The Domino Effect: Sometimes You Have to Roll With the Punches

Ocean First   Jul 05, 2022

Planning a trip takes a lot of work whether it is a family, solo, or group adventure. This is often a fun and exciting task with a great deal of research, anticipation, and expectation once the trip commences. It can also be a bit nerve-wracking not knowing exactly how things are going to work out. There are always surprises along the way regardless of how well-planned the logistics are. A good analogy is the domino effect: we stack our dominos one after the other and once the trip is off we hope they all fall the right way and the trip runs perfectly. Any experienced traveler knows this isn’t always the case. Some of the most fantastic experiences and stories come from that one domino that falls to the left or right, not forward. I suppose this is just life, after all.

A few years ago I guided a trip to the Banda Sea in a remote part of Indonesia. This was an epic, 14-day adventure on board a beautiful, traditional Indonesian liveaboard called the Aurora. Our sailing plan was to leave from Ambon and end in Maumere, diving along the way. One of the coolest parts of this voyage is that most divers will never get to experience this part of Indonesia. The liveaboards in Indonesia migrate from Raja Ampat to Komodo in May/June and then back again in late September to avoid the southern monsoon season. A few liveaboards offer extended charters to guests for one half or the other (Raja – Ambon or Ambon – Maumere) which provides a unique opportunity to experience these remote parts of the Indonesian archipelago. We began our adventure in Ambon with some muck diving (black volcanic sand). The creatures of the muck are unique, to say the least. It is quite possible that many of them came straight from outer space and somehow landed in the Coral Triangle. We continued on our way and had some crazy-amazing diving for the next 5-6 days. Then, the weather turned on us, forcing us to abort any diving for the next 2 days in order to get to where we needed to be to stay on schedule. So, we sailed for 48 hours with nothing to do but sleep, eat, read, visit, and start drinking Bintang Pilsners way too early. Although it was a drag to miss out on some diving, we rolled with the punches and made the most of it. It was an interesting experiment in relaxation for people who are used to being busy most of the time!

This was our domino falling to the side on this trip. After traversing the open sea for 2 straight days we came across this magical little island and the boat stopped. You have never seen 15 people more excited to don their snorkel gear and get in the water! We moored up and were granted several hours to swim, snorkel, explore, wander, daydream, and for some, jump off the highest point on the mast. We were not able to scuba, but we didn’t care. Life was extraordinary with our gratitude and joy soaring like the frigate birds that followed our journey. Would we have preferred to have been diving over the past 2 days? Sure, that would have been awesome of course. Would we trade the experience and stories for a lifetime for what we had expected of our trip? Honestly, I don’t think so. How often do you get the chance to do literally nothing but relax for an extended period of time? In this world? Not very often. We were afforded the chance to slow down, to reflect, to visit, and to do nothing at all. It was great.

We are experiencing a remarkable set of circumstances these days with stay at home orders, businesses shut down, with uncertainty in our future. To liken our current situation to a simple domino falling off to the side when it is supposed to go forward and knock down the next one is so simplistic it’s almost laughable. If you look at it in those simple terms perhaps it isn’t so scary, however. It is an opportunity for reflection, for experiences you might never have, for a slow down that you would not have had otherwise. There is always a positive side to everything and for those who can see it, embrace it, and rise with it, there is no end to the joy in life. I leave you with some stunning photos from a random island in the middle of nowhere, Flores Sea, Indonesia. Simplicity at it’s finest.

Until the next adventure,