Georgia J

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Sharon’s blog 10/29/12 Malaysia

Today we said good-bye to our friends on Serenity and to Malaysia.   The four of us had spent the last month with our self-guided quick tour around Malaysia.  We agree that Malaysia has been our biggest surprise of the entire journey.    We expected Malaysia to be like Indonesia, but what we found was more like Singapore.  At least the places we visited were modern, sophisticated and multi-cultural.  The capital, Kuala Lumpur, was very impressive with daunting skyscrapers and mega malls.  Mallaca was perfect for the history buff (like Kim) with its diverse background.   Penang was our favorite stop, but that may be influenced by our new marina surrounded by retail, restaurants and bars.    We ended our tour in Langkawi, the most popular tourist destination, due to its beaches and duty free shopping.  The beaches didn’t really tempt us, but we did stock up on some “beverages”.  Probably the most significant feature of Malaysia is its blending of cultures, predominantly Chinese, Malay, and Indian.  If we believe our various cab drivers, this blending is not always harmonious.  However we never felt any negativity toward Americans and were always met with hospitality and helpfulness.

Kim says I complain the most about the hectic pace Georgia J always seems to be on, but am always the first one to say it is time to move on.   I am definitely ready to move to the next stop in our journey, Thailand.  Although it is difficult to grasp in this onerous heat, the holidays are just around the corner.  We have a lot to do to get Georgia J situated before we head back to the States.   Next stop:  Phuket.
S/V Georgia J

A face which only a mother could love

Kim’s blog 10/20/12:

Since leaving Singapore, we have pushed our way up the Malacca Straits staying in anchorages and marinas along the way.  Since the 14th century, the Malacca Straits have been notorious for piracy.  Apparently, the pirates have all moved on to real estate development and retail malls.  However, the straits have still been a changeling trip due to the massive amount of ship traffic, small fishing vessels and junk in the water.  When possible, we have only traveled during the day in order to dodge the fishing nets, buoys, boats and logs.

Malaysia has been the most surprising country we have visited.  We expected Malaysia to be very similar to Indonesia, only a bit more affluent.  Instead, we have only seen a highly developed country.  We visited Kula Lumpur, the capital city, with large skyscrapers and malls sporting the Gucci and Rolex outlets.
We also visited the historic city of Malacca.  Since the 16th century, the city has been occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch, British, Japanese and British again.  Many original buildings and artifacts survive from each era.  In addition, waves of Indians, Chinese and Arabs worked the spice trade making for an interesting mixture of cultures.

We are now Penang, one of the few predominately Chinese cities of Malaysia.  The marina is in a beautiful brand new retail complex with Starbucks only stone’s throw from the boat.  We plan to tour historic Penang and enjoy a bit of luxury before continuing our trip north.

s/v Georgia J
Moored at Straits Quay Marina, Penang, Malaysia

Entering Penang Harbor
Downtown Kula Lumpur
China Town in Kula Lumpur
Touring Malacca
Field Trip in Malacca

Eight Bells for Plato 10/27/12

Today was a sad day on Georgia J. Our longest serving crew member, Plato, passed away. He was 15 years old.

As a young dog, Plato learned all the standard cocktail party tricks- sit, lay down, shake, speak, dance and howl like a wolf. However, over time the tricks grew boring and Plato longed for more excitement. At age 13, he sailed across the Pacific logging more than 12,000 sea miles. He is believed to be the oldest Schnauzer to ever sail across the Pacific Ocean. At each port, he charmed customs officials and kept a close anchor watch with endless laps around the deck. Although his sense of hearing was gone and eyes had dimmed, he retained a keen sense of smell. He found Australia smells particularly fascinating. For 15 years, he maintained a friendly disposition and never bit nor growled, a record which few humans can match.

A good sailor and friend, he will be sorely missed.

s/v Georgia J

Sharon’s blog 10/03/12  What a Difference a Day Makes

As we made the short, but hectic, passage to Singapore we sailed into another world.  It is actually mind boggling to see how different life can be in such a short distance.  Singapore is a land of many people, mass transit, skyscrapers and mega malls.  Technology is evident everywhere as almost everyone on the trains is using their iphones, ipads, etc.

We were pleasantly surprised to pull into the marina right beside our friends, Gordon and Sherri on Serenity.  We have been trying to catch up with them since Kupang.  Raffles Marina is a lovely facility with a beautiful pool with waterfalls, slides and a swim up Indian Cuisine bar (a first for us)  The complex has several restaurants, a hotel,  a gym and a bowling alley.  This is a bit different than the fishing villages we have been visiting!Our friends introduced us to getting around on the MRT.

Since English is one of the 4 official languages, it is pretty easy.  We went to Little India and had a fabulous lunch.    A couple of days later, we ventured out on our own and Kim indulged me by spending a half day at the 70 acre National Botanic Gardens.  Even Kim admits the Orchid Garden was probably the most beautiful flower garden we have ever seen.  Pay backs are hell as I suspect I will be spending a half day at the War museum.   After the Gardens, we went to Orchard Road, Singapore’s Park Avenue.   We got a little taste of home with a visit to a California Pizza Kitchen.

We will be here a few more days as we get some work done on the boat and do a bit more touring.  We will be setting sail for Malaysia soon.

S/V Georgia J Moored at Raffles Marina, Singapore

Singapore's Botanical Gardens
Shopping on Orchard Road

Crossing the Singapore Straits

Every passage seems to have its own unique challenges.   In the Tasman Sea, it was weather.  In Australia, the problem was reefs.  In Singapore, the issue was ship traffic.

Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world.  On average, a large ship arrives or departs every 12 minutes.  To prepare, we had listened to the traffic controllers and ships on the radio for several days and plotted a course which we hoped would minimize our exposure.  Listening to the radio transmissions definitely raised our anxiety about the crossing.  Ships bantered constantly in many languages, occasionally yelling at each other to slow down or arguing over who had right of way.

When we left Nongsa Marina in Indonesia, we were greeted by very hazy conditions reducing our visibility and an electrical storm.  While we normally depend on radar in poor visibility, it was useless since there were hundreds of ships appearing on the screen.  Singapore does require all vessels to use AIS (Automated Indentification System) which shows us other vessels' location, speed and distance of closest approach.  Oddly, tugs pulling barges (many of which we encountered) do not seem to have AIS.

Crossing the shipping lanes actually went very smoothly.   Like a tortiese crossing a super highway, we called traffic control, ducked behind a container ship and poured on the coal.

Our elation was short lived.  After crossing the lanes, ships seemed to be coming from every direction.  We bobbed and weaved between the ship traffic.   After four hours, we reached Raffles Marina, ready for our traditional safe arrival cocktail.

s/v Georgia J, safely mooring in Raffles Marina, Singapore 9/26/12

We must be getting close to Singapore