Day 43, Year 4: Transmission Woes

Day 43, Year 4: Transmission Woes
Date: Thursday, December 4, 2008
Weather: Sunny, Hot Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

The transmission issue continues. Two of the mechanics returned today, Man and Nadri, and they worked all day trying to get the transmission out so the seals can be replaced. They first continued the problem from yesterday getting the coupling that connects the transmission to the prop shaft loose and once they had that, they learned they had a new problem. The spline from the transmission was rusted into the buffer plate which connects the transmission to the engine. They finally broke that
loose about 5:30 pm and then Nadri, a bit stronger than both Mark and I together, walked the 50 pound transmission out of the aft cabin, up the steps, and out onto the dock with no problem. There were many times today when we were ready to tell them to just put things back together, but we are glad we didn’t and that we have the hope of having the seals replaced with no other issues arising. I say that because you never know. But our hope is that the transmission will be back in the boat by Saturday
(optimistic) and that all will be well.

My day was spent waxing parts of the boat. It was no easy task in this relentless sun and heat. Mark continued to remove plugs and screws from the deck where they need to be replaced, watched over the transmission removal process, and took a midday trip to the main island to pick up our stanchions that we had taken in to be straightened and reinforced. I think we are both wearing down with the work in this hot weather, but I also think we are getting close to the end for now.

Our big decision currently is whether or not we will really take the ferry to the mainland to visit Penang. Monday and Tuesday are Muslim religious holidays (Hari Raya Qurban) and everything will be closed, so if we go it will be next Wednesday and Thursday. When we return from that trip, it will be time to get ready to sail north to meet Kevin and Claire. It looks like the political situation has been resolved and hopefully they will be able to fly into Bangkok with no problems.

Tomorrow is Friday here and if I take the early morning ferry to the main island, I will be able to buy fresh veggies that are delivered to the dock each Friday morning. So I will start my day doing that and Mark will get the straightened stanchions firmly in place and put our life lines back up. There will be a bit more waxing and more work on plugging the teak deck, but I do think things are slacking off a bit. Maybe we’ll actually get to the beautiful pool here that is oceanside and enjoy the
late afternoon that way.

Day 42, Year 4: More Boat Work

Day 42, Year 4: More Boat Work
Date: Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Weather: Another Really Sunny Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

The sun is still shining and making our outside boat work really hot. Today I got up early and actually went up to the laundry room to do laundry. I always hang my wash on the life lines and they are down right now while we are getting the stanchions repairs. So I spent my early morning hours doing laundry. The only compensation was that the beautiful hornbills were out in the trees right next to the laundry room and I got to watch them up close and personal. After the laundry was washed and
dried, I completed cleaning the teak deck and the handrails on the cabin top and then I switched to cleaning the topsides-the white hull of the boat. I only got one side and the back done, in addition to cleaning the stainless on the windvane steering that hangs off the back of the boat. So one more assault on the starboard side and the outside of the boat will be clean. Then we have to decide whether or not we are going to wax it. Normally we would, but if we are going to have Windbird painted
in February, it wouldn’t be prudent to wax her now. Decisions, decisions.

The problem for the day was the transmission. It has been leaking a bit of transmission fluid, so we figured we needed new seals. But getting our transmission out in order to replace the seals is evidently a major job. A mechanic named Zianol and his two assistants, Nawri and Man (pronounced Mahn) came mid-afternoon and worked until after 5 pm trying to get the transmission out with no luck. Nawri and Man will return tomorrow morning with different tools. If they don’t get it out tomorrow, it
could be a week from now when they return. There is a major Muslim holiday approaching on Decemver 7-9, and the 5th and 10th are state holidays, so let’s just hope things work out in the morning. Mark’s other jobs today were sanding the shower stall and getting it ready to paint and fiberglassing the wooden dinghy engine mount on the stern pulpit. So the work goes on.

