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Notes written by Oskar Speck relating to his departure from Surabaya

Date: 1930s
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Copyright: © Australian National Maritime Museum
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Record
Object No: ANMS0533[007]

User Terms

    Translation
    • Departure from Surabaya. The westerly wind I had been hopeding for had had turned. At every opportunity to demonstrate one’s sailing prowess and to show landlubbers a bit of the art of manoeuvering a folding boat, fate would have it that there would be no wind. Or else the wind would be coming straight ahead so strongly that the sail had to be taken down from the light craft. A last wave wave of farewell to the departing compatriots and then I hadyou have to paddle the folding boat so hard it made mykes your face sweat. If the wind had continuedd like this, or even increasedd, which waswas to be expected, I wouldn’t have geot very far today. After a short time, my left hand started aching from the first water blister. %[sic] weeks of rest on shore had allowed the palms of my hands to become soft and vulnerable again. % weeks of Surabaya, I still couldn’t understand that I had stayed there for so long. Was it the daily bed, the warm food that I didn’t have to prepare myself, and that was simply there all the time, was it the cool beer or the jir k [sic] which was brought out on visits, or was it perhaps the svelte young Javanese girls. But no, my stay had a much simpler explanation. My camera, ordered a long time ago, discussed a hundred times with the supplier, wouldn’t arrive. I set off as soon as I had been notified that it had arrived at the customs office. No, I didn’t have to worry at all that what might have been holding me back might have been some notion of getting too comfortable, eating good food, or even any sentimental attachments. Surabaya was a nice place, certainly, but it was like all other places and like in any other place, any European couldn’t exist without a lot of money and where in the world will you find a travelertraveller in a folding boat with a lot of money. And so I held course to Bali and from there via the beautiful islands across to Timor. Many beautiful and interesting things were lying ahead of me and if the start was not going to be not exactly pleasant, then the end would therefore be all the better. Now, on top of everything else, the current had capsized [sic!], and the water stopped being sowas less choppy because the wind was blowing in the same direction ofas the current. The straits of Madura are very shallow and there is only a narrow corridor for large ships. I didn’t want to hang around here. I was able to makecould make my way aheadforward against the current and the wind only by putting in a supreme effort, and only by keeping very close to the muddy shore on the right bank. Somewhere in the endless mangrove swamps a small opening appeared, one of the numerous creeks, breeding place of mosquitoes and playground of thousands of ugly looking salamanders. ToI entered one of these in order to escape the wind and the current, to put the paddle down and then to drink and drink. Hardly 10 km away from the port of Surabaya and already I’m having a break. What a good start. Would my compatriots still be sitting down with their first drink at the German Club? I had to smile thinking whether any one of them would appreciate the cold beer anywhere near as much as I did the lukewarm water. It’s always the same thing, it’s just a question of degree. Anyone about to die of thirst would throw himself ecstatically into a muddy puddle in order to drink the stinking yellowish or even greenish water. Anyone else, who is used to always having cool clear drinking water at hand, and whose thirst mounts only once a year to the point where he will reach for that water, even when there is no beer or wine, will consider this a time of suffering. But even in this creek there is no peace. HThe hundreds of salamanders, which disappeared in frightfrightened into their holes when the tip of the boat touched the muddy ground, come back out one by one. There at the tip of the boat appears a huge male. His round bulging eyes stare at the boat with malevolence. His high back fin moves up and down in the direct sunlight. Gleaming blue for an instant, then he leaps and jumpsmoves across to the nearest hole in leaps and jumps. I’ve never seen an animal resemble the horrible shapes of the dragons of primeval times more closely. Neither ???? (“Farane”) nor crocodiles can look so terrifying. And yet he is nothing but a little salamander daring to move up as far as the upper deck of the boat and dashing back to his hole quickly, frightened at the tiniest movement. But these mangrove swamps with their millions of biting mosquitoes don’t permit me to reflect peacefully about what the many small inhabitants of this muddy ground might feel at the sight of the