Thursday, August 11, 2011

Final Blog of sv Linda

August 11, 2011—At last I sat down to write my final blog. I have been putting it off but finally realized that it is time.

We have been very busy since we returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have enjoyed seeing family--Steve's mom Zelda, James (left), and Tim (right), as well as our friends. Steve has already been busy working on our home, and we have done some traveling too. We are happy to be back in New Mexico with all its wonderful food and the great climate. We are excited to be here for the fall, which is our favorite time of year, especially when the Hatch green chili harvest arrives.

We hope during the coming year to visit some of the wonderful cruising friends that we met along our journey. We often talk about our experiences during the seven years that we were on sv Linda and the one thing that was constant was the cruising community and how special it was. Without exception cruisers were always ready to assist in any way necessary to help someone in need. They unselfishly shared spare parts, knowledge, and moral support.

Some of the cruisers that we met are continuing on, and some, like us, have decided not to. To those who are continuing on we wish you safe sailing and many more fascinating experiences. The countries we visited and the local people that we met were always so inspiring. Where ever we went, we were greeted with big smiles and a request to have a picture taken with us. The people were so gracious and generous, and we always felt welcome. To those who are now landlubbers like us, we wish you the best.

A few days before we left Malaysia, we hoisted all our cruising and yacht club flags and took our last pictures of our lovely old boat. We thought that you might enjoy seeing them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Settling in back in Albuquerque

July 28, 2011--We have been pretty busy since we returned home on July 7. My Goddaughter Megan and her husband Greg were married on July 9. Brie, Riley, and Drue flew in for the ceremony, and it was a treat to see the girls together again as they have known one another since they were born.The ceremony was beautiful, and everything went perfectly, and we were were very happy to be home for this special occasion. Megan's sister Alissa is on the left, then Drue, Brie, Riley, and Megan.
On July 14 I met Vanessa, who babysat for me when my girls were very young, for lunch. She had seen my blog and recognized me so she left me a message. I have not seen her in a long time, but we picked up as though it were only yesterday. She is a beautiful young woman who is married with two children of her own, and it was such a special treat to see her again. We promised to keep in touch and see each other more often.

Steve's nephew Jonathan and his wife Erin were married in Easton, Maryland, on July 17. Steve, his mom, and I flew to Maryland on Friday and were able to enjoy dinner with Jon and Erin at a restaurant situated on the waters of Chesapeake Bay.

We enjoyed an afternoon visit to St. Michael's, which is a small community by the water. There were wonderful shops and restaurants with great food. Crab is plentiful in the area so we enjoyed crab sandwiches for lunch. We walked around for awhile and did our part to support the local community. In the evening we enjoyed meeting the wedding party and family members at the rehearsal dinner.
On Sunday we drove to Oxford, which was an even smaller community. As it was Sunday, most shops were closed, but we still enjoyed driving around and looking at the lovely homes. We also found two boat yards, one of which was a yard that built Hinkley sailboats. At lunch time, we stopped at a restaurant on the water with a lovely deck. The sea breeze felt nice, and we enjoyed watching the sailboats leaving the marinas for an afternoon sail. It did make us a bit nostalgic.

Sunday afternoon the wedding was held at The Oaks, which is a beautiful old home that is now used for private functions. An arbor was set up very close to the water on a large area of grass, and there were large trees so the setting was really lovely. The ceremony was beautiful and Jon and Erin make a lovely couple. We were again so happy to be able to share in such a special event.

We have gotten right back into life on shore as we each have a car and a cell phone. Right now we are busy working on our home, which we plan to completely renovate. First, we need to rebuild a shed in the back yard so that Steve can have a woodworking shop, and we also have quite a bit of landscaping work to do. That should keep us busy for awile.
I will travel with our younger daughter Drue to southern Michigan the first week of August where she will get settled in and ready to begin medical school at Michigan State--that will be exciting. the next big event will be in December when our older daughter Brie is expecting a boy, and we will go to San Diego to help Brie, Tim, and our precious Riley welcome a new member of the family.

I will post my last blog next week, and that will be a very difficult one to write.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Long Trip Home

July 10, 2011--Our trip home was a challenge, to say the least. We repacked our bags the night of July 5 for the last time. We had to fit some clothes and other personal items that we had been using. This meant, of course, that we ended up having to shift some weight from some bags to other bags. We spent another three hours rearranging items until each of our NINE bags weighed no more than 50 pounds. Thank heavens for the scale that Wendy and Gary lent us. We thought that we would be bored our last day in Malaysia, but that was not the case.

The next day we got ready to leave, and then James picked us up at noon to take us to lunch along with Gary and Wendy. We ate at Lido's Restaurant where we enjoyed delicious fish, steamed potato leaves, pork, and rice. We had heard so much about this restaurant and how good the food was--it was the truth.

After lunch James dropped us off at the Star Shuttle Company, and we drug our nine bags plus four carry-on bags into the lobby. The people working at the counter could not believe how much baggage we had. Luckily, they did not charge us any extra for excess baggage. Our bus was about 30 minutes late in departing; however, the bus driver made excellent time so we arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport around seven that evening. We had to get two trolleys in order to move all the baggage and finding an empty elevator became quite a feat, but we finally managed to nab an empty one that had enough room for the two of us.

We had to stand in line for about an hour before we could check in, and unloading our nine bags at the counter became another interesting exercise. We had to pile all nine bags on the scale at the same time in order to weight them, so we had a very large pile sitting on the conveyor belt. When the agent finally figured out the charge for our excess baggage, it came to $750--ouch, that hurt!

