The Indian Ocean in 1853

The Sea Serpent sailed through the South China Sea

to the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea,

through the Strait of Makassar to the Java Sea,

then through the Sunda Strait to the Indian Ocean.


On Sarah’s previous voyages

the Sea Serpent had first headed southwest,

but conditions required a southeast route this time.

It took them through what is now the Philippines.

It was a lovely route through the Sulu Sea where they passed many beautiful islands.





Sarah’s Description
Bayard Taylor’s Description


The Sulu Sea brought them to the Celebes Sea,

but head winds and calms made it difficult

to pass through the Makassar Strait

into the Java Sea.

Sarah’s Description
Bayard Taylor’s Description


The Sunda Strait passes through the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.

It connects the Java Sea with the Indian Ocean.

The Sea Serpent crossed the Java Sea and entered the Sunda Strait

where they anchored off of Anyer.

Boats came to meet them bringing fruit, chickens, eggs and vegetables.

They also took on some monkeys, birds and a bundle of bamboo canes!


What does it taste like?
Sarah’s Description
Bayard Taylor’s Description

INDONESIA: Volcanoes

The Sunda Strait has numerous islands, many of which are volcanic.

The most famous volcano is Krakatoa, which exploded in 1883

in one of the deadliest and most destructive eruptions in history.

Intense pumice fall and huge tsunamis devastated the area

and drastically altered the strait.


The town of Anyer was a major port in the 1800s.

It was totally destroyed by a 100-foot tsunami caused by the Krakatoa eruption.

Sarah mentions the lighthouse at Anyer, which was built in 1806.

It marked the starting point of the Great Dutch Road,

a 620-mile postal road from Anyer to Panaruken.

When Anyer was devastated in 1883,

the lighthouse was rebuilt by the Dutch 2 years later.

It stands as a memorial to those who died in the tsunami.

Sarah describes the Anyer Lighthouse

Other Effects of Krakatoa

The 1883 Krakatoa eruption darkened the sky worldwide for years afterwards.

It also produced spectacular sunsets throughout the world for many months.

The ash caused “such vivid red sunsets that fire engines were called out

in New York, Poughkeepsie, and New Haven to quench the apparent conflagration.”

This eruption also produced a Bishop’s Ring around the sun by day,

and a volcanic purple light at twilight.

Some think that the red sky shown in Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting The Scream

could be an accurate depiction of the sky over Norway after the eruption.

INDONESIA: Earthquakes

Indonesia has a deadly and unlucky history with earthquakes.

It is located at the meeting point of three major continental plates –

the Pacific, the Eurasian and the Indo-Australian plates,

as well as the smaller Philippine Plate.

It also falls on the “Ring of Fire”,

a horseshoe-shaped area around the edges of the Pacific Ocean,

from Australia to the Andes,

along which 90% of all earthquakes occur.

On October 10th, 1853 at 11PM

the passengers on the Sea Serpent described an earthquake at sea.

Sarah’s Description
Bayard Taylor’s Description

On December 26, 2004

a devastating 9.1-magnitude underwater earthquake

struck off the coast of Sumatra and

triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people,

including around 170,000 in Indonesia.

 The 100-foot wall of water

devastated the coastline of nine countries on the Indian Ocean

and thousands of communities were left in ruins.

It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.


Sarah and Bayard Taylor both describe a magnificent sunset

on October 11th, 1853.

Sarah’s Description
Bayard Taylor’s Description


The rest of the voyage through the Indian Ocean

seemed to have had good winds and fair skies.

Bayard Taylor wrote this description in his book

“A Visit to India, China and Japan in the Year 1853”:

Our hopes were entirely fulfilled. My log of the voyage
showed the consecutive days’ runs of 269, 235, 227, 261, and 247
miles, during which time the ship kept on her course, scarce
shifting a sail. The weather was gloriously clear and brilliant,
with an elastic and bracing air, and a temperature ranging from
70° to 77°.

The sunsets were magnificent; and at night the new Southern constellations united themselves to the superb array of Northern stars, reaching from Taurus to Gemini, and
formed one sublime and glittering band across the heavens.