large, fixed eye of this huge fellow. So I grab the paddle and move back out into the wind, which blows the bloodthirsty mosquitoes back into the mangroves. I completely lose hope ofto makinge it as far as Pasuruan today in the face of this strong easterly. During the late afternoon, dark clouds move across the fabulous blue of the tropical sky. It is the end of March and the rainy season has not quite ended yet. In the evening I tie the boat up on one of the many bamboo poles sticking out of the muddy ground and then I crouch down in my resting position. All my bones ache. After my extended rest, my 8- hour-long battle against winds of force 5 has been a bit too longmuch. There are two possible waysilities of to spending the night. Either I wait for the wind to turn and blow from the land once it’s completely dark, [several words typed out] and continue then or I try to sleep in the boat. I can’t even think of stretching out properly to do that, since the water is moving too much to dare placeing the large brass suitcase on deck. As there isDue to a sudden rain shower I decide to stay put. In a great hurry I tie the paddle up half way up the mast, put thea small waterproof suitcase on the cover at the back to form a support for the other end of the paddle, and then I place the tarpaulin over the paddle. It starts to absolutely pour with rain at that moment, dousing and there is no more thinkingany further thoughts of sleep. Departure from Surabaya. Even though we are still in the western monsoon, today of all days the wind turned to the east. What an evil twist of fate: At each opportunity to demonstrate one’s ability as a sailor, to show landlubbers a bit of the art of manoeuvering a folding boat, there was either no wind at all or else the wind would be coming straight ahead so strongly that the sail had to be taken down from the light craft. A last wave of farewell to the departing compatriots and then I : You hadve to paddle the folding boat so hard it madekes myyour face sweat. If the wind had continued like this, or had even increased, which was to be expected, I wouldn’t have geot very far today. After a short time, my left hand started aching from the first water blister. 5 weeks of rest on shore had allowed the palms of my hands to become soft and vulnerable again. 5 weeks of Surabaya;, I still couldn’t understand that I had stayed there for so long. Was it the daily bed, the warm food that I didn’t have to prepare myself and, that was simply there all the time, was it the cool beer or the jiruk, which was brought out on visits, or was it perhaps the ever-always friendly, svelte young Javanese girls. There was actually was a much simpler explanation. My camera, ordered a long time ago, promised a hundred times by the supplier, just wouldn’t arrive. I set off as soon as I had been notified that it had arrived at the customs office. No, I didn’t have to worry at all that what might have been holding me back might have had something to do with been some reason of being too comfortable, eating good food, or even any sentimental attachments. Surabaya was a nice place, certainly, but it was like all other places in the orient and there was no life there for a European without a lot of money. And where in the world would someone travel in a folding boat if he did have a lot of money. So now I resumed my itinerant existence. I held course toward Bali and from there via the beautiful islands across to Timor. Many beautiful and interesting things must be ahead of me and if the start was not going to not be exactly pleasant, then the end would, therefore, be all the better. Now, on top of everything else, the current capsized [sic!], and the water stopped being so choppy because the wind was blowing in the same direction ofas the current. The straits of Madura , which broadens enormously right behind Surabaya, still only has only a narrow corridor for large ships. I didn’t belong here any more. I could make my way forwardahead against the current and the wind only by putting in a supreme effort, and only by keeping very close to the muddy shore on the right bank. Somewhere in the endless mangrove swamps a small opening appeared, one of the numerous creeks, the breeding groundplace of mosquitoes and playground offor thousands of ugly looking salamanders. I To entered one of these in order to escape the wind and the current, to put the paddle out of my cramped hands and then to drink, nothing but drink. Hardly 10 km away from the port of Surabaya and already I’m already having a break. What a good start. Would my compatriots still be sitting down with their first drink at the German Club? I had to smile thinking whether any one of them would appreciate the cold beer anywhere near as much as I did the lukewarm water. It’s always the same thing, it’s just a question of degree. Anyone about to die of thirst would throw himself ecstatically into a muddy puddle in order to drink the stinking yellowish or even greenish water. Anyone