After that ordeal we walked to Burger King where we enjoyed a Whopper with fries. It tasted so good and would help to hold us over until our next meal.

We went to the gate and tried to relax until our flight, which left at 10:50 p.m. We boarded on time and found our seats. We were carrying Steve's guitar so I had to ask the flight attendant if I could put it in a safer place than the overhead compartment. She was very helpful and placed it in the closet with the flight crew's jackets.

Our flight from KLIA to Tokyo took about seven hours. We had two seats together so it was not too bad, and the flight was not very full either. When we arrived in Tokyo, however, we were still pretty stiff from sitting for so long. Our first stop was to find the day room that we had booked for seven hours. We checked in and found the room to be very clean with two beds and a bathroom including a shower. We immediately climbed into bed and slept for the next four hours.

Around noon we got up and left to find some lunch. We found a bar that had food so we decided to have teriyaki chicken with noodles and rice. The food was delicious, and the cold beer tasted very good. We were a bit surprised by the cost of $40. It was good, but not that good.

Our next stop was at the American Airlines counter to see if we could get an isle seat for the leg from Tokyo to Dallas. The seats we had were the two center seats in a row of four, and we hoped to get one on the isle. We had no luck with that; however, the agent advised us that we could upgrade to business class. The amount was more than we wanted to spend, but Steve and I decided that it would be worth it for the 11-hour flight to DFW.

Knowing that we would be able to sleep on the next flight, we returned to our room, showered, and got dressed. We checked out two hours early and went to the Admiral's Club to enjoy WIFI, some food, and a drink.

At 5:30 p.m. we boarded the plane and settled into our wonderfully comfortable and wide seats. We spent the next 11 hours enjoying movies, a great dinner, and a glass of wine. We were able to sleep for several hours, and that made all the difference in the world.

We arrived in Dallas at 3:50 p.m. on July 7 and had just two hours before our flight left for Albuquerque. We went through Immigrations with no problems and proceeded to baggage claim to get our bags. We grabbed two trolley; however, they were smaller than the ones at KLIA, so we were worried about getting all nine bags on them. It took quite awhile for us to collect all of the bags, but they did fit, and as soon as we had them all, we went to Customs. We expected questions about so many bags so I had typed up a list of the contents of the bags in case the agent asked us. The Customs agent we got was very pleasant. We explained why we were returning to the states and why we had so many bags. All he asked was if we had any food. When we told him that we did not, he let us continue on. Thank goodness we didn't have to unload any of the bags. We never would have been able to repack them the same way.

We quickly rechecked our bags and headed for Terminal A to catch our flight. We had to wait just 30 minutes before we started boarding. There was a contingent of soldiers from Fort Hood, and I asked one of them if they were leaving or returning home. He told me that they were going to Albuquerque for some training and would then head to Afghanistan for another tour. When he told me that, I thanked him for his service.

Our last flight was just over an hour, and when we landed in Albuquerque, we were very ready to be done. We went out to the curb with our carry-on bags to wait for James and Zelda to pick us up. Steve then proceeded to pick up the bags two at a tiime and bring them out to the curb. Just as he finished with the last bags, James drove up in our truck, and we loaded all the bags into the back.

It felt so good to be home again. The mountains were beautiful as the sunset shone on them, and there were big thunder clouds all around. The weather was warm but not uncomfortable, and we enjoyed the ride home and caught up on the latest happenings.

We have spent the past few days trying to get over our jet lag and to adjust to being back in the states. We are waking up at four in the morning and can hardly stay awake by the afternoon, but things will improve over the next few days.

I plan to post one or two more blogs during the next few weeks, so keep checking in with us.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sale of sv Linda

July 6, 2011--On July 3, 2011, we finalized the sale of sv Linda. We fly out of Malaysia tonight and will arrive home on Thursday, July 7. I will post one or two more blogs with details of our last few weeks here at Pangkor Island.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Offer on sv Linda

June 22, 2011--The latest news is that we have received, and have accepted, an offer on sv Linda. Now we are waiting for the sea trial and survey to be done on July 2 and 3. We have spent our time taking care of a few last minute small jobs; but, other than that, she is in fine shape.

Last week James’ wife Ling drove four of us ladies to town to get a shampoo and cut. The salon turned out to very nice, and the man who cut my hair did a fine job. All of us were a bit surprised, however, at the price. My cut (no shampoo) was 22 RM—that amounts to about $9. Now that may sound like a bargain, but for this part of the world it is a bit pricey.

We continue to go to lunch every few days with Gary, Wendy, and James. We have found a bakery that has amazing baguettes, egg tarts, blueberry cheese tarts, and rolls; but, actually, we are trying not to go there too often as all the good food is beginning to take a toll. We also found a great restaurant called Foos Steak House that has wonderful steak sandwiches on homemade bread.

We took the ferry across to Pangkor Island with Gary and Wendy for lunch one day, only to find that our favorite restaurant was closed. We decided to eat at another one of the local eateries, and we enjoyed soup, chicken and rice, noodles, and barbecued pork. The food was very good, and we were pleased until we received the bill. The total was 58 RM, which is about $18. We questioned the bill, and, luckily, the woman had written the amounts down on a piece of cardboard. Instead of 4.50 RM for the chicken and rice, she wrote 45 RM. We pointed out the mistake, saying that it was the most expensive chicken and rice we had had in Malaysia. All the people working in the restaurant laughed, and the one man who spoke English said that it was a mistake. We knew that it wasn’t, but we just smiled, paid our bill, and left.

