boat and landed in the water, the two Danish girls following me moments later.  The water was warm despite the chilly rain, and in no time flat, I had dog-paddled around the boat to where my feet touched slippery rocks.

This was Komodo Island — yes, one of the two islands in the world filled with komodo dragons, animals that can kill a human with a single bite. Previously on this site, I said that Komodo Island was one of the five places I would never visit because the dragons terrified me.

Now, here I was, waves slamming me face-first into rocks, washing up on shore in a Vang Vieng tubing t-shirt and hippie pants with no guide and no defense against the giant lizards.

As we climbed up the shore, an eerie sense of calm came over us.  Even the baby was silent as we watched bursts of lightning illuminate our sinking boat, the crew frantically trying to salvage the engine.

I had to do something.

“Does everybody have their partner?” I yelled.

“Yes,” a few people called out.

That’s when I realized that solo travelers are at a disadvantage when it comes to disasters – nobody is looking for them. I had to make sure the four of us were safe.

“Is Tree here?”  I shouted.

“Yes, I’m here.  Right behind you.”

“Is Betti here?”

“She’s over there.”

“Is Jens here?”

“Everybody!” a crew member yelled out.  “You cannot stay here.  You must climb the rocks!”

The tide was low, but it wouldn’t be for long. The crew directed us to follow the coastline in the hopes that we’d get to a safer location.

We spent the next thirty minutes or so climbing and climbing. I was thankful that I had worn my good sandals; many of my shipmates were slicing their feet open with each step.

The Rescue

After what seemed like hours, a speedboat showed up. A live-aboard dive boat, the Moana, had answered our distress call, and we could go there right away.

I was so excited, I let out a whoop.

I charged back into the water and flopped onto the speedboat face-down, doing a Tobias Funke-esque roll in the process.  “Graceful as a swan,” I cracked.

Humor.  It’s always been my defense mechanism.

Captain Ingo, from Germany, welcomed us aboard the MoanaIf Perama was supposed to have the “nicer” boats, this dive boat could have been the Titanic. Comparatively, it was pure luxury.  No sleeping on the deck here!

The crew immediately brought us towels and t-shirts and served us steaming mugs of coffee and tea.  Meanwhile, a young German passenger kindly offered his cabin to the baby and her parents.

I used this time to quickly make a video documenting the scene:

We had arrived on the Moana at around 4:15 AM, two hours after our boat had hit the reef.

There was nothing to do in the meantime — the rescue boat wouldn’t be there for hours.

Eventually, I went into the back closet with the Danish girls, collapsed on top of a giant bean bag, and fell asleep.

A few hours later, I woke up to sunshine. Everyone was in better spirits.  We ate breakfast; we talked; we planned the stories we’d post all over the internet in English, Danish, German and Spanish.

And adorable baby Ellen, now wearing diapers fashioned from towels, continued to charm us all.

At around 9:45 AM, the rescue boat arrived, complete with the Harbor Master. This boat would take us to Labuan Bajo, Flores, which was the original midpoint of the cruise.

Though we tried to get them to sail to the wreckage, just so we could see if our luggage survived, the crew said it wasn’t safe.

To our delight, they said that they were able to save some bags, and that they’d go back for more later.

Let me tell you something – after being shipwrecked, the last thing you want to see on your rescue boat is a HIGH SMOKER sticker in the captain’s cabin.

Three hours later, we landed in Labuan Bajo and got some lunch — and our first WiFi access in days.

Most of my shipmates decided not to tell their families about the shipwreck. I knew mine would find out immediately due to Twitter and Facebook — so I gritted my teeth and sent them an email, assuring them I was fine and begging them not to worry.

The Aftermath

Late that night, our salvaged luggage was brought to Labuan Bajo.  Immediately, we went down to the pier to see if any of our belongings had survived.  I was still praying for my passport.

And it was there.  All three of my bags were there, and my passport was still snugly in my purse, albeit waterlogged! I kissed it.  Unbelievably, my credit cards had survived as well.

But my happiness was short-lived –

Our bags had been ransacked.

How did we know?

Zippers were unzipped – hidden, random, inner zippers – and valuables were taken out, the pockets were refilled with Anker beer cans and Ritz cracker tubes, and then they were zipped up again.

There is NO WAY the water did that.