else, who is used to always having cool clear drinking water at hand [paper torn and ink spilled], and whose thirst mounts to the point where he will reach for that water for lack of anything else, will think of even this one time as a time of suffering. But even in this creek there is no peace. The hundreds of salamanders, which had disappeared in frightened into their holes when the tip of the boat touched the muddy ground, come back out one by one. There at the tip of the boat appeared a A huge male appears at the tip of the boat. His bulging, round bulging eyes stare at the boat with malevolence. His high back fin moves up and down in the direct sunlight. Gleaming blue for an instant, he then he leaps and jumpsmoves across to the nearest hole in leaps and jumps. I’ve never seen an animal resemble the horrible shapes of the dragons of primeval times more closely. Neither crocodiles nor ???? (“Farane”) can look so terrifying. And yet this is nothing but a little salamander, simply daring to move up as far as the upper deck of the boat and dashing back to his hole quickly, frightened at the tiniest movement. But these mangrove swamps with their millions of biting mosquitoes don’t permit me to reflect peacefully about what the many small inhabitants of this muddy ground might feel at the sight of the large, fixed eye of this huge fellow. So I grab the paddle and move back out into the wind, which blows the bloodthirsty mosquitoes back into the mangroves. I completely lose hope ofto makinge it as far as Pasuruan today in the face of this strong easterly. DuringIn the late afternoon, dark clouds move across the fabulous blue of the tropical sky. It is the end of March and the rainy season has not quite ended yet. In the evening I tied the boat up on one of the many bamboo poles sticking out of the muddy ground everywhere and then I crouched down in my resting position. All my bones were achinge. After 5 weeks of rest, my 8- hour-long battle against the wind and current haves been a bit too much. There were two possible waysilities ofto spending the night. Either to wait for the wind to turn and blow from the land once it was’s completely dark, or else to try to sleep in the boat. I couldn’t even think of stretching out properly to do that, since the water was moving too much to dare placeing the large brass suitcase on deck. As there was Due to a sudden rain shower I decided to stay. In a great hurry I tied the paddle up half way up the mast. The other end of the paddle came to rest on the small waterproof box tied to the back cover. Over this kind of framework I placed the tarpaulin over this rough frame. Departure from Surabaya. The westerly wind I had been hopeding for had had turned. At every opportunity to demonstrate one’s sailing prowess and to show landlubbers a bit of the art of manoeuvering a folding boat, fate would have it that there would be no wind. Or else the wind would be coming straight ahead so strongly that the sail had to be taken down from the light craft. A last wave wave of farewell to the departing compatriots and then I hadyou have to paddle the folding boat so hard it made mykes your face sweat. If the wind had continuedd like this, or even increasedd, which waswas to be expected, I wouldn’t have geot very far today. After a short time, my left hand started aching from the first water blister. %[sic] weeks of rest on shore had allowed the palms of my hands to become soft and vulnerable again. % weeks of Surabaya, I still couldn’t understand that I had stayed there for so long. Was it the daily bed, the warm food that I didn’t have to prepare myself, and that was simply there all the time, was it the cool beer or the jir k [sic] which was brought out on visits, or was it perhaps the svelte young Javanese girls. But no, my stay had a much simpler explanation. My camera, ordered a long time ago, discussed a hundred times with the supplier, wouldn’t arrive. I set off as soon as I had been notified that it had arrived at the customs office. No, I didn’t have to worry at all that what might have been holding me back might have been some notion of getting too comfortable, eating good food, or even any sentimental attachments. Surabaya was a nice place, certainly, but it was like all other places and like in any other place, any European couldn’t exist without a lot of money and where in the world will you find a travelertraveller in a folding boat with a lot of money. And so I held course to Bali and from there via the beautiful islands across to Timor. Many beautiful and interesting things were lying ahead of me and if the start was not going to be not exactly pleasant, then the end would therefore be all the better. Now, on top of everything else, the current had capsized [sic!], and the water stopped being sowas less choppy because the wind was blowing in the same direction ofas the current. The straits of Madura are very shallow and there is only a narrow corridor for large ships. I didn’t