is my pleasure to offer you my script /article of our
documentary film adventure "Trailblazing the Sulawesi
& Moluccan Sea" which we produced for Discovery
Channel and Transatlantic Films.
The film we produced is maybe one of the first cruise
exploration adventure films produced of it's kind to
the region North Maluku and North Sulawesi and I am
pleased to say that the regions we explored around North
Sulawesi, Sangihe-Talaud Archipelago and North Maluku
have great potential for live-aboard dive charters and
dive adventure travelling in future. The dive cruise
exploration documentary features underwater and marine
related issues besides island life, traditions, describes
the way of life of the indigenous inhabitants around
the coastal areas of Ring of Fire.
(Islands surveyed in Indonesia: North Sulawesi, Sangihe-Talaud
Archipelago, North Maluku & the Lembeh Straits)
Michael Smith - GM
Jl. Walanda Maramis 14
North Sulawesi - Indonesia
Tel. +62 431 846980
Fax +62 431 867667
TRAILBLAZING THE MOLUCCAN AND SULAWESI SEA
BY MICHAEL J. SMITH
certainly never expected years ago as a dive travel
agent in Europe, to find myself living in Indonesia,
helping to launch a television film documentary for
the Discovery Channel. The series "Trailblazer
II"contacted me and before I knew it I was somehow,
briefly in the film adventure business! They requested
on-site dive support as well as someone to supervise
and advise them about diving in Indonesia. The time
was right for some real adventure and nothing could
stop my irresistible and profound desire to make this
unpredictable itinerary challenge become reality. Setting
up and organizing a television filming expedition is
something that doesn't happen everyday in our dive travel
As exciting as it may sound, there's a lot more to it
than just packing your bags and going for it. When Peter
Cannon, director of the Trailblazer II series, sent
me an email inquiring about the possibility of organizing
a TV expedition to the east of the Indonesian Archipelago,
to the remote islands of Sangihe-Talaud, Halmahera and
Morotai, I didn't think twice. Yes, I would get an itinerary
together and confirm the trip as soon as possible. Having
been affiliated with the dive travel market in Indonesia
for over ten years enabled and eased my way in setting
up a suitable and proficient program. We were ready
to confirm the complete "Moluccan Sea" itinerary
within hours of the inquiry.
The most invaluable requirement needed for this expedition
was of course a seaworthy boat to get us around the
islands. Peter Cannon requested they sail on a safe,
reliable, traditionally built local boat. From that
moment I knew the only one boat that could meet the
demands and requirements for this four-week ocean-going
job. It had to be Bianca. She's a fine traditional Buginese
schooner with a spacious deck, restaurant and recreation
area/bar, which during the cruise could be converted
into a TV video equipment storage room. She has air-conditioned
cabins, new navigation and dive equipment and a professional
crew who know their sea charts and their jobs.
For centuries, the traditional ocean-going Buginese
schooners have been used by indigenous Indonesian seafarers
transporting spices, crops and people throughout the
Indonesian Archipelago. The archipelago consists of
over 18.500 islands and has over 57.716 km of coastline.
After Jan and Nico Kuipers, Bianca's owners reconfirmed
the charter dates and schedules, we all got very excited
about the idea of setting sail to venture an unexplored
geographical area. Due to its exceptional flourishing
flora and fauna and underwater environment, the area
is considered the most diverse marine ecosystem in the
world. Having accomplished all the business formalities,
we finally could commence our operation.
The first task was to get to know each other personally,
important due to the fact that we had to live, dine,
dive and explore together for the next few weeks. It
was a beautiful September evening when I approached
Bianca by speedboat in a small cove a few miles west
of Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi.
Bianca's deck lights reflected on the sea's surface
in romantic nuances, harmonizing with the tranquil weather
conditions and a cloudless evening sky, exhibiting a
brightly lit moon and a glowing infinite universe. With
such serenity, the atmosphere was perfect for a meeting.
Finally on board, it wasn't a difficult task to distinguish
whom the film director, Peter Cannon was. He's a genuine
English gentleman with a wicked sense of humor. After
Peter introduced Clive Carlton, the presenter of the
film and his assistant underwater cameraman Hugh Faires,
we spent the rest of the night over a few cold Bintang
beers discussing the itinerary around the Ring of Fire.
