Freebirdie's Sailin' Blog

22 November 2011 | Seattle
01 August 2011 | Santa Maria di Leuca
03 July 2011 | Greece
15 June 2011 | Gulf of Corinth
05 June 2011 | Athens
28 May 2011 | Poros Greece
25 April 2011 | Symi Island
13 April 2011 | Naxos, Greece
20 February 2011 | Istanbul, Turkey
30 January 2011 | Ephesus
28 January 2011 | Marmaris
16 January 2011 | Selcuk, Turkey
31 December 2010 | Marmaris
24 October 2010 | Cappadocia, Turkey
16 September 2010 | Marmaris Turkey
26 August 2010 | Fethiye, Turkey
19 August 2010 | Marmaris
03 August 2010 | Larnaca Cyprus
01 August 2010 | Mediterranean Sea
30 July 2010 | Ashkelon Marina

Getting Ready

25 November 2009
Happy Thanksgiving!

As most of you already know we have decided to make the 5000 mile run to Turkey. We plan on departing the first week in January. The voyage should take about 6 months and include the Andaman Islands, Kochi India, Maldive Islands, Oman, Yeman, up the Red Sea to Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebonen, Cyprus, Syria, and finally Turkey. We are preparing Freebird for the challanges ahead and have been very busy. The list goes like this:
Upgrade electronic navigation system. overhaul watermaker, replace corroded steering parts, check auto pilots, replace faulty wind instruments, replace mainsail, restitch head sail, service engines, inspect and tune rigging, new upholstery in main cabin, new motor mounts on engines, set up VHF and HF radios to interface with GPS for emergency calling, varnish steering wheel, install new 650 amp hour battery bank, install 2 new starting batteries, obtain spare filters and belts for engines, clean props and bottom of hulls, overhaul alternators, overhaul engine raw water pumps, patch leaky dinghy, provision for 6 months of wilderness existence, obtain Indian visas, obtain charts and pilot guides, ..........You get the idea. No wonder we haven't updated the blog for awhile. It should get more interesting when we shove off.... In the meantime look at Freebird's new mainsail with her new logo (photo). Thanks for checking in & send us an update on YOU!
Ciao for now, judy & Dave
PS... This is our last chance for mail in Thailand if sent in the next week.... until Turkey next June....

Life at Rebak Resort

17 August 2009 | Langkawi
Dave and Judy
Life is good again! The engine problems turned out to be fairly minor. Port engine had a frozen alternator bearing and the starboard engine must have sucked a plastic bag or something into the water intake. Today Judy is off getting an Indian massage which involves lots of greasy hot oil. We'll see what she looks like when she gets home. I am locked in the cabin with the AC going , catching up on photos, blogs and thinking about doing some painting. This evening we'll head over to the beach for some boccie ball to watch the sunset. We had some friends over the other night for a potluck dinner on Freebird........ becoming social butterflies again.. It doesn't take much to make us forget the trials of last week.... Life's good....most of the time...That's the best anybody can as for....

For more information about the Rebak Marina, click here:

Sail to Rebak Resort

14 August 2009 | Langkawi
Dave and Judy
We awake to a picture perfect morning. The dinghy is dropped in the water and we head for the beach. After a little grazing for shells we head back and prepare to head to Rebak MarinaWe have reservations for moorage at this 5 star resort. We're ready for some rest in a nice quiet marina. Up comes the anchor. We're only an hour away. Nice day..light wind..looking good.
Too good! Suddenly the port motor makes a horrible noise and stops dead. The engine room is full of smoke. Hmm... not good. Okay then, we'll head in on one motor. We contact the marina and let them know "we have limited maneuverability". It's tricky docking a catamaran with one motor. The stress starts to mount. No worries! I tell Judy. Then...........You guessed it........The other motor overheats and must be shut down immediately! Hmm......Okay...maybe a little worry. We set sail to keep Freebird off the rocks to leeward (dramatically, the jib sheet rips the port hatch off the cabin and it sails out into the sea....). We can't sail into the marina. We need at least one motor. I don't know why there is no raw water cooling the engine but I come up with a plan (EverReadyDave.... to the rescue) (That's what i call Dave). I take the garden hose from the saltwater washdown pump and hook it to the engine cooling water intake. The engine is started and the saltwater pump is started . Voila! Now we have cooling water. We limp into the marina and dock without incident.

