02/13/2013, Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Mayalsia
While the sun and the heat returned today, I continued to scrub the decks getting Leu Cat nice and clean. After sitting by herself in a marina for 3 months, she needed the good scrubbing. You now need to wear sunglasses to look at her as she is so shinny and clean. Whew, it was quite a job this time.
I also carried two of our empty propane tanks down to the marina office. They will refill them here without any problem. We have been in a few countries where refilling them can be a challenge. We have two small aluminum tanks and three large fiberglass tanks. When we were in New Zealand, we were told by the marina people that the gas companies would not fill our tanks without a New Zealand certification stamp. We were also told that New Zealand would not certify fiberglass tanks. Well, as it turns out, the cruiser net is pretty strong and word got out that there was a former cruiser in Whangarei that ran a propane distribution company and that he would fill any propane tanks that had active certifications no matter what country did the certification. Thus, because of his understanding of what cruisers face when they go from country to country, we avoided the problem there.
We also had heard that you needed special fitting in Tahiti to fill you tanks there. US fittings
are different that European fittings. However, that was inaccurate information as we never had a problem wherever we went in Tahiti or any place in French Polynesia for that matter.
I mention this only because things change with each passing year. What once was the case may no longer be so today. Thus, if you are preparing to cruise and are boning up by reading cruising books and magazine articles, just realize that they may be out of date by the time they are published.
02/12/2013, Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
Yesterday I moaned and groaned about how the hot and humid weather here has limited my ability to do outside boat projects. The result has been the "heating up" (if you will pardon the pun) of my "itchy butt' syndrome; my desire to leave and start our cruising down the Malay Peninsula. Well, I think that the weather gods must read our blog because they revamped the weather today so I could spend all day outside working. Yea!
Today was overcast and cooler with temperatures in the upper 80s and only hitting 90 in the late afternoon. Plus, there was a nice breeze that sometimes found its way into the marina. This was the first overcast day we have day since our return from the States and it was great! I was able to work outside for about 7 hours washing cushions and then scrubbing the decks of Leu Cat. I still have a bit more to do but great progress was made. Yoohoo!
I noticed Clint's comment to another comment we received on our blog a couple of days ago. Clint wrote: "Don't ya love this blog!!!! How awesome!!!" He was not referring to the enlightened and pithy writing I do on this blog. Instead, he was referred to a comment left by another reader. As it turns out, a former student of my brother Don is from Malaysia. She is now at Penn State University on a Fulbright scholarship. How great is that! Anyway, she read our blog and left a comment offering to meet us when she and her husband return to Kuala Lumpur in June. This truly is awesome!
As we sail around the world, our blog has opened the door to meeting lots of wonderful people. Blog readers have invited us to their houses in such places as Lima, Peru; Whangarei, NZ; Wellington, NZ; Brisbane, AU, Sydney, AU and Darwin, AU. We also have a standing offer from a fellow in South Africa, when we arrive there. Oh, I almost forgot...we also have met a really nice guy and his family from the US through our blog. Clint, how can I forget to mention you!
We have also received lots of timely advice from readers on how to repair things on our boat and on places to see and things to do when we get there. Our blog readers have been so nice and generous that I wish we could meet each and every one of them. Thank you from our hearts for your support, kindness and generosity!
02/11/2013, Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
If you have been following our blog for a while, you know by now that I and Mary Margaret have a few differences in our respective personalities. One of the major ones is that after a fairly short time, I get what I call an "itchy butt" syndrome. By that I mean I get the urge to get going and move on to explore other anchorages and parts of the world. It usually kicks in after a week or so of being in one place. Mary Margaret is much better than I on this issue as she is able to cuddle in her nest on board Leu Cat and just be as cozy as can be. At times, I envy her mentality.