After acclimatizing and a few check dives searching
some Dornier aircraft sunk in Lake Tondano during World
War II, we at last set sail. The first location took
us to Manado-Tua and Nain Island in Manado Bay. Both
islands are part of the Bunaken National Marine Reserve,
which covers an area of 47,000 hectares of beautiful
islands and coral reefs. Here the underwater landscape
consists of steep drop offs, caves, crevices and slopes
all inhabited by abundant species of reef fish, critters
and nudibranch and all embedded in a wonderful profusion
of hard and soft corals and huge vase sponges. Being
surrounded by such splendor it is quite easy to understand
that divers from all over the world have been inspired
to return to this celestial dive haven.
Manado-Tua, which in Indonesian means old Manado, was
the first island to be inhabited by Chinese migrants
around 1400. The migrants who came from the south Philippines,
initially headed west to the island of Borneo, but due
to the strong monsoon winds coming from the west and
unpredictable current patterns during the monsoon season,
they drifted off course sailing south-east in the Sulawesi
Sea (formerly Celebes Sea). Having reached the islands
in Manado Bay, they chose to settle down on Manado-Tua
Island, from where they continued to migrate to the
nearby mainland in the Minahasa Highlands. This was
inevitably an ideal option, as all resources for survival
could be found in the vicinity. The fertile volcanic
soil, fresh mountain spring water and a climate enabling
anything to grow in any season confirmed theirs was
a wise and rewarding decision.
As rice cultivation progressed on the North Sulawesi
peninsula, another ethnic group migrated south of the
Philippines to the Sangihe-Talaud Islands, an island
group spread out like gems between the island of Mindanao
in the north and Sulawesi to the south. It was the Tagaroan
seafarers who inhabited this region and who have been
considered blessed with outstanding boat building and
sea navigation skills. The Tagaroans have always been
devoted to the sea. Until today, seafaring Tagaroans
have settled down along all the coastal areas around
Sulawesi and the North Maluku, committed to their professions
as fishermen, boat builders and navigation crews. Apart
from their outstanding skills, they also possess a charming
character, full of joy and warm smiles, making them
a preferred choice whilst selecting the Bianca boat
Island, Bajo's and Agar-Agar
of the most captivating experiences for the Trailblazers
on our trip to Nain Island was observing local Tagaroan
fishermen fishing from their outrigger canoes off the
southern reef outcropping. Besides using the traditional
hook and line, they occasionally dive with self-made
spear guns and goggles. Using no fins or scuba, they
take only a deep breath and a few strenuous feet finnings
to move forwards through the water! It was quite incredible
to see how precisely they caught their catch with spear
guns without causing any significant damage to the reef.
After spearing the fish, it was taken to the surface
whereby the fisherman would bite firmly into the fish
head to ensure it wouldn't jump back into the blue again.
In general, scuba divers and environmentalists rightfully
oppose fishing off a reef and any factors that may have
a negative effect on the marine environment. And I personally
am devoted to protecting the reef's extremely fragile
and irreplaceable ecosystem. However, under certain
conditions we must respect the practices of indigenous
fishermen living on these secluded islands. Families
living there have nothing else but fishing to ensure
their survival. Bearing in mind that these practices
have been going on for centuries, it is surprising to
see, once one leaves the populous plastic-bag-draped
harbor areas, how pristine these reefs still are. Moreover,
we have heard no reports that due to the local traditional
fishing techniques, the fish quantity or diversity has
declined. We are very happy to see these people living
in harmony together with nature and envy their outlook
on life. The reefs around these populated islands are
all world class and with very few exceptions all rank
among the world’s best. One thing is definite, nowhere
else on this planet will you find such a profusion of
hard and soft corals and variety of fish species. Compared
to many other uninhabited coastal areas in the world
where extensive reef damage has been caused by by polution,
marine exploitation, El Nino and related factors, the
islands throughout Manado Bay remain exceptional and
unique for diving.
Another seafaring ethnic folk, the Bajo's, have been
living at sea as long as anyone can remember. In contrast
to the Tagaroans, the Bajo's actually live on boats
or in houses built on stilts at sea. During our filming,
we heard that a small group of Bajo's had recently moved
from their original settlement, a traditional housing
complex off the northern tip of Mantehage Island, to
the nearby island of Nain. We did notice seeing several
Bajo outrigger boats off the southern reef of Nain Island
which was unusual to see.
The Bajo catamaran boats consist of two dugouts connected
by a strong weather and strain resistant bamboo mesh.