We have cleaned out and packed up most of our belongings that will go home with us. James has been gracious enough to let us store our bags—all eight of them—in a room in the office. The only problem with packing things up is that no sooner have we cleared it out than Steve needs a tool or something else to finish up a chore. The two ladies in the office, Akina and Azira, are very good natured about our coming in to get something out of a bag and then returning it to the bag the next day. The three dock workers, Shar, Adam, and Bear, are also very helpful with anything we might need.

Now we will just wait until the first weekend of July. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly, and then we will fly home on July 7.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Good Fishing in Malaysia

June 12, 2011—It has been busy for the past few weeks. As we work on the boat, we keep finding little things that need some work. The temperature has become even warmer so we are even more grateful to have the air conditioner. Any outside work, such as putting Cetol on the caprail or cleaning the decks, is done before nine o’clock. After that the surface of the caprail or the deck becomes too hot to work on.

We have unloaded all the aft lockers, and then Steve cleaned them and put on a new coat of paint so now they look very nice. We also took out all the sails and made sure that they were clean and had no mold on them. We then neatly repacked each locker. We also spent some time cleaning out the bilge, which had become a bit dirty.

I have spent quite a bit of time packing items that we will be taking home into suitcases. James, the marina manager, has been kind enough to let us store the bags in a locked room at the office. This has allowed us to move any unnecessary items from the boat to reduce the clutter. Before we leave, we will have to weigh the bags, as they have to be less than 50 pounds, and redistribute items as necessary.

One day about a week ago, James asked Steve if he would like to go fishing, which he did. Steve, Gary, Daniel, and Daniel’s oldest son all hopped on board. They left around 5:30 in the evening and returned around 9 o’clock. Steve had caught a lovely Queen fish, which is a nice, white meat fish. All together the guys caught 40 small tuna. We immediately set up a barbeque to cook the fish. Wendy brought some salad, I contributed some bread, and we all enjoyed a lovely meal. Some of the tuna became sushi, which as excellent. Daniel’s wife Hiro brought seaweed to wrap the rice in, and when you added some tuna, it was excellent.

On June 5, all the cruisers on the dock were invited by Mr. Ding, a part owner in the marina, to his grandson’s first birthday party. We first met Mr. Ding at the Methodist church on Easter Sunday when we learned that his son’s wife had passed away recently leaving his son with a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old boy. The son and his children live with Mr. Ding and his wife, and they seem to be a very close family.

Mr. Ding had arranged the dinner party at the Bar Restaurant, which is on the second floor of the main building and overlooks the ocean. We have seen some beautiful sunsets from there, and that evening was lovely as well. We enjoyed the traditional food of fried rice, fried noodles, prawns, fried chicken strips, small hot dogs, watermelon, and pineapple. Mr. Ding also brought some other wonderful fruit, of which I cannot begin to remember the names, to our table for us to enjoy. To finish it all off, we enjoyed a cream cheese birthday cake.

A couple of days ago we joined Gary, Wendy, and James and went to Fat Man’s Curry Restaurant. Now the name would imply that it has Indian food, but, actually, it is a Chinese restaurant that is owned by a large Chinese man and his wife. We enjoyed wild boar in red wine sauce, bok choy, and a tofu dish, along with rice and a local beer. It was all very good, and we were especially surprised at how good the boar was.

It is overcast today, which helps a bit with the heat, but the humidity is definitely higher. The night before last we had quite a bit of thunder and lightning during the evening, but, luckily, the wind never blew very hard. Last night we again had a bit of rain, but nothing very significant.

We plan to return to the states the first week of July, and we will just wait to see if anything happens with the boat. We may take a quick trip somewhere, but it all depends on the schedule with the boat. Things are pretty low key right now, but I guess that it won’t kill us to take it easy for awhile.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Out and About in Malaysia

May 24, 2011--I can’t believe that it is already May 24, and that I haven’t written a blog since May 11.

On Mother’s Day we went up to The Bar Restaurant and were surprised to see that they were offering a Set Meal that included pumpkin soup, a quarter roasted chicken with potato wedges and mixed vegetables, watermelon for dessert, and a fruit drink. We paid a total of 30 RM or $15 USD, and the meal was delicious, plus we were able to enjoy a lovely sunset from our outdoor table.

On Friday, May 13 we decided to take the ferry from Marina Island to Lumut for lunch. We boarded the ferry at 11 a.m. and arrived at Pangkor Island just in time to get on the ferry to Lumut. Before we left, we looked out the window and saw this monitor lizard swimming up to the boat. As we pulled away from the dock, Steve said that he watched the lizard actually running across the water trying to catch a bird. The whole trip took us about 30 minutes. We left the ferry terminal and walked to Jook’s Bar (the yachties call it Duke’s) where we enjoyed a steak sandwich on a baguette roll, French fries, and a cold beer. We had planned to spend the afternoon in Lumut, but it was so hot that we gave up after two hours and returned to the ferry to head back to the boat and the air-conditioning.

On May 20 we decided to go to Penang for our belated anniversary gift. We left the boat and took a taxi into Lumut where we caught the Internasional bus up to Butterworth. It was a three-hour ride that turned into a five-hour ride because the air-conditioner fan belt broke, so we had to wait in Kuala Kangsar for the mechanic to replace the belt. We took advantage of the time to eat some lunch at one of the stalls, and the food was quite good. We had chicken and pineapple in curry sauce over rice.

