Sent: 20 Nov 2003
Subject: Aur Maties

All you boys and girls.
This is the last one for a while.
I have collected the last set of good pictures from my trip down the coast of Malaysia.

Before I go any further I think I need to correct a misconception that I have heard from a few friends lately.
I am no longer on the boat. The boat is parked in a fairly inexpensive marina in Malaysia just to the east of the island of Singapore. I left it there thinking that I might sail south from there upon my return to the boat.
I am now living in Bangkok at my father’s place looking for work, writing, playing around with computers, software and the Internet. It is a quiet hermitage. Sometimes the side of me that wants to live, rages at me. It says, “get us the hell out of this black hole.” Then the side of me that is more powerful. The side of me that thinks and ultimately guides where I go, says, “Relax, We’ll be back there soon enough.”
These pictures represent a life almost as far removed from myself as they are from you. They involve a bit of dreaming on my part, a bit of pride, and a bit of pleasure. I hope those feelings are carried over to my readers.

Tioman or Tahiti, was taken as I was leaving the large island of Tioman behind. I spent a lot of time on that island and considered climbing its heights. I was dissuaded by the thickness of the jungle while hiking through the center of the island. This picture did a good job capturing the parts of the island that reminded me of Tahiti. Just tell me this island couldn’t be somewhere in the South Pacific. Instead it is located about 40 miles off the east coast of Malaysia.

Big Leaf, was taken as I hiked over the pass in the center of the island. There were all kinds of leaves and huge flowers off the trail but this one fell in the path right in front of me so I reached down with my hand and took a photo.

Green, was taken on the other side of the pass. As we raced down that side of the mountainous island, old cement steps appeared out of the lush green. The steps would suddenly appear and then disappear and then appear again. The guy I was with was using them as a training coarse so I followed him. I think this photo gives an idea of just how thick the jungle was, and this was where there were steps. When it was just a dirt path the forest squeezed in on all sides.





Pulau Aur, was one of the small beaches facing that perfect little channel I was anchored in. That place was a moment in time that I will not soon forget. I wish I could show it to you through my own eyes. Graph a piece of my memory onto the computer. The photos just don’t do it justice. I think we have all experienced that sort of thing. When we realize that the photos can’t compare so we put down the camera and try to burn it into our memories. Pulau Aur will be burned in there for a long time to come.

Aur Maties, was a self portrait taken when I had finally arrived on Pulau Aur. I was so impressed with the island. It was the perfect pirate hideout and I imagined I was back in time with my own vessel cruising guarded waters. I had found a safe haven and was challenging any of my crew to deny my nautical skills “Aur Maties, if any a’ yous think ya can do better, you’ll soon be walkin’ the plank!”
But since I was both Captain and I crew I decided to hold my tongue.

National Day, was taken on Tioman Island. It was a large enough island to have a moderate population. Malaysia is surprisingly Nationalistic. I guess many countries are that way. I shouldn’t be surprised. America has become even more so in the last decade. But on Tioman it was expressed in a funny way. They had a contest to see who had the most elaborate and creative flag configuration on their bicycles or motorbikes. The picture I took captured only about a quarter of the participants. At the end of the judging, viewed here, they all mounted and rode in a huge hooting and hollering procession through the village, half way around the island and back. It looked like a lot of fun and I did my share of cheering (even thought I am not a Malaysian National)

JB Anchorage, depicts the place I had the boat anchored while looking for work in Singapore. The city on the Malaysian side was called Johor Bahru but everyone called it JB. In the background you can see a few of the other vessels in the anchorage. Behind them is the Causeway connecting Singapore to the Malaysian Peninsula. This was as far as we could travel up the Johor Straits. It was known in cruising circles for being a free anchorage, which allowed fairly easy access to both Malaysia and Singapore
I met a lot of really nice people and some weird ones too. It was a stop used by world cruising folk who were not interested in the expensive marinas. It was great to hang out with some of these people and get a better feel for that kind of lifestyle. I asked all kinds of questions and got all kinds of answers. But best of all I got a lot of generosity. One couple had a CD Burner on board and about 15 cruising books on disc in PDF format. They burned me a copy of all their discs. So now I have about 1000 US$ worth of cruising guides. Another guy gave me “Sea Map,” which is a little piece of software that contains all the nautical maps of the world from large scale to harbor scale. So now I can look at a Nautical Chart anywhere in the world. I plan on getting a small printer and that will be my chart formula from now on.
I found a lot of kindness and a sharing attitude in the cruising community. It was something I had particularly missed cruising solo for a month and a half.

