Day 49, Year 4: Ready to Roll

Day 49, Year 4: Ready to Roll
Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful, Hot, Sunny Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Hurrah! The transmission is reinstalled. But before I tell that story, I have to start with a little description of last night. We sent the log and then stepped off Windbird to head up to the Hard Dock Cafe for dinner and to hear the band. We could hear the music as soon as we came up into the cockpit and they were playing my song, John Denver’s “Almost Heaven, West Virginia.” I think the real title is “Country Roads” but I prefer the longer version. So now I have heard this song every place we have visited this year. Unbelievable. When we got to the Hard Dock, the place was packed and the man and woman providing the music were great. We learned that they play on the resort side of the island every night at the fancier restaurant but people listen quietly. When they come to the yachties side of the island those over 55 years of age seem to regress into their younger years and start dancing on the tables. It was great fun.

The great thing about today is that the Zainol returned with our transmission and within two hours it was reinstalled. He did some really nice work on the coupling that had given them such a hard time when trying to remove the transmission. We ran the engine and all seems to be fine, but we will have a better idea after we motor to Kuah tomorrow. We’ll wait until after that trial to celebrate, but all indications are that our mechanic did a great job. And since he is about the only mechanic in Langkawi who works on sailboats, we’re very thankful that he does such meticulous work.

Mark put the finishing touches on the deck while I put the final coat of paint on my various paint jobs – including the toilet lids and seats! Yes, I have painted the toilet seats. When our neighbor, Steve, saw them newly painted on a piece of plastic sheeting held in place by our diesel jerry jugs on the dock he said it looked like an art gallery – the “loo-ve.” (“Loo” is the British term for toilet!)

So, yes, we are leaving Rebak tomorrow morning, going to Kuah for a couple of days, then to Telaga Harbor to check out of Malaysia, and finally on to Ko Tarutao in Thailand to meet our friends Kevin and Claire next Tuesday. And Christmas is coming! So we are getting excited.

081210 Day 49 Langkawi, Malaysia–Work Projects at Rebak

Day 48, Year 4: More Work in Paradise

Day 48, Year 4: More Work in Paradise
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Weather: Beautiful, Hot, Sunny Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Be careful what you wish for. We have been wishing for sunshine and we got it today big time. It is beautiful, but with the sunshine comes the heat. However, we persisted and Mark has all of the “holes” in our teak deck filled and pegged and removed some of the caulking between the teak boards and replaced that. So he had a successful day. I continued inside cleaning and inside and outside painting. And I had a successful day. With just one more coat of paint on the toilet seats and lids, those will be done. And I finished painting the shower stall and the dinghy motor mount on the aft rail. I also did laundry. I just had to put that beautiful sunshine to some good use other than making me hot. In today’s sunshine, the laundry dried very quickly.

So to celebrate a good day of work, we walked over to the resort side of the island and went swimming in the pool. It was just the right time of day to see the loud but beautiful hornbills coming in to roost for the evening. Earlier in the day, we went for a walk among the boats on the hard. Arial, the boat that was being painted by the crew here, is now completed and she is beautiful. The owner is very happy with the job, so I think we will have Windbird painted here in February. While we were there talking, Brahminy Kites were soaring overhead. These birds are a type of eagle. They are brown with white heads and I just love to watch them. It is so nice to be in a marina with wildlife. We are on an island with nothing other than the marina and resort, so the animals have lots of space. We are now headed to the Hard Dock Cafe for dinner where we will commune with the other wildlife here, our fellow cruisers. We heard on the marina radio net this morning that there will be a live band tonight. That could be good or bad, so we shall see.

Tomorrow we are expecting the mechanic and crew with our transmission. Zainol promised that he will be here, so we trust that he will and that the reinstallation will go much smoother than the two-day removal process. Wish us luck on this one!

081209 Day 48 Langkawi, Malaysia–Photo Tour of Rebak Marina

Day 47, Year 4: Happy Birthday to Jed!

Day 47, Year 4: Happy Birthday to Jed!
Date: Monday, December 8, 2008
Weather: Another Rainy Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Today is our son-in-law’s 37th birthday. As he reads this he is finding out that his birthday present this year will be a Thai cooking class when he, Heather, and Sam visit us in Thailand. So Happy Birthday, Jed! We can’t wait to see you in Thailand in January.

Today was certainly better than yesterday, and we are learning to live with the rain. Since we are trying to plug the teak deck and do some painting, rain is not helpful, but we are getting there. Things are enough in control that I have started my annual inside boat cleaning. I usually do this right before we come home each year, but since we are not exactly sure when we will come home (sometime before April), I’ve decided it is best to do it now.

Neighbors who have the kind of dinghy motor that Mark really wants to buy, the Yamaha Enduro 15 horsepower, loaned us their outboard this morning. It is heavier than our current motors, so I was particularly anxious to see how hard or easy it would be to get it onboard Windbird, and I also wanted to see how the dinghy would ride with it. Hauling it up and down was really no different than our current Suzuki and the dinghy handled the extra weight with no problem. And my, oh my, it does go fast.
So this was a successful experiment and we are thinking more and more that we will probably buy a new Yamaha before we leave Malaysia.