You might be wondering, why are we out here doing this?.... are we. Here we are with two broken motors. It's been a tough 4 days since we got back from Vietnam. We decide to take a break and relax. Put everything on the back burner. Well figure it out tomorrow. Freebird got a washdown and now we are sitting in the cockpit feeling the soft warm breeze....not thinking about tomorrow....
PS. Later that night.............. judy has about 100 + or- mosquito bites. There are 5 alone all around my navel, with 2 inside! It itched sooooooooo bad i attacked it with the scrub brush! I took a picture to post but Dave says way too much info......

Escape from Penang

10 August 2009 | Underway Penang to Langkawi
Dave and Judy
Once again we're awake at 0500. We ready the boat for "escape". Freebird revs her engines and we back out of the slip..Judy clicks on the running lights and we move slowly out of the marina. Just as we clear the breakwater the port engine stalls. What now! We can't return to the marina in the dark with one engine... What to do? Freebird doesn't maneuver very well with only one engine. After several attempts to restart the motor Judy spots a large rope coming from under the boat. It's wrapped around our prop and the only way to clear it is to dive. It's too dark now. We press on toward Langkawi...slowly with one engine. After an hour or so Freebird is brought to a stop. Dave dives in the water and removes the humongo line that has stopped the prop. We restart the motors and we're off!

The wind is normally from the Southwest this time of year. As we come out into clear water guess what? The wind is from the Northwest! is Langkawi. The wind builds to 25 knots. The boat begins to pound into the large waves. The shallow water here makes the waves steeper and faster. We pound all day like being in a "Maytag"! We would normally fall off the wind a little and set some sail but we're pressed to make the anchorage before night fall. We don't like to arrive in a strange anchorage in the dark. We're hoping that the wind will change in direction 10 degrees one way or another.... At 1430 it finally shifts to the west a little and we set sail. Freebird picks up speed when she feels the wind. The sun is is good for a change. We arrive at Palau Singa Besal at 1800. The anchor goes down and guessed it! It won't set. We drag all over the bay trying to set the stupid thing. Finally we pull it up and switch to a different anchor. It sets! The sun is setting. The bay is calm. There are Eagles flying overhead. We enjoy our first cockpit sundowners in a long time is good...most of the time......

For more on Penang, click here:


13 November 2008 | Johor Baru to Penang
Dave and Judy
Malaysia ~ Huge Mixing Pot

Malaysia is such a diverse and spread out area that it is almost impossible for us to describe or even come close to explaining all the intricacy's of the country. We'll just say that for our own understandint we "think" that Malay's consist of Straits Chinese "Baba Nonya", some mixed with Malay "Peranakan" (some Buddhist, some Muslim), Indian (some Hindu, some Muslim) Indigenious Malay "Negirtos", European (British, Dutch, Portugese & Scandinavian) and various mixes of all the above. Along with that go the various religions and governments that go with each of them. Whew. What a mix. For the most part it looks like everybody gets along pretty well. We found the people to be happy, friendly and outgoing.

Thur Nov 13- Sun Nov 16th

Our first stop ~ Danga Bay, Johor Baru, was a sponsored Sail Malaysia rally event. We joined up with about half of the cruising community, about 30 - 40 boats, that came up from Oz with the Sail Indonesia rally. The transit through the Singapore straits was the usual stress with large ships underway, many fishing boats, traps and nets. Constant observation was required to avoid all the obstacles. We arrived at 2:00 in the afternoon. Sadly the anchorage was somewhat polluted with trash in the water.
Friday morning we headed out looking for breakfast and to find our way around the area. Up and down the street out in front of the boardwalk looking for a bus... Finally ended up taking a taxi, first to the cash machine and then, reluctantly to MacDonalds. It was the only place we could find open until 11 when things finally come alive??? From there we jumped a bus to the city center. It was soooo hot we were forced into a mall. Dave was becoming distraught ~ NOooo, not the mall! Then, he found a sizzling stone resturant where he cooked his own terriyaki chicken & life was good again. We had to head back to the port for our "scheduled" immigration and customs check in at 2 PM..... come back at 4 ...... no, oh.......come back again at 6. They didn't seem to care if we checked in or not so we went to the welcome briefing. Guess the paper work is actually tomorrow instead :>} Come back tomorrow :>} (different field different grasshopper)... so says Scorpido.

