I sat down in front of the window in the back corner of the M/V Explorer‘s library—my favorite place to find solitude on this busy ship—and the sun was shining. Low, grey clouds with sheets of virga beneath them ranged the horizon, and thunderheads billowed up through the stratosphere, but where the Explorer was, there was calm and sun. Flying fish flitted above little swells as occasional waves white-capped in the wind.
The peace was not to last. I leaned forward in my chair to look in the direction that the M/V Explorer was sailing, and a wall of grey hove into view. Grey clouds blended into grey fog that met the grey sea. As I watched, we neared this steely bank, then entered its clammy embrace. Tendrils of fog wisped past my window as rain streaked it, blurring my view. The ocean had become a sheet-metal grey, rippled with gusts of wind and pock-marked with rain. Between the rain and the fog, I could barely see two hundred yards from the ship.
And then, as suddenly as it had begun, it ended. We emerged from the cloud bank and were once again sailing through calm, blue waters. I could look back and see the rainstorm through which we had passed, black and ominous, but the window was dry, and I could see blue sky. The whole procession, from clearing to clearing, took less than twenty minutes. Welcome to the Strait of Malacca.
— Lander Ver Hoef