We arrived in Butterworth and walked from the bus station to the ferry station that was right next door, and we were able to get on the ferry immediately and enjoyed the ride across the channel to Penang. We have sailed in this channel twice on our boat and have had to dodge these ferries both times. In the picture I took on board the ferry a bird flew through the passenger level just as I clicked the shutter.

We arrived in Penang and walked to the taxi stop where we were immediately hussled into a waiting taxi and driven to the Traders Hotel Resort. As this was our anniversary celebration, we decided that a stay in a five-star resort would be nice. The hotel was beautiful, and we were pleased with our room. The pool was lovely, and we spent each afternoon relaxing there and reading our books.

We had seen much of Penang on our way through in November, so we just enjoyed a relaxing weekend. We went back to our favorite restaurant—Restauran Kapitan—each day for lunch because the Indian food there is exceptional. We enjoyed Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken Curry, and Kabobs with assorted meat on them. They also serve Naan, which is a type of flat bread that is wonderful, and you can order it plain, with butter and garlic, or one of seven other flavors.

One evening we went to the Hawkers Stalls just up the street where we enjoyed roast duck and rice with a cold beer. There were so many stalls offering so many different dishes that it was hard to choose. The area was filled with locals and tourists who were enjoying their evening meals.

On Sunday night we went to the eight-story mall next door and saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It cost us 28 RM or $9 USD, and we got to sit in a “couples” seat. We had arrived a little early so we went into a room where people were sitting on couches watching previews until their movie was scheduled to start. We thought that was a novel idea.

On Monday we took the ferry back over to Butterworth and caught our bus back down to Lumut. We grabbed dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken and took the taxi back to Marina Island. It was nice to get away for a few days, but it was also nice to return home.

We have a few additional jobs that we need to address on the boat, and we want to finish them during the next two weeks. After that, all the work that we feel needs to be done will be finished, and we can relax a bit.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

sv Linda Brokerage Listing

May 11, 2011--The web page that lists Linda for sale is now online. I have included the link at the bottom right-hand side. Our listing can be found with the 40-foot yachts, and there are great pictures as well as information regarding her inventories. The listing is at

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Preparing the Boat in Pangkor, Malaysia

May 7, 2011--We have spent the past three weeks working hard on the boat. We spent several days preping and then repainting the non-skid on the decks and coach roof. We also washed all the exterior canvas, cleaned out closets and cabinets, buffed the interior teak, and did a lot of general cleaning. Steve spent a whole day rewiring the engine, because after 13 years in the marine environment, it was needed.

James, who is the marina manager here, has been very helpful. If we need any supplies or groceries, he always volunteers to drive us to town. Also, Gary and Wendy on sv Spirit of Sabraon are right across the dock from us, and they kept an eye on the boat while we were in the states. They are well acquainted with the town and often will use James’ car to drive us around. Often we all go to lunch together and have been to some excellent local restaurants. It is much better when James is along because he orders the best dishes for us to try. The last lunch included some “drinks” that quite interesting. One was made from peanuts, another from tapioca, and another from squash. They were all room temperature, and most were pretty good just not cold enough. We had a variety of noodle dishes and one curry dish. They were all very good. Wendy and Gary added two herbal teas. The whole lunch cost 29 RM or $10 USD.

The Eastern Sail Malaysia Rally came through last week, but it was a much smaller rally with only about 15 boats. They were here for several days and then left to head for Singapore. From there they will sail along the eastern coast of Malaysia and then across to Brunei. We knew a few of the boats from the Indonesia Rally and the Western Sail Malaysia Rally.

There are only four boats here at the moment. The rainy season is setting in and the temperatures are hotter. Luckily, we got our painting done on some dry days. Of course, our air-conditioner is on all the time. We usually work outside in the mornings and then work inside during the heat of the day in the afternoons or just relax and do some reading. The evenings are not too bad, and there is always a sea breeze that helps to keep things a bit cooler.

We contacted Paul, who is a boat broker here in Malaysia, and he told us that he might have a prospective buyer for the boat. We called him when we had finished the major projects, and this past Friday he came to Pangkor to take pictures for the ad that will be on his web site and on Yacht World. His photographer Sue took quite a few pictures, and Steve showed them the workings of the boat. Keith and Kay, a couple from Australia, came down with Paul and came aboard to see the boat. They were very positive about her, and we were grateful for the feedback. Paul also felt that she would show well.

We had taken the air-conditioner off for the pictures and had unloaded more items that we plan to take home. We also had to remove the sun shade from the boat for the pictures. Naturally, the air-conditioner was the first thing to go back on after everyone left. We got the boat organized again, ate a small dinner, showered in our swimsuits on the dock, and went to bed. It had been a long day.

Today we went to Duke's Bar in town with Gary and Wendy and Jerry and Joanie from sv Lotus. Duke's has delicious steak sandwiches and cold beer. After that we made a quick trip to Tesco for some groceries, including rotissery chicken, and then we returned to the boat to put everything away.

As soon as the listing is posted, I will put a link to them so that you can see the pictures if you are interested. We plan to do a few additional smaller projects in the time that we are still here. We still do now know exactly when we will fly home; however, I will continue to write blogs as long as we are here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back in Pangkor, Malaysia

April 21, 2011—Our flight home on March 27 began with a five-hour bus ride to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. We arrived at approximately 7:30 p.m. and waited half an hour to check our bags. We then decided to get a small bite to eat and wait for our flight at 11:50.

