Day 2, Year 5: LAX to Hong Kong to Penang, Malaysia

Day 2, Year 5:  LAX to Hong Kong to Penang, Malaysia
Date: Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Weather: Southeast Asia Warm and Rainy
Location: Hotel Malaysia, Penang

We started our Tuesday with a midnight toast in an airport bar in Los Angeles International Airport. It certainly wasn’t a romantic setting, but it was the best we could come up with in the airport terminal. We were sitting on bar stools overlooking renovations to the food court area, both of us with our computers going. I think you get the picture. We then boarded our Cathay Pacific plane at 1:00 am LA time, 4:00 am East Coast time. At that point we had already been up for over twenty hours. We were served dinner just after take off and then tried to sleep. The Cathay seats are much more comfortable than most US airlines, but still we only slept for five hours. We still had eight hours to go, so we filled the time watching movie after movie. We arrived in Hong Kong at 7:00 am and spent the next eight hours working on our computers, reading, eating, and walking. We left Hong Kong at 3:00 pm and at 6:40 pm we arrived in Penang, took a taxi for the 18 kilometer ride into Georgetown, and checked into the Malaysia Hotel. We are exhausted, so we are going to forgo the sushi dinner we had planned. We have to be at the ferry terminal by 7:30 am to catch the ferry to Langkawi, so sleep seems much more important than eating at this point. And besides, we were served dinner our flight from Hong Kong and aren’t hungry anyway. We are just happy to be here and grateful that we had no problems with any of our flights. And miraculously, all our luggage arrived. We had a return ticket on Cathay Pacific from Los Angeles, but purchased Delta flights from Myrtle Beach to LA separately. But Delta checked all four 50+ pound bags straight through to Penang and they made it and we didn’t have to pay anything, so for that we are grateful. Now we are just anxious to get back to Windbird to see how she fared in our absence.

From 091027 Day 1 LAX–Anniversary Toast

Day 1, Year 5: Heading Back to Malaysia

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

US Land Logs 14, Year 4: Cape Cod to North Carolina

US Land Logs 14, Year 4: Cape Cod to North Carolina
Date: Saturday, October 3, 2009
Weather: Rainy & Cool in New England; Sunny & Warm in North Carolina
Location: Calabash, North Carolina

Today was not an easy day. After four and a half months of living with our
daughter, her husband, and our two grandsons, it was very difficult to pack our bags and fly away. At two and a half, Sam is a beautiful bundle of energy, and at three months, Jonah is just getting into the smiley stage and is actually starting to laugh and squeal. We are grateful that we were able to spend the summer with them. The only contact we will have with them over the next nine months or more is video conversations on Skype. That’s certainly not the same as seeing them in person, but it does allow us to see them grow and change. We have been using Skype to keep up with Ziggy, our other beautiful grandson in Santa Fe, and will now use Skype as our ‘lifeline’ to all three grandchildren. Thank goodness for video Skype.

We left New England this morning on a rainy, cool Saturday morning and arrived four hours later in a sunny and warm North Carolina. We couldn’t help be warmed by the North Carolina sunshine even though our hearts were saddened by leaving Sam and Jonah behind. We won’t see them for at least nine months and maybe more. As I have said many times before, being so far away from family for such long periods of time is really the only downside to world cruising for us. But for now we’ll put that out of our minds and spend the next three weeks enjoying time with our brothers and sisters.  Then it will be back to Malaysia to continue the voyage of Windbird. We fly out of Myrtle Beach and arrive in Los Angles on October 26. After a seven hour wait in LAX, we board our Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong and on to Penang in Malaysia in the wee hours of October 27. That’s our anniversary, so we’ll have a midnight toast in Los Angles, lunch in Hong Kong, and arrive in Penang in time for dinner. There’s a great sushi restaurant just down the street from the Hotel Malaysia, so I think it will be sushi for our 35th anniversary.