My shipmates believe that they were robbed by the Perama crew.

While I make no comment about this allegation, let me ask — what would YOU think?

Pandemonium erupted as my shipmates and the crew yelled back and forth at each other. Through all this, the attending police officers, who didn’t speak English, joked and smoked with the crew.

By then, I had had enough. I took my putrid, petrol-soaked, empty bags – everything was gone except for my pair of Nike sneakers, my purple long-sleeved shirt, my Boston Celtics keychain, and my waterlogged computer – and went back to the car.

Over the next few days, police reports were filed.  Sarongs and toothpaste were purchased.  Thrillingly, I was interviewed for a story in the Bali Times.

My parents each emailed me with the message, “It’s time to come home!”  When your divorced parents send you identical messages, you KNOW it’s serious.

I told my parents that I had a month and a half of travel left and wasn’t going to let this stop me. I would take it easy — no more boats in Indonesia — and I had friends who would watch over me in Thailand.

Through all this, I was emailing Perama’s manager, Diana Perama Aryati, asking for help getting back to Lombok.  Diana responded that I should have empathy for the company, saying they were going through a difficult time.

You can imagine what my response to that was.

Perama eventually refunded the cost of the trip and paid for two lunches, two dinners, and two nights’ lodging in Labuan Bajo. We were not offered transport back to Lombok.

I flew back to Bali on my own dime two days later.

Here’s the truth: Perama Tours has a reputation as the “safer” cruise from Lombok to Flores.  But people need to realize that “safer” in this context does not mean “safe,” nor anything even remotely close to “safe.”

Half the life jackets on the Perama boat were unusable. Had we had a full boat, people would have had to go without.  Additionally, both life boats malfunctioned as soon as we had an emergency.

Boats sink all the time in Indonesia – including tourist boats. Safety standards are far worse in Indonesia than in other Southeast Asian countries.  For Perama to be a “safer” option is virtually meaningless.

Small boats and fast ferries are often the boats that sink.  The fast ferry to the Gili Islands sank twice last year.

Had I known the reality of how dangerous Perama boats are, I never would have set foot on board.


Do you want to visit Komodo Island?  There are safer ways than going with Perama.

A much safer way is to take a cheap flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo, Flores, and to do a day trip to Komodo Island or Rinca.

This way, you’ll avoid dangerous night sailing and you won’t lose all your belongings in the event of a shipwreck.  Yes, it might cost a bit more — it’s worth it.  Your life is worth the extra dollars.

Additionally, do not take a boat in Indonesia during the rainy season. The rainy season runs roughly from November to March.

I am incredibly grateful that everybody survived the shipwreck and that nobody was seriously injured. I am particularly grateful to Gerry, the only Perama crew member who helped us get off the boat safely. Gerry is only 18 years old, but his maturity is far beyond his years.

I am making it my mission to inform travelers of how dangerous it is to travel Indonesia by boat.

It is far, far more dangerous than other countries in Southeast Asia.

Do you know anyone traveling to Indonesia?  Please forward them this post. There’s not enough information out there, and people need to know the risks.

I was lucky.  You may not be.

I received a complimentary five-day Hunting Komodo by Camera tour from Perama Tours.  As you can see, it turned out quite differently than we both envisioned.  All opinions, quite obviously, are my own.

Comments

258 Responses to “Adventurous Kate Gets Shipwrecked in Indonesia”
  1. Annette Rusling says:

    Wow, a very scary experience written about very eloquently. This is why I think travel blogs are valuable, they show travel honestly, the good and the bad. Your writing has inspired me to document my experiences in SE Asia in my own blog, which will hopefully help hone my skills so that one day I can do it professionally. Good luck on the rest of your trip and stay safe.

  2. Pia & Kris says:

    Thank God everybody survived! Especially Baby Ellen who I think becane you’re little angel at that time. It angers me how the company’s manager responded to your email, thinking that they should be the one to comfort their shipwrecked guests. Thanks for telling your story and now we know never to travel in Indonesia by boat. Stay safe!

  3. ChinaMatt says:

    This is an amazing story. Glad you’re safe.

    Makes me thankful for the safe voyages I’ve had (and I was nervous a few of those times).

