Boats are meant to move

11 Sep

Totem sailing across Malacca

Two months and change. 71 days, actually (who’s counting?). During the last six years of cruising the only other times we’ve stayed in one place more than two months were when we parked in Australia, and earlier this year in Langkawi. That’s it. Even the places we’ve stopped for more than a month only amount to a handful: we may not move quickly, but we like to be moving. Nomadic living is our baseline.

Of course, we didn’t have much of a choice this year. Sitting in the marina was a far cry from our grand plans of cruising in Borneo and the Philippines, but it’s great peace of mind to have worked through our engine troubles.

Pulling out of Puteri Harbour a couple of days ago was an incredible, liberating feeling. Being on the move again, listening to water swish along the hull, feels SO GOOD! Sailing would have been cathartic, but there wasn’t  wind to work with. On the other hand, we needed the all-out long motoring days to test the engine. It passed: no overheating, and the coolant levels remained perfect. FINALLY.

Anchoring off islands in the Strait of Malacca, a weight is lifted. The call to prayer echoes from a mosque as our home once more rocks gently, lulling us to sleep. The sun sets behind the Liberty 458 Solstice, followed by a spectacular full  moon in brilliant jack o’lantern orange, reminders that we’re back at the whim of the natural world instead of pinned to a manufactured one.

Solstice at sunset

We’re now on a slow march northbound. Solstice is traveling with us, which aside from offering great company, means we get picture of Totem- that’s Bill’s picture at the top. Thanks, Bill, for having a camera ready during the five minutes we actually got to sail yesterday! OK, almost sail. Fine, we were motorsailing. But it looked good, and we picked up speed and fuel efficiency. Right? Well, at  least we didn’t have any of the infamous Sumatras, although the squall-dodging was “interesting” and some of the lightning too close for comfort.

squalls coming

Our days were uneventful enough to goof around with photos of the commercial traffic that’s on a constant flow along the Strait; our younger mermaid practices her tanker-lifting technique below. I start writing down the different destination ports showing up on their AIS data: Mumbai, Futong, Sikka, Nazira, Yangon, Columbo. Far off destinations, the kind that get your mind wandering.

IMG_6161

You know about the five gyres, right? How much comes from this corner of the world? How much floats in? We see it constantly. There is trash around the boat, in volume, most of the time. I played with the contrast to pull them out in this photo…commercial vessels in the Malacca shipping lanes in the distance.

trash from totem

Then there was tanker under a Zanzibar flag, oddly parked outside the port zone, AIS turned off, small boats (with more crew than the normal local fishing boat) in close quarters. The ship didn’t answer when hailed by name over VHF 16. We’re not far from a major global piracy zone, and it stood out as odd, so Jamie reported it when we arrived in Port Dickson a short while later.

IMG_6169

I’m grateful to the marina friends in Puteri who gave us an unforgettable sendoff. Gifts for the girls from the kids on Madrona and Capricorn Dancer. At departure, an alpine horn salute at the dock, and kazoos and pompoms from shore. Cruisers are a fun bunch! Seriously, though, the kazoo gets bit points for style and eardrum friendliness compared to an air horn (adds to list for boat inventory…).

farewell

 

Next stops: playing tourist in Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang!

Followers on the move know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Comments

  1. Behan Gifford

    Hi Mike- it was a combination of factors. The initial problem was an incorrectly seated heat exchanger. We later had an incorrectly seated oil cooler. Happy to have both chapters over.

  2. Behan Gifford

    Ash, there are a few things you can try. First, I’d look at a service like crewfinder. Friends of ours use it and are happy with the results for matching with crew. Second, I’d find out where cruising boats hang out in those places- and go there, meet people at the docks and in the yachtie hangouts. But- you should know there is very very little cruising done in Vietnam right now, and it will soon be the “wrong” season if you’ll be on the Gulf side of Thailand (vs the Andamans). Feel free to message me directly via the Contact page on my blog (SailingTotem.com) for further questions / details.

  3. Ash Conrad / Whistler Canada

    How do I find someone needing a deck hand for sailing in Thailand / Viet Nam area in November please?

  4. Louis Cohen

    Zanzibar flag? Zanzibar is part of Tanzania (Tanganyika + Zanzibar => Tanzania when they became independent), although they aren’t very keen on it.

    Safe voyages.

  5. Melissa

    Congratulations on your ability to move and have comfort in the fact that your engine is working properly. I’m so glad you guys took the time to test and retest.

    Save journey. Looking forward to your next blog posting.

  6. Pingback: Boats are meant to move | Sailing Totem

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