1667 Nautical miles, 66 Days, 4 Countries and a Yacht called Rhombus. By Matt Draper

1667 Nautical miles, 66 Days, 4 Countries and a Yacht called Rhombus.

By Matt Draper

Firstly I would like to thank Steve for allowing me to once again share some of my images on his forever-growing site. I visit Steve’s site daily and the useful information and inspiration it gives me at times are second to none. My last post was a while ago about my time with the M9.

Earlier this year I was given an amazing opportunity to help crew a very good friends yacht on an adventure of a lifetime.

Johnny Diamond left New Zealand 3 years ago on his 40ft yacht Rhombus and a dream to circumnavigate the entire world with no set time of when Rhombus would next sail into the port of Whangarei Heads New Zealand.

Leaving Malaysia we sailed to Indonesia then on to the Nicobar and Andaman Islands of India finishing off in the land of smiles Thailand.

Along the way our crew of four Kiwi’s including one female encountered endless days of dangerous seas, slat water crocodiles and the Andaman and Nicobar police who boarded Rhombus equipped with machine guns taking turns of twelve-hour shifts, which lasted three days as important paper work was helicoptered to the appropriate people who would decide our fate after anchoring in a restricted area to shelter from violent weather.


Introducing Sabang, a tiny kitten we stumbled across amongst a filthy Indonesian food market in the city of Sabang, located on Northern Sumatra’s picturesque Pulau Weh island. Gifted to us by a negligent owner, Sabang bravely boarded the yacht Rhombus to become part of our crew for the over 1000 nautical miles that remained of our sail. Completely flea ridden when we first took him in, we managed to succeed in ridding Sabang of every last bloodsucking insect the very day this photo was taken. Tragically, poor little Sabang ended up falling extremely sick and didn’t make the entire journey. This first photo is dedicated to our lost crew member. RIP buddy.


Liam – aka ‘Salty’ – capturing one of the most amazing sunsets we had on our sail around Little Andaman Island, India. Not long before this photo was taken we had been caught in a ‘no go’ marine reserve by local authorities. Our punishment, it seemed, would either be the seizure of our yacht, or payment of a dodgy fine. After a few hours of heated negotiation we managed to leave without (further) incident.


The latest arrival to the Pillow Millow tribe Nicobar, India. Pulomilow or Pillow Millow islet is part of Little Nicobar group of Islands and is separated from the main island of Little Nicobar by a deep channel. Following the deadly Tsunami of 2004 the islands few remaining inhabitants are mostly made up of men as the weaker woman and children could not run to higher ground where survivors had sought refuge as the killer waves surged in. The Nicobar Islands are completely off limits to any outside visitors. We were lucky enough to be invited to set foot on this magical land as some of the first if not only tourists ever to do so by the tribes elder who had paddled a hollowed out tree to our anchored vessel.


Five young men from the Pulomilow or Pillow Millow tribe stand on what is left of their local police building, a reminder of the deadly 2004 tsunami. Home for the Pulomilow is an islet part of Little Nicobar Island, located between India and Thailand. The tribes elder showed us memorials for the lost souls of the over 100 family and friends who perished in the tsunami, and took us to the higher ground where survivors had sought refuge when the killer waves surged in. The houses the remaining tribes people now reside in are more resemblant of tree huts than adequate buildings. They cope without power or running water, with none of the island’s damaged generators having yet been repaired – let alone replaced – by the Indian government.


Jarret – aka ‘The Rat’ – reflecting upon one of the most amazing sunsets we had on our sail around Little Andaman Island, India. Not long before this photo was taken we had been caught in a ‘no go’ marine reserve by local authorities. Our punishment, it seemed, would either be the seizure of our yacht, or payment of a dodgy fine. After a few hours of heated negotiation we managed to leave without (further) incident.

I have chosen not to share the type of camera I used to capture these images simply because so many people especially those younger are stuck in the mind-set that having the best equipment will give you the best results.

The best camera is truly the one you have on you.

I welcome any constructive criticism but will not reply to any negative comments.

Thanks 🙂

My name is Matthew Draper I am a young New Zealander currently living and working in the construction industry in Australia. Like many others who pass though Steve’s site I have a passion for photography, it’s just a hobby but I would love to take it further if the opportunity ever arose.