At the rear end of the catamaran, you can find a small
hut offering the boat owners’ protection against weather.
Otherwise, there is little that they posses apart from
a few fishing utensils and personal belongings. As we
were told, the group of Bajo's moved from the island
due to the enduring strong west winds, bringing in huge
waves and swells over the reef flats hampering their
houses and boats. We took a closer look to assess the
situation in detail and made an interesting discovery,
which may have played a vital role in the Bajo's decision
to make an island move.
When we approached Nain Island with our boat, barely
a mile north of Mantehage, we noticed something was
glittering on the surface of the sea around the island.
Looking closely, we saw thousands of floats tied to
strings and ropes spread over the entire reef flats
around the island. What was actually happening was that
the locals were growing seaweed in the reef shallows
for foreign companies who produce cosmetics and pharmaceutical
products. Their seaweed crop enables them a fair income
compared to fishing and other traditional income sources.
The nearby Bajo's obviously saw new lucrative business
opportunities and took their chances and moved island.
Taking a stroll through Nain village, we weren't surprised
to see that people were living well and it seemed that
the majority all had some business affiliated with seaweed,
which they call "Agar-Agar"! We were pleased
to see people content with their everyday lives. When
we decided to walk down their narrow main village street,
apparently the only one on the island, there was a sudden
huge influx of excited children coming from everywhere.
Curious parents and families wanted to have a look at
what these white strangers were doing on their beautiful
We encountered everyone gathered in the village center
where a mosque was putting on a fund raiser. Here, the
pounding sound of Dangdut (a modified dancehall version
of Indian music, very popular in Sumatra and Java) filled
the air and accompanied the entire lively event. Trailblazer's
on-camera host, Clive, couldn't resist his urge to mix
with the locals and dance in the crowd, which was very
amusing especially for the villagers. The atmosphere
on Nain Island was incredible; it was yet another gratifying
experience to meet these people.
We did however, have some concerns over the effects
of the new seaweed processing techniques on the reefs.
We made a small investigation and found out that the
ropes that secured the seaweed was hanging high over
the coral, well away from the reef and nothing was touching
or deteriorating the coral and environment below. As
a matter of fact, the seaweed growing system is actually
preserving the reef from damage. Due to the amount of
lines and floats in the water, it would be an extremely
exhausting task to get anywhere near the island by boat.
There is only one string and rope free channel leading
directly to Nain Village beach. Here the inhabitants
have free access to and from their island. The seaweed
farmers also access their locations via small outrigger
boats well off the reef.
Another adventurous day was coming to an end. It had
been a pleasure making these positive experiences with
the Bajo's and Nain inhabitants, who were courteous
and friendly, typical of remote islanders we have met
in this part of the world. It was time to discover and
venture more, so we continued our voyage around the
tip of North Sulawesi to the natural harbor of Bitung
in the Lembeh Straits. We thoroughly enjoyed cruising,
captivated by wonderful sunsets on the distant horizon
exhibiting grand multitudes of exotically eccentric
colours and shades.
and The Lembeh Straits
arrived in Bitung, we filled Bianca's water tanks at
Air Perang, which is located approximately 2 miles north
of Bitung at the foot of the inactive Dua Saudara volcanoes.
The very pure water here derives from the depths of
volcanic rock, high in mineral content. However, we
used the freshly refilled spring water on the boat for
showering and washing ourselves. The spring at Air Perang
is surrounded by dense tropical forests making it tempting
to make a short stroll up a path into the jungle. Here,
on the outskirts of the Tangkoko National Reserve, one
can encounter endemic animals such as the Tarsius Spectrum,
cuscus bears, and anoas. Red hornbills and sea eagles
are among the local bird species. We tied our boat securely
to rocks and trees close to shore only a stone's throw
away from the jungle. No need for stereophonic sound
here. We were permanently surrounded by serenades of
exotic chirping tunes emanating from the densely vivacious
ecosystem in the vicinity.
