Mon 27 Mar 2017 10:05
With Lochmarin now rat free I left Phil to stay and defend her from further rodent infestation and flew back to the UK for the joy and privilege of being there to welcome gorgeous little Esni Celyn. When we left the UK 5 years ago we had no grandchildren, we now have three lovely granddaughters! It was a whirlwind trip, visiting friends and family meant I drove over 1000 miles a week and I returned pretty tired, carrying a suitcase that bulged with spare parts for the boat.
I flew via Kuala Lumpur and had a wonderful evening in the company of Sharon and Bob, whom we met in Trinidad. When they invited us to come and visit them in Malaysia it seemed impossibly distant, both in time and space, something it was hard to believe would ever happen; it was lovely to see them again and to be able to congratulate them on having sailed from the Caribbean. They treated me to a superb afternoon of sight seeing followed by a truly delicious meal. It did get me thinking about eating habits in different cultures though. I had a yummy desert which consisted of fungus, red beans, lotus seeds, lychee and a dried fruit rather like lychee, sugar syrup and chipped ice. Now half of those ingredients I would have associated with a savoury dish not a sweet one which just goes to show how set in our ideas we can become! Mind you the street stalls we walked past selling deep fried ducks heads and feet and durian fruit (which smells so bad there are signs on the buses banning them!) failed to attract me.
Of course, by the time I returned Phil had had quite enough of rat defence duty and we lost no time in provisioning, checking out of Puteri and setting off. Our gear lever now worked perfectly and all went well until we were out in the middle of the Jahor Straits and Phil went to turn on Otto, the auto-helm. He was on strike. There followed a tricky period when one of us was trying to steer whilst the other was climbing in the bilge space under the wheel to try and figure out what was wrong… it turned out that a lip seal in the pump had failed, Otto was leaking out his life fluid. Clearly this wasn’t something we could fix on the go so we settled down into hand steering our way to our first night’s anchorage, Pulau Pisang (The Banana Islands), spelling each other whenever needed rather than keeping formal watches . There were plenty of interesting ships to look at as we headed North and we were so enjoying being out on the water again that it was no hardship at all.
A simply HUGE ship carrier, with half a wreck and an oil platform on board. In the centre, at the bottom, the little orange blobs with white dots are workmen in orange overalls and white helmets - just to give you scale.