want to hang around here. I was able to makecould make my way aheadforward against the current and the wind only by putting in a supreme effort, and only by keeping very close to the muddy shore on the right bank. Somewhere in the endless mangrove swamps a small opening appeared, one of the numerous creeks, breeding place of mosquitoes and playground of thousands of ugly looking salamanders. ToI entered one of these in order to escape the wind and the current, to put the paddle down and then to drink and drink. Hardly 10 km away from the port of Surabaya and already I’m having a break. What a good start. Would my compatriots still be sitting down with their first drink at the German Club? I had to smile thinking whether any one of them would appreciate the cold beer anywhere near as much as I did the lukewarm water. It’s always the same thing, it’s just a question of degree. Anyone about to die of thirst would throw himself ecstatically into a muddy puddle in order to drink the stinking yellowish or even greenish water. Anyone else, who is used to always having cool clear drinking water at hand, and whose thirst mounts only once a year to the point where he will reach for that water, even when there is no beer or wine, will consider this a time of suffering. But even in this creek there is no peace. HThe hundreds of salamanders, which disappeared in frightfrightened into their holes when the tip of the boat touched the muddy ground, come back out one by one. There at the tip of the boat appears a huge male. His round bulging eyes stare at the boat with malevolence. His high back fin moves up and down in the direct sunlight. Gleaming blue for an instant, then he leaps and jumpsmoves across to the nearest hole in leaps and jumps. I’ve never seen an animal resemble the horrible shapes of the dragons of primeval times more closely. Neither ???? (“Farane”) nor crocodiles can look so terrifying. And yet he is nothing but a little salamander daring to move up as far as the upper deck of the boat and dashing back to his hole quickly, frightened at the tiniest movement. But these mangrove swamps with their millions of biting mosquitoes don’t permit me to reflect peacefully about what the many small inhabitants of this muddy ground might feel at the sight of the large, fixed eye of this huge fellow. So I grab the paddle and move back out into the wind, which blows the bloodthirsty mosquitoes back into the mangroves. I completely lose hope ofto makinge it as far as Pasuruan today in the face of this strong easterly. During the late afternoon, dark clouds move across the fabulous blue of the tropical sky. It is the end of March and the rainy season has not quite ended yet. In the evening I tie the boat up on one of the many bamboo poles sticking out of the muddy ground and then I crouch down in my resting position. All my bones ache. After my extended rest, my 8- hour-long battle against winds of force 5 has been a bit too longmuch. There are two possible waysilities of to spending the night. Either I wait for the wind to turn and blow from the land once it’s completely dark, [several words typed out] and continue then or I try to sleep in the boat. I can’t even think of stretching out properly to do that, since the water is moving too much to dare placeing the large brass suitcase on deck. As there isDue to a sudden rain shower I decide to stay put. In a great hurry I tie the paddle up half way up the mast, put thea small waterproof suitcase on the cover at the back to form a support for the other end of the paddle, and then I place the tarpaulin over the paddle. It starts to absolutely pour with rain at that moment, dousing and there is no more thinkingany further thoughts of sleep. Departure from Surabaya. Even though we are still in the western monsoon, today of all days the wind turned to the east. What an evil twist of fate: At each opportunity to demonstrate one’s ability as a sailor, to show landlubbers a bit of the art of manoeuvering a folding boat, there was either no wind at all or else the wind would be coming straight ahead so strongly that the sail had to be taken down from the light craft. A last wave of farewell to the departing compatriots and then I : You hadve to paddle the folding boat so hard it madekes myyour face sweat. If the wind had continued like this, or had even increased, which was to be expected, I wouldn’t have geot very far today. After a short time, my left hand started aching from the first water blister. 5 weeks of rest on shore had allowed the palms of my hands to become soft and vulnerable again. 