It is always time to dive again in the Lembeh Straits,
to get carried away by the infinite beauty above water,
is equally the case below water. All divers describe
feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of reef and muck
critters and biodiversity here. Among the fish and critter
species we could identify were unique samples of frogfish,
devilfish, leaf fish, ornate ghost pipefish and Ambon
scorpionfish. There are crocodile eels, flamboyant cuttlefish,
mandarin fish, yellow mantis shrimps, Pegasus sea moths,
stargazers, and fingered dragonets. There is a fantastic
variety of nudibranch and flatworm species, as well
as red and yellow pygmy sea horses, a very minute inconspicuous
and highly rare sea horse species generally found clinging
onto sea fans. The pygmy sea horses found in the Lembeh
Straits are about 1.5cm in size and have adapted a skin
structure and colour similar to that of the gorgonian
fan surface they inhabit. They are completely camouflaged
so you need sharp sight to discover them.
Other fishes sighted here are schools of mouth mackerel,
jacks, barracudas, fusiliers, (usually sighted north
of Lembeh), batfish, cockatoo waspfish, decorator crabs.
There are also red waspfish, crocodile eels, crocodilefish,
yellow lionfish, ribbon eels, pearl-eyed moray eels,
jawfish, the bizarre black coral crabs, crab-eyed gobis,
fuzzy squat lobsters, the elusive mimic octopus, besides
countless other critters and reef fishes, plenty of
which can be found in the shallows.
Other recommended dives in the area are on the wrecks
in the Lembeh Straits. Some sank during the Second World
War like the Mawali and Bimoli wrecks, while others
have found their peaceful rest via other unknown means.
Nevertheless, the dives on the wrecks are great and
there's plenty of soft corals and good numbers of fish,
nudibranch and critters to see. The visibility is sometimes
decreased due to the plankton. After heavy rain
showers in the vicinity bringing silt down Lembeh Island
and the mountains surrounding Bitung, sediment content
in the water increases. However, the visibility is always
good enough to indulge and experience some phenomenal
diving! The Lembeh Straits offers over 30 good dive
sites spread out mainly to the north of Bitung and all
around Lembeh Island.
Archipelago: Celestial Dive Sanctuary in the Ring of
refilled the boat with water and spending a few nice
days algae and crinoid critter diving, it was time to
head north to the beautiful and tranquil archipelago
of Sangihe-Talaud. Leaving the giant silhouette of Mount
Klabat and the exuberant verdant rain forests and virgin
beaches of North Sulawesi behind, we were heading to
Bangka Island, which was only a few hours from Bitung
by boat. The dive sites here are equally renowned and
considered the best in the locality. Here we made two
exceptional dives. We sighted some of the region's most
beautiful soft corals, not to mention the abundance
of pelagic fish who frequent the place. The dives were
made, and before we realized it we were back on deck
heading for the neighbouring islands of Biaro and Ruang.
It would take approxiumately another 4 hours to get
to Biaro, so we had sufficient time to out-gas our bodies
ridding them of the residual nitrogen. There was also
time to enjoy a few cold after-dive Bintangs.
The Sangihe-Talaud Islands spread down from Mindanao,
south of the Philippines to the North Sulawesi peninsula
with the Sulawesi Sea to the west and Maluku Sea east
of the archipelago. They cover an area of 44.000 square
kilometres of sea and 2.263 square kilometres of land.
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, we can posit that
these islands were a landmass connecting the Philippines
and Indonesia together. Due to the proximity to deep
seas both east and west of the islands, the currents
emerging out of the deep bring plenty of plankton and
nutrient rich water to the shallows, allowing the entire
region to be blessed with a prolific and intricate pristine
underwater habitat. The underwater landscapes vary from
steep drop-offs with crevices and caves to sandy slopes
with sporadic coral overgrown rocks and pinnacles, to
slopes of volcanic rock originating from former lava
flows off the islands. They are usually lined with an
ensemble of huge gorgonian fans, vase sponges, sea whips,
and most impressive staghorn, lettuce, table and mushroom
corals. Now and again temporary moderate to strong currents,
altered our dive profile into a drift dive, surprised
us. The dive modification however can be quite some
fun and very rewarding. Stronger currents attract big
pelagic fish such as barracuda, jacks, sharks, eagle
rays and other celestial species. If you have a lucky
day, you may encounter whalesharks and humpback whales
that roam the waters of Sangihe-Talaud and adjacent
islands. During the cruises dolphins merrily displaying
their acrobatic abilities along the bow always accompanied
us. For no apparent reason they would all of a sudden
completely descend into the deep crystal clear sea,
leaving us with only appreciation and a few moments
of gratifying memories.
