Gone with the Wind: Orla Doherty Writes about Life on the RV Heraclitus Expedition, a Nine-Month Coral Reef Monitoring Trip on an 82-Foot Ocean-Going Research Vessel Which Is Supported by the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation. (Exploration & Discovery)

Article excerpt

Eighteen days of unceasing winds brought the RV Heraclitus from Palawan in the Philippines to Singapore. There could not be a more severe contrast in island life. Both populations have caused havoc with their reefs--the Filipinos with dynamite, cyanide, overfishing and poorly-managed marine park, the Singaporeans with dumping waste, the endless turbulence from the heavy traffic in the Straits and excavating reefs to make their island bigger.

But in between these contrasting islands, racing across the South China Sea, we were on open ocean; out in the big blue. Families of pilot whales passed us on either side, on their way to rendezvous with other groups for breeding. Pods of bottlenose dolphins created spectacles at the bow, while spinner dolphins performed acrobatics just a stone's throw from the deck. We were sailing in some of the deepest waters in Southeast Asia. Later, a whaleshark arrived at our stern.

The winds continued to rage and became a little more frisky as we were almost two-thirds of the way into our voyage. Early one morning, they changed direction with no warning. We jibed and our rigging was badly damaged. …


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