Our flight to Tokyo left on time, and we were surprised that it was only half full. We were flying on Japan Airlines, and everything went well. Our flight took about six hours, and when we got off the plane, we went to the first coffee shop we could find. We were sitting on comfortable chairs enjoying a hot cup of coffee when I felt the floor shaking. Not being exposed to earthquakes before, I thought that perhaps some construction was going on close by. After just a few seconds, I told Steve that I thought it was an earthquake. He agreed and told me that the painting on the wall behind me was shaking. The shaking lasted for about five minutes and then stopped. When we were able to get Internet a little later, we saw that a 6.5 aftershock had occurred up north. It was an amazing experience, and I could only imagine what the original quake must have felt like.
About six hours later our flight on American Airlines left Tokyo headed for Dallas. We settled in for a very long flight and spent our time either trying to sleep or watching movies. The good news was that the tailwind made it possible for the plane to arrive an hour early—the bad news was that we flew over Albuquerque on our way to Dallas.

We had a two-hour layover in Dallas, which gave us time to eat lunch and walk around a bit. Our two-hour flight to Albuquerque was uneventful, and after almost forty hours of travel we were very happy to be back in the states. Tim and Zelda picked us up and took us to Zelda’s house.

The next few days were very busy. Steve and his mom finalized the arrangements for his brother’s services, and we helped Zelda with some projects around the house. David’s service was on April 5. The next day the three of us, along with our friend Dwight, spent a night up at the cabin in Chama in order to get Zelda’s room put back together after everything had been moved out because of a water leak in the roof.

Steve stayed in town to help his mom, and I left for San Diego on April 7 to see the girls and Riley. Southwest was still a mess because of the metal fatigue concerns, so I decided to carry on my luggage. My flight out of Albuquerque and the one out of Phoenix were both delayed because of weather in Chicago. I spoke with the attendant at the gate, and luckily I was able to get on the direct flight that would get me in at my regular time—good thing I hadn’t checked my bag.

Brie’s husband Tim was in Phoenix on business so it was just us girls. I had a delightful time catching up with Brie and Drue, and I had a chance to babysit Riley and spend some one-on-one time with her. It was over way too soon as I had to return to Albuquerque on Sunday.

We left on Monday at 7:50 p.m. to fly to Los Angeles and from there we flew on Cathay Pacific Airliines to Hong Kong. We found the seats on that flight to be quite uncomfortable. Also, we had paid extra for the exit row seats; however, because they were by the toilet, people were around us all night, and some stepped on our toes. Unfortunately, we were bucking a head wind all the way to Hong Kong, so the flight took us 15 hours. We were more than happy to arrive in Hong Kong and get off the plane for awhile. We had about three hours before our flight to Kuala Lumpur, so we ate lunch and walked around a bit to stretch our legs.

The final leg of our trip took four hours. On that Cathay Pacific flight, the seats were more comfortable, and we were able to watch some more movies, so we are now somewhat caught up on recent movies. We arrived just a half hour late for the bus back to Pangkor, so we enjoyed a Burger King hamburger with fries and waited two hours for the next bus.

The bus ride back took only four and a half hours, and we were so tired that we slept part of the way. When we arrived at seven o’clock, Gary and Wendy, who are our neighbors on the dock, picked us up and took us to dinner. We enjoyed a nice meal at a local restaurant and then headed back to the boat. It took us only a few minutes to drop our bags below, get ready for bed, and crash.

The trip was long and tiring; however, it was also good to be home. We found out that our daughter Brie is pregnant again. Our daughter Drue found out in March that she was accepted to medical school at Michigan State University and is on the alternate list at The University of New Mexico so she will start school in August. It will be a busy year. Our boys James and Tim were a great help to Zelda until we could get home and then to us during our stay.

I have found this a difficult blog to write and have put it off for a week now. For several reasons Steve and I have decided that it is time for us to return home. We have contacted a broker to list the boat for sale and have spent the past ten days working to get her ready. I have been cleaning out closets and cupboards of all the unnecessary items and have given away food that we can’t possibly eat before we return home. Steve has been working on the topsides.

Depending on how long it takes us to get our work done, we will haul the boat out of the water and put her on the hard at Pangkor Island Marina in the next month or two, and then return home. It will be very hard to leave her. As we were walking to the marina office the other day, I turned to look at her tied at the dock. She has such lovely lines and has performed so well for us for 25,000 miles. She is truly a classic beauty!

I will update the blog again in a week or two.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Langkawi to Pangkor

March 26, 2011—Our trip from Langkawi to Penang went fairly well. We left Rebak Marina around 11 o’clock on March 22 and motored just a few miles to the Fjord anchorage. We dropped the hook in the small bay and were thrilled to see that we had it all to ourselves.

We took the time in the afternoon to just relax and made our last weather checks. We decided to leave at 6 a.m. in order to have enough time to make it to Pangkor before dark. We pulled the anchor and discovered that the wash down pump was not working so Steve and I had to clean the chain by hand as it came up, and it was not fun because there was heavy mud on it. It was still dark when we left, but the moon gave us enough light to see by, and we had to dodge only a few fishing boats.

We motored most of the way; however, in the afternoon the wind picked up enough that we were making very good time. We had one heavy rain for about 20 minutes, but we had no high winds associated with it. As we approached the entrance to the channel at Penang, the waves had built and were rolling by us just off the beam. It was making the ride a bit uncomfortable; however, when we got in the lee of the island, the waves calmed right down, the current pushed us nicely along, and the ride through the channel was quite enjoyable. Our only stressful moment was when we had four ferries all crossing the channel at the same time but from four directions.

