Nova on the Arka Kinari

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Nova on board the Arka Kinari.

When the crew of the Arka Kinari left Mexico on 21 February they, like everyone else, were mindful of the coronavirus.

As their boat sliced through the waves, they clustered on the foredeck around the tiny radio, intently listening to a crackled voice announcing that Pacific islands, such as the Cook, Christmas and Marshall Islands, were all closing their borders.

” This truly brought it home to us that the entire world was actually shutting down,” says British team member Sarah Louise Payne.

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The Arka Kinari.

They had actually set out from the Netherlands in August – two artists with a multinational seven-person team, consisting of lighting and sound engineers, heading for Indonesia, the nation they planned to make their base.

Grey Filastine and his Indonesian partner Nova Ruth had invested years flying all over the world carrying out at music festivals, playing their unique mix of traditional Javanese melodies and contemporary electronic music.

Their lyrics concentrated on ecological and social justice, and Grey states he and Nova were “disappointed about our complicity with the very exact same fossil capitalism that we’re knocking in our efficiencies”.

So they had an idea – to develop a multimedia performance on board their boat with a message about the environment crisis and the health of the oceans. Lastly, they would have “a method that matches the message”, Grey states.

The ship would have an engine for emergency situations, but they would utilize it extremely moderately. Basically, it would be carbon-neutral travel. Grey thought it was necessary for musicians to show that this was feasible: “We can envision life after the carbon economy and re-engage with the last excellent commons, the sea.”

They sold a share in a house in Seattle, and purchased the boat. Nova initially wanted to build an Indonesian Pinisi sailing boat, but that would have needed big amounts of tropical wood so they wound up recycling an old two-masted steel-hulled schooner. The sails double as screens throughout their performances.

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Nik Gaffney

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Grey and Nova carrying out in Rotterdam.

” When we saw it, the two sails were similar to the Pinisi, so it was close to our dream,” says Nova, whose mother’s family are from the Bugis, a seafaring tribe.

” As a descendant of the Bugis I feel sad that I haven’t discovered to cruise, and very few of my generation do,” she says.

  • Well before the European colonisation of South East Asia and Australia, Bugis sailors are believed to have traded across the area including Australia – their boats are found in ancient Aboriginal rock and bark paintings
  • Some say that the word “bogeyman” refers to the Bugis or Buganese pirates – ruthless seafarers that you wouldn’t wish to cross
  • Fellow British crew member Claire Fauset joined the exploration after falling in love with “the crazy plan and the lovely boat and of course, the zombie apocalypse survival group that is this crew”.

    Grey and Nova borrowed cash, around ₤250,000(EUR300,000), so at some point the job requires to produce money, either through performances or taking on paying passengers.

    ” Arka Kinari is an enormous endeavor, it had actually already stretched us to the limitations, physically, financially, mentally, and then this takes place,” says Grey.

    Grey and another team member, both US residents, could have stayed forever in Hawaii. The others – the Brits, a Spaniard and a Portuguese – got visas for a month, enabling them to restock with fresh food and restore their land legs. Nova had actually flown home from Mexico to get ready for the ship’s arrival.

    Throughout their time in Hawaii the rest of the team monitored the spread of lockdown procedures from one nation to another. Quickly enough, Indonesia announced a ban on all foreign arrivals by sea or air up until further notice.

    ” I got the taste of ashes in my mouth. You could explain that as an individual meltdown,” says Grey.

    Before triggering, they had actually made a Fallback for almost any scenario – or so they thought. Their route had doubled in length to avoid piracy off Somalia and the war in Yemen, however the coronavirus was a complete broadside.

    On 6 Might, with the US visas about to end, they chose to head for Indonesia anyway hoping that it may open its borders prior to the start of the hurricane season in June – but with no clear idea where they would go if it didn’t.

    Now, 3 weeks later on, fresh food is running low, but there is sufficient dry food to last a couple of months.

    They are growing a couple of spindly lettuces on board as an experiment and capturing fish with home-made lines and lures.

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    Sarah (left) with fellow crew members Benjamin and Clare.

    If they could stop someplace with web, the issue with the main navigation chart plotter may be dealt with, Grey states.

    But they don’t understand when or where they will next be able to land.

    ” And as we slowly sail towards Indonesia the worries about landing are eclipsing the worries of the sea,” states Grey.

    The early morning shift includes cleaning up the solar panels, cleaning the dishes, swabbing the deck and examining the fresh food, while the afternoon is for big facilities tasks, repair work, wood upkeep and woodworking, de-rusting and painting the steel hull.

    ” It’s just you, the heavens above and boundless sea around,” says Grey.

    Not just can you see the bow wave perfectly brightened by starlight, he says, but the agitation of the water causes “trails of bioluminescence, like underwater fireflies or grinder triggers”.

    ” Never ever thought I ‘d be asking a nuclear waste dump for sanctuary,” says Grey.

    This could be the only location, Grey thinks, where they may be undetected or tolerated, and someplace they might attempt waiting for a while.

    He points out that disallowing the boat is irrational, since they have been efficiently quarantined at sea.

    If they can’t, the Arka Kinari will require to look for sanctuary from the typhoons elsewhere, preferably a country not far away – if there is one that will have them – from which they can make a dash for Indonesia between typhoons, when borders open.

    On the project website they have actually revealed all scheduled performances are suspended.

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