06 April 2017 | St Lucie Inlet, Florida
02 April 2017 | Stocking Island, Exuma
01 April 2017 | George Town, Exumas
30 March 2017 | George Town, Bahamas
22 March 2017 | Elizabeth Island, Exumas
09 March 2017 | George Town, Exumas
04 March 2017 | Thompson's Bay, Long Island
03 March 2017 | Stella Maris, Long Island
02 March 2017 | Long Island
26 February 2017 | Crossing from Water Cay to Comer Channel, Jumentos
25 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay to Thompson's Bay, Long Island
23 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay, Jumentos
19 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
16 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
14 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
10 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
06 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
05 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Ragged Islands
05 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
More New Plans
14 October 2010 | Kuala Lumpur airport
I had a brainstorm a couple of days ago: instead of visiting our daughters and their families separately for Thanksgiving and Christmas, why not bring them together for a family reunion in Wilmington over Thanksgiving. That way we'll all be able to enjoy one another's company while we dote on our three little grandkiddies.
So since we'll be seeing our family over Thanksgiving, we've decided to return to the boat for Christmas. Some cruiser friends who were here last year said the marina/hotel decorates to the hilt and has wonderful holiday buffets and a big New Year's Eve party with live music and dancing under the stars. Lots of cruisers following us across Indonesia will have gathered here by then. Life is good!
Here's a photo with our friends from s/v Estrelita and s/v Bebe. Note the Muslim woman wearing black in the pool behind us.
Stop and Smell the Frangipani
13 October 2010 | Rebak Marina, Langkawi
Hard to imagine now, but when we first arrived at the marina on October 1st, we actually wondered what we'd do for the two weeks till our flight home. Wow, we sure have forgotten how to relax! Rush rush rush around the world is just what we told ourselves we didn't want to do. So we've decided to enjoy the good life here awhile longer. It certainly is economical, with marina berth rates about $15 (incl util and wifi). So we've changed our plans and are going to spend the next year floating around Southeast Asia and doing some refit work in Phuket.
The frangipani tree overhanging the infinity swimming pool drops blossoms in the water while emanating its heavy sweet scent as we swim our daily laps, reminding us to slow down and smell the flowers.
11 October 2010 | Rebak Marina, Langkawi
While walking around the resort island yesterday, we came across a grassy area filled with little wooded markers with names on them. "Those are the monkey graves," our friend Deirdre later told us. While paying our bill at the office today, I happened to mention them to Rizal, the marina manager, who I'd never seen so much as smile. "Monkey graves?" he asked in puzzlement. Then he threw back his head and laughed and laughed. "No, no, those aren't for dead monkeys. We have an eco-green program for our guests: if they make a donation to Malaysian environmental efforts, a tree is planted in their honor, with a name marker."
I have a feeling this story is going to make the rounds of the resort employees!
Playing Hooky on Langkawi
07 October 2010 | Langkawi, Malaysia
Today we played hooky from boat chores and took the ferry across the channel to Langkawi, together with Canadian friends Deirdre and Mike from s/v Cheshire Cat who have been here for a year, on and off. We first met in Panama five years ago and, typical of the cruiser lifestyle, have shared anchorages here and there across the Pacific. They've just found a buyer for CC and are soon flying to France to embark on their next adventure, exploring the canals of France.
We shared a rental car and were happy to have Deirdre and Mike chauffeur us around the island, acquainting us with where to shop and how to find things. Burger was excited to find well-stocked marine and hardware stores while I noted the supermarkets and salivated at batik boutiques, but we'll postpone serious shopping till we return in January.
Twenty miles offshore from mainland Malaysia, Langkawi is a resort island and cruise ship destination, and its duty free status explains in part its popularity with sailors in this predominantly Muslim country. We saw our favorite Mount Gay rum selling for US$12 a bottle.