We entered Jerejak Anchorage at about 5 p.m. and looked for our anchorage spot. We saw a fishing net in front of us, so we turned and went further south to drop our anchor. After getting the anchor down and everything secure on the bow, we looked up and saw the same net coming at the boat. It was a drift net so it was moving with the current. It was too late for us to pull our anchor so the net went on both sides of our boat. We tried pulling it from one side to the other; however, the net was deep, and we could not budge it. We decided to give up and hoped that the owner would see what had happened and come out.

He did see, and he did come out with two men, and he was not happy. He started yelling at us about his net and told us to pull the anchor. Steve responded that if we did we would tear his net. The owner then was yelling at us for not seeing the net, so Steve told him that we anchored in a designated anchorage and the net drifted onto us. After much grumbling and posturing, they took one end and pulled it across our bow so that we were free. We agreed to move to the side of the anchorage so we pulled the anchor and moved.

The holding was good, and the anchor set well when I was backing down with the engine in reverse. Just when we finished, the throttle cable broke. This meant disassembling the pedestal to get at the cable. It was an hour before dark, so Steve started right in on the project. Once we had the top off, we could see that the set screw holding the cable in place had come out, so all we had to do was replace the screw. This was, of course, more difficult that it sounds. Steve had to remove a small center section of the pedestal, and the screws were tough to get loose. Then he had to remove a long bolt that was very hard to get a grip on. Working together we were able to get the set screw in and began to reassemble the whole thing. Just when we thought we were there, the bolt dropped out of the hole. Luckily, Steve had a replacement bolt, so we kept working and finished the job just as it got dark.

We slept well that night and woke at 6:30 to leave. We needed more light to leave this anchorage because a bridge is being constructed, and the waterway is filled with barges and other ships. Steve did a quick download of email and weather only to learn that his brother had passed away that morning. Steve was able to call his mom to get the details, and she asked if he could come home so we told her that we would leave as soon as we could get a flight.

We decided that we would continue to Pangkor and leave from there. The weather was nice, but the current was not being helpful. We spent most of the day in calm seas but had another major rain shower, again with no wind. The fishing boats were out in force, so we played “dodge the fleet” for most of the day. About mid-afternoon the wind picked up just enough to increase our speed so that we were able to make it through the channel and into the marina by 7 p.m.
We were greeted at the dock by James and his crew, who got us all tied up. Glen and Marilyn from sv Tin Soldier were there as well. They are putting the boat on the hard and going back to Canada in a few days. We had a quick reunion and then called it a night.

The next morning Steve began a search for flights home. Since it was short notice, he had to work at it, but we did manage to book one that worked. We spent the day getting things out to be packed to go home and preparing the boat. The sv Spirit of Sobraon with Gary and Wendy aboard are also here, and they told us there would be a pot luck on the dock at 7 p.m. so I decided to make spaghetti and garlic bread. At 7:30 Tin Soldier had been pulled out and was on the hard, so the crew from the marina joined us, as well as couples from some of the other boats on the hard. There was plenty of food, and everyone seemed to have a good time. We called it quits at 10 o’clock and returned to the boat.

It rained most of the night and into the morning so we just stayed below and worked on chores. It is quite hot so it doesn’t take much effort before one is sweating and hot. We have to pace ourselves with frequent breaks, but we managed to get things done. We will leave tomorrow night from Kuala Lumpur and be in Albuquerque in the afternoon on March 28. We will have two weeks at home before we return to Malaysia and continue down the coast.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Leaving Langkawi

March 21, 2011—We have spent the past week preparing the boat to leave Langkawi. I did all the laundry from our trip and cleaned the boat, while Steve checked the systems to make sure that we were ready to go. Yesterday we spent the day in Kuah buying provisions, sailing guides, plumbing, etc. We also met sv September for one last lunch, and last night we enjoyed dinner with Melinda and Dave on sv Sassoon, who just returned from Australia yesterday.

It is quite hot here now so the air-conditioner has really helped. We worked slowly for most of the day, but in the afternoon we usually went to the pool for an hour or so to cool off and discuss the sailing situation in the Red Sea with other cruisers. Several boats from the Indonesia Rally have changed plans and will be heading to South Africa instead, either this year or next.

We will move down to Pangkor where we will say goodbye to Tin Soldier as they are returning to Canada for awhile. Then we will take several days move down the Melacca Strait and return to Danga Bay so that we can have some canvas work done.

The weather has been unsettled with rain squalls and some thunderstorms; however, it looks pretty good for the next few days. We will keep our fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Siem Reap, Cambodia, and the AngkorTemples

March 16, 2011—We left the Silver River Hotel in Phnom Penh, thanking the staff for a wonderful stay. They were so helpful and the facility was very nice. We loaded our bags in the minivan and drove to the central bus station. Our bus to Siem Reap was there so we transferred our bags and climbed on board. The bus left on time, and we headed northwest to Siem Reap. We had read that the road was excellent, but I think excellent is an operative word. They are in the process of improving the road; however, it was a two-lane road that was quite rough. We stopped after two hours for a bathroom stop, and we stopped one more time for a quick lunch. The trip took us seven hours, and by the time we arrived, we were more than happy to be there.

