Up a Familiar Path

After a few weeks of basking the sun and luxury we bid our beloved Sutera Harbor goodbye. the stop here is always a good chance to tune up the boat and the body. Twenty days of running, swimming and exercise took off a few of those yummy Filipina pork pounds. I also got my spiritual tune up, attending the KK AA meetings which i am so glad to report have grown exponentially.

It was also a great time to rekindle old friendships and make a few new ones. On our last visit I found a great computer guy, a wizard. He rebuilt my old laptop and did some other great things for me. this visit i had him install the Coastal Explorer and charts on the ship’s computer after rebuilding it with a new hard drive. So now we have two different navigation programs with charts on two computers and back up on two laptops. I have always kept paper charts and spent thousands on them for this trip, but alas after nearly 5 years, i have yet to use one. i have made the decision that with four computers, two nav programs on most and five GPS’s that i will no longer buy the paper charts, the last of the “old school” navigators has gone to the dark side, hahaha.

As with many talented folks he has other passions and asked if he could do a video on the boat and our travels, we responded, Oh Boy! Well all but shy Ana who trembled at the idea of being on camera haha. i invited him to an overnight trip to Palau Tiga, the mud bath/survivor series island. He and his camera man, Nixon, whom got a ear full of unsolicited President Nixon history, came aboard and off we went.

the boys filmed our trip, our daily life and the our “splendor in the mud”. They even set up a series of cameras and did a video of me playing some tunes. We are awaiting the final product but the pieces we have seen are exciting.

The last few days were filled with preparation and getting as much pool/sauna/exercise room time as possible. We celebrated our last days there with yet another fantastic duck meal at King Hu’s. Nan and the boys from Obsession joined us. this is another cruising family that i have grown to love, the two teenage boys are simply a joy to be around, ya you head me, teenagers.

I had the crew set, Bree who has grown into one of the best crew Furthur has encountered took charge of all the preparations. The newest crew came along with a serious health issue and after six days we all agreed that she should not make the trip. Most cruisers are couples and flitter about the world with only two people on a boat. This makes long passages exhausting as no one gets more than three hours sleep at a time. My usual crew of three to four breaks up the watches so everyone gets plenty of sleep. Faced with a duo six day trip, i knew Bree could handle it but was not looking forward to the passage.

On the list of reasons to make this long trip back to Phuket is the ability to see old friends all along the way. i knew of one at Miri Marina, Jean, who had done the first Sail Indonesia Rally with us. i kinda thought i might get her to join us and after a quick, “how are you doing” and a blast of cruiser gossip i popped the question receiving a fast, “sure”.

We did the formalities of Immigration and port captains checking in and out and set our course for Singapore, eighty five hours away. In order to hit the Singapore shipping lanes in daylight we had to leave just before sundown. So with a splendid weather forecast we headed into the setting sun.

The decision to make this thousand mile pilgrimage was not easy. Faced with a rainy season in the Philippines, dotted with the ever present chance of cyclones staying there was out. the boat nor i were ready for another long trip to Indonesia. I considered just staying at Kota Kinabalu, but i really find it a wonderful place to spend a month but no more, just a bit limited.

Phuket is the best place is in all of SE Asia to get quality work done on the boat, the infrastructure is there and the talent. I have a list of maintenance projects that can only be done there. Also i have several new projects to do, firstly installing solar panels. While at anchor i can cut my generator time in half if i install four panels. this will enable me to leave the boat for longer periods of time while at anchor. Ironically the solar panels are relatively cheap but the stainless steel work for the mounting will be the big cost. i am also going to install another small DC refer on the deck, ya there goes all the gain of the solar panels hahaha.

With nearly 6500 hours on the Cummins Engine and five years of hard usage to the boat, she is ready for a rest as am i. So sitting in a nice marina for six months is the plan. this will be the rainy season in Phuket too so the tourist crowds should be greatly reduced. A great time to kindle friendships with local folks.

After constant prodding by you, the blog readers, i am going to use this quiet time to “write the book”. As i am not all that disciplined, trying to work on the book while cruising has been a failure, so hiding in the marina in the rain will give me the right environment i hope.

Not all work and no play of course. The wind switch to SE monsoons makes the west coast beaches of Phuket good for surfing. i plan on taking this opportunity to finally take five days of surfing in a row. up to now i have just blundered about the board one day each three years or so always with great pain albeit it entertaining to the spectators. So now i can hit the waves on a daily basis and maybe even stay up long enough for a pose or two, haha i can hear the Beach Boys playing just for me.

Speaking of music, Phuket also has a great music scene and i hope to hone my song list and maybe do some gigs, love playing in the girly bars! also hope to join some other pickers for some great jam sessions.

This path is dotted with old cruising friends, first stop is Danga Bay Marina where i will visit Lorain and the Sea Hog crew. i have not seen Loraine since the passing of my good friend and her husband (see our common birthday party posts) We hear they are all already planning a potluck upon our arrival. Next up the coast will be a stop to see the Happy Family at Langkawi. It will be wonderful to see the Totem crew and get my kid fix. i have already heard from several other cruisers in Phuket and look forward to the reunions

So old friends, new boat toys, boat and boy revival and a writing and surfing challenge await me as i look forward to the next adventure.