Day 175, Year 4: A Little Too Optimistic

Day 175, Year 4: A Little Too Optimistic
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Weather: Rain Overnight; Partly Sunny Day
Location: The Malaysia Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

When I reread last night’s log, I had to laugh. I said we were almost ready to go and at that point I thought we were. But at 1:15 this afternoon I was still cleaning as Mark was carrying the luggage to the ferry dock where we were to catch the 1:30 ferry to Langkawi. I also said I’d write another log before leaving the marina. That’s even funnier. I thought we were leaving the marina at 3:30, but Mark thought that was cutting it too close. So the decision was made to leave at 1:30 giving me
two less hours to get things done. So my optimism from last evening faded away. Even though I started my day very early, I had to work every second as hard as I could to make the deadline. Mark had changed the engine oil and fuel filters yesterday, but we had to clean out the water tanks this morning and clean out the refrig and freezer and find a new home for all the food. I got up very early to go do the last laundry. It was so early in fact that it was still dark out and the electricity hadn’t
been turned. I found a security guard who showed me how to turn on the power and had the laundry washed and well on its way to being dried by 8:30 a.m.

Noel Bradley, the man who will look after Windbird while we are gone, came over to run through the twice monthly maintenance routine. Windbird is all wrapped up in silver tarps and that lovely red and white candy-striped sun shade. She looks secure but just a little on the tacky side. It was the best we could do with the materials available, but when we go back to Phuket next year, we will definitely have a classy cover made to match her new good looks. After Noel left, it was the ‘little’ things
that needed to be done that took so much time. Mark couldn’t close the sea cocks until I was finished using water, and I’m sure he thought I was never going to be done. But the bottom line is that we did do it. We are both beat from working so hard in the heat the past four days, but right now we are sitting in an air conditioned Starbucks at the Ferry Terminal waiting for our 5:15 ferry to the mainland. We should be in our hotel room by 8 pm and then up at 5 am so we can get to the airport for
our 8 am flight. It takes about an hour to get from downtown Penang to the airport, so it will be another early morning. Both of us are looking forward to getting on the plane and sleeping all the way to Hong Kong and then all the way to LA.

So it is time to say farewell to this cruising season and to so many good friends. To all of you who read these logs and send comments from time to time, we will miss you. We can only receive those comments when we are in a port with internet and it is so exciting when we do check and receive your messages. It is wonderful to hear from the folks back home. Cheryl, I’m really hoping to meet you this year while we are home. And Rich, I finally got those pictures of that Pacific Seacraft that
we admired back in November when we first arrived at Rebak Marina. The boat’s name is Island Nomad and she is our berth buddy while we are gone. Her captain, Dennis, and his wife Judy left yesterday. I’ll send those photos to you when we reach New Mexico. Judith, we think of you often and do hope to see you again when we visit friends in Concord. Alan and Helaine, you are always there with information and words of encouragement. We really appreciated your email today. To good friends back
home from NHPR-Scott, Doreen, and Beth, and to friends of mine from years with the Concord School District-Linda and Michael, Tom and Detta, Barbara and Chris, among others–we love hearing from you and can’t wait to see you while we are in the USA. And there are a few of you who continually send us technical information when needed-Stephen, Michael, Larry, David, Bob. We do so appreciate your advice and expertise. Last but not least are our sailing buddies out here. We check in on their websites
and they check in on ours from time to time to see just where in the world we are. The internet helps to bring us all together.

To my daughter Heather and her husband Jed, thank you for all the things you do for us to keep us going. Heather receives all our mail and deals with the financial end of things back home. To our son Justin and his wife Jo, thank you for all you to in keeping the website up and running. It was Justin’s idea to do this blog and the blog is his design. So it is really Justin that makes our communication possible. My sister Patsy and my sister-in-law Sue are two of my most dedicated readers and
they keep us up-to-date on what’s happening back home. And then there are the lurkers that we never hear from but we know you are there. I think my brother’s friend, Wade, is at the top of the lurker list. There have been a few times when he has read our log even before my sister and he keeps my non-computer user brother informed of our activities. A big heap of thanks and appreciation all of you.