  4. ylin42 says:

    Glad to hear that everyone made it out safely. I am going to Indonesia in a couple months, and was planning to take the ferry from Bali to Java… perhaps I’ll rethink that plan!

    • Ooh, before things get out of control here — sometimes, ferries are necessary to travel around Indonesia. It’s a very short distance from Java to Bali or vice versa.

      Just avoid the small, fast ferries if you can. And PLEASE avoid any and all night sailing or overnight trips.

  5. Dan Thompson says:

    Holy crap girl, that’s just insane! Can’t even imagine. Extremely glad everyone is okay.

    Dan

  6. Wow – my heart was racing reading this, I cant imagine what it was like on board! I definitely wont be boating in Indonesia!

    Anyway, glad to hear you and everyone are safe – I hope the rest of your travels more than make up for this hiccup!

  7. Wild story…holy crap! I’ve been considering a trip to Indonesia, but getting hold feet about going for many reasons, some of which are complicated. That was after the Japan earthquake/tsunami and before reading your story.

    Anyway, it sounds like it was really rough. You told the story well, though. Glad you survived!

  8. Rick Jones says:

    Oh the drama! All i could think of when i was reading the first few paragraphs was “The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli”.

    But hot damn, woman! thats one crazy story. Good to see everyone made it safe and sound, albeit, completely shocked. At least you managed to keep a cool head and think about the other travellers, taking a short roll call and whatnot.

    Good thinkin, 99. One to tell the kids, for sure.

    -Rick

  9. Stephanie says:

    Kate this is a great story and a really great piece of writing. Even though I’ve heard the story a couple of times now I still got caught up reading this.

    I think when we travel we sometimes start to think we are invincible, and that the bad things that happen to other traveler wouldn’t possibly happen to us. This is a stunning reminder that yeah, bad things can happen and it’s so important to be careful with our safety. Which is why I’m so glad you’re getting the word out.

    I hope the next month and a half are a little less eventful for you!

  10. I don’t think that the water would have swapped out your belongings for beer and crackers, but I wouldn’t put it past a fish to have done that. Maybe it was a sea turtle that decided to give you all of its beer and crackers as compensation or something.

  11. Jeremy B says:

    Wow, what a story Kate! I really enjoyed reading that but so sorry you had to go through it. So glad everyone was safe and made it out alive. What a crazy adventure! While there were some lessons about what to do and not to do about sailing in Indonesia, I am sure there are some bigger life lessons as well. I am not sure what they are but I am sure you will remember this experience for the rest of your life.

  12. Dave says:

    “the last thing you want to see on your rescue boat is a HIGH SMOKER sticker in the captain’s cabin.”

    I’d say that’s the last thing I’d want to see on a boat taking tourists at any time, whether or not you’ve just been shipwrecked.

    If you write a book some day, this even deserves its own chapter.

    • Maybe I will write that book, Dave. This trip happens to have a PERFECT narrative arc — even before the shipwreck. The only problem is that it’s extremely personal stuff…l don’t mind talking about personal stuff, but I think the others involved would. :-)

  13. Erik says:

    I agree with your Facebook comment- this is your best post.

    Being shipwrecked as a blessing in disguise? While I’m sure you are not happy with all that you lost and the experience you had to go through, I have a feeling this will make you a stronger person, and in the end, a better writer.

    I’m not trying to minimize at all the horrendous experience for you and your shipmates- I can not even imagine. It is good that you are continuing on with you trip despite all the advice to go home. You are lucky that you are in the position that you can do that.

  14. Renee says:

    Glad you and all on board made out with only a few cuts. And although it’s unimaginable to think that people took advantage of such a terrible situation to help themselves to money and other items of value, everyone walked away with their lives. That’s all that matters.
    As a single mom and solo traveller, reading about the little doll on board made my heart race. Wow.

    This all makes me so glad I decided to fly from Bali to Lombok in July. Not only is it safer but it’s cheaper than those fast boats..50% cheaper!!

    Be safe
    @rramirez4444

  15. What an incredible story! People are really mean sometimes. I mean, who steals shipwrecks survivors?

    All in all you’re alive and it’s all that matters, although it definitely sucks that you have lost pretty much all your valuables. I hope the rest of your trip is as great as the first months (excluding the fifth)

  16. Colleen says:

    I am breathless with this blog entry! FOR THE WIN! I am so glad that you are okay, that is the main thing. How scary, how terrifying for you. I am so glad that you are okay and I will say an extra prayer that the rest of your travels are peaceful and safe. It sounds like you have already been blessed with good friends and understanding parents.

