Friday, December 4, 2009

A weekly update

The day after Thanksgiving both of us began to feel sore throats and general aches and pains. Miracle of all miracles.....I was better within 2 days. Usually upper respiratory things turn into infections and I am sick for a couple of months. This time it was Bill who had trouble kicking it. He is finally feeling better but still not 100%.

On November 3 we had left our EPIRB in Singapore for routine maintenance check and battery replacement. We would have preferred to take the EPIRB back to Houston since we will be there a month and have it serviced there, but it has a lithium battery and cannot be transported on a passenger plane. There is a newer model that has a "safe" battery, but ours is an ACR 406 and that model has the "dangerous" lithium battery. The dealership in Singapore did not have a battery in stock for our model and had to order one. They tried to talk us into purchasing the newer model with the safe battery but we were not interested in spending the additional money unnecessarily. After all, why spend $1500 Singapore dollars when we could replace the battery in our perfectly good 4-year-old EPIRB for only $550 SGD. The new battery will be good for another 5 years and technology night change again by then. We were supposed to pick up the EPIRB this week but Bill has not felt well enough to make the trip. We must go to Singapore next week and collect our EPIRB because on Sunday December 13 we will begin our month-long vist home to Texas. Certainly cannot expect the service center to hold onto our EPIRB until mid-January.

Bill needs to go up the mast and remove the wind instrument. He planned to do that today but it is raining yet again. It is always a good idea to remove the anemometer any time a boat is berthed in a marina or in a boatyard for a long period of time. It is also a good idea to remove it periodically for thorough maintenance inspection. Bill noticed during our basically windless passages from Darwin to Singapore that our anemometer sometimes did not turn during very low winds. Once the wind is up to at least 5 knots then it begins to spin. I would probably never have noticed this as I don't spend a lot of time looking at the top of the mast. Bill contacted the B&G service center in the USA and thinks he knows which little part is beginning to fail. That replacement part is waiting for us at our son's home in Houston. Bill needs to disassemble the anemometer to make sure there are no other parts that need replacing.

There are very few people left in this marina and we are getting bored already. There are a lot of boats, but very few people. This is a popular place to leave a boat while traveling home or doing land travel in SE Asia. Earlier this week I planned a trip to Cambodia for us in early in February. Travel on Air Asia is so inexpensive that we have decided to make several round-trips to the various countries rather than flying to one country and continuing onward from there. It makes much more sense for us to do a one or two week round-trip to Cambodia one month; come back to the marina and get bored again; then maybe round-trip to Vietnam the next month; and repeat this process until we have visited all the places we are interested in seeing. That will be much easier than packing and being gone for months. That isn't for us. Might work well for others but we would get homesick and want to return to check on the boat. Doing separate trips will work much better for us, especially since we will be in the area for almost an entire year. Why cram all that travel into just a couple of months when we can leisurely spread it out over many months at no additional expense.

Unfortunately, the Air Asia website is programmed incorrectly at this moment. We cannot purchase tickets online because their website will not process any of our credit cards. We contacted our bank after the card was declined online and learned that the problem is on the Air Asia website. Our bank said the charge is not even being submitted to the bank; it is being declined strictly on the Air Asia website. We have talked with Australians and they have no problems using credit cards on the Air Asia website that are issued by Australian banks; but our credit cards issued by USA banks are not processed. How annoying!! It had taken me over a week to get a hotel reservation for agreeable dates for the trip to Cambodia, and now we couldn't purchase the airline tickets!

But Puteri Harbour Marina saved the day. I asked the front desk if they could take us to Danga Bay so we could personally visit an Air Asia ticket office. The next morning we had a fast boat ride up to Danga Bay. The boat driver walked with us to the Air Asia office, then walked with us to find an ATM, and back to the Air Asia office and waited while we purchased the tickets. All for no fee and he also refused to accept a tip. Cannot say enough compliments for the staff at Puteri Harbour Marina. They really go out of their way to help the cruisers in any way needed. We probably could have taken our dinghy to Danga Bay, but the current in the Johor Strait runs very strong and it is not somewhere we would feel comfortable traveling in an inflatable dinghy. Hopefully Air Asia will correct the programming problem soon so we can book future trips. I am so ready to start planning trips to Vietnam, Thailand, Maccau/Hong Kong and China.

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