Usually, I can stay in one place for longer periods if I have a number of things to do, such as boat projects. I find that seldom am I bored living on a boat simply because I have a never ending list of boat projects to work on. A friend of ours once told me that a boat is like the old PAC-MAN game. In that game you had one or more PAC-Men racing around the screen of this 1980s era video game, eating up the little dots that were in its way. This same is true with a boat with corrosion and wear being the PAC-MEN eating their way through the boat. My job is to try to stay a step in front of them, fixing the various things on a boat before the PAC-MEN eat their way through things and in the process, cause a disaster.
Whenever you return to a boat after a long absence, you always have a list of boat projects just crying out for attention. Such is our situation now, since we just returned from a 3 month holiday back in the States. You would think that I would be in seventh heaven right now, being up to my neck in work. However, the opposite is true. Instead, I am getting frustrated and antsy: ergo, the ol' "itchy butt" syndrome is starting up.
What is making things so difficult for me is the stifling heat we have here. The high temperatures and high humidity make working outside past noon impossible. By the time I have breakfast, write the blog for the previous day, and get my act together, it is 0900 and I only have about 3 hours to work on my long list of projects. After that, it is just too hot and I get physically drained by being out in the oppressive sun. The result is I get frustrated by not being able to plow through my list of things to do.
While I must admit, I do enjoy my afternoon stroll over to the resort to indulge in my daily ritual of enjoying the shady hammock along with my Cuban and Manhattan and then swimming some laps in the cool pool waters, I am a yachtie, not a fellow on vacation. I am anxious to start sailing again and letting the wind blow my hair and fill our sails. Opps, I forgot, we are in Malaysia and there just is not a lot of wind out here. But, anyway, you get the idea. I guess that I will just have to adapt better to this environment, slow down a little bit and have a lower expectation of things that I can accomplish in a day. However, for a fellow with my type of temperament, it sure is hard to do!
02/10/2013, Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
Since we have returned to Leu Cat and Rebak Marina a week ago, we have watched as the fleet of cruisers here has gotten smaller and smaller. When we arrived last November, the marina appeared to be about 90% full. After we left for the States, those cruisers participating in the Sail Malaysia Rally arrived and filled the Marina to the brim. However, since Christmas, the exodus of boats leaving Rebak for Thailand has started. We have been told that the best time to sail Southern Thailand, which is just north of us on the Malay Peninsula, is between December and March. This is the dry season for this area and what little winds this area gets are most prevalent then. Thus, we are now in the "primo" time to leave Rebak and go to Thailand.
Those cruisers that we have spoken with who have sailed to Thailand before all speak of it very highly. It seems like they just can't wait to get back there. We are told the area is very scenic with unusual rock formation islands, nice waters, wonderful people and workmen that do quality work for a reasonable price. Given how pleasant it is here in Rebak, it must be extraordinarily nice up in Thailand.
We, however, have decided to put off going to Southern Thailand until next year. Instead, as we have laid out in this year's sail plan (see Year 6 Day 2's blog), we will be going in the opposite direction and will spend the bulk of our sailing time on the eastern coast of Malaysia. The truth of the matter is that we are still in "Indonesia Rally shock". Last year we joined that rally and, along with about 150 other boats, cruised through Indonesia. Based on that experience, we have determined that we are just not rally people as we strongly prefer to cruise by ourselves instead of with a large group of other cruisers. While we only followed the rally for a few weeks, I still have visions of anchorages chocked full of cruising boats with each harbor bristling with masts and having difficulty in finding a decent place to anchor. The best parts of Indonesia for us were the quiet anchorages where we anchored either by ourselves or with just a few other boats.
The thought of following the fleet up to Thailand right now is just not something we are anxious to pursue. Thus, we will be heading in the opposite direction in hopes of finding the peaceful beautiful islands and reefs of eastern Malaysia to be a bit more toward our liking.
However, we will miss our friends who are either staying at Rebak or sailing up to Thailand. Tonight, we said goodbye to our friends John and Chris of S/V Sara II. They will be leaving tomorrow to spend a month or two in Thailand before returning to Rebak where they will park their boat to do some very extensive land traveling.
