With a tear in the eye we left the Land of Smiles for Borneo. The first leg takes us down the famed and all too familiar Melaka Straights, ancient trade route connecting the modern towns of Western Malaysia and the passage of East to West. As is it the ritual, our first Malaysian stop is at Langkawi, where we find our dear friends on the MV Totem, this is a bitter sweet reunion as it will be our last for a long time..
Good bys said, waterfalls visited and some quality pool time at Reback Marina and down the path we go. Next stop is my favorite, Penang, and the historic city of George Town. I tell the crew this is m favorite city for sightseeing as it tells of a rich history. Penang has been colonized by the British, populated by those from India and China giving her a diversity found few other places. .
As we pulled into the Straights Quay Marina i hear someone hollering, Hi Brian, it is my cruising friends from Gemini, Craig and Robin. If you go back into the Furthur Adventures you will find a piece on the other Furthur i found in Australia, a bus owned by a dreadlock headed chap named Lucky. These are his parents who we have seen cruising for the last 4 years. Always good to see old friends
i spend the day doing boat maintenance, oil changes and such as the girls explore then we meet for yet another scrumptious feast at one of the famous food courts. Here you can dine a food from every part of Asia. You go from stall to stall ordering dishes and once they arrive the fun begins. the after effect is a large circular table covered with empty plates and three happy travelers.
We walk off some of our gluttony as we pass through small streets lined with interesting people and things. One of the main attractions is the “wall art” one finds scattered about the old part of town. At one stop i find a chap raising money for a boy’s home by playing the most amazing drum set i have ever seen, all assembled from things found in a kitchen. Sitting next to him is guitar made from a tennis racket, i must have given the bizarre axe a look only a guitar player can give as he motioned for me to pick it up. He was playing to recorded music, mostly old rock so just up my alley. We jammed for a while and a sizeable crowd assembled, all dropping silver in the box.
Bellies full and sights seen, down the road we go. Melaka Straights is 400 miles of brown water, boring shorelines and annoying fishing boats. The redeeming features are the towns along the way. Next long stop is Port Dickson and Admiralty Marina a so familiar place that when i call on the radio giving the name Furthur, they come back with, “good to have you back Mr. Brian”. A few days rest and that oh so precious pool time and gone again.
As we leave i see the engine temperature rise above normal, something that very rarely happens and is never good. It slowly rises over the next fifteen hour run to overheating as we pull into our next destination. I check all the usual suspects; coolant, oil, impellor, sea strainer and find nothing wrong. So i call in the Calvary and summons the local Cummins dealer. The next day the owner of the company and a technician show up and go to work. First they redo all the checks i did, expected and find nothing. After going through the entire system they find some old impellor parts in the intake of the after cooler, ah ha we think but a sea trial shows it is not the problem. We also pull and inspect the thermostat and although working replace it with a spare i carried. None of this works.
With nearly 7000 trouble free hours i had planned on getting the heat exchanger inspected at Kota KInabalu as part of maintenance. I suspect it might have needed it sooner as all other options disappear. Just before they remove it, something that will delay our already late departure, the technician summons me to the engine room. He has pulled off the raw water intake hose up stream of the impellor and found another larger wad of impellor blades. How they got up stream baffles us all but another sea trial shows we found the problem, yahooo… You in the states or Australia note this, two top technicians worked 9 hours, that is 18 hours labor. It cost me just under $450 usd. See why i love SE Asia!
While in Puteri Marina, very near Singapore, we again meet up with some long lost friends. Ken and Laurie on SV Trim were in our Puddle Jump group in Mexico. For a few months we all nervously prepared for our fist big crossing, the 3000 miles across the Pacific. We became a tight knight group but alas we are scattered around the world now. Ken had been working in Australia for three years but they are back on the water again and headed to Thailand. We spend an evening going over places they should see.
We also had a change of crew in Puteri, one of the girls just did not find boat life to her liking, happens, so she did a mutually agreed upon dismemberment. This left us shorthanded so i emailed past crew member and local gal, Ying, who jumped at the chance to cruise on Furthur again, “how could i refuse?”.
So happy crew, cool engine, and away we go to make the four day run to our first stop in Borneo, Miri Marina. Another bitter sweet event as this is where, last year, we picked up an old cruising friend for the reverse ride to Singapore. Jean has now gone to the great ocean in the sky, where i am sure she is sailing on calm seas with favorable winds. i write this part dead center in the South China Sea after a rainy day and glorious moonlit night followed by a bright sunny, cam seas filled day. Good to be back at sea again. *