24 June, 2020

Author: Nita CJ

The man. The myth. The legend.

That’s how I describe Julius at every crew introduction. He might be the oldest crew member on board, having celebrated his 52nd birthday quite recently, but he is a young man at heart.  On board, he is nicknamed “Om Gandong” by the crew. Om is Indonesian for uncle and Gandong is Ambonese for brother or sister. So his nickname means an uncle whose more like a brother.

Julius’s family is originally from the Kei Islands, which are a part of Wallacea, the group of Indonesian islands that are separated by deep water from both the Asian and Australian continental shelves and were never linked to either continent.

Not that many people in his family went to sea, but having been born and raised surrounded by the vast sea, he was determined to be a sailor despite his parents’ disapproval.

His career as a seafarer started when he was only a teenager. Almost immediately after high school, he secured a job on a fishing vessel around Maluku and Papua for a couple of years. In the late 80s, he moved from working for a fishing vessel to a cargo vessel company headquartered in Surabaya, and it was here that he met SeaTrek’s very first owner before finally joining the company in 1990.

“SeaTrek’s first boat was named the Pinisi Duta Bahari. We had great memories on that boat then the Katharina came along and the Ombak Putih joined in SeaTrek fleet”, he said with a smile, walking down the memory lane. The year 2020 marks his 30th anniversary working for SeaTrek.

Neither of his two children are following in his footsteps as a seafarer. His eldest son, Hendrik (21) works for a government office in Ambon; while his daughter, Cinta (16) is still in high school and not showing any interest to be like her father.

Possibly the most cheerful crew member on board, he sings and dances like nobody’s watching during entertainment nights on board.

He is now aboard the Ombak Putih guarding the fort until the time comes when we are cleared to sail again. In the meantime, he and three other essential crew are disinfecting, cleaning, and maintaining the boat. His hope is to be able to sail again soon. “Being anchored is fun and nice, but just like the saying goes ‘that’s not what ships are built for’”.