Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Grasshoppers...it's what's for dinner.

One of the best things about Thailand is its food.  Everywhere you go, things are fresh, spicy, and just down right delicious.  The curries are amazing, the seafood is cooked perfectly, the veggies are fresh from the market.  For cruisers, the grocery stores carry everything anyone could ever want….fresh local food, imported meats, a variety of cheeses, seafood, you name it.  Out of all these choices, guess what Jake wanted for dinner?  Grasshoppers.  To be fair, the freezer he was making his choice from had much grosser things – water bugs anyone?  Or perhaps you would like to split a giant toad with your partner (complete with head)?  If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know we indulge his inner Bear Grylls and buy these nasty things from time to time.  So that’s how we found ourselves having oysters and grasshopper po-boys for dinner tonight (I’m guessing folks in Louisiana aren’t cringing as much as the rest of you guys).

The oysters here in the Makro market come in the little round plastic tubs for 30 Baht per tub (about $1 USD) and they’re extremely fresh, so we eat them quite often.  The grasshoppers on the other hand were closer to 425 baht per kilo and of course you can’t get anything less than a kilo.  Jake has been asking for them every time we go to the store (although I’m not sure why…he had them fresh in OK and thought they were disgusting).  Since we were already going to have the oil hot tonight for the oysters, we relented and spent the $15 USD or so on the frozen grasshoppers (and I balk when Andy buys a ribbye at $15/pound). 

fried grasshoppers don't make a very pretty picture, but you get
the idea.

 When Andy opened the bag, we had to open the door to the little bungalow here to keep from gagging.  But he trudged on….into the oil they went.  So there was our table set…baguette, coleslaw, fried oysters, and big plate of fried grasshoppers, eyes and all.  Guess who didn’t like the grasshoppers?  Of course he didn’t!  He never likes these things…when will we learn?  Guess who cleaned their plate?  Yep…Andy and I…crunchy with a little bit of a smoky, burnt taste.  Not bad.  I hear that we can’t sustain our eating habits at the rate this world is procreating and we’ll all be eating bugs in a few years anyway.  We thought we would just get a leg up on everyone.  Cheers!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hauled out in Thailand

Here we are about to come out of the water (pulled
by a tractor attached to a large cable).
We’ve been hauled out now for almost a month and with the exception of waiting on a new transmission, things seem to be going pretty well.  Before we came to Thailand, we did a lot of research on boat yards both here and in Malaysia.  We heard nothing but horror stories about Thailand – things taking twice as long as quoted, twice (or three times) the amount quoted, and even so much as holding your boat hostage until you pay more money – so we put a fair amount of effort into trying to find a yard in Malaysia.  Unfortunately, no one would respond to our emails and phone calls.  We decided that wasn’t a good sign and could be an indication as to how they ran their yard.  We had an appointment with a yard in Satun, Thailand (at the recommendation of a fellow cruiser) but then we met up with a couple that tipped us off to G&T.  Owned by Gerry and Toi (hence the ‘G&T’), it’s located in Phuket, just south of Apo Marina and specializes in catamarans, mainly because there is a huge mud flat that you have to cross at high tide.  We only had a meter under us when we hauled.  We emailed Toi and immediately got a response so we decided to go for it.

Halfway through powerwashing...dirty, dirty, dirty

So far, I’m impressed.  Immediately after we were out of the water, the guys went to work on the pressure washer and we met with Toi with our list of things we needed.  She’s a project manager type and got to work right away on lining up people for our needs.  We had an upholsterer and woodworker show up the same day and an appointment with a mechanic within the hour.  She directed us towards someone who would make us a new trampoline and immediately ordered our bottom paint.  

The primer is on...looks better already.

More primer for the front deck.  Jake likes the red.  He thinks
we should paint the whole boat that color.

Engine, sans transmission.  Still waiting.
A few weeks later and everything is pretty much finished with the exception of our transmission.  It took a week for the guy to show up and another week for him to tell us we needed new parts.  It took us nearly another week to find anyone who would call us back, only to find out it’s cheaper to get a whole new transmission than 6 tiny little parts.  So here we sit, waiting on a part to get from Holland to the US (MA to be exact…aren’t they snowed in?) and then from the US to Langkawi and then finally here to Thailand.  I have nothing good to say so I’ll just move on.