The highlight of the day was taking the cable car up Gunung Machinchang (2,300 ft). We ascended past cascading waterfalls and steep green mountainside on our way to the top, where we hiked up and down stairways and across hanging bridges to enjoy the views of the island and across the Adaman Sea to nearby Thailand. Deirdre was looking a bit poorly during the ride, having little confidence in the maintenance of the cable car equipment. But we all survived the day, as this blog confirms.
Life at Leisure in Langkawi
06 October 2010 | Langkawi, Malaysia
It's been so nice to just veg out and relax for a few days here at the marina, after our long trek across "our" Seven Seas.
There's a 5-star resort adjacent to the marina here and we can use the amenities. The cruisers, several of them old friends we've met again and again as we make our way around the world, meet for a swim and a chat at the pool in the afternoon if the weather is good (we're in monsoon season so it rains a lot). We have happy hour and dinner at the Hard Dock Cafe with them in the evening. There's romantic live music at the hotel lounge every night. I'm looking forward to a day of pampering at the spa before we leave, at prices to die for.
The resort is on a small island with ferry service to the main island of Langkawi. On our walk along the beach and through the tropical landscape we saw several hornbill pairs, who mate for life; monitor lizards in a swampy creek; and a horde of monkeys that suddenly appeared at the edge of the jungle, evidently hoping for a hand-out. We had a scary moment when they started edging closer looking very aggressive, so we dropped eye contact and carefully backed away.
Five lovely lazy days have flown by without our beginning to prepare for departure, so we have to get down to business, with a week left to clean out the boat and prepare her for storage as we move on to other things for awhile. For the first time I'm accompanying Burger to Ecuador to help with the medical volunteer work there (having been his practice manager for years). Then Thanksgiving at Melanie's new house in Wilmington NC, and Christmas with Vivien and her growing family in Los Alamos NM. We're so looking forward to seeing our three grandkiddies!
Our Seven Seas
04 October 2010 | Langkawi, Malaysia
Where does the expression "The Seven Seas" come from?
The old Clipper Ship tea route from China to England was the longest trade route under sail, and included the Sulu Sea, Java Sea, Flores Sea, Banda Sea, Timor Sea, Celebes Sea, and the South China Sea.
Since leaving Bundaberg in June, we've crossed only four of "the" Seven Seas, but we've now sailed our own seven: the Coral Sea, Arafura Sea, Timor Sea, Flores Sea, Savu Sea, Java Sea, and the South China Sea. That's enough seas for this year!
P.S. Burger reminded me of one more that we crossed, the Bali Sea, so it's actually eight.
The Elusive Lizard
30 September 2010 | Langkawi, Malaysia
A year and a half ago when we returned to the boat which had been stored in Fiji, we found that a little green lizard, maybe a gecko, had taken up residence in the chain locker. Maybe that's why we had so few mosquitoes? We were happy to have our little stowaway aboard and saw him (her?) occasionally sunning himself during the ensuing months while sailing through the islands of Vanuatu. We've never seen more than one at a time so we assume there's been no breeding.
We arrived in Australia and hauled out again in Bundaberg a year ago. To our surprise upon our return this past June, there he was again! Or was it a new lizard? We've now arrived in Langkawi for the next haul-out period, and wonder if he'll survive another season in yet another country.
I'll soon be ending this year's Sailblog when we fly home, and will report back if our little hitchhiker is still with us when we return for the next stage of our journey around the world next year.
Photo: Lounging in the cockpit with Burger's signature smoothie.
Our Second Honeymoon Continues
30 September 2010 | Melaka, Malaysia
While in Port Dickson a couple of days ago we hired a car with driver who drove us two hours to Melaka, a small multi-ethnic city with a colorful history. Melaka has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its important past, in its heydey the greatest trading hub in all of Southeast Asia. Founded in the 14th century by a Sumatran prince, it has changed hands over the centuries between China, Portugal, Holland and Britain.