Update: We are now in Penang. We had a moment of fear when we first arrived with our four huge bags, two backpacks, and one carry-on. The ferry was unloading from the top deck and we were one below. But finally a crew member saw our situation and magically opened a door through which our suitcases could be hoisted up to ground level. The ferry terminal here is not modern and fancy like in Langkawi. We were deposited on a dirt landing with no terminal. We carried the bags through puddles of
water to a ‘hole in the wall’ where we did find taxis. A wonderful man who spoke good enough English got us to our hotel and made sure we had a room before leaving us. We love Thailand but the language barrier there is huge. Here, almost everyone speaks some English, so it is much easier to get information. We checked-in, got a wireless username and password, and headed out to dinner. We know almost nothing about Penang because we have had no time to do research, but I check my handy Lonely
Planet and found a great Japanese restaurant only a block away. We were in a mood to celebrate and ate and drank our way through almost $100 US in sushi, sashimi, and Sapporo. That was quite a splurge for us, but it went a long way towards reviving us. So New Mexico here we come!

I will post a log in Hong Kong tomorrow if there is wireless, which I would think there will be and then not again until Saturday or Sunday when we arrive in New Mexico. So until then . . .

090415 Day 175 Langkawi, Malaysia–Leaving Malaysia

Day 174, Year 4 Happy Birthday to My Brother Dickel

Day 174, Year 4 Happy Birthday to My Brother Dickel
Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Weather: Partly Sunny Day with Threatening Dark Clouds
Location: Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia

Since I am never exactly sure how old I am, I am guessing that my brother is 74 today. He was twelve when I was born and immediately became my surrogate parent. My mom and dad were in their 40’s and had “been there, done that” with four other children. So my brother Dickel did some of the important things like taking me drag racing in his 1955 red and white Chevy and then walking me to school on my first day. So Dickel, I hope you had a great birthday. I love you so much and look forward to seeing you soon when we return home.

We spent our day working, working, working to get Windbird ready to leave. We are almost there. We left her in New Zealand for only a couple a months that first year. Year Two ended in Australia and we left Windbird for almost six months. Year Three is ending in Malaysia and we will be leaving Windbird here for more than seven months. The climate here is more intense and the preparation is equally as intense. But we are almost there. We have traveled many miles since leaving Boston in October of 2005. Each cruising season has had its own flavor, but I must say that this year has been totally unbelievable. We started with a two month trek up the east coast of Australia and across to the top to Darwin. We then spent three fantastic months in Indonesia and ended with a month in Singapore. We then traveled north to Langkawi in Malaysia and then on to Thailand. We had wonderful visits with friends Kevin and Claire and then by our daughter Heather, her husband Jed, and our grandson Sam. We have enjoyed every minute of the past 340 days but we are now looking forward to our trip home. We just can’t wait to meet our second grandest child, Ziggy, in person. And after that, we travel to Cape Cod to be there for the arrival of Sam’s brother or sister in late June. Life doesn’t get much better than this. I will post one last farewell log tomorrow before we leave Rebak and then I hope to post weekly logs until we return to the cruising life late next fall.

Day 173, Year 4 Mission Impossible More Possible

Day 173, Year 4 Mission Impossible More Possible
Date: Monday, April 13, 2009
Weather: Beautiful Day; No Rain Yet
Location: Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia

Mission Impossible is looking a little more possible. We had a good day and we will need another good day tomorrow to make our goal. We did have a Skype call with Justin, Jo, and Ziggy this morning. They are home and doing well. We got a couple of Skype pictures of Ziggy with his eyes open and we got to hear him cry out for the first time. Unfortunately Skype photo quality is not always good enough to post. But it won’t be long now until we are there and will have some good quality photos to
send along.

That’s it for today.

Day 172, Year 4 Mission Impossible

Day 172, Year 4 Mission Impossible
Date: Sunday, April 12, 2009
Weather: Beautiful Day; Rain Late in the Evening
Location: Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia

We had an early morning motor to Rebak and launched into a flurry of activity. First we lowered the headsail, the only sail we have been carrying from Phuket, and took it up to the platform area to fold. Then then lowered the anchor to the dock and then got the anchor chain out of the chain locker and laid it out on the dock to be washed down along with the extra anchor rope we have in the chain locker. Next we washed down the boat to get the salt water off. It was way past lunch time when we
finished these chores, and then after lunch I cleaned the dinghy and sprayed it with UV protectorant. Mark sprayed down the anchor chain and the rope. It doesn’t sound like much, but each of these little jobs takes a lot of time. It was late afternoon before we got the dinghy hoisted up onto the cabin top and by early evening, it was time to put the anchor chain back in the locker. It was late and we were tired and Mark made the decision to hoist the anchor from the dock to the deck without me
on the dock to guide the anchor. I was in the chain locker flaking chain not aware of his decision when I head a thud and knew the anchor had hit the bow of the boat. Sure enough, we have a lovely gouge right on the bow just below the new stainless bow protector. I probably don’t have to tell you how upset this made both of us. Not sure what we will do about, but a good night’s sleep will probably improve our thinking.