The only other bad experience we had was with the woodworker.  We had two fairly small projects – replacing the middle strip on our front deck (10 planks of hardwood) and a new table top (we’re quite attached to ours and want to take it home as a keepsake).  They quoted us 16,000 baht (over $500 USD) for the 10 planks and 16,000 baht for the table top (we didn’t even ask for legs!).  We said no and Gerry took Andy to a local wood shop.  We ended up getting the 10 planks for 3,000 baht ($100 USD).  Later, we found out they had tried to snow over some other folks as well.  They ordered (and charged them for) teak cabinets and they showed up painted.  When they made them take the paint off, they found out it wasn’t teak at all.  Oops….  So I say, if you’re in Phuket and looking for a woodworker, avoid Nai – I believe their shop is near Yachthaven Marina (for full disclosure, our friends seemed happy with their work...I think they were just here too long and expectations fell).  As for the table…we found a really cool piece of wood for 450 baht ($15 USD) and we’re sanding and refinishing it now.  I think it’s going to look really nice.

As for any other review…I’ll post them on my notes over in the Cruising Notes section so as not to bore the general population.

Other good things about G&T…they have “bungalows” for you if you don’t want to stay on your boat.  Bungalows is in quotes because it’s actually a small trailer, but they’re pretty nice…clean, air conditioning, satellite tv, bed, and hot showers.  There’s also a small fridge, hotplate (that burns everything) and sink for washing dishes.  We’re actually feeling quite spoiled.  Jake said he could live here for a year.  I think we’ve raised a son with low expectations for his living space…we should be ok when we get home!  Andy sleeps on the boat at night because the mattress here is killing his back, but he’s certainly enjoying the tv and air conditioning.

It’s not all perfect.  Thai time is in effect which means that every appointment or conversation happens at least an hour past what time you expect it to happen, or even a day or two. Internet sucks, so I have to either stand on the other side of the boat yard in one particular spot (in the hot sun) with my iPad in my hand, or walk up the street to the internet café.  We’re not really close to anything so we have to borrow someone’s truck or rent a car or walk (that actually hasn’t been much of an issue for things we need, but it’s kept our touring down quite a bit).  While the materials here are cheap, if you’re dealing with someone who specializes in yachts, you can bet they’re going to stick it to you.  I’m pretty sure we’re getting screwed on at least two items, but there’s really nothing you can do about it when it’s the only option you have.  But whenever we get frustrated, we just look at our neighbor and see all the issues he’s having and count our blessings.

In general, living in a boatyard sucks, but it doesn’t suck so bad here.  With that said, we’re all ready to get back on board and back in the water.  Counting down the days…  "After" pics to follow!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Big News...and a little bit of nostalgia

Savannah at anchor in one of our favorite places
in Palau
When we sold our house, all of our stuff and bought Savannah, it was the hardest, scariest and most exciting thing we’ve ever done.  After 10 years of planning and saving, w were finally realizing our goal of a five-year cruise around the world.  Looking back, I guess we were kind of naïve on the timeline…after all, it is a great big world.  Anyway, I agreed to six months in Mexico to see if I could, indeed live on a tiny boat with my husband and son 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Six months turned into a year and soon enough we found ourselves crossing the big scary ocean to tropical islands far away.  At some point, Savannah became home and our little life of traveling from place to place via the ocean became normal.  When asked how long we would sail, we quit quoting our five-year plan and instead said “when one of us isn’t having fun or we run out of money.”

The morning we left San Diego.

3 days later, our approach to Isla Guadalupe

Fast forward five years and we find ourselves only half way around the world.  We’ve traveled to 16 different countries visiting some of the most remote places in existence and crossed the largest ocean in the world.    We have seen and done some amazing things.  While it’s not always an easy life, for the most part, we’re still happy and having fun.  However, after many long hours of discussion and doing some math, the sad fact is that we have finally run out of money.  It’s something we knew would happen one day, we just hoped it would be later and we’d be closer to home.  We could probably get to South Africa, but then we’d be stuck without many appealing options.   We’ve both stopped and worked before and while we could do that again, we don’t want to be separated again for so long (or in Andy’s case, get shot at).  In reality, with the travel involved and living expenses, we really don’t ever save as much as planned and it ends up just being a long time apart. 