There is a boat two slips away from us called Island Nomad. It is a Pacific Seacraft from Texas. This boat was in the Sail Indonesia Rally, but we had never seen it until we arrived here. She is a beauty and we have been admiring her hard dodger and bimini. The owner has gone home, but Mark saw a woman get on the boat today and start the engine. He went over right away and found that it was just someone who starts the engine regularly while the owner is away, but this woman has a husband who
happened to build the dodger and bimini on Island Nomad. Later in the afternoon, Mark the hard dodger builder came over to give us an estimate for doing the same on Windbird. Unfortunately, he is charging Australian prices. As he said, if you want top quality you are going to pay top price no matter where you are in the world. All of the stories of getting cheap, but good work done in Malaysia and Thailand seem to be a thing of the past. We will probably skip having the hard dodger and bimini
made and stick with the canvas enclosure. We will probably have Ben, the canvas maker we met in Langkawi, do this work for us in February.

We heard from Kevin and Claire that there has been a compromise and that the Bangkok airport is slated to reopen in seven to ten days. If that happens, they will still come as planned unless the political unrest continues and it looks too dangerous. Their airline was going to reroute them if the airport is still closed, but if it is open, they probably cannot be rerouted without buying new tickets and that is way too expensive. So we are just going to hope the new agreement sets well with all
factions and that Bangkok is once again safe to enter.

Day 41, Year 4: Boat Work, Boat Work

Day 41, Year 4: Boat Work, Boat Work
Date: Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Weather: Really Sunny Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

The big success of the day was that early in the day, our young neighbor Magnus dove and found our mangled piece of toe rail that went overboard yesterday. So Magnus is our hero of the day. Mark spent part of his day working on the shower stall and it is now ready for paint. He spent the other part of his day getting the Suzuki dinghy motor back in decent running condition. We really need to take the carburetor apart and completely clean it, but I think Mark is still hoping to sell and buy the
new Yamaha. We did learn today that there is a guy in Kuah that sells new and used dinghy motors, so one last hope is that he will take the two old motors in partial trade for a new one. We will go to Kuah on Thursday and check that out.

I spent my entire day cleaning everything in, on, and around the deck. I finished all of the stainless, cleaned the non-skid and all of the cabin top and cockpit, cleaned the canvas covering the cockpit, and got part of the teak deck cleaned. It doesn’t sound like much, but it took me all day in the blaring sun. Where did that overcast, sprinkling weather go? The day was absolutely gorgeous, but it was HOT.

Our newest problem is the political situation in Thailand. Late in the day Mark went up to get on the internet and he found out that the Bangkok airport is closed and will probably not reopen for weeks. At least that is what the Bangkok news is saying. Kevin and Claire are slated to arrive in Bangkok in about two weeks, so I think we might have a problem. From what we can tell, the Phuket airport is open and fine, but who knows if the airlines will allow this change. We haven’t heard from Kevin
and Claire in last couple of days, so we need to get in contact and see what can be done to circumvent Bangkok and still get them here. Almost everyone we know has family and friends flying into Thailand, so everyone is going to be doing a bit of scrambling.

Day 40, Year 4: Back Home at Rebak

Day 40, Year 4: Back Home at Rebak
Date: Monday, November 1, 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful, Partly Sunny Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

We had the greatest Skype conversation with Heather, Jed, and Sam late last night in Pantai Cenang. After a bit of a rough start on our computer, we switched to one of the house computers after we noticed they had webcams hooked up and Skype online. Finally the video from Cape Cod was coming in as clear as we have ever had and the delay in sound was not bad. It was early morning and Sam is quickly recovering from a cold and double ear infection. Jed played with Sam while we talked with Heather and we got to see all the silly antics Sam could cook up. First he put his sock on his hand like a glove and brought that over to the camera for us to see. He and his granddad played sock games everyday while we were home last year, so we’ll pretend he was trying to show us he remembers that. While we talked about a book he has where a turkey puts clothes on the wrong body parts, Sam ran into the other room to get that book. He is a smart little cookie and a busy one. Jed must have been totally worn out when the call was over, but we so appreciate his patience. We really got to watch the “updated” Sam in action. He is growing up fast and we are so anxious to have him on the boat in Thailand in January.