We first met John and Chris off a little island in Indonesia where we and a few other cruisers had anchored. We had veered away for the main rally fleet seeking some quality time at this remote and scenic island we had stumbled across. As the day progressed, a few more cruisers who also were seeking some solitude came upon our anchorage and decided to stay. By 1600 there were about 5 or 6 boats sharing our dream island so we all decided to go ashore to have sundowners on the beach. At that time we were introduced to John and Chris and discovered that this was John's second circumnavigation. Wow! That to us was pretty impressive.
We bumped into John and Chris a few more times in Indonesia including in Lombok, where John had contracted an infection and we went with him and Chris to the hospital for treatment. He is doing great now so the medicine did its job!
To wish them a bon voyage, Mary Margaret and I suggested that we get together at the resort tonight to enjoy the Chinese New Year buffet. They readily agreed and we ended up being joined by John and Cheryl of Sea Mist and Jeremy, a friend of John and Chris' who also hails from England. The seven of us had a wonderful time by first going to the beach bar for happy hour and then having a wonderful buffet, complete with delicious Peking Duck.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will seeing John and Chris again next year when we return to Rebak. Hopefully, they will be here then and we can get together once more.
02/09/2013, Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
It has been a week since we returned to Leu Cat from our holiday visit to the States. It is time now to settle down and get serious about making a dent on the boat project list. As I mentioned yesterday, you really can only work during the morning hours since by noon it is just too hot to be working outside. Thus, I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed my two new tachometers and went to work this morning.
Last year I had problems with both of my tachometers while cruising through the Indonesian islands. By the time we reached Singapore, both had stopped working and we were estimating the engine speed by judging how far we had moved the throttles and by listening to the engines.
When we were at the Puteri Harbor Marina, I had an engine mechanic come out to determine the problem with the tachometers. With the starboard one, he discovered that the tachometer was faulty and needed to be replaced. He had hoped that an old man he knew could take it apart and fix it. Unfortunately, that did not happen. On the port tachometer, he discovered that the problem was a faulty wire and connection near the engine. He fixed that and everything was great for the first few days. Then that tachometer just shut down as we motored from the Singapore area up to Langkawi. Once again, we set the engine speed by how far we moved the throttles and the sound of the engines.
While in the US, I bought two new tachometers from Yanmar and carried them like gold with us back to the boat. This morning I wired them in place, turned on the engines and was delighted to see the needle on the tachometer move to show the RPMs the engines were turning on. Boy, what a joyful sight that is after all of those days of motoring, guessing at what our engine speeds were!
As an added benefit, the engine hour meter within each tachometer is working again. While the meters are each only showing 0.1 hours, I can now stop writing in the ship's log when I turn on and off the engines to track the cumulated engine hours. Keeping track of your engine hours is very important since servicing it is based on the engine hours run.
I see our daughter, Christina, was critical of how I ended yesterday's blog. She wanted me to tell of the things we did in the afternoon. I had thought by now you all would be bored of hearing our afternoon routine repeated in each blog. However, to keep Christina happy, both yesterday and today I once again grabbed my Cuban, along with a nice iced Manhattan and sunglasses and strolled over the resort side of the island. My shady hammock was beckoning me. It is so nice and restful and I laid in it enjoying life and the scenic view of the ocean and multiple islands that lie off of the shore. After about an hour of this heavenly delight, I then strolled over to the pool and did about a dozen laps, each of about 24 meters in length.
While swimming in the pool I saw an interesting sight. Malaysia is about 60% Muslim and many of the women here wear a burqa, which is a full body black garment, when in public. We have seen a few such women here at the resort. I had wondered if they ever go swimming, given their modesty. Well, today that question was answered. The answer is yes, they just go swimming in their burqa! Thus, at the same time I was surround by women in skimpy bikinis and one that was covered in black from head to foot!
While I was enjoying the resort's amenities, Mary Margaret decided to stay on board cool Leu Cat and watch a few of the DVDs we bought in the US.