You can see more of my images here:





  1. Really exceptional photographs. I travel the world but often fail to appreciate the moments when a memorable and evocative photograph can be taken. The photograph of the men left behind by the tsunami in the shell of a police station is remarkable and all the more powerful for standing back and opening up that luminous, wet landscape.

  2. Great photos! I started to read through some of the comments and stopped when I saw a number complaining that you didn’t release camera information. I for one thank you. I used to love this site, but with all due respect to Steve, it has migrated of late into more a camera porn site and less a photography site. Great post.

    • I do not control what the commenters write and this site has been the same since day one. Funny that the 1st month I had my original site up there were comments just like the one you wrote here. This site is and always has been about CAMERA and LENSES – REVIEWS of gear so it is only fitting that people want to know what was used. It is just human nature when you are on a gear related site.

      • Agreed, Steve. I’ve always appreciated your gear-related site herein. Occasionally there will be the condescending types who purposely withold gear-related information so they can prothlesize their I’m Better Than You Attitudes on the rest of us. I don’t think they’re a good fit here and I’d say just “can” them. There’s no point in letting them go off on an ego-trip, worse their photos aren’t really interesting, doesn’t contribute value but rather wastes your dedicated readers’ time. Matt’s article herein was perhaps a mistake to post and is irrelevant to the site. I’d say purge it.

      • Sorry Steve , Won’t be posting again.

        I should have written the article accordingly to cater for the most hostile and unrelated comment that could be posted, instead of the travelling/photography experiences I incounted.

        5DMKIII everyone , which was borrowed. I would have taken a disposable snap shot if I had to, which wouldn’t have changed the story that I have written above.


        • Matt, please don’t give up on postings. There will always be people who don’t agree with your opinions. It’s actually a great opportunity for you to learn how to deal with them in a mature, cordial and effective way. I’d say if you don’t accept this reality, nobody can help you improve say your attitude and photography. it’s a matter of respecting the intent of this site. Best regards.

        • comments that people posted on your article are really unbelievable and quite depressing really. Especially the person above who thought that posting great photographs is irrelevant as it doesn’t go on and on about which camera to buy next, they are obviously more interesting in the owning cameras than in photos.

          For what is worth as I said in the comment I posted earlier, I really enjoyed your story and photos you posted here as well as the work on your website.

  3. At least Sabang had a bit of a seafaring adventure in the short life he/she had.
    Thanks for drawing peoples attention to the plight of the people of the Little Nicobar Island with your photography and story – a terrible tragedy for these tribes.

  4. Simply Beautiful. Left me green with envy.
    I bet it was a fabulous experience and good for the soul.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. But he didn’t “not mention the camera”: he explicitly told us he wasn’t going to tell us, which I think is rather perverse and condescending.

    • Agree with you here Robin. Matt’s statements indicating he wasn’t going to tell us and that he’d only respond to constructive criticism, i.e., a pat on the back, says a lot. I suppose that that’s Matt’s map for success and appropriate for a Maroney Smirk.

  6. Not mentioning the camera doesn’t make the photos better, I agree with the others here. Given all the blogs on this site do at least say what was used and often (usually) in great detail, it is just plain silly to not at least say what you used. If you did indeed use a 5DMKIII, then clearly you do care quite a lot about the latest equipment (an expensive toy at the best of times). It would have been better if you had not even written the offending sentence. I’m sure you had a great trip and the shots are just fine. I don’t care about the equipment either, but this site is all about photos AND equipment.

    • By not mentioning the camera, perhaps Matt had hoped for discussion to about the photography, the subject, the technique, and not the usual discussion about megapixels, “Leica soul” and RAW processing. Don’t get me wrong, I love cameras, I’m always looking for a great new camera, but I know that interest is inconsequential compared to the content we hope to capture with said cameras.

  7. Hi Matt,

    really interesting story and I like photos 2, 4 and 5. Shot 4 is very striking but would benefit with a bit of dodge/burn around the building and reflections of young men in the watter, just my opinion. Last shot is just perfect, good composition, good balance between colour intensity and contrast.