We cruised, dived, explored, filmed, interviewed and
discovered new cruise routes, exceptional dive sites,
beautiful islands and a tremendously helpful crowd of
indigenous Sangiherese. Our cruise route took us from
Bangka Island to Biaro, Ruang, Tagulandang, Siau, Mahangetang,
and Kahakitang and finally to Sangihe Besar, the main
island. All islands have several common characteristics
especially in the geological formations, structure and
vegetation. Most islands in the "Ring of Fire"
are exposed to volcanic activity above and below sea
level and there is still plenty of evidence of former
devastating volcanic eruptions which has left a trail
of destruction behind on several islands we visited.
Most of the volcanic islands are covered with dense
tropical jungles fringed with palm trees and beautiful
beaches. The nearly submerged islands are covered with
mangroves and palm trees and usually have large flat
reefs extending far out into the sea.
One of the islands hit most severely by eruptions in
the past is the island of Siau. It was here in 1974
when the volcano Karangetang (1800m) last erupted causing
severe casualties among the population and significant
damage to the surrounding environment. When we arrived
in Ulu, the island1s main town and harbour, we spoke
to several islanders and asked why they hadn't followed
the regional government1s advice to leave the area due
to unpredictable possible earthquakes and eruptions.
Most of them replied that their families have been living
on the island for generations and that they have sufficient
income and are happy with their lives as they are. They
would take the risk into account without compromise.
For centuries, the Sangihe-Talaud Islands have been
renowned for spice trading achieving it's highlight
during the Portuguese and Dutch colonial occupation.
The main spices that were shipped to Europe were nutmeg,
mace and cloves. Today, spice trading continues to be
a vital lucrative income source enabling a high standard
of living and prosperity for the Ulu community. The
fact that the island is covered with extremely fertile
volcanic soil in an ideal climate for growing basically
anything, hasn't encouraged or motivated the islanders
to extend their land cultivation practices to become
self-sufficient. To our surprise the opposite is the
case. All essential food supplies such as rice, vegetables,
fruits, chicken and meat are brought in daily by ferryboats
from Manado, which can be an 8 hour boat trip away.
The profit gained from nutmeg, mace and cloves has made
many of these people obstinate. The only farmers we
found on the enchanting island of Siau with very few
exceptions only, were nutmeg farmers. On Siau no one
is inclined to give up nutmeg farming or leave the island,
even if they became the last endangered species on the
verge of the Ring of Fire.
Ulu today has very few remnants of the past that give
evident conclusions of how the Dutch or Portuguese may
have lived or functioned here in former times. However,
with the help of the local town mayor, we were fortunate
to find a sea navigation mark of the Dutch East India
Trading Company called V.O.C. The site in the vicinity
of the harbour area could be easily seen off shore.
The sea navigation mark was a stone obelisque; approximately
2 meters tall carved with the Dutch trademark insignia
V.O.C. Other scripts carved into the obelisk hadn't
survived the over 400 years of nature's obliterating
weather and had become illegible.
According to Clive, our Trailblazer presenter and marine
connoisseur, two obelisks were lined up at a certain
distance behind each other; the obelisque furthest away
from shore was positioned at a higher level. Dutch merchant
ships coming into the harbour would position their vessels
so, that both obelisks would synchronize to a straight
line. They could then sail safely into the harbour.
We also assumed that the Dutch seafarers used
telescopes while their boats were far off shore. Vessels
coming in at night were guided in safely via burning
torches on shore using the same method. The only Portuguese
heritage we found was old fortress walls only minutes
walk from the Dutch V.O.C sea navigation mark. Having
no significant historical value to the locals, the landlord
had decided to build an animal sanctuary on top of the
Portuguese antique relic. However, to our relief we
were quite pleased to find these small traces of history
and are sure there's plenty more to be discovered and
volcanoes is exciting but it reaches its peak underwater.
We were curious to find out more about volcanic activities
in the subterranean sea and what impact it had on the
maritime environment. We made some very interesting
discoveries. When diving in the vicinity of underwater
hot sulphur vents or volcanic springs, we noticed that
the profusion of hard and soft corals surpass that by
far compared to other locations not being
affected by the volcanic sulphur and thermal factor.
We noticed that marine habitats exposed to the sulphurous
substance were far more diverse, colourful and in some
terms more eccentric and abstract in shape and forms,
sometimes well beyond imagination. At these locations
the biodiversity is so immense that underwater photographers
and marine biologists could write complete new chapters
on uncatalogued critters and other marine life.
