"Arctracer" Letters

Back aboard "Arctracer" Oct 2006

The drive to Newark was smooth and without complications, but it took us a while to work our way from the Garden State Parkway through the city to the airport. We apparently didn't get off at the best exit. It was a fairly long wait at the airport, so we read, did some computing and Sudoku, and tried to contact friends by phone. When we reconfirmed our flight by phone from Norwich we were told we would need "onward" tickets to insure we were leaving Malaysia before our visas expired, but at the airport we encountered no such requirement. We took off at 10:00pm. The flight to Sweden was not full, so Nina was able to take several seats in the center section of our Boeing 777 and stretch out for some real sleep - a great luxury on today's airlines. In Stockholm we had to get off the plane while it was cleaned, and were subjected to two more security checks before reboarding and sitting in the same seats for the longer flight to Kuala Lumpur. This flight was full, so we could only doze a bit in our cramped seats. We landed just before dawn with the temperature outside at 75 degrees. We took off our sweaters and celebrated being back in the tropics. We had time enough for a quick email to our families saying we were again twelve time zones away, and then we flew to Langkawi on an Airbus almost as big as the Boeing. The half-hour taxi ride from airport to Telaga Harbour Marina cost 20 ringgits ($5.56). We arrived back at our boat about noon on Saturday the 28th.

The boat was very hot inside with all the windows and hatches closed. The heat had warped the frames of the screens overhead in the main salon so much that they no longer can stop bugs. The moisture inside had encouraged mold and mildew growths, so we had to wipe down all the woodwork and walls to reduce odors. We discovered a few cockroaches, so our defensive actions were not entirely successful and we will have to work to eliminate them again. We spent a few hours unpacking and cleaning, then went to bed about 3:30 and slept for more than twelve hours. We woke up hungry at 3am and Nina fixed noodle soup before we went back to sleep again until daylight. The 29th was a busy day of washing the horribly mildewed sheets and settee coverings, patching the dinghy in two places (leaks we hadn't gotten around to fixing earlier), making bread, and getting one computer up-to-date on emails. Nina fixed tuna sandwiches for lunch and lentils, rice and peas for dinner, so we are back on our "boat cuisine." We had some "Billy Goat" Merlot and went to bed before 8:00. Today we woke up at 8:30, and feel that the jet lag is nearly overcome.

The only major damage to the boat in our absence was caused by tying the boat between pilings which are for new docks and not setup for proper tieups of boats. The ropes around the pilings tend to fall down easily as the tide falls but as the tide rises they slide back up under considerable strain. The tidal range here is about nine feet, and our boat cannot be pulled under water. We tied floats to the ropes at the pilings to help the upward movement, but were still worried about ropes getting snagged. We saw this potential problem and pointed it out to the marina staff before leaving, hoping they would keep a good watch and fix the situation if a problem developed. One of our ropes was looped around a piling with both ends tied to a big U-bolt on the starboard side of the dinghy platform. This rope must have gotten snagged low on the piling, and the rising tide must have generated incredible strains. The U-bolt and its backing plate were pulled right through the fiberglass, making a hole in the boat. The marina staff evidently noticed this, because we found the rope retied around the chainplate of the starboard backstay. The rope must have continued to exert incredible strains, because we found it wedged tightly between the chainplate and the hull, with damage to the hull there too. To remove this rope, Jerry had to loosen both the backstay and the chainplate bolts. So now we have some fiberglassing to do in addition to our other projects.

We plan to clean our propellers, fill up with water and diesel, and move out of this marina within a few days. We'll anchor near the town of Kuah to take care of some business. Getting a leaky water pump fixed is a top priority. Then we'll be getting new bottom paint, getting our rigging and sails ready for serious sailing, and taking care of a long list of smaller things. Probably we'll be moving to Thailand to take care of some of this business. We'll keep you informed.