The wonderful surprise of the day was an unplanned Skype call from Heather while we were at the the Hard Dock Cafe eating dinner. I had the computer with me to send Easter cards to Sam and Ziggy and while sending the cards, Heather called. We got to see Sam get the goodies out of his Easter bucket. We also got to see Jed’s parents who are visiting over the holiday weekend. What a special treat from so far away. And we even got to watch Sam as Heather checked her email and opened the card we
had sent to Sam. It is unbelievable that within ten minutes, I could send an e-card and then actually watch my grandson open it and took Skype photos of him doing this. Sam smiled and when the song accompanying the card ended, he signed for more. The internet is really unbelievable.

Tomorrow morning we hope to have another Skype call with Justin and Jo on their Easter Sunday evening. They should be home and it will be great to see Ziggy again and get an Easter photo of him. I’ll have to post the grandson pics with tomorrow night’s log.

In the meantime, we still have soooooooooo much to do. The inside of the boat has become a disaster area and it is now time to straighten that, cover the boat, and pack. I know we will make it, but right now it seems almost impossible.

Day 171, Year 4 Meeting Ziggy Via Skype

Day 171, Year 4 Meeting Ziggy Via Skype
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Weather: Beautiful Sunny Day
Location: Telega Harbor, Langkawi, Malaysia

We rushed to shore this morning to make a Skype call to Justin, Jo, and Ziggy, but the connection here was just not good enough. So Mark, Donna and Gerry of Scot Free II, and I headed to Kuah. Once there, Mark and I went to an internet café that we had once before used to make a successful video Skype call to Justin and Jo. It worked and we got to see our grandson for the first time. He and his momma have been through a pretty traumatic experience, but both are looking great. Ziggy is still
sleeping a lot and having a bit of difficulty latching on to nursing, but the hospital staff has been very supportive and Justin and Jo are incredibly positive which is wonderful after such an ordeal. Ziggy should be allowed to go home tomorrow and things will probably improve ten-fold once they are home. Our thoughts are with them every minute of the day and we can’t wait to see them in a week when we arrive in New Mexico.

We did more shopping for essential parts in Kuah in the late morning and then headed north out of town.. We were looking for a dinghy repair shop where we could buy dinghy drain-hole plugs. We found the shop and bought the plug that we will use to plug a leaking through-hull. We drove north on the east side of island to a place called The Hole in the Wall. We didn’t actually go there as it required a boat ride, but we did have a great lunch on the dock. We had a bit of a set-back on the way
home as we had a flat tire. But there was a spare in the trunk, so we made it home just fine. Mark and I launched into a late afternoon frenzy of work and will move the boat to Rebak Marina in the morning. We are working hard, but we think we can get everything ready by Wednesday. I’m sure that is optimistic, but we will be ready, one way or another.

Day 170, Year 4 Arrival in Malaysia

Day 170, Year 4 Arrival in Malaysia
Date: Friday, April 10, 2009
Weather: Beautiful Sunny Day with Late Afternoon Clouds
Location: Telega Harbor, Langkawi, Malaysia

We had a much better day today motoring from Ko Lipe to here. The winds were right on the nose again but at least the seas were flat and the winds were light. We went directly into the marina to the fuel dock to fill our tanks. Most cruisers believe that you should leave your tanks totally full to reduce condensation. So we have that job done. We then rented a car and took our Monitor windvane to Kuah to the second hand shop to be sold, bought a suitcase, and a new phone card for Malaysia. At the second hand shop we bought this ghastly red and white candy striped sun cover for Windbird. We had hoped to find good tarps here, but they just don’t exist. So we’ll be all set for Christmas when we return next December-green and white boat, red and white sun cover. The sun cover is a disposable item so at least it is not a permanent addition to Windbird. We have lots more to do in town, but almost everything was closed by the time we got there today. We had forgotten that in Malaysia Friday is the day off and Saturday and Sunday are working days. After we run around in the morning making other purchases, we will move the boat to Rebak to her new home for the next few months. So little time and so much to do.

The really exciting thing is that we are sitting in the lobby of the marina here and are on the internet. We got to see the first photos of our new grandson Ziggy and he is beautiful. And actually Jo looked great after her long ordeal. A photo of Ziggy will be posted with the log from two days ago introducing Ziggy. So if you want to see the world’s newest beautiful baby, take a peak.