091009 Year 4 Carolina Visit–Weekend in Myrtle Beach
091015 Year 4 Carolina Visit–Mark's Family Comes to Visit
091017 Year 4 Carolina Visit–Rex and Kevin & Claire Visit
091022 Year 4 Carolina Visit–Trip to Charlotte and Boone
091025 Year 4 Carolina Visit–Best of Carolina Visit
091025 Year 4 Carolina Visit–Last Day in Calabash
101003 Year 4 Ziggy Sept Photo Shoot

US Land Logs 13, Year 4: Fall on Cape Cod

US Land Logs 13, Year 4: Fall on Cape Cod
Date: Sunday, September 26, 2009
Weather: Cool, Fall Weather
Location: East Falmouth, Massachusetts

Fall has come to Cape Cod. We had a wonderful walk in the woods today, and believe it or not, Jonah is now three months old. Sam started attending nursery school two days a week this month. He says he goes to school, so we all go along with that. He seems to love it. Time is just flying by.

090926 Cape Cod–A Walk in the Woods
091003 Cape Cod–Fall

US Land Logs 12, Year 4: Newport Boat Show

US Land Logs 12, Year 4: Newport Boat Show
Date: Friday, September 18, 2009
Weather: Rainy, Then Overcast & Cool in New Port
Location: Newport, Rhode Island

We just couldn’t resist making a trip to the Newport Boat Show. Newport is less than a two hour drive, so off we all went. It was raining cats and dogs on the way over, but leveled off to just an overcast day with just a few sprinkles here and there. We had planned to meet our friends Alan and Helaine Kangesberg there and have either lunch or dinner together. We stayed in touch by cell phone and finally decided to see the show and then relax over dinner.

The show wasn’t as big as ones we have attended in the past, probably due to the lagging economy, but we got enjoyed just being close to that many boats. Sam got a real kick out of being able to get on and off the boats and Mark really enjoyed seeing all the goodies. One of our reasons for going to Newport, however, was not just to see the boat show, but to go to the Armchair Bookstore to look at the cruising guides for the Red Sea, Turkey, Greece, and Croatia. Now that we have decided on that route, we need to buy the books. But they are soooo expensive. We just wanted to see them first to make sure they are worth the purchase.

Heather, Jed, and Sam met us near the bookstore and we stopped to have a little snack while Sam had a nap. This gave us all the energy needed to go back to the show and make the purchases we had decided on–a remote control for the auto pilot, fuel filters, super clothes pins for stainless rails. That was about it. Then we met Alan and Helaine and made our way back to the parking area and then on to a great seafood restaurant on the water at the edge of town. Both Jonah and Sam behaved beautifully, but on Jonah’s part that was partly due to Helaine’s attention. She held him and walked with him and he loved it. Thank you, Helaine.

090918 Cape Cod–Newport Boat Show

US Land Logs 11, Year 4: Kids, Friends, and Decisions

US Land Logs 11, Year 4: Kids, Friends, and Decisions
Date: Saturday, September 5, 2009
Weather: Short Summer-Fall is Here
Location: East Falmouth, Massachusetts

The autumnal equinox is more than a week away, but the weather here on Cape Cod screams of fall. The few hot, hazy days of summer have given way to the cool, clear days of fall. If I added together all the hot summer days we had here on the Cape, I think I would come up with about three weeks, not three months. When it was hot, it was very, very hot, but the rest of the summer was rainy and cool. But despite the strange summer weather, we have had a wonderful time sharing the past four months with our children and grandchildren. When we first arrived in Santa Fe in April, winter was just giving way to spring. We spent time there helping Justin and Jo get a little garden started. And once we arrived here on Cape Cod, we worked with Heather and Jed to plant and harvest a fantastic backyard garden. We have canned and frozen green beans, made a variety of different kinds of pickles with our own dill and cucumbers, made pesto with the most aromatic basil I have ever smelled, eaten fresh kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and lettuce, and enjoyed zucchini in a variety of ways. And we are now just beginning to taste the crop of Brussels sprouts. When we return to Windbird, I’m going to miss walking down the hill to the garden to ‘pick’ dinner. But as the weather changes, green beans give way to pumpkins and winter squash. Just writing the word ‘winter’ makes me shiver, so the time to return to Windbird in Malaysia is drawing near.