5 weeks of Surabaya;, I still couldn’t understand that I had stayed there for so long. Was it the daily bed, the warm food that I didn’t have to prepare myself and, that was simply there all the time, was it the cool beer or the jiruk, which was brought out on visits, or was it perhaps the ever-always friendly, svelte young Javanese girls. There was actually was a much simpler explanation. My camera, ordered a long time ago, promised a hundred times by the supplier, just wouldn’t arrive. I set off as soon as I had been notified that it had arrived at the customs office. No, I didn’t have to worry at all that what might have been holding me back might have had something to do with been some reason of being too comfortable, eating good food, or even any sentimental attachments. Surabaya was a nice place, certainly, but it was like all other places in the orient and there was no life there for a European without a lot of money. And where in the world would someone travel in a folding boat if he did have a lot of money. So now I resumed my itinerant existence. I held course toward Bali and from there via the beautiful islands across to Timor. Many beautiful and interesting things must be ahead of me and if the start was not going to not be exactly pleasant, then the end would, therefore, be all the better. Now, on top of everything else, the current capsized [sic!], and the water stopped being so choppy because the wind was blowing in the same direction ofas the current. The straits of Madura , which broadens enormously right behind Surabaya, still only has only a narrow corridor for large ships. I didn’t belong here any more. I could make my way forwardahead against the current and the wind only by putting in a supreme effort, and only by keeping very close to the muddy shore on the right bank. Somewhere in the endless mangrove swamps a small opening appeared, one of the numerous creeks, the breeding groundplace of mosquitoes and playground offor thousands of ugly looking salamanders. I To entered one of these in order to escape the wind and the current, to put the paddle out of my cramped hands and then to drink, nothing but drink. Hardly 10 km away from the port of Surabaya and already I’m already having a break. What a good start. Would my compatriots still be sitting down with their first drink at the German Club? I had to smile thinking whether any one of them would appreciate the cold beer anywhere near as much as I did the lukewarm water. It’s always the same thing, it’s just a question of degree. Anyone about to die of thirst would throw himself ecstatically into a muddy puddle in order to drink the stinking yellowish or even greenish water. Anyone else, who is used to always having cool clear drinking water at hand [paper torn and ink spilled], and whose thirst mounts to the point where he will reach for that water for lack of anything else, will think of even this one time as a time of suffering. But even in this creek there is no peace. The hundreds of salamanders, which had disappeared in frightened into their holes when the tip of the boat touched the muddy ground, come back out one by one. There at the tip of the boat appeared a A huge male appears at the tip of the boat. His bulging, round bulging eyes stare at the boat with malevolence. His high back fin moves up and down in the direct sunlight. Gleaming blue for an instant, he then he leaps and jumpsmoves across to the nearest hole in leaps and jumps. I’ve never seen an animal resemble the horrible shapes of the dragons of primeval times more closely. Neither crocodiles nor ???? (“Farane”) can look so terrifying. And yet this is nothing but a little salamander, simply daring to move up as far as the upper deck of the boat and dashing back to his hole quickly, frightened at the tiniest movement. But these mangrove swamps with their millions of biting mosquitoes don’t permit me to reflect peacefully about what the many small inhabitants of this muddy ground might feel at the sight of the large, fixed eye of this huge fellow. So I grab the paddle and move back out into the wind, which blows the bloodthirsty mosquitoes back into the mangroves. I completely lose hope ofto makinge it as far as Pasuruan today in the face of this strong easterly. DuringIn the late afternoon, dark clouds move across the fabulous blue of the tropical sky. It is the end of March and the rainy season has not quite ended yet. In the evening I tied the boat up on one of the many bamboo poles sticking out of the muddy ground everywhere and then I crouched down in my resting position. All my bones were achinge. After 5 weeks of rest, my 8- hour-long battle against the wind and current haves been a bit too much. There were two possible waysilities ofto spending the night. Either to wait for the wind to turn and blow from the land once it was’s completely dark, or else to try to sleep in the boat. I couldn’t even think of stretching out properly to do that, since the water was moving too much to dare placeing the large brass suitcase on deck. As there was Due to a sudden rain shower I decided to stay. In a great hurry I tied the paddle up half way up the mast. The other end of the paddle came to rest on the small waterproof box tied to the back cover. Over this kind of framework I placed the tarpaulin over this rough frame.
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