02/16/2013, Rebak marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
Today was Saturday and I decided to just chill. Chill is the key word. It was one of the hottest days we have had since returning and I just could not get up for working in this heat. Thus, I simply stayed mostly indoors and enjoyed the comfort of an air conditioned boat.
Oh, sure, I did sneak outside for a bit and hung up the shade tarp over the front of the boat. However, I was motivated in doing so since it helped keep the inside of the boat cooler and helped the A/C a bit so it did not have to work as hard.
Outside of that, I stayed strictly inside. By staying inside, I had an opportunity to continue making progress of reviewing and correcting the untold errors in the techno-tips that I had previous written. It looks like the techno-tip document that Brian helped in organizing is going to be about 270 pages long and I am now up to page 195. These are well over 650 techno-tips which simply amaze me. By the time this document is finished, it will have a wealth of practical information in it. By far, it will have the most cruising tips in it than any other document I have seen.
I have decided that we will end up making 4 separate documents from the various tips we have written. The first is the document that we have already written on making the drive cone repairs to the Yanmar SD40 or SD50 saildrive. The second will be the document I am now working on. This has the bulk of the sailing techno-tips. The third document will be the travel tips we have written and the fourth document will be by Mary Margaret and will contain her kitchen or galley tips that she wrote.
By the time this is all done, we will have a "library" of books that will be available for free to whomever is interested!
02/15/2013, Rebak marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
It was so nice to get Valentine' Day emails and blogs from friends and family. Thank you. The US is a day behind us here in Malaysia so we were able to celebrate twice! The photo attached to this blog is our grandson, Isaac. How cute is that! He certainly steals our hearts away!
This morning was Veggie Man day. Each Friday an enterprising Chinese gentleman drives his van loaded with various fruits, vegetables and frozen meats and fish over to the dock area on Langkawi where the shuttle boat from Rebak Island lands. He sets his various boxes of stuff on the ground and we cruisers wander around picking up the goodies we like for the next week. It basically is our little grocery store on wheels. Since the supermarkets and meat stores on Langkawi are in the town of Kuah, which is about a 20 minute drive away, Veggie Man makes our lives very nice and convenient. We have to either take a taxi or rent a car to get into Kuah. This way, we just take the free 0830 shuttle boat to Langkawi, buy our week's worth of groceries, and then return to the Rebak Marina.
Mary Margaret has been fighting a bit of a bug this last week so I took the list of goodies she made and went over to Langkawi to get our groceries. After filling up a shopping bag worth of stuff and paying $200 RM (about $65 US) I was done. Along with what was on Mary Margaret's list I had scored a package of bagels, a package of cream cheese and two packages of lox which made my total bill a bit on the high side but what the heck. It has been a while since I have had those fixings for breakfast.
Once I paid my bill, I hoped in a taxi and drove about 4 miles to the local sail maker's shop. Nasir had texted me that our shade cover was ready to be picked up. Last week I had asked him to sew on some white seatbelt material that I brought back from the US around the hems of the shade cover to strengthen the hand stitching that Mary Margaret and I did last year. This cover should now give us years and years of great use. It is made of a double layer of polypropylene material. Its total cost was just about $250 which was about 1/8 of the cost of the old Sunbrella shade cover we used to have.
Once I returned to Leu Cat the rest of the day was spent on...Yep, you guessed it...more boat projects!
02/14/2013, Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia
Once again, it is that time of the year when we better not forget to tell our love ones how much we love them. The thought goes out beyond just our mates but to all of our family. While we have always been a pretty close knit family, I think our feelings have deepened even more for each other since Mary Margaret and I started cruising. The cliché: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder", really is true. For us, it is now a very special treat to come back to the US each year and see our kids and our brothers and sisters and their respective families. We get one shot a year to see them. It is very special and we try to make the most of it.
What makes it so difficult is that our respective families are so scattered around the US. By the time our stay in the US is over, we are exhausted from all of the travel. However, our hearts have been refilled with the joy of seeing love ones once more. Given how spread out our families are, we never get to see everyone we want. This past year, besides spending time with our kids and new grandson, we saw my sister, Doti, my brother Don and his wife Debbie, and Cass the wife of my younger brother, Dwight, who passed this last year, and her two kids. The previous year we made a special trip back east to see Mary Margaret's two sisters, Gaby and Lonie, and their families who live in the Washington DC area. Next year, Mary Margaret would like us to return there to see them once again. Family is just so important to us that Valentine's Day is always so very special. To all our family we say: Happy Valentine's Day! We love you, we miss you and we wish you could be with us so we could give each of you big hugs and kisses.
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.