We met up with a few other cruisers and found a Mongolian BBQ place where we cooked our own dinner in hot soup. It was spicy, hot & tasty.

Sat Nov 15th

Today we take a rare (for us) "field trip". We're all loaded on a bus at 8AM for a full day of...."field tripping" The first half of the day was spent visiting various mosques and palaces. It was a nice education on the history of the area. The bus stopped at a Pineapple Museum with out any pineapples, either to buy or drink? They dropped us off at a fishing village to find our own lunch. The streets were flooded due to a high tide. We waded out to the restaurants and picked maybe the worst one? I accidentally ordered what looked like some kind of embryo calamari that was deep fried rock hard. Davey's lobster never came. At least he got his beer. So we called it quits and left hungry.

The end of our excursion was to a mangrove walk out to the end tip of the Asian Continent ~ Tan Jung Piai National Park. We enjoyed streching our legs and the views of the Singapore Straits. There were crazy monkeys everywhere.

A free dinner and dance was scheduled for that evening but after being cooped up on the bus with too many people all day we decided to bag it. Our clearance papers were finally ready to pick up at 7:30 PM.(for real this time) We jumped through those hoops then headed back for a hearty meal of grilled cheese sandwitches and Campbells Tomato soup. That was our first and last rally event for a while.

We left Danga Bay at 7AM the next morning. We're day hopping up the Malacca Straits to Port Dickson. Lacking any wind, we motored till 3PM. Arriving at Pulau Pisang island where we had the anchor drill (three tries). We curse that damn Delta anchor. Someday we are going to throw those anchors overboard and get yet another new one. Davey had to have a beer and take a nap after that one! We finally feel like we are back at cruising. We enjoyed our sundowner and made our yummy favorite pork chop dinner.

We were up 5:30 on Monday morning but too dark to leave??? Worked on our broken fresh water pump until 7 when we finally get underway. We managed to sail about 4 hours eventually arriving at Pulau Besar Island. We dropped the hook and it set on the first try! Pulau Besar island is a real Muslim community with "call to Prayer" BROADCASTING over the loudspeakers. It's not so bad during the day but in the very early wee hours it can be a "rude awakening". This one was from 4-6 in the morning. We were up Tues morning and underway at 8.

Tuesday, November 18th

Arrived at Admiral Cove Marina at Port Dixon in the pouring rain. We had to pull rank and remind the staff that we had a reservation or we would have lost the last mooring to another boat. We were planning on leaving Freebird there for a short road trip to Malacca and Kuala Lumpur so really needed the spot.

Thursday, November 20th

Our friends Rose and Tim on the yacht "Rendezvous Cay" (US) rented a car and dropped us off in Malacca. We met up with "Mary Eliza" (Dutch) and "Pelikaan" (Dutch/Australia). The 6 of us toured this World Herratage city on foot for the next 3 days.

Three boats: Freebird, Pelikaan, and Mary Eliza

We had a many kinds of tasty food, relished the Cheng Ho Museum (1421, the Year the Chinese Discovered America) stayed 1 night in the very worst place of my life...... (BedBugs!)then the next 2 nights in a charming bed & breakfast overlooking the river, the Haseen House. Dave met a very talented watercolor artist (look at his beautiful work)~ Tham Siew Inn, who invited us into his gallery/home. His 2 grown sons are are artests and display in the gallery as well. We hope to meet up with them again when we go back to Malacca one fine day. On our last night we had a date up in the Cat Tower for a stunning view of the city. Melaka was a fun mini-trip and probably our favorite city in Malaysia.

We recovered for the next 3 days catching up on laundry, emails & most importantly, we gathered up all of our items that we had saved to give to locals all along the way up from the coast from Australia. Freebird gave a big sigh of relief when we unloaded all that stuff off to Chandra, our dock helper.