The underwater volcano Mahengetang exhibits such an
exorbitant flourishing pristine marine habitat. Some
marine biologists who have formerly surveyed and explored
this site are convinced that there are more fish and
coral species here within one square kilometre of sea
than in the entire Caribbean Sea. Actually, we were
all are convinced that the scientists were exaggerating
until we saw it ourselves! This location is undoubtedly
one of the most unprecedented pristine marine habitats
we have ever come across.
The underwater volcano itself is located just off the
island of Mahengetang with the volcano crest submerged
only 2 to 3 meters below sea level. There is no volcanic
crater vigorously churning out lava from the earths
core into the sea. However, there are huge sulphur covered
rocks, which resemble a crater type formation. Small
intermittent outbursts of volcanic gasses can be seen
everywhere making their ascent to the surface as bubbles.
Between the rocks, small hot vents cause a hazy atmosphere
due to the ambient temperature difference in the water.
Rocks at depth may be hot at times conducting the earth’s
heat to the surface. There are no confined areas here,
just a sheer mass of sulphur-covered volcanic rock gradually
sloping into the deep, occasional grossly formed rock
pinnacles. A few crevices are exposed to the open sea
surrounded and inhabited by a gorgeous marine botanic.
Visibility was always above average to exceptional,
which enhanced our diving motivation and enjoyment.
- Off the Charts Diving Locations
continued our voyage cruising smoothly eastwards to
the island of Morotai in the North Maluku Archipelago.
In the first light, we approached Daruba, the main port
of Morotai. In September 1944, American soldiers under
General MacArthur came ashore here overrunning the Japanese
forces. A handful of Japanese soldiers retreated into
the mountain forests. In 1959, 9 soldiers came down
from the forests to surrender. In 1974, 30 years after
the war had finished, a Japanese Sergeant walked out
into the modern world. These islands are a forgotten
corner of the world. But for a few months, they played
a vital role in General MacArthur1s Pacific Campaign.
We encountered plenty of Second World War heritage found
in the locality of Daruba.
It was here that the Americans started their allied
invasions against the occupied Philippines and South
Pacific Islands. General MacArthur resided on a small
island close to Daruba from whence he planned and coordinated
countless air strikes, sea invasions and counterattacks
against his enemies. The American-built Daruba Airfield
has seven runways and can still be sighted today. Due
to the enormous amount of explosives, ammunition and
guns still to be found in the shallow waters, the island
remains out of bounds for the majority of foreigners
who want to travel, survey or dive here. These had been
abandoned by the armies who occupied the territory around
the coastal areas of Morotai. However, we were always
fortunate in that we were always able to penetrate into
areas where very few had been before.
Just south of Morotai on the island of Halmahera, several
Second World War wrecks can still be explored in Tobello
Bay. These sites are really off the map and beaten track
locations and totally unexplored, predestined for all
devoted adventurers and dedicated wreck divers. Apart
from that, the region offers an unparalleled "Robinson
Crusoe" atmosphere, as there is absolutely nothing
apart from beautiful coral islands and pure nature.
last encounter on this Trailblazer voyage was a wreck,
identified as a B17 bomber, which was shot down by a
Japanese patrol boat during World War II. It was downed
in the vicinity of Likupang approximately 50 kilometres
north of Manado. The wreckage lay at depth of 25 meters.
We followed precautions for diving on a military site.
Locate, observe but do not disturb. The wreck is scattered
across the sandy sea bottom and sharks were making their
inquisitive rounds around the fuselage. A huge stingray
lay undisturbed under the rear tail wing. Coral and
fishes inhabit the bulks of metal.
The rest of the story about the aircraft we found out
later from the islanders. Soon after the plane crashed,
the bodies of two American airmen were washed up on
the nearby beach. The day their bodies were found, a
young woman on the island gave birth. She named her
child Lexy Leo after the name on one of the dead airmen's
dog tags. Whether other airmen survived the crash is
not known. After getting back to Manado we did some
more checking. The story of the wreck is still a mystery.
American Military Officials have no record of a Lexy
Leo, missing in action. But his legacy, along with the
rest of the crew is all too real. It lies undisturbed,
bottom of the Molloccan Sea.
On a voyage like this where so many gratifying moments
accompany one's ventures, it is always a melancholy
occasion to say farewell. One thing was sure, we would
be back again soon. Every inch we had seen so far would
justify any and every effort to return.