We took a nice long walk on the beach this in Pantai Cenang before returning to Rebak. I mentioned yesterday that it is school vacation here, and there were so many families on the beach early this morning. The Muslim women and young girls go in the water in their clothes with their head scarves on, but the little boys wear bathing suits. But all with squealing with delight when they ran into the water. The beach looked much like Fort Myers Beach, Florida looked before the days of high rises. There is just one beach resort after another with tiki huts on the beach and funky little rental shops here and there. We stopped for a quick breakfast and then drove back to the ferry to return to Rebak.

Once home things started unraveling a bit. The dinghy motor that we thought we had sold was returned. The folks on Milliways wanted it because they thought it would make their dinghy plane, but the old Suzuki needs a carburetor clean out and until that is done, it just doesn’t have full power. So we are glad that we decided not to buy the Yamaha yesterday. We’ll just have to work harder at selling the motors we have and buy the new one later. But the story doesn’t end here. The Suzuki engine was returned to us on Milliway’s dinghy. They just left it tied to our dock so that we could raise it onto Windbird when we returned. I raised the motor and when I was done, I was coiling the line. I didn’t see that Mark had put the twisted piece of aluminum toe rail on the deck just where the line was, and as I coiled the line flipped the piece of toe rail overboard. Having the piece to take into a shop that might be able to refashion it is almost a requirement, so Mark spent the next two hours getting out the dive gear and trying to find the piece. We don’t have a good underwater flashlight and the water was just too murky. He could see nothing and after feeling around in the muck and mud for about 30 minutes, he gave up. Our young neighbor, Magnus, on Lazy Bones was not home today, but his dad says that when he returns tomorrow he would love to dive and try and find the piece for us in return for using our Snuba gear. So we’ll keep hoping we find the piece. As we found yesterday, having the real item is so important as the stainless and aluminum guys need it in front of them to be able to fashion a new one. Oh well, one way or another we’ll get a new piece of toe rail made eventually.

Then, after that fiasco, we realized that we don’t have the parts we need to repair our leaking forward head. We didn’t buy a new electric flush pump yesterday to replace the one we have with a cracked base as a new costs over $500US. We decided to just reinstall the manual pump that used to be in that head. But then when we got home, we realized we had used parts of that pump to repair the pump in the aft head. So Mark is back in Kuah late this afternoon trying to get to Peninsular Marine in time to make a West Marine order. Orders have to be made in person before 5 pm on Monday in order to receive the items the following week. We will be leaving here late next week, so the order had to go in today. If that doesn’t work, we will just buy a whole new head which is almost as cheap. It just seems so wasteful to throw something away that is fine with the exception of one little piece, but that might be the answer.

The one really great thing that happened to day is that our friends, Tory and Piet Hein of Double Dutch are here. They came in late night before last, but we left early yesterday morning. They kept coming to the boat all day yesterday to find us, but finally met up with Barbara and Cory on Increscent Moon who told them we wouldn’t be back until today. And they were leaving today. So as soon as we returned this morning, we read their note and went to visit. As it ends up, they are spending another night here and leaving in the morning, so we will also have dinner with them if Mark ever gets back from his late afternoon trip to Kuah. We often talk about the fact that his repairs seem to get done quickly and my more mundane work of cleaning, cooking, and keeping our sailing records by writing logs and naming the photos seem to never end. But this is one time when the repair jobs seem to be taking a huge amount of time and energy just because so much energy has to go into finding the things you need or finding the right people to do the repairs. But late next week, repairs done or not, we will be preparing to leave Malaysia and head to Thailand.

081201 Day 40 Langkawi, Malaysia–Overnight at Pantai Cenang Beach

Day 39, Year 4: Another Whirlwind Island Tour

Day 39, Year 4: Another Whirlwind Island Tour
Date: Sunday, November 30, 2008
Weather: Beautiful, Sunny Day
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

We did it again. We took the ferry to Langkawi Island intending to do a little boat shopping and then tour the island. But what we ended up doing was being lost most of the day searching for places that weld stainless and aluminum, and well after 4 pm we did another fast drive around the island. This time we drove all the way north and then back south again. It is a tiny island, so it doesn’t take long to get from one end to the other without stops. So we are learning our way around the island and have a feel for the topography, but delving deeper will have to wait for another day.

