091026 Year 3 Heading Back to Malaysia
Date: Monday, October 26, 2009
Weather: Fair and 88 degrees F
Location: Los Angles International Airport, USA

Well, here we are in LAX waiting for our 1:00 am flight to Hong Kong. After an eight hour wait in Hong Kong, we travel on to Penang in Malaysia. We take a ferry from Penang out to the island of Langkawi, a taxi across the island, and then another ferry out to Pulau Rebak where our beloved Windbird waits for us. We lose a day when we cross the International Dateline so it will be Thursday evening before we reach Rebak Marina. In the meantime, we will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary with a midnight toast in LA, lunch in Hong Kong, and dinner in Penang. Now just how many people do you know who have spent an anniversary in three countries?

Friends have been emailing us telling us that Windbird looks great, but we have never been away from her for this long and are naturally anxious to get back to see for ourselves. But I must admit that this sailor is having a very hard time leaving family after our wonderful six-plus month visit.  When we started our world voyage four years ago our children were in their late twenties, independent, and had no children of their own. That scene has changed. Now that we have three beautiful grandbabies, traveling half-way around the world to continue our cruising life is more difficult.  We will miss them terribly, but at the same time, we know Windbird is chomping at the bit to make her way home. If all goes well, we’ll be back in US waters in a year and half where traveling to visit family will be much easier and more affordable. Until then, we will depend on email and Skype to keep us connected. I don’t think I could have attempted a circumnavigation fifteen years ago when email was limited and Skype was nonexistent. Even three years ago, finding places with high speed internet capable of sustaining two-way video calls was not easy. I’ll never forget how sad our friends Monika and Felix from Germany were when they returned from a visit home after our Pacific crossing. They were so excited to fly home from New Zealand to see their three-year old twin grandchildren. But when they arrived at the airport in Germany, the twins didn’t recognize them. Monika was heartbroken and made the decision that when she and Felix returned to New Zealand, they made a beeline for the Mediterranean. Cruising the world in your own sailboat is a dream of a lifetime, but without good communication with family, the dream becomes clouded. We feel so lucky to be sailing in a time when the world has truly become smaller through the wonders of modern technology.

Yesterday we connected with Skype video to both of our children and got to see our grandbabies in action. We then spent a quiet evening with my sister Patsy and her husband Joe and my brother Dickie and his wife Conda. They are spending their retirement years in the Carolinas and enjoying the warmer-than-up-north weather there. And while we were there visiting, they made sure we had a wonderful three weeks. They even ordered some summer weather for parts of our visit. My sister’s daughters Janet drove down from Columbus, Ohio and her sister Jennifer and my brother’s son Tommy came to visit during the first week of our stay. Janet was feeling benevolent and let us use her condo on the beach to warm ourselves after the chilly fall weather we had been experiencing on the Cape. The temp was actually in the high 80’s during that weekend and we enjoyed every minute of it. For our second week, Mark’s brother Steve and sisters Mary Ellen and Jeanie, plus Mary Ellen’s husband Lee, drove up from Florida for a visit. We spent two days looking at about a thousand slides from their childhood years and had a great time reminiscing. My nephew Rex from West Virginia and our good friends Kevin and Claire from Virginia drove down for the next weekend and then last week we drove to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit with my niece Jennifer and her family and my nephew Tommy and his family. While there, we drove north to Boone, North Carolina to visit Tommy’s son Josh at Appalachian State. What a beautiful campus set in the mountains. The weather also cooperated. It was a gloriously warm and sunny fall day and the mountains were aglow with fall color. Perfect. We spent most of the last couple of days furiously shopping for Christmas presents to send to our kids and grandkids before leaving. Christmas shopping in October was just a little weird, but the presents were bought, wrapped, and mailed out this morning on the way to airport. I didn’t get to write, “Do Not Open Until Christmas” on the box, but that is a given. So, no peeking.

Now it’s time to slow down. The very long list of things we thought we would get accomplished while home is still a very long list. We spent our time playing with grandchildren instead of thinking about sailing, but as we chase the sun westward, we are slowly refocusing our attention. It’s time to get ready for our passage across the Indian Ocean. So on goes the voyage of Windbird.

091025 Best of Carolina Visit
Day 2, Year 5: LAX to Hong Kong to Penang, Malaysia
Day 53, Year 4: Kuah to Telaga Harbor