  17. Claire says:

    I’m so glad you’re safe. What a terrifying thing to experience. You are an adult, and are free to make travel decisions for yourself, but I have to question the parents of the 10 month old. I want my daughter to see the world as well, but that was very risky. We bring our own life vest when we travel with our daughter.

  18. Charu says:

    Kate, this is the first post I’ve read of yours, and already a huge fan of your blog. I cannot even imagine what the experience must have been like–and that baby looks like an absolute angel. Thank goodness you escaped safe and sound–it must be absolutely horrifying jumping into the water and not knowing what you were going to land on. Holy crap!!!! Thanks for having the presence of mind to take pictures about it, and furthermore, to blog about it.

  19. Lisa says:

    Yay, Kate, I’m so glad you’re alive and can share this with many others!!! Also the Catholic in me is strangely pleased you invoked “God” so many times during the night….I do believe God was watching over you that night. And although it’s cliched, I firmly believe in the old adage: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” You’ve been through so much, and are one resilient & adventurous lady! xoxo

  20. Kris says:

    Great account, glad you made it out safely!

  21. Great post, Kate!

    Glad you survived and can tell the tale of Perama Tours. Hope they go down for this. They should never have taken your lives in their hands.

    Disgusting.

    -Mountain

  22. Archer says:

    Wow, reading this post felt like watching a really good movie. That’s how good this story is Kate! Too bad this happened to you in real life. I’m just happy you made it out unscathed. That baby is an angel!

  23. Monica says:

    Wow, I absolutely cannot believe this happened to you! I took a boat trip around Komodo too and wanted to go with Perama Tours but it was the rainy season so all tours were cancelled. We ended up taking a bus to Flores and then hiring a fishing boat.

    This is such a scary story but it seems like you were all so brave.

    It does seem that Perama are a terrible company and terrible that they almost certainly stole peoples belongings. I feel like I should add that I used Perama a few times while I was in this area for short boat journeys and always found them to be really good.

    This was my slightly happier experience of visiting the Komodo dragons http://www.totaltravelbug.com/2011/02/komodo-dragons.html

  24. Beverly says:

    WOW! Scary, thrilling, compelling story with a (mostly) happy ending. So glad everyone was safe. Was you computer soggy toast? I’ve been following your blog and always enjoy it. Keep sharing your great posts and we’ll definitely keep reading! Best – Beverly

    • Beverly, it’s totally waterlogged — I’m still holding onto it, though, in case some genius in Bangkok can salvage its contents. I bought a new Acer Aspire in Denpasar right away.

  25. Adventurous, indeed. Glad you didn’t come home early. Thanks for telling us about it in detail.

  26. I am speechless. There are no words.

    Other than…

    DOWN WITH PERAMA.

    (It’s times like these having a blog comes in handy, no? Internet sabotage.)

  27. Quite an unintended adventure. Thankfully you, baby Ellen and everyone else was all right in the end.

    In our many years of travel we have been in situations and and various trips where the unthinkable crosses your mind and then it is quickly pushed out of our minds with a thought like–so many people do this and there’s never a problem. However, we can’t be blind to the fact that sometimes bad and unfortunate things happen. Many of us have seen that charred tourist minibus 2,000 feet below the switchbacks on a himalayan or Andean pass. Luckily, the odds are still with us and nothing would keep me from a trip I wanted to do. A s long as all are safe in the end it makes for one of those war stories you tell forever.

    What really sucks is that after all that someone (the boat crew) actually stole stuff from the bags.
    Rest up and get ready for your next (safe) adventure.

  28. Amy says:

    So glad that’s you’re ok, Kate! When reading your story, I kept thinking of how I could do it safer (I have a lock on my bag that I only leave unlocked when I’m getting into it or alone, keeping my important stuff on me, keeping receipts from big purchases) but then I realized if I have to take THAT many precautions, it’s just too dangerous and I should find another option.