Tues Nov 25th

We're off to Kuala Lumpur or affectionatly known as KL, the capital of Malaysia. What a pleasant surprise. First, we took a taxi to the bus station and 2 buses and 3 hrs later we were there. We stayed at the Swiss Inn just across the street from the night market in Chinatown. We immediately hit the streets. One of Dave's biggest pet peeves is me and the Post Office. We could probably have sent all 7 of the grandkids to college or revamped Freebird for the amount of $$$$ we spend on sending JUNK to all our friends and families, especially our Vanuatu family. They keep us broke!!!! The post office wasn't opened earlier in Port Douglas when we first took our taxi to the bus depot so we ended up carrying the whole mess with us all the way to KL. We then again lugged it down the steet looking for the post office. It wouldn't have been quite so bad except there in the capital, they insisted that the boxes be totally covered in wrapping paper. Well, first we bought the paper, then the tape and had to rewrap them in the lobby. What a sport ~ he even helped out. Luv that guy!

The post office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

By that time it was too late for any sight seeing. That evening we enjoyed strolling through the night market. We found a funky little restaurant and had a local dinner. The next morning we were wisked away by K7( that's his name) for a city tour. He took us to the King's Palace. We couldn't go inside but did take a few photos of the guards outside. Then to the Veterans Memorial which was quite spectacular. The sculptor depicted soldiers in full fight against the Communists. We went to the National Mosque. They allowed us inside. I had to completely cover up, hood and all. Talk about HOT. It was an interesting design and could accommodate 8000 worshippers. Whew huh?

KL is a very modern city with an insightful superstructure. They are patterned off of Singapore. We found it to be very clean with massive amounts of greenery, flowers, trees, landscaping.

Judy Ready for the Mosque

Judy with Malaysian Friends

K7 managed to get us up into the KL Tower which looks at the Twin Towers. Then we went up into the Twin Towers. They are the second tallest buildings in the world. We could only go as far as the bridge that hooks the towers together. Both buildings had very impressive views. K7 finished up with a Chinese Tao/Buddhist Temple and then the Batu Caves where Hindu's worship. Totally multi-cultural day.

Batu Caves

War Memorial

Thurs Nov 27th,

K7 picked us up early to visit the fully enclosed bird aviary, the largest Bird Park in the world? Probably the most unique bird that we saw was the Curved Hornbill. KL has a huge intercity Park that has many exhibits, museums, galleries, lakes..... can't remember them all. Did get over to see the Orchid Gardens before KL came back for us. Thus ending our 3 day visit to KL, it's back to the bus for us.

Saturday Nov 29th

We had one catch up day before we were back underway on Saturday morning at daybreak. Had to turn around after only an hour out as we blew our exhaust elbow out of the port motor. We of course didn't know at first what the problem was, first there was white smoke out of the boat & THEN when he lifted the bed in the aft cabin, thick - dark -black -smoke bollowed out all over everything, we have then we knew... What a mess!!!! Back to the marina for us with just 1 motor....

Sailin's Fun!

Miracle of miracles, Gerry on the yacht "Scot Free 2" took our dock lines as we pulled back into the marina. When he asked what happened. Dave described the mishap. It just so happened that for some unknown reason he had saved his old exhaust elbow???? from his old motor after he replaced it....???/?? It was on loan to us for the next 2 months until we were able to have one made in Thailand. Imagine how long it would have taken to have one shipped in from somewhere. Add to that the $$$ for shipping. He deserved that extra special bottle of whiskey, for sure! It was installed and the rest of the day was spent scrubbing the engine compartment and all of the boat interior. What a mess. We were underway the next morning at 5:40, arriving at Pulau Angsa around 3:30 in the afternoon.

Mon Dec 1st

Underway at 6:45. Hot Hot Hot ~Next stop ~ Pulua Pangkor ~ pulled in at 4:45 & was invited over to the catamaran "Truest Passion" for sundowners. It was Katherine's Bday (yacht "The Southern Cross") another cat from Australia. All 5 couples dinghied to shore for a BDay dinner, almost a rally event....

We had to be underway on Tues morning before 6 as it was a long run to Penang. Pulau Penang really (Pulau = island). We stayed in Penang for 3 wks before we hustled on up to Langkawi to get ready for those cute Hayden brothers, Eric & Nick. They are coming for 2 wks during the holidays. Oh boy oh boy.

Judy and the Towers
Vessel Name: Freebird
Vessel Make/Model: Grainger MC420 Catamaran
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Dave and Judy Howell
Dave started building Freebird in 1995 in a plastic shed on Camano Island, NW USA and launched her in April of 2001. He retired from the Fire Department in 1999 after 28 years of service. Judy Retired from dentistry in 1995 after 27 years. [...]
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