02/08/2013, Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
The weather here in Rebak is much nicer now than when we first arrived last November. Back then we were in the tail end of the of the NE Monsoon season. That meant high temperatures (typically upper 90s), high humidity (typically in the upper 90 percent range) and a daily downpour typically in the late afternoon. Now we seldom get rain (it has not rained here since we arrived about a week ago), the highs are still in the 90s but it is the lower 90s, and the humidity hovers in the 80 percent range.
Even though the weather is much improved, by the afternoon you just do not want to be outside in the sun. For us, the afternoon means it is time to rest in the air conditioned salon of Leu Cat and by 1500 we typically mosey over to the resort side of the island to enjoy the shade, hammocks, beach and their wonderful pool.
Early morning is the time to get work done and today was no exception. Mary Margaret had three loads of washing that she wanted to do so at 0700 (it is still dark here until about 0730) we were both schlepping two large laundry bags to the marina's laundry room. Doing laundry here in Rebak is a bit different than any other place we have been to. The cost is only about $1 US a load and it is done on the honor system. The machines are just plain washing machines and there is no place to pay for their usage. Thus, you simply sign into the log book identifying who you are, what time you used the machines and how many loads you did. Eventually, the office collects the book and then adds the cost of the laundry to your bill.
By 0830 the laundry was done and I left Mary Margaret hanging up the wet laundry in the stern cockpit of Leu Cat. At that time I was off to do some errands. Earlier this week, when we went over to Langkawi, we had dropped off an order at one of the sail makers to make up 12 jerry can covers using Sunbrella. The old Jerry can covers that we had made in Cartagena were starting to fall apart after 4 years in the intense South Pacific sun. The sail maker had called yesterday to say that the covers were done and could be picked up.
To return to Langkawi, I took the 0845 shuttle boat. When I arrived I knew that the vegetable man would be there since he comes every Friday. Before hopping in the taxi to go to the sail maker, I checked out the vegetables and bought a bunch of beautiful produce. I knew Mary Margaret would be happy with what I got so I had a big smile on my face as I headed off to the sail maker's loft.
The Jerry can covers that were made looked to be first class. They cost about $20 each, which is about twice what I paid in Cartagena. However, this time I had them made with Sunbrella so they should last about twice as long. Sunbrella costs about $25 a yard in the States so the majority of the cost I paid was for the Sunbrella.
Given what a nice job the sail maker did in making the Jerry can covers, I decided to have him also stitch nylon webbing around the edges of the shade cover Mary Margaret and I had made for Leu Cat last year. The shade cover worked great but by sewing on the nylon webbing, the hems we hand stitched would now last a lifetime.
I returned to Leu Cat by 1100 and quickly ducked into the salon and the coolness that was waiting for me there.
02/07/2013, Rebak marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
We received a very special Christmas present last December when we were back in the US. We received an email from Brian, one of our blog readers who lives in England. Attached to his email was a PDF document containing a PDF format ebook that he made of all of the Techno-Tips we had written up over the years of our cruising adventure. He said that he had been working on this project for over 2 years! Boy was I excited. As it turns out, I had spent about 100 hours over the holidays doing the same thing and had only gotten about a quarter of the way through the mass of techno-tips.
Brian's herculean effort was a godsend! He even had put together a table of contents grouping the various tips into a cogent order. The only thing that he did not do was edit my horrible spelling and grammar and a number of photos that went with some of the techno-tips were missing. All of that was just minor stuff given the huge task that he had decided to undertake by himself.
I was so grateful for the effort that Brian had done. I wrote back to him and said that I would proof the document and stick in the photos that were missing during the next couple of months. I also hope to make the table of contents hyperlink sensitive so one only needs to click on the article heading in the table of contents and it takes you directly to the article.
I must soon get on the stick to complete this task so the document can be finalized and then put into a drop box so everyone who would like a copy can have it for free. This will be one of our ways to help other cruisers and those who are thinking of going cruising. We put so much value on the various documents and guides that others have written and posted so this our way of "paying it forward".
When the document is finalized, Brian is going to get full billing for all of his help. It is so great to see others who are willing to make a Yeoman's effort in helping others and that effort needs to be recognized and rewarded. Thank you again, Brian.