Decisions, decisions . . . we have finally set a date for our return to Windbird. We will be leaving Cape Cod the beginning of October, flying to North Carolina to visit with family, and then heading back to Malaysia on October 27. We’ve opted for an earlier return than planned because of our second decision. We are going to leave Thailand in late January/early February and head across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and then through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. We’ve always thought we would make our way home by going around South Africa, but slowly, slowly we have changed our minds. Nothing is set in stone, but we think this is our plan of action.

Many of you emailed when I posted my Ode to Sylvie. I’m still having great difficulties believing she is actually gone, but a phone call from Doug who is now back in Port Vila, Vnuatu, made it all so real. We spent our time talking about his future, but we are all still grieving for Sylvie. In an email this week Doug wrote:

“What’s happened since then (Sylvie’s death) has been a 3-week long police investigation involving local Vanuatu criminal investigators, this because her death was not due to natural causes and the substance MMS she had ingested was deemed illegal for promotion and sale as a medical remedy by the person she bought it from. Australian joint command investigators, who aid in law enforcement in Vanuatu, also became involved. That led to a court order, and eventually to a senior pathologist being flown from Melbourne (Australia) to Port Vila (Vanuatu) to conduct a post mortem autopsy. That occurred two weeks ago. Then — with her son and daughter’s agreement — we arranged to fly her body from Vanuatu to New Zealand for cremation because it could not be done in Vanuatu. Last week I accompanied her body to Auckland by plane, was present for the cremation, and arranged to have her ashes sent to her daughter Aretha in Mexico City. The ashes arrived in Mexico City on Tuesday this week. I’m now back on Windcastle in Port Vila. And we await the results of the autopsy which will come from Australia’s Victorian Institute for Forensic Medicine in Melbourne, sometime in the weeks to come. I’m also dealing with the need to secure our boat against the approaching cyclone season, which may mean sailing it to another country . . . My heart is absolutely crushed by the sudden loss of my dear wife Silvia. It’s so shocking I can hardly believe it. I miss her immensely. Windcastle is empty without her presence. And I know for sure that all of her relatives, friends, and acquaintances, are equally if not more shocked to know that she is gone, and will never be with us again. But like we all know, she will live on forever in our hearts and memories, for she brought so much joy and happiness into the world — and for us who knew her well, and virtually everybody else who came in contact with her, her bright smile and hearty laughter will be remembered forever. The night before her death she had made a big hit with the local Vanuatu villagers in Lamen Bay (Epi Island) where we were at the time, because they found her to be such a charming, outgoing, and loving women, especially to their little children — she was even busy in the village that evening teaching those little girls and boys how to dance. I’ve been told that the villagers have already made a little shrine there to remember Silvia by. As her daughter said to me in an email two days after her death, her mom is now with her God, in Heaven, ‘Teaching the angels how to dance.’ That is one of the many ways I’ll remember Sylvie, who had become the love of my life.” Just the thought of Sylvie teaching the angels to dance brings smiles to my face and lifts a little of the burden of her death from my heart.”

But life must go on and Sylvie’s death reminded us of just how much we miss the people we have met in during our voyage. We keep in fairly regular contact with a few cruising friends and long to hear from those that have sailed out of our lives. We will spend the next month preparing to leave here. Physically getting ready to leave is easy, but mentally getting ready to leave our grandbabies is a much harder task. But by going through the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, we will be within visiting distance by May and at least that is a comforting thought.

So here’s a photo summary of August on Cape Cod, minus the photos from Justin, Jo, and Ziggy’s visit. Those are posted with the August 24 log.

090826 Cape Cod–Jonah's Second Month
090829 Cape Cod–Trip North to Kennebunkport