Here’s what did do. We got off the ferry at 9 am and drove south to Pantai Cenang to find a place to spend the night. After boat shopping and touring, our real reason for today’s trip was to spend the night in Pantai Cenang so we can talk to and see Sam via Skype after 10 pm. There’s no way to get back to Rebak at that time of night, so finding a place to stay was the first item on the agenda. The motel right next to the internet caf� was totally booked for tonight, so we walked up the street a bit and found another place that looked just fine. The more expensive rooms are on the beach side of the street, but we chose the less expensive rooms on the other side of the street, less than $20US per night with a refrig, air con, TV, and fan. Not bad. Once that was done, out next stop was the stainless Your Way shop. I think I mentioned in a previous log that we need to get the stanchions on either side of our gate straightened and reinforced. We followed the directions and didn’t the place, but we ended up at a great overlook where we could see the whole west end of Langakawi. We also met a very friendly Muslim family visiting from the mainland. It is school vacation time here, so the island is crawling with families on holiday. This family was particularly friendly, however, and we met the two little girls (probably seven and eight years old), the little boys (nine, four, and two years old). The mother was nursing the two year-old and we talked to her about our grandson who is close the same age. It is so heart-warming to meet such friendly local people. They always want to know where you are from and how many children you have. When we explain that we have sailed here from America (no one ever knows where we are from if we say the United States) they just can’t quite understand. But we all shook hands and bid farewell, and we continued our search for Your Way Stainless. We finally found it and left the stanchions for repair. We had hoped they would also be
able to fashion a new piece of aluminum toe rail for us, but we had no luck with that. So on to the next stainless shop to see if they could do the job. Again, we followed the directions we had, but we just couldn’t find the place. We drove down the highway, did a legal U-turn (felt like I was in New Jersey), back-tracked, did another U-turn, and went around two more times before finding the place. And, of course, Mr. Teik was not there. He is the owner and man we needed to see, so we left the
twisted piece of toe rail and said we would return later in the afternoon. By the time we reached Kuah it was noon. We stopped at the bakery and drug store, went to Peninsular Marine, the West Marine outlet, to get a new hand pump for our forward head and another fan (it is really hot and humid here), and then went to the Orkid Food Court for lunch. This is where we first had lunch in Kuah with Ben, the canvas guy, and we had another great lunch of Mee Prawn Soup. We made a stop downtown to try and buy some Schweppes’s ginger ale at a little shop where we had seen it a few days ago, but this quickly, they have stopped carrying it. Mark also made a quick stop in a hardware store and then on we went. It was just one of those days when every stop you want to make ended up to be a major expedition.

Finally around 4 pm we headed out of Kuah and drove to the north side of the island. There are breath-taking views, but unfortunately they are shared with huge concrete factories and other evidences of modern life that totally take away the charm. As we drove west across the top of the island, we saw some villages that looked interesting and we stopped at Komplex Kraf Langkawi. Yes, it is a local arts and crafts complex, but it is huge. It looks like a national monument and is full of beautiful things made in Malaysia. We didn’t have time before closing to visit the museums, but the shopping areas felt like a museum. We bought a beautiful batik painting on silk from an artist named Jasni. We loved his work and he was most engaging. Then the trek continued and we finally got back to Pantai Cenang before dark.

I am writing this log in our motel room and will send it from the internet cafe later tonight. It is now time to go out and “forage” for dinner and then we will have our Skype call with Sam and company. I’ll have to report on that in tomorrow’s night log.