    The fact that quite a few people are ofended because technical details are not provided is quite sad but also very telling, there is a paralel between people who regard themselves “photo-enthusiast” because they can endlesly debate about the technical characterists of their gear (and gear they never ever saw in real life) but find no or little interest in the actual photographs and individuals who consider themselves “audiophiles” but again, don’t care about the actual music nor invest time in reading about and enjoying the music but just talk about technical characteristics of their devices. Both are just gear-heads, a sad symptom of our time where it is believed that money affords ability

  8. That’s a huge difference between Tool Obsession and Photography Passion.
    This is a truly amazing result/story of Photography Passion. Love it!

  9. Wow, I can’t believe the commenters are more I interested in the gear used than how we can send aid to these unfirtunate people. Please let us know if there is a fund set up to donate to.

  10. I don’t care what sort of camera or lens was used. I’m more interested in the story of the Pillow Millow tribe, whose isolation appears to have rendered them forgotten and unaided since the tsunami. Matt’s essay therefore appears to me to be a valuable piece of photo-journalism, regardless of what equipment he made it with.

    • Indeed Don! It’s what it’s all really about at the end of the day, telling a good story that is real and showing a side of humanity that should be in peoples conciousness instead of hidden away. Good stuff Matt.

      The obsession with gear and exif info on this site knows no bounds at times, so very sad really. Stuff the camera and get out and shoot!

  11. My favorite post in a while (always great stuff Steve). Loved the narrative; read it twice. I liked some of the shots on your tumblr page even more. The captions really add to each one.

    Hope to see more in the future.

  12. I guess like this is getting on Matt’s case, but it’s for the better, I believe. Suppressing info that readers have come to expect and enjoy gets in the way of wondering what else has been suppressed or witheld, and whether there is a sinister agenda. Young minds, inquiring minds want to know everything. What’s wrong with that? Do you want everybody to think, philosophize, and share the same values like you? Your “sharing” here rather gives the appearance of an ego trip and a dictatorial personality. Therefore, this photo presentation is incomplete and cannot be given much credibility. Yes, these comments may seem negative, but hopefully they are taken as constructive criticism, which involves negative feedback, not ego stroking.

    • Why the hostility? The story’s interesting, the images are great, why attack a guy for not providing what must be the least intesting part?

      • It’s probably a gray area between hostility and constructive criticism. I don’t hate Matt, but my words do appear strident and could have been couched in more diplomatic terms. I’ apologize if it was taken as an offence to his character. It takes time to be nice about it.

        If there’s a belief that this website should eliminate the technical then maybe that poster should submit their photos to Glamor, National Geographic or some other website that does not publish technical info. Matt’s photos are ok in my opinion but I doubt he’d get published any other way save for somebody’s blog.

        My impression is that Steve’s website herein is about photos *and* technical matters like equipment. Put together, I believe it raises the bar for everyone improve their art and craft. This to me delivers value. To go off into an editorial mode and indicate that young minds are obsessed with equipment and therefore don’t deserve the benefit of the technical info is disingenous at best, disrespectful at worst.

        • “Impression” is they key word there.

          For some of us viewers, we see the banner and notice “passion” and “inspiration”.

          K, thx.

  13. Hi Matt, I enjoyed reading about your journey and the accompanying photos. Nice idea to keep the attention on your photos and not the gear. Looks like it became a challenge for some to expose the gear. Either way, nice photos and enjoyed your story. Thank you! -Ken

  14. Nice pics. Since you didn’t disclose the gear you had me curious to check the EXIF.
    5D3 and the 14mm were used for the last two shots, didn’t check the rest:)

    Yes, it is very true that the ‘gear you have with you’ is all that matters, but interesting that you chose a brand new Canon for the trip…from the way you wrote the article I was expecting something a little older…not that it matters of course:)

  15. Matt, please reconsider disclosure. Not all cameras are the same. For intance, it would be interesting to find whether your camera was exceptional for handling lens glare for that sunset shot because it used Leica glass or Zeiss T* coating, or whether the lens was a 9-blade or 5-blade aperture, etc. Technical info matters for scientists not just gearheads. Thanks!

  16. Hey Matt,

    Well I’m familiar with at least one of these excellent images…great work and a really interesting adventure.

    All the best, Jason.

  17. Thanks for this truth….”The best camera is truly the one you have on you.” Beautiful photography!

  18. Nice photos and story.
    While it’s commendable to not want to share your camera data with the readers you do realize it’s easily obtainable in the file info in photoshop, unless you have manually changed it to fool readers 😉

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