We heard from Kevin and Claire today, our friends that will arrive in Bangkok next Monday. The Bangkok airport is open now and it looks like all systems are a go. We are really looking forward to their visit. It will give us the excuse we need to stop working and get out there and have some fun. We also heard from our daughter Heather this morning. She, Jed, and Sam had a Norman Rockwell experience yesterday. They woke up on a Sunday morning with freezing rain that eventually turned to snow,
so they took Sam to get their Christmas tree. The place where they bought their tree was serving hot apple cider and the picture she painted made us long for just a moment for cold weather and snow. It sounded so beautiful. They got home with the little balsam fir and put the lights on it which has Sam absolutely spellbound. He says “wow” every time he passes by the tree. We haven’t heard from Justin and Jo for a few days, but I know they are furiously getting ready for their trip to England.
Jo has not been home for two years, so both she and Justin and her family in England are really looking forward to this visit.

We will work furiously tomorrow to get everything shipshape and hope for the arrival of our mechanic with our transmission with new seals on Wednesday morning. If all goes well, and as always “if” is the important word here, we will be ready to leave Rebak on Thursday morning. We’ll head back to Kuah to take our two old dinghy motors to a place that will sell them on consignment and we’ll buy a new Yamaha Enduro for Windbird’s dinghy. Then we’ll head to Telaga Harbor where we will check out of
Malaysia and head for Ko Tarutao in Thailand where we will meet Kevin and Claire on Tuesday mid-day. So that’s the plan. Let’s hope we can stick to it.

Day 46, Year 4: One Step Forward, One Step Back

Day 46, Year 4: One Step Forward, One Step Back
Date: Sunday, December 7, 2008
Weather: Rainy Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Where should I start? We didn’t get a dry day, so the holes in our teak deck are soaking up the wetness. We have covered every hole with masking tape, but we are not sure that really helps. But needless to say, there was no work done on the teak deck today. So this was one step back.

And then there is the transmission. After the 12:45 pm ferry arrived and there was still no mechanic and no transmission, Mark made a call and found out that actually the seals had to be ordered, which we had not been told before, and they were not going to arrive until 2:00 this afternoon. So much for having the transmission back in today. And unfortunately, that means no transmission tomorrow and the next day as they are Muslim religious holidays. So the new plan is that we will have the transmission
back on Wednesday. This is a huge set-back, but if we actually get the transmission back on Wednesday and the installation goes smoothly, we will still be on track for meeting Kevin and Claire north of here the following Tuesday. There are always lots of “ifs” but we have a plan worked out for each alternative, so we feel that whatever happens we will be fine, but it is very frustrating. So this was definitely one step back.

The step forward was Mark’s work on our second bilge pump that hasn’t worked this entire season. He has installed three different pumps and none of them have worked, so today he worked on the electrical system. He tidied up all the wires and connections coming from the bilge and finally found the problem with the pump. So we now have two working bilge pumps once again. This was one step forward.

Now comes the work on the shower stall. We found places where the first coat of paint was peeling, so realized that we needed to sand off the coat of “wrong” paint to prepare the surface for what we hope is the “right” paint that we bought in town yesterday. Sanding paint off a surface in a boat causes all kinds “dust” problems, but we covered as much as we could and started the sanding. Mark feels like we have ended up with a much smoother surface which is good, but the whole time I was sanding
the only thing I could think is that if we had had the correct paint to begin with the sanding process wouldn’t have been necessary. So we have a smoother surface (one step forward) but we spent time sanding and cleaning that wouldn’t have been necessary if we had the right paint to begin with (one step back).

We are hoping for a dry day tomorrow so we can finish plugging the teak deck. Rain or not, we will paint the shower stall and the seats and lids for our two toilets. That’s the goal for tomorrow. Hopefully those goals are achievable and we can have a day with only steps forward.

Day 45, Year 4: For the Love of Martians

Day 45, Year 4: For the Love of Martians
Date: Saturday, December 6, 2008
Weather: Overcast with Sprinkles
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Men really are from Mars and women, at least this woman, must be from some other planet. Today was one of those days when it was the little things that get you, and Mark and I had different ideas on each of the “little things.” So Mars and the other planet clashed. But clashes or not, you’ve got to love those men from Mars.