Our first bonfire in Mexico

Pirates in La Cruz, Mexico

Crossing the equator for the first time

Island kids (and Jake) in the Tuamotos

Jake, participating in the French Polynesian games
at a school in the Tuamotos

In our effort to pretend to be responsible adults and avoid that ever growing population of people receiving gov’t assistance (Andy says we have a taste for fine cheddar, not gov’t cheese! Which may be part of the problem…), we have come to the very hard and sad reality that we need to put Savannah on the market here in Malaysia and go back to the United States to take a break.  We’ll get jobs and settle down somewhere on the south east coast while we save up for our next adventure. 

It’s been a hard couple of months.  Jake “refused to allow it” when we first told him and there have been tears all around.  But just like in the beginning, this is the hardest, scariest and most exciting thing we’ve done.  They say the two happiest days of your life (aside from marriage and children, of course) is the day you buy your boat and the day you sell it.  We’re trying to focus on the good things about selling, like being back with family, dishwashers, washing machines, The Big Green Egg, and Chick-fil-a!

I believe this was in the Mortlocks in Micronesia

Christmas celebration in Lamotrek, Micronesia with the locals.

Our first anchorage after arriving in the Philippines
I’m sure this won’t be my last post on the subject, but I’m going to try and not dwell on it all too much.  There’s no point.  In the meantime, we’re on the hard here in Thailand getting her all fixed up (being reminded of what BOAT stands for….Break Out Another Thousand) In between working on Savannah, we’ll try to squeeze in a little more fun before we actually list her.  It’ll be a few weeks before it all happens so don’t abandon us just yet…I promise lots of honest, if not exciting posts on the trials and tribulations of wrapping things up.

Feeding giraffes in the Philippines

Amazing vacation in Australia

Sailing to Thailand

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

We've been on the go for the past few weeks and now find ourselves back in Langkawi getting ready to go again.  We had to return to Malaysia to reset our Thailand visas and now we'll head north to haul out and give Savannah some new powder and paint so she feels pretty again.

I have so much to say but lack the motivation so I'm going to leave you with some pictures from our trip.  Andy finally got to get in the water again so there's a few treats from him.  The other pictures are of the absolute chaos Thailand calls tourism.  We have never in our life experienced the sheer volume of bikinis, speedos and boats.  

From our family to yours, we hope the New Year brings you health and happiness!

You wonder how the ferry flipped over and killed 400 people?
This is how.

These people were all snorkeling in the same spot behind their
tour boat....not sure what they were looking at as there was no
I wonder what the US Coast Guard would say about this.

You just can't get the feel of this without the
"boom chicka boom boom" ...it's just
not the same.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Savannah!

One of the many alleys here in Koh Phi Phi.  Rows and rows
of shops and restaurants.

Our first week in Thailand has been pretty fun.  We’ve hopped from island to island and have landed in Koh Phi Phi Don for Christmas (Remember the movie “Beach” with Leonardo DeCaprio?…this is where they filmed it).  The boys have been playing non-stop and we have a big dinner planned for tonight (Christmas Eve) with a few of the boats here.  In some ways it's hard to believe we're in Thailand.  It's not like most of the tourists where they got off a plane and the scenery has suddenly changed drastically...we've slowly eased our way into SE Asia and Thailand doesn't look so different from Malaysia.  The biggest change is that there are very few muslims and way more tourists and hippy backpackers.

Posing with the monkey.

As much fun as we're having,  it’s the first Christmas on that boat that doesn’t really feel like Christmas.  The anchorage is a bit rocky with all of the boats zipping by and the evenings are filled with “boom chick a boom boom” coming from the shore non-stop until 2 in the morning.  And I have to say I’m a bit home sick.  It’s been a lot of Decembers away from home…I was telling Andy how pathetic I am…sitting in an anchorage in one of the most popular beaches in Thailand having trouble being happy.  So, I’m adjusting my attitude today and getting into the spirit.  I called my mom, wrapped presents and now we’re cooking up a storm (at least Andy is). 

So here’s to all of our friends and family wherever you may be, wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the crew of Savannah…all the way from Thailand! I'll leave you with some pictures from the aptly named Monkey Beach!  BAD Monkeys!

Making good use of the stick...shooing the
monkey away.  They get a bit aggressive at times.

Mama monkey, winding down after a long day of harassing tourists.