Saturday, June 26, 2010

Time for another vacation---Thailand this time!

Last Saturday was the first morning that we had all smiles from all participants for our morning walk. Both kids were actually in a good mood, which is unusual for that early in the morning. When we returned to the boat they updated their journals and worked on study books for math, grammar and reading comprehension while I cooked bacon. Cooking bacon on our boat involves turning off the air-conditioning and opening hatches so that the bacon smell does not permeate everything inside the boat. Our galley has a good vent fan over the stove, but cooking odors still find their way throughout the small confines of a closed boat.

As soon as we open the hatches, the flies start swarming in. Flies are particularly prevalent in Malaysia. And they drive us crazy!!! That is one enormous benefit of having air-conditioning and being able to keep the hatches and companionway closed 99% of the time. I think we could tolerate the heat (albeit very uncomfortably!), but neither Bill nor I could ever get accustomed to these annoying flies.

As I cooked bacon, both Zachary and Elisabeth grabbed fly swatters and started fly patrol. By the time the bacon was cooked and we closed the boat back up, there was only 2 flies left inside; and those were quickly dispatched. I love having the grandkids aboard on bacon-cooking day.

Next on the agenda for Saturday was to attempt dinghy repair again. Bill had applied 2 hypalon patches about 2 years ago and those have held fine until recently. Last week he had used a heat gun and removed the old patches and the old adhesive, and had applied 2 new patches. He let the dinghy sit with very low air pressure for several days to allow the adhesive to set well, as per instructions included in the dinghy hypalon patch kit. Then he inflated it and everything looked perfect........for 2 days. Then it started leaking again. Bill did more research and learned that one is supposed to apply the patch in the shade and the dinghy should remain in the shade for 5 to 7 days afterward to allow the adhesive to set properly. By leaving the dinghy in the full sun, it had been exposed to very high heat and the patches had loosened. The glue will liquefy at 160F and the dock gets every bit of 160F almost daily in full sun. No wonder the patch did not hold properly. Back to square one!

Next step was to again use the heat gun to loosen the newly-applied adhesive and use a flat edged tool to smooth the patch down tight again. Then he removed more air and turned the dinghy upside down to put the patches in the shade. He let it sit in this position for 5 days after the second repair attempt. Today was the day to test how well the patches were holding. Bill flipped the dinghy over and pumped it up and waited 6 hours. Seemed to hold fine so we mounted the outboard and took the kids for a dingy ride. They both enjoyed that a lot. We went out into Johor Strait and let each kid drive for awhile. Zach is an old hand at driving the dinghy but this was the first time Elisabeth tried her hand at it. She did surprisingly well......better than some of my adult friends. There were a bunch of local kids in the marina lagoon in the pedal boats and kayaks that afternoon. Zachary had no problems winding his way through all of them as we returned to our boat.

Unfortunately, the next day it was obvious that one or both of the patches were slowly leaking. Bill has used all our hypalon patches and adhesive so there is nothing we can do about it right now. He ordered more hypalon and our son will bring it when he meets us in Singapore in August, and we continue to search for the correct adhesive. Surely it is available somewhere in Singapore. It is not available in Malaysia.

Sunday was the birthday of Linda on S/V B'Sheret. Michael invited the few cruisers on their boats right now up to the marina cafe for burgers to celebrate Linda's birthday. I baked toll house pan cookies and wrote birthday wishes in icing on one of the pan cookies. I did not have a pastry bag and tips onboard, nor did I have food coloring to tint the icing. I used strawberry extract to tint the icing pink and folded parchment paper into a makeshift pastry bag. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. After the burgers at the cafe we all retired to S/V Estrellita's cockpit for birthday cake, cookies and coffee (with chocolate milk for the kids). Amy on S/V Estrellita had baked a couple of pineapple upside down cakes. Oh, those were so good! It has been years since we have eaten pineapple upside down cake. Zachary loved the cake; Elisabeth preferred the toll house cookies. Little piggy that I am, I enjoyed both.

Today I washed all the laundry and packed our duffel bags. After dinner tonight I will defrost the fridge and turn it off. The marina shuttle will take us to the train station in Johor Bahru at 06:30 tomorrow morning, and we will begin our journey to Thailand. The first train goes from Johor Bahru to Butterworth terminal near Penang. We should arrive at Butterworth around 20:00 tomorrow evening, and will take the ferry across to Penang. One night in a hotel in Penang and then back to the Butterworth terminal to catch the train to Bangkok shortly after 2 the next afternoon. This will be an overnight train, and should arrive in Bangkok mid-day Thursday. Stopping in Penang for 1 night and 1/2 day should let us know whether we want to stop there for several days on our return trip. Penang was one of the top 40 places to see according to the New York Times last year. Sailing friends visited there a few months ago and said the water is very dirty and the fast ferries cause too much rolling. They hated being there, so we figure the best way to see Penang might be on land rather than by sailboat. If it looks interesting, we will stop in Penang for a few days on our way back from Thailand.

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