Father’s day have passed and I notice myself that in so many stories I’ve shared, the content about my dad is very less. So better than nothing, I decide to write this article and dedicate it to my dad who loves to be in the sea.
Like many other sailors, my father was not always at home for a long time. It feels like a committed long distance relationship.Yes there are more bittersweet moment but let me share more about the cool stuff of having a father who is a sailor.
Whenever my dad go home, me and my brother, we feel like the king and the queen, because whatever we want will be granted by our dad. Probably because he thinks it is sort of the “compensation” for him being away. But what I like the most when he gets home from sailing, is the stories about the places he sees, people he meets, and the condition of the ocean during his sail.
Because of him, me and my brother become familiar with the map of Indonesia, and at the age of five, I was already familiar with the biggest Indonesian islands. That Sulawesi looks like the upper case K and Maluku is the lower case K. We even know where the popular strait such as Malacca or Makassar located. I love the way he tells us the story of visiting places, because he will trace it on the map and show it to us. And this memory carries on until I get into the college.
In January term of my senior year in college, I happen to take a wonderful class called The Golden Age of Atlantic Piracy, taught by Prof. Tebbenhoff. When we discuss the chapter about English privateer, there is a man called William Dampier, and it rings a bell. There is a strait between Raja Ampat archipelago and the main land of Papua, it is called Dampier strait, the strait that my dad used to take.
Having a sailor father, makes him to be my first coach in sea-related things. From tying knots to swimming to simple way to cook noodles in the ship and many more. When I join the scout my team gets impressed because I know so many knots and what they are used for.
Being a sailor makes my dad knows so many people. I remember him being called Om Kep or translated as “uncle captain” or “el tio capitan”. Wherever we go, we often find at least a couple people approach us or calling my dad from afar, and at one point I remember asking him why he’s so popular.
There are some stories that my dad only shares it with my mom, and so I have to ask him to get the story straight, and one of them is when he helps a fisherman from an upside down boat. It was on the way back to Sorong from Batanta and the sea was rough. My dad decided to take a short nap and asked one of the crews to be on the wheel. He then woke up in a sudden and asked his crew if he saw the fisher man on a little boat, because my dad spotted him before nap. Heard the response from his crew, my dad told him to turn back the ship right away. And my dad’s gut was right, that fisherman was struggling to float in the sea.
My dad has been the typical of slim and muscular sailor man. Back in April this year I was at home. In one of the evenings, my dad was standing near the petromax light and I noticed something on his belly. “Is that six pack?” “Yeah” he said with proud. He’s mid of his 60s and yet still has those bread buns on his belly while I’ve been always out of shape.
Sailors have very strong brotherhood bond, especially after they survive a sinking ship. My dad and his crews have survived from technical issues that happen on the ship to the worst, a sinking ship. In one of his sail, they get lost because the radar does not work and the rudder gets broken, so he uses a big piece of wood to replace the rudder and creates two strings of wire for turning left and right because stirring wheel will not work.
Sailors are known to have many lovers. Well, I find my dad and his crews are charming with the level way beyond average and have best jokes ever, you get cracked instantly, and I guess that’s a small part that makes them attractive.
Lastly, it was his sailing activity that brought him to my mom. His ship was at the dock in Surabaya, and he went to stay with his aunt, whose house was the opposite of my mom’s aunt. By that time, my dad had faced so many storm and big waves, but my mom had created a bigger storm that made my dad got on one knee. He got married with my mom on Friday evening on October 5th 1984, and recited Sura Yaseen for my mom’s dowry. When my mom passed away in 2009, it was my dad who cried the most even though she was with him till the last breathe. And it took my dad nine years to move on from his grieving and remarried to my humble step mom.