As we learned at the Historical Museum housed in the former Dutch governor's residence, the impressive Stadthuys, there were once 2,000 ships at anchor off little Melaca's shores! Today the historic waterfront district is a cheerful tourist center living from its former fame and glory, with several museums, temples and churches and other diverse historical sites from the past.
We took one of the gaudily decorated tourist trishaws, little carts driven by bicycle manpower, from the Statdhuys to Chinatown, a bustling collection of busy streets filled with neat shops and cafes. Lunch was at a romantic little restaurant where we had one of the local specialties, Portuguese-style noodles with seafood. For dessert later on Burger had to try Cendol, another Melakan treat made of shaved fruit ice with jellies and coconut milk. He agreed that ice cream is much better ... After we'd bought some trinkets for our grandkiddies and had enough sightseeing we walked to a modern mega mall and shopped at a Giant supermarket, of all things! But alas, the poor food selection had nothing in common with our Giant stores in Maryland.
Then it was time to meet our driver for the return trip before dark. The drive took us past miles of palm oil and rubber tree plantations and commercial enterprises along the highway. Just before reaching Port Dickson we saw a bunch of cute Macaque monkeys scampering along the telephone wires, and a bunch of water buffaloes grazing at the side of the road! Once back at the marina we dined in an open air restaurant overlooking the yachts at sunset. All in all it was a lovely day.
130 Miles to Go
30 September 2010 | Strait of Malacca
We left Admiral Bay Marina in Port Dickson yesterday and are underway again, motorsailing non-stop two nights and days to Langkawi, where we'll haul Halekai out at Rebak Marina. Some cruising friends are there who we haven't seen in a year or two so we're looking forward to a fun reunion. After four months aboard and some 4,000 miles since Bundaberg, it's time for the next break in our circumnavigation, and soon we'll finally meet our new little granddaughter. We've seen and done lots of neat things along the way, and as soon as I have a fast internet connection I'll upload more photos.
Last night as we motored along the coast, the sky grumbled and ominous dark clouds spewed jagged yellow flashes. Though there was some wind we didn't set sail in case of squalls, yet all we got were a few drops of rain. Severe lightning storms and water spouts are common in the Strait of Malacca this time of year but so far we've been spared, with 24 hours to go. Lots of ship's traffic with sometimes more than 100 targets are on our AIS screen, many of them freighters and tankers at anchor near harbors. Tonight we'll need to keep careful watch as we pass by busy Penang, worth a visit perhaps but no good anchorages or marinas and we're anxious to get to our goal.
Though it's wonderful seeing the ships on our screen, we still have to keep alert for the fishing boats that have no AIS. It's my watch right now while Burger sleeps, and I just counted over two dozen of them, surrounding us on what must be on a popular fishing bank. Some of them are anchored although it's 170 feet deep, others are trawling and pulling in nets. I just had to change course to avoid one. Now Burger is up and it's time for my nap.
Home Stretch to Langkawi
26 September 2010 | Transiting the Malacca Strait
We're on the last stretch to Langkawi, Malaysia, where we'll be leaving Halekai for awhile till the next stage of our circumnavigation. Now we're day-hopping 500+ miles up possibly the busiest waterway in the world, the Malacca Strait, which used to be nicknamed Pirate Alley before they cleaned up their act some years ago.
We keep to the side of the shipping lane as the parade of tankers and freighters pass us by, separated in two lanes just like on a highway. As I write we're passing an oil drilling platform and a barge towed by tugboat. Near the shore there are little fishing boats and shacks on stilts, with fishing nets and lines we try to avoid. I wonder how fish can survive the polluted waters from so much ship traffic, oil rigs, a phenomenal amount of trash and probably sewage from waterfront towns. We anchored off little islands along the coast the past two nights. Today we're on our way to Admiral Bay Marina in Port Dickson (check out www.admiralbaymarina.com.my to see where we are). After clearing into Malaysia there, we'll visit the historic city of Melaca by car.