Jerry's Cruising Poems

The Banda Sea

Below Molucca's isles of fragrant cloves,
Southeast of Sulawesi's twisted coves,
From Banda, once the nutmeg's only home,
The ancient path of spice is now our own.
At times upon this sea far out from shore
We give a thought to those who came before.
Across the Banda Sea we sail with ghosts.
To all of them, now let us raise a toast:

The Arabs in their monsoon-riding dhows;
Big Chinese junks that once these seas did plow;
Magellan's remnant crew that got to Spain;
Bold Drake with treasure from the Spanish Main;
Adventurous Dampier sailing the unknown;
New England whalers fishing far from home;
The Portuguese intent on finding spice;
The Dutch controlling both supply and price;
Young Cook who charted isles and coral reefs;
The bloody Bugis pirates causing grief;
Collector Wallace, insects, skins and notes;
Marines immaculate in gaudy coats;
Rough schooner men with earrings, tattoos, tar;
Small traders making calls at Macassar;
The Japanese armada, empire bent;
Retaliation fleets the Allies sent;
The fishermen and cargo ships today;
All others who have used this waterway.

We know a few, but there were many more.
Most journeyed on, but some did not reach shore.
Deep down below lie many ships and men
By storms or wars or pirates brought to end.
The trade winds they once used now our sails fill.
The landfalls which we make once proved their skill.
We chase the same west-running Moon as they.
The clouds still look the same as in their day.
We are not here for profits, but for fun,
And buy our spice in handfuls not in tons,
But still we forge our link to history,
And join with all who sailed the Banda Sea.