First we got up and found sprinkles in the air. That was a problem since we have more than 200 deck plugs drilled and ready to fill. So before we even ate breakfast we started finding ways of covering the deck. But while that was happening, I reminded Mark that the mechanic might be here around 10 am with the transmission. I asked if there was anything else that needed to happen before the transmission is replaced. Oh, my! There were lots of things including a complete clean-out of the bilge.
Since the engine room is a “blue job” I hadn’t been paying close attention to what needed to be done. But the leakage of transmission fluid had made a complete mess of the bilge and we spent the next two hours using our little wet/dry shop vac to clean up some of the mess, and as I write this log tonight, Mark is still working on cleaning out the bilge. But back to this morning, somewhere in the middle of the bilge cleaning job, Zainol, the mechanic, came by to say that the transmission would
not be back until tomorrow, so that was a bit of a relief. We continued to clean the bilge and when that was done we went out on the deck to start filling the holes with new screws and pegs. Next problem. The Makita battery-powered drill just couldn’t keep up with the work load. We have known for a long time that we need a plug-in drill, but we there is no way to buy anything compatible with US power out here. The good thing at this point was that the rain didn’t come, so we got on the ferry
and headed to the main island to buy a plug-in drill that we could use plugging it straight into shore power. We were also after the paint we need for the shower stall, head seats and lids, and the dinghy motor mount. We called the rental car guy when we got on the ferry just to find out that there were no cars available. But a young man on the ferry said, “No problem.” He used his cell phone to call a taxi for us and offered to give us a ride with him if the taxi didn’t show up. Local people
here are just so friendly and helpful. It gives me hope that somehow we can learn to live together on Planet Earth.

We got to Kuah, bought a drill and paint, and found a place that will sell our two dinghy motors if we decide to buy a new Yamaha. When we bought the drill I asked Mark if we had a way to plug it into our existing system. Our current electric cord that connects us to shore power is from New Zealand, but Mark assured me that the drill would work with that system. That is when Mars and another planet started to collide. The other problem was buying the paint. I thought Mark knew what we needed,
but it turned out that he really wasn’t sure. It is very difficult to figure out which paints are epoxy friendly when nothing on the labels tells you in English what the compatibility of the paint might be. We ended up buying a one-part paint instead of the two-part we were after. There was one frustration after another, but we finally got the items on our list and hailed a taxi to take us back to the ferry dock.

When we got home the drill wouldn’t plug into our current system. After walking the docks, Mark did find someone with an adapter that would allow the drill to work with our current system. But by this time, it was too late on a Saturday evening to start drilling. So the work will have to continue tomorrow. Hopefully things will go a little smoother and the prediction for rain will be wrong. We could use one very dry day to do painting and teak deck work. Here’s to a better tomorrow.

Day 44, Year 4: Making Progress . . . Sort Of

Day 44, Year 4: Making Progress . . . Sort Of
Date: Friday, December 5, 2008
Weather: Another Sunny, Hot Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Today was one of those days that was actually productive but didn’t feel that way. Things just moved a little slower. My early morning was spent going to the market at the ferry dock on the main island. I went on the ferry with lots of other woman, almost no men, and when we got to the other side, a young Chinese man arrived in his van filled with Styrofoam coolers. In each cooler there were different kinds of frozen meat, all varieties of vegetables, bananas, papayas, oranges, and on and on.
He has frozen duck, chicken, sausages of many varieties, steaks, cod, salmon, and even smoked salmon. I couldn’t believe the variety and the quality. It was good, but probably more expensive than shopping in Kuah. But I got bib lettuce and romaine, my main goal for going, and filled my basket with New Zealand avocadoes, green and red peppers, brussel spouts, tomatoes, and just all sorts of goodies.

When I returned to Windbird Mark was finishing the job of digging out old plugs in the teak deck and drilling the holes deeper to hold new screws and plugs. He then decided to have Noel Bradley, the man who runs the little chandlery here, replace our top life line. When Kevin and Claire arrive, they will be bringing netting that we will install between the top life line and the toe rail. This is a new installation to keep visiting grandbabies onboard and we didn’t want to attach it to the old
line that was showing signs of rust and decay beneath its white plastic coating. So new life lines were made and installed in the early afternoon. It was about this time that things started to fall apart. We thought we had saved money by buying half-used cans of two-part paint from the chandlery here on Rebak, but when we opened it we discovered that it was not white as the can indicated, but a very nice tan. Not what we wanted for the next job which was painting the shower stall, the dinghy
motor mount to which Mark has sanded and applied new epoxy, and the toilet seats lids that we had removed for painting. So here we are with no paint, which means no toilet seats on the toilets, and a shower stall which I ended up painting with a white outdoor paint we had aboard. I have no confidence, however, that this paint will really adhere to the newly expoxed shower stall. So somehow we are going to have to work in another trip to Kuah to buy paint. Ugh! We had planned to leave here no
later than next Wednesday or Thursday to do a little cruising around the island of Langkawi, but we might have to skip that in order to get work completed. This is another one of those times that we just have to wait and see how things play out.

I’ll end with a bit of a joke on us. Yesterday we spent some time looking through photos on Justin and Jo’s Picasa website. We saw a picture of J & J and a man named Al. I emailed Justin and asked, “Who is Al?” He wrote back saying that he and Jo assumed my question was a joke. Al was Al Gore, and Justin and Jo were sure we would know that. I wrote back telling them that I believe we have been floating around out here too long. I can’t believe neither Mark nor I recognized Al Gore. Admittedly,
he has gained a bit of weight, but he should have been recognizable. I think we have been disconnected from video images just a little too long!