Motoring Francois-Style, in this photo I was trying to capture Francois in his silly ass little dingy. The dinghy was puny. The small motor he used had lost its handle so he jury-rigged a wooden one. But the funniest thing about the whole thing was the way he drove his dinghy. He would always stand up and drive backwards facing the rear of the boat. I made fun of him a few times about it and then threatened to capture it on film. If you look closely he is smiling because he was trying to escape as I ran for my camera but I caught him and in the background you can even see his boat.
The cruising community has it’s own funny lifestyle; little dinghys zipping around the anchorage as people visit, invite each other over for wine or a meal or just end up spending the day together chatting. I found Francois, or he found me. I can’t remember. He made me laugh. I had never spent any time with a Frenchman but I found we seemed to gravitate toward each other. I think the main reason is because we made each other laugh. He loved Police Academy and we made endless jokes about Sweetchuck, Proctor and Stoolman. Another reason I think we got along great was because of food and drink. Francois had a few beer brewing kits and had about 22 liters of a mellow gold he had brewed. He also introduced me to some fine Madagascar Rum and a last bit of Chilean Vodka. We cruised JB looking for tasty restaurants. We ate fabulous curries with crispy chapatti. We talked about everything from Politics to women. I was surprised by his attitude toward women and he was surprised by my political beliefs. We had a great time together. I used to think the French were simply a different breed but after Francois I changed my mind. He was actually Swiss French but he was so politically and socially French that to call him anything else would be a misnomer. He tried for a while to get me to continue on up the coast to Thailand with him. I tried to explain that my boat was way too slow for his and I was just about out of money. He listened closely and then ignored me and continued to work on me. Eventually he saw he would not be able to change my mind but it sure felt good to have him try. He had been cruising the world for the last 7 years and I felt grateful that he would want an amateur tailing him.
He gave me sound advice for a lot of equipment and then I departed for Sebana Cove Marina where the boat is presently sitting safely in a slip.

Galopin, is Francois’ boat. It is as much of a machine as it looks. The word Galopin is French for urchin, as in street urchin, or little homeless child. It was appropriate. I asked a whole lot of questions about his boat because it was such a bloody contrast to mine. It has a flat chinned bottom and without any gear inside it is able to plane on the water in a decent wind. It has a max speed of around 12 knots loaded with cruising gear where as my boat has a max speed of 6 knots. It is a beautiful boat and it made me think of Mad Max’s car in the second movie. I was totally jealous for a long time, until he told me that he had paid 70,000 US$ for it. Then I thought about how I had put in about 1/7 of what he had spent and I could understand and not feel too bad.
I learned something else while I was at that anchorage. I thought that since the Wind Spirit was terribly old, she was an exception in that I had to repair stuff all the time. Almost every day something new broke. But she was not an exception, she was the rule. Everyone in that anchorage spent a few days at almost every stop repairing stuff.
There was a difference though. Where I was disassembling the transmission all over the cockpit they were taking their TV out and putting in a new one. While I was crawling around in the bilge fixing the gear cable, they were resewing the Cockpit tarp. While I was pulling out the starter and taking it in for repair they were repairing their dinghy’s outboard. Their fundamental systems were in good condition where as I was bringing mine up to par. But I think most things are functioning well now and I sure got a crash course in boat repair.

This is the last of these letters for a while. If you want to chat please drop me an email and I will let you know how things are going now. If you can wait, then, near the end of next year, I believe, I will be taking off for another long voyage. I will continue these stories then. In the mean time I am going to put together a web page. I will put most of the stories and photos up on the page when it is done.
Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope you all have a pleasant, if not slightly crazy New Years.

Much Love,
Captain Andy