As soon as our bus pulled into the parking lot, the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers came over to it, holding signs up stating their fees. Women also came running over with food or other items to sell. It was a bit overwhelming. The bus company asked us to wait in the bus while the local Cambodians got off the bus, and then they took our bags and assigned us to a tuk-tuk driver. He drove us to the Frangapini Hotel and carried our bags inside. We were checked in and shown to our room, which was quite nice. After we put our things away, we cooled off for awhile, and then we went downstairs to take a swim in the pool. It felt so good to be in the cool water. We went back to the room and got dressed for dinner at the hotel.

We got up the next morning and got ready for a day of touring. Va, our driver, picked us up at 9 a.m., and we drove out to the temples. We stopped to pay our and $40 fee for the day and receive our picture identification card. We decided to see the major temples started with the South Gate of Angkor Thom and then Central Angkor Tom (late 12th century).

From there we continued on to Bayon (late 12th century), Phimeanakas (late 10th century), Terrace of Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King (both late 12th century), and, finally, Taprohm (mid-12th century).

By now it was 12:30 and hot, so we decided to stop by the lake for a nice lunch. While we were eating we met a father, a Canadian, with his daughter who lives in Oregon. We enjoyed talking with them for a few minutes. After lunch Va advised us to see Angkor Wat because most people take a break until four o’clock, but first we stopped at Banteay Kdei (early 13th century).

After walking through Banteay Kdei, he dropped us off at the bridge that crosses the largest moat we have ever seen that surrounds Angkor Wat. This wat was constructed in the mid-12th century by Suryavarman II in the form of a massive “temple-mountain” dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu, and it served as his state temple. The reliefs on the walls of the long hallways were spectacular, and most were still in very good shape.

We finished walking through Angkor Wat around 3:30 so we asked Va to drive us back to town. We stopped at a few shops, the Central Market, and the ATM. We then returned to our hotel and agreed to meet him at 9 o’clock in the morning for another day of sightseeing. We were both pretty hot and tired so we just returned to our room to cool off and relax.

We got a good night sleep and met Va at 9 o’clock for our second day of sightseeing. We drove out about 10 miles to Chong Khneas, a floating village at the edge of the lake closest to Siem Reap. Houses, the school, the medical clinic, shops—everything is floating in this village. Today the government representative was announcing a shot clinic for the children under five.

We watched people moving up and down the river in different styles of boats, most of which had engines. They use car engines, and the propeller shaft in the back must have been eight feet long. Also, the prop sits just below the water because there is a plant that grows in the water, and the prop would get fouled if it was set any deeper. We are at the end of the dry season, which means that the water level is pretty low, and we actually got stuck in the mud at one point.

The tour was very interesting and better than we had expected. When we returned to the shore and stepped off the boat, three hard-sell girls who had plates with Siem Reap written on them and our pictures in the centers. One of them had taken a picture of each of us when we arrived, but we had no idea why. Now we know. We really didn’t want them; however, we decided to buy them. They wanted $3 each so we offered two for $5. The oldest girl gave me the biggest smile and rejected my offer—she held fast. They were so enjoyable that we actually enjoyed being separated from our money.

Our next stop was the Silk Worm Farm. We thought this would be an interesting tour since we had been look at silk products. A guide met us when we approached and welcomed us. We began the tour at the mulberry tree grove where they harvest leaves to feed the silk worms.
Inside a building we were shown the cocoons that lines ringed shallow baskets. When the worm is mature, they kill them by putting the baskets in the sun or by boiling them. Next they remove the worm (and sometimes fry them and eat them) and then separate the silk thread from the cocoon. Once the thread is gently pulled from the cocoon, the spinning begins.

We learned the difference between raw silk and fine silk. We were also shown how they bleach and then dye the silk, mostly using natural plants to achieve the colors but sometimes using dyes. After that the thread is wound onto spools. Our last stop on the tour took us to the weaving building where women were weaving several different patterns in different colors. It was so interesting and informative, and we now have a better appreciation for this beautiful material.

It was now almost one o’clock so we stopped for lunch, followed by a stop at the bakery for our breakfast. Lastly, we enjoyed a one-hour massage for $15 each. We returned to our hotel tired but quite relaxed. We have to pack tonight for our flight back to Langkawi in the morning.

We have been gone for five weeks, and we are ready to get back, but we have enjoyed our time in Southeast Asia, and the countries we have visited have been well worth the time and effort. Monday morning Va came to pick us up at 6:15. We drove to the airport, watching a spectacular sun rise as we went, and unloaded our bags. Va did such a good job for us that we were sad to say our goodbyes. Our flight out of Siem Reap was delayed; however, we made it to Kuala Lumpur in time to catch our flight to Langkawi.

We are back on the boat and are preparing to leave on Monday, weather permitting.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

March 10, 2011—Our bus trip to Phnom Penh started out on a little rocky. The front desk at our hotel told us to be down at 6:30 a.m. for our taxi ride to the bus. We decided that it was safer to be there earlier so we went at 6:10. We checked out and waited for our taxi, but about ten minutes later we found out that they had not called the taxi, so they took us outside and hailed a taxi for us. The driver took us to the pick-up point and dropped us off. Unfortunately, he dropped us at another bus stop, but we didn’t know it at the time. When we showed our receipt for the Phnom Penh-Sorya Transport Company to the guy at the bus, he said that he didn’t know the company but offered to sell us tickets on his bus. We started to, but then Steve refused. We started to walk away when a local told us that the place we wanted was just down the street. We thanked her and walked that direction. Everything was closed so we were a bit confused until another local guided us to the right spot. Neither of these two people asked us for a thing, which was really nice. We were finally at the right spot so the man gave us our tickets, and we climbed in the van. We were now sure that the guy back down the street knew exactly where we needed to be—amazing.