    I’ll certainly take boats in Indonesia as it would be impossible to avoid them, but your advice to take day boats when it’s not the rainy season will definitely influence my plans! Thanks for letting other travelers learn from you experience (not ‘learning from your mistake’ because I don’t think you did anything wrong here). Hopefully everything will be better with the insurance company.

    I looked on Permara’s website yesterday and their links to the tour you took were shut down. No message about the shipwreck or anything…. I guess they just put it back up. I wish they would be honest about what happened so future customers can have the chance to make a decision. Thanks for helping us make an informed decision about boats in Indonesia! Stay safe and smiley! :)

  29. Amanda says:

    I think it’s safe to say that this is easily your best post to date, my friend. What a terrifying story! But it was presented in such a fantastic way. I was captivated, even though I’ve already heard the story more than once. I’d like to see what those nay-sayers who were calling you “unprofessional” and a “bad writer” have to say about this one…

    I’m so glad you’re safe. As they say in NZ, Kia Kaha – Stay Strong.

  30. Lissie says:

    You’ve motivated me to add a small dry bag for my camera and netbook – the next time I get a SE Asian ferry (probably August!) I do wonder why you didn’t have your major cards and passport on your body? Mine never leave me – fine a comfortable money belt (I like a shoulder holster) and wear it at all times.

    Bummer for Perama that you happened to be on this particular tour! Boats go down all the time -speed boats are particularly dangerous- and always have been. We took a speedboat (no choice) from Langkawi to Ko Lipe in November and a boat had broken up in heavy seas a few weeks earlier at the end of the wet season. I love SE Asia for their lack of safety standards – but it does mean that you have to engage brain before you set foot on boats – the most stupid thing I ever did was get on the wrong boat in Sumatra – which ended up being an over-night trip across the straights to Singapore – it wasn’t just the weather – which wasn’t bad- it was the fact that I was on an unlit boat crossing one of the busiest shipping channels in the world LOL Never told my mother that one!

  31. Cam says:

    That is an insane story!!
    Glad you are okay. What a trip!

  32. Rease says:

    I’m so glad you are okay! That sounds absolutely horrifying. I cannot believe the crew had the nerve to ROB you after a shipwreck. That is truly despicable.

  33. Alouise says:

    I’m sure this comment sounds like a broken record, but I’m glad that you and your other shipmates are okay. Perama handled this situation is extremely poor taste – at least you have a website where you can inform people about what happened. Wishing you safe travels for the rest of your trip.

  34. WOW, they took your clothes but left your credit cards, passport and computer (albeit broken). SOOOO glad your Celtics key chain made it, though! ;D Perhaps my little gift gave you the luck and good fortune to come out of the wreck alive and well!

  35. Marsha says:

    Your story’s particularly frightening for me because I’m not a strong swimmer–I’m not sure what I would have done if there weren’t enough lifejackets on board! Glad you made it out okay and that everyone was unharmed.

  36. Theodora says:

    Glad you made it off OK, Kate, and hope you’re enjoying your time in Ubud. The more I read about this, the more I realise that this was, by Indonesian standards, an extremely well-equipped boat. They had lifejackets, albeit not in the best condition. They had a means of getting a distress signal out. They had a lifeboat and flashlights, and so on. I think it is good to make people aware, though, that, even by South-East Asian standards, Indonesian boats are not safe.

  37. Betti says:

    Kate, you won’t believe this…. I talked to an agent yesterday (I talk to everyone advertising boattrips), and he said he was from Flores himself, used to work on a boat, Perama is no good, they are outsiders, for example locals know you can only go between Komodo and Gili Lawa at high tide — and then I go F——-! say that again???
    those were the two islands where the captain tried to cross. at night. in a storm. at low tide.

    anyone is you are heading to Komodo, take a boat that stays in a safe bay anchored at night. only local boats, people who grew up on those waters, and having their own boats, maybe are more interested in keeping them intact…..
    I really want to go back there because it is the best snorkelling in Indonesia. everyone I met says the best diving in the world for them so far but I cannot dive. I will go back next year or after. who knows.

  38. Lisa Bergren says:

    SO scary! And SO glad you all were okay!!

  39. Roni Weiss says:

    Crazy story.

    Well told.

    Glad you’re safe.

    Good to warn people.