081130 Day 39 Langkawi, Malaysia–Langkawi Island Tour

Day 38, Year 4: Surprisingly Busy Day

Day 38, Year 4: Surprisingly Busy Day
Date: Saturday, November 29, 2008
Weather: A Day with No Rain–Yea!
Location: Rebak Marina on Pulau Rebak Besar, Langkawi, Malaysia

We actually made it through an entire day with no rain, and no rain overnight either. Of course, the forecast was for stormy weather, so it seems no one can really predict the weather here right now. We had no major jobs on the list for today, but we have worked hard all day. Mark had to take down the life lines on the port side of the boat in order to get the stanchions on each side of the gate removed. These stanchions were bent in a storm coming from New Zealand to Fiji, and although we had
them straightened once, they have bent again with time. So we need to get them straightened again and get reinforcing bars welded in. I spent part of the day finishing my cleaning of the dinghy and applying the UV protectorant. Once that job was done, I started in on the stainless. It is an easy job when we are at a marina with water. I just brush on the “Grunt”, a product from New Zealand, take a scrubby pad and rub over the stainless, and then use the pressure hose to spray it off. I then
take a towel and wipe done the stainless, and it shines beautifully. In between working on projects outside, I also did a major straightening job on the inside of the boat. I had moved everything from the aft cabin to the v-berth when Mark started his aft shower stall renovation, but the v-berth was a mess and all of the stuff needed to be tidied up. This was precipitated by an early morning visit of a fellow Tayana 42 owner just down the dock from us. I was mortified to think that Barbara might
want to come aboard and see the inside of our boat. So the straightening up process began.

Increscent Moon is a Tayana sailing out of California. Barbara is originally from Poland and Cory is originally from Romania, but both have lived in California for the past twenty years. Barbara came by this morning to say hello to a fellow Tayana owner and she and Cory returned later in the day to visit for a bit. We haven’t visited their boat yet, but it is so much fun to share ideas with people who have the same boat and the same issues as we do. We hope to spend more time with Barbara and
Cory while we are here at Rebak Marina.

As we are learning by being here, Rebak is really a special little place. The beautiful Hornbills fly in to roost in the last afternoon. There are monkeys here, there, and everywhere if you just know where to look. And Brahminy Kites, those majestic eagles that we have chased from Australia all through Indonesia, fly overhead constantly. And although there are no services here, anything you need is no more than a 15-minute free ferry ride and then a 30-minute car ride away. Tomorrow morning
we are leaving on the 8:45 am ferry, renting a car, and taking in stainless in to be worked, going to Kuah to buy a new dinghy engine, new life lines, and who knows what else. If time permits, we will do a bit of the tourist thing, and then return to Pantai Cenang, the touristy beach area close to here, to spend the night. We are doing this so we can go to an internet caf� late tomorrow night to talk with Heather, Jed, and Sam. The wireless internet connection out here on Rebak is just not good
enough for Skype calls, but when we can connect our computer directly to the internet on the main island, we can do a Skype call with video. We talked with Justin and Jo a couple of days ago in Kuah, so we will now hope to make a good connection with Heather, Jed, and Sam. We’ll return to Rebak the next morning and continue our jobs on Windbird.

We got the estimate on painting Windbird today and it was a bit of a shocker. To paint the hull (topsides), the cabin top and cockpit, and the mast and boom will cost $48,000 RM. That’s about $13,000US and way more than we had hoped. The estimate in New Zealand was about $25,000US, and didn’t include the mast and boom, so this is better, but it is certainly more than we have. Yet the job needs to be done, so we will continue to consider this one. I mentioned in the previous paragraph that we
will be buying a new dinghy engine when we go to Kuah tomorrow. The price of a 15-horse Yamaha Enduro here is just hard to pass up, so we are trying to sell the two old dinghy motors we currently have. We think we have our Suzuki sold after only one mention on the local morning net here and we will work harder to sell the other. We really don’t have the room to be toting around two dinghy engines, so it will be nice to have one new one that will hopefully be reliable. We learned when Justin and
Jo were here, that the old motors just don’t move four people very quickly. So with Kevin and Claire, and then Heather, Jed, and Sam coming, the new motor should move us all around easily and quickly.