It was now 6:40, and our bus was supposed to leave at 6:45 so we were a bit stressed. We tried to relax when the driver told Steve that the bus would wait. We finally got everyone picked up and drove to the bus, where we all piled on and took off. We were pleased to see that this bus was much nicer than the last one. The drive to get out of Saigon took us almost an hour because of the horrible traffic. Also, at one point a power line had come down so our bus had to cross traffic to the left lane and VERY slowly creep under another part of the power line. A little further down the road, we could hear the overhead power lines scraping against the bus. It was all a little unnerving.

The rest of the Vietnam drive was through the usual countryside filled with beautiful, green rice paddies for mile after mile. When we reached the border, we stopped and had to take our luggage in to be scanned. Our guide had collected all the passports in order to expedite the process at the border so we stood in line to wait until they called our names, and then we picked up our passports, gave them back to our guide, and got back on the bus. We drove a few hundred yards to the Cambodian processing center and again got out of the bus, without luggage this time. We went into the center and had a seat. We had also paid our guide $50 for our visas for Cambodia so he took care of everything. All we had to do was sign the visa application and then pass through Immigration and Customs. It was all very well coordinated and took very little time, and it was the first time in Vietnam that we felt we got what we paid for.

A few minutes later we stopped for a quick lunch; however, Steve and I were short on cash. Thankfully, we had eaten something for breakfast so we could wait. The last part of the drive took about three hours. At one point we had to cross the Mekong River on a ferry. The driver took the bus down an uneven road and pulled it onto the ferry, along with two other large tour buses and a truck. One family in the truck beside us had so many people crowded in that we took a picture.

When we arrived in Phnom Penh the bus pulled into the central bus station, which was a pretty busy place. We grabbed our bags and began to walk. It didn’t take five seconds before a taxi driver asked if we needed a ride so we told him no and said that we already had one. He actually followed us to see if we did. At one point we thought that we had lost him, but he then appeared from another side. We just kept walking until we found an ATM where we got some money, and we were surprised that it was U.S. currency. There was a hamburger place next door so we went in to eat lunch.

We finished lunch and grabbed a remorque-moto, which is a trailer hitched to a motorcycle, and went to the Silver River Hotel¸ where we checked in and went up to our room. The room was small but very nice, and we again have a balcony that will be great in the afternoons. We took a break and then went down to schedule our bus to Siem Reap on Friday.

Today we left with our guide Mr. Thay for a day of sightseeing in his Tuk-Tuk. Our first stop was at the Royal Palace. The grounds were beautiful with flowering trees and shrubs, and the buildings were spectacular. Unfortunately, we were limited to just two areas, but it was well worth the time to walk around and to see all the artifacts from the royal families.

After the Royal Palace Mr. Thay drove us to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, formerly known as Security Prison 21. This facility was Tuol Svay Prey High School before it was transformed into a security prison by the Khmer Rouge where political prisoners were interrogated and tortured. We walked through the cells and through rooms filled with photographs of the many prisoners who were tortured and murdered. It was a very moving experience, and everyone there was very somber. We are pleased that they have created a museum to memorialize the victims.

After the museum we felt that we needed a break so we asked Mr. Thay to take us to a restaurant for lunch, where we enjoyed a sandwich and a Caesar salad. Next we drove through Phnom Penh and headed for the Killing Fields. The drive provided us with a great view of the people and how they live and work in Cambodia. We love riding in the Tuk-Tuks because we can see all around us, which is not the case in a taxi. It was about 10 miles so we just relaxed and enjoyed the view. The best part of the ride was when a man on a motorscooter passed us with two pigs strapped on the back of his cycle--and Steve got the picture.

We arrived at the Killings Fields of Choeung Ek. Rising above the 129 mass graves is a beautiful white stupa or religious monument that serves as a memorial to the some 17,000 men, women, and children who were killed here. Encased inside the stupa are almost 9,000 human skulls found during excavations in 1980. It was overwhelming.

From the stupa we walked through the fields where large craters remain from the excavations. Every now and then we could see pieces of clothing or bone coming through the dirt. It is so hard to fathom what happened here, and we left feeling sad.

We returned to Phnom Penh and made a quick stop at the Russian Market, which is much like the Central Market. We picked up a few items, including some “Panasonic” batteries. We did not want to pack our recharger for batteries, so we figured that we would just buy them along the way. Well, we bought eight batteries yesterday, and when Steve used them today, four batteries were good for about 10 pictures—then nothing. Thankfully, we have the small camera that we can charge, but we are still going to buy a lot of “Panasonic” batteries for the next two days.

We were tired and hot, so we had Mr. Thai take us back to our hotel. We thanked him and shook his hand, and then we paid him his fee plus a tip because he was an excellent driver and a very nice man.
Now it was time to cool off since it had become quite warm in the afternoon. We relaxed in the room for awhile and then left to walk to the river. On the way we passed the National Museum, which is spectacular building. Unfortunately, it was closing in 30 minutes, so we continued on to the river where there is a very nice river walk.

Tonight we will pack up so that we will be ready to leave early tomorrow for Siem Reap—another glorious bus ride. This ride will be with the same company as the last bus trip, so it should be fine. Also, it will give us a chance to see more of the Cambodian countryside.