Boats are meant to move

Totem sailing across Malacca

Two months and change. 71 days, actually (who’s counting?). During the last six years of cruising the only other times we’ve stayed in one place more than two months were when we parked in Australia, and earlier this year in Langkawi. That’s it. Even the places we’ve stopped for more than a month only amount to a handful: we may not move quickly, but we like to be moving. Nomadic living is our baseline.

Of course, we didn’t have much of a choice this year. Sitting in the marina was a far cry from our grand plans of cruising in Borneo and the Philippines, but it’s great peace of mind to have worked through our engine troubles.

Pulling out of Puteri Harbour a couple of days ago was an incredible, liberating feeling. Being on the move again, listening to water swish along the hull, feels SO GOOD! Sailing would have been cathartic, but there wasn’t  wind to work with. On the other hand, we needed the all-out long motoring days to test the engine. It passed: no overheating, and the coolant levels remained perfect. FINALLY.

Anchoring off islands in the Strait of Malacca, a weight is lifted. The call to prayer echoes from a mosque as our home once more rocks gently, lulling us to sleep. The sun sets behind the Liberty 458 Solstice, followed by a spectacular full  moon in brilliant jack o’lantern orange, reminders that we’re back at the whim of the natural world instead of pinned to a manufactured one.

Solstice at sunset

We’re now on a slow march northbound. Solstice is traveling with us, which aside from offering great company, means we get picture of Totem- that’s Bill’s picture at the top. Thanks, Bill, for having a camera ready during the five minutes we actually got to sail yesterday! OK, almost sail. Fine, we were motorsailing. But it looked good, and we picked up speed and fuel efficiency. Right? Well, at  least we didn’t have any of the infamous Sumatras, although the squall-dodging was “interesting” and some of the lightning too close for comfort.

squalls coming

Our days were uneventful enough to goof around with photos of the commercial traffic that’s on a constant flow along the Strait; our younger mermaid practices her tanker-lifting technique below. I start writing down the different destination ports showing up on their AIS data: Mumbai, Futong, Sikka, Nazira, Yangon, Columbo. Far off destinations, the kind that get your mind wandering.


You know about the five gyres, right? How much comes from this corner of the world? How much floats in? We see it constantly. There is trash around the boat, in volume, most of the time. I played with the contrast to pull them out in this photo…commercial vessels in the Malacca shipping lanes in the distance.

trash from totem

Then there was tanker under a Zanzibar flag, oddly parked outside the port zone, AIS turned off, small boats (with more crew than the normal local fishing boat) in close quarters. The ship didn’t answer when hailed by name over VHF 16. We’re not far from a major global piracy zone, and it stood out as odd, so Jamie reported it when we arrived in Port Dickson a short while later.


I’m grateful to the marina friends in Puteri who gave us an unforgettable sendoff. Gifts for the girls from the kids on Madrona and Capricorn Dancer. At departure, an alpine horn salute at the dock, and kazoos and pompoms from shore. Cruisers are a fun bunch! Seriously, though, the kazoo gets bit points for style and eardrum friendliness compared to an air horn (adds to list for boat inventory…).



Next stops: playing tourist in Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang!

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3 Responses

  1. Just discovered your blog. It’s lovely! I think I was referred to you from a YouTube video of someone you crossed paths with. Can’t wait to explore it more!!

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