  40. John says:

    I have been living 2 years in Indonesia and went to Komodo islands diving. It was really good but the place is dangerous with lots of current…
    2 year ago a friend mine was on tthe diving boat where they lost 6 divers… After 2 days in the sea they were found on the island and got attacked by Komodo dragons!

    http://dragon-komodo.com/

    Good luck and I hope you will keep traveling! Thanks for your outsanding blog!

  41. Sarah says:

    dude, your video just sent chills up my spine.

    i’m not sure what else to say but i am glad that you are safe!

  42. Natalie says:

    I don’t know this company or the area that you were traveling in however no one should have to go through that. Glad to hear that you are ok.

  43. Anthony says:

    Bloody hell! I’m glad you are safe. On an entirely different note-your writing about the story was 1st class-my cup of tea even went cold!!!

  44. timdog says:

    Kate, a very fine account of a monumental f*%^ up… And the thefts to add insult to injury!
    For years I’ve been quietly pointing out to people that the Perama trip is by no means the only option for visiting Komodo (my own choice would always be the independent overland trip – it’s by no means challenging, and there is much to see along the way). A friend did the trip several years back and said it was overpriced and boring; your experiences add an extra impetus to the “AVOID!”

    However, I might just take some small issue with your statement that “safety standards are far worse in Indonesia than in other Southeast Asian countries”, not least in light of the recent boat accident in Vietnam in which 12 people DID die…

  45. Valerie says:

    I’m glad things weren’t any worse than they were, and grateful for the warnings. I’m relieved to hear your passport and credit cards made it, I am so paranoid about losing those things on my trips. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip as it continues!

  46. Kelly says:

    Oh wow, Kate! Nothing more to add than what has already been said: what a terrifyingly crazy story, and am glad all ended up ok.

  47. Thanks for sharing this in such vivid detail. The pics are great and the one of the baby in the towel made me cry.

    I sailed on the Pacific Ocean for two years (7,000 miles) and shipwrecking was my biggest fear. I’ve heard many stories from other sailors of getting shipwrecked. Some had boats that sank in the middle of the ocean (for no identifiable reason), some were washed up against rocks in the night due to navigational errors, and some collided with tankers.

    Shipwrecks are common, and boating is inherently dangerous, but that danger can be exacerbated by a few things: a poorly maintained boat, an old wooden hull (steel is the safest), no GPS, and sailing into bad weather.

    Oh, and a captain who is high …

    I’m glad you’re okay. There is something reassuring about reading a worst-case scenario (literally WORST-CASE with the komodo dragons on the island!) and finding out that everyone was okay.

  48. Cassy says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Kate. I just found this blog and will enjoy reading more, but this story was the first that caught my eye. As much as we all love travelling in Asia we have to realise that their safety standards are not comparable to those in the west. I have just read another story about a young couple electrocuted in Thailand whilst taking a shower – sometimes you wonder why you would bother travelling at all, but there are so many wonderful things to see and cultures to experience and hopefully you make it back in one piece. We have young children too and this just compounds my fears every time we take off to another destination – so glad the baby was ok!

  49. Candice says:

    You’re rather composed in that video, lady, for someone who just went through an ordeal. Don’t think you gave yourself enough props for being so level-headed and thinking about others. Let’s hope you never have to go through that again!

  50. Jo says:

    “It is far, far more dangerous than other countries in Southeast Asia.”

    Any stats to back that up? Rather than isolating Indonesia, I’d suggest you inform your readers that the safety standards throughout the developing world are far from perfect. So if they plan to travel by boat anywhere in Southeast Asia, they should understand the risks before doing so. I think it’s just a little unfair that you’re targeting Indonesia on the back of one bad experience.

    Would your post have read “Philippines is far, far more dangerous than other country in Southeast Asia” if it happened there? I dare say it would.

    I’m glad you’re safe though, must have been a frightening experience.

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  23. [...] a shipwreck series of proof coins! While I’m not a fan of shipwrecks (especially that of Adventurous Kate’s) they obviously have had enough to print proof coins for two years. And if you want to see the [...]

  24. [...] Adventurous Kate: Adventurous Kate Gets Shipwrecked in Indonesia [...]

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  49. […] I found another inspiring, funny, outrageous female traveler, named Kate McCulley, whose travel blog has me all fired up to tell you about it. Score 10 points for Adventurous […]



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