Pangkor - Life on Land

Even Field Trip is getting some time on the good old Terra Firma here in Malaysia.  We’ve hauled her out to reapply five shiny coats of new coppercoat to her bottom.  Who doesn’t want a shiny bottom, right?

It was a bit uncertain if we COULD haul out here, given the type of lift that they use.  A trailer goes beneath the bridgedeck, between the two hulls, and literally raises it up like a forklift would pick up a wooden pallat.  Once out of the water, she got a high pressure shower and was set up on wooden blocks right next to a boat she’d sailed with across the Pacific - Loch Marin!  How nice, to know someone in your new neighborhood!

n fact, we’ve met a couple of sailing friends from years back since we’ve been here - Brenda and Hugh on SV Scotia, and Susan and Mark on SV Erie Spirit.  After years on our own, its fun to meet up with old friends and find out how they’ve ended up here.  Marinas and boat yards always lend themselves to new friendships, too, and we’ve met a few boat couples who plan to join the rally going east to Borneo with us.  So, we’ll know some of our neighbors along the way!

On the first night, we needed to stay aboard, because by the time we got settled, it was late and everyone was exhausted.  Mark ensured that the holding tank outlets were closed up tight, and we grabbed a quick dinner of noodles from the pantry for dinner before hitting the sack.  Tomorrow would be full of projects, and we’d need a good night’s sleep.

The next day started with a torrential downpour, delaying any work and creating quite a lake beneath us.  I wondered if “the hard” would stay hard, and imagined our hulls sinking into the terra that was no longer so firma.  When the water subsided, we all pitched in to prep the bottom.  Tunes were turned on and in no time we were jamming.  Michael and I were tasked with removing thru hull covers and cleaning them, Elizabeth was put in charge of cleaning off the algae that the pressure washer had missed, and Mark got right to it with his new orbital sander.  Everyone was grateful for the overcast weather that lasted throughout the morning, keeping the scorching sun at bay.

As the day wore on, we moved from task to task, eager to get the boat ready for the guys who we’d scheduled to help out in the coming days.  One group would be polishing and waxing Field Trip, then another would come later in the week to help Mark spray on the copper coat.  Mark was determined to get the boat all ready so the work could be done on schedule.  The term ‘schedule’ actually shouldn’t really be uttered in a boat yard, should it?  The very mention of a date seems to directly provoke chuckles from fellow sailors who once claimed they’d be back in the water by such-and-such a date.  Each time Mark made his ten-day declaration, I could almost see the elements looking at each other in the clouds with crossed arms and smirks on their faces, “Ten days?  Ten days, he says?  Ha!  Who does this guy think he is?”

Kids playing with a puppy as mom gets better
Sure enough, elements beyond our control taunted and mocked us.  The weather decided that it was time for monsoon season to start, so every single morning at about 5:00 a.m., the bottom falls out of the sky.  The winds effortlessly whipped up the stakes holding down a tarp around Field Trip’s hulls.  The daily deluge prevents any copper coat paint from being applied, ensuring that it won’t have it’s full 24 hours to dry.  Yes, nature was poo-pooing our schedule.

Oh, but that wasn’t all it had in store.  Just for kicks, I was gifted with an intestinal bug that kept me alternately lying down in bed and running back and forth from the boat to the boat yard toilets.  Nice.  The only saving grace was that we’d opted to book a room at the nearby hotel, where I could recover in AC with easier bathroom access.  Eventually, after spiking a fever one night, I ventured out to see a doctor.  I thought I surely had dengue, but this Chinese doctor was certain it was an attack of the SE Asian amoeba that so many foreigners suffer.  Once he’d heard my symptoms and stated his diagnosis, I learned that medicines are not administered in exactly the same way here as in the states.  He asked how I did at swallowing pills.

“Um, okay, I guess.  Are they big?”

“No, just a lot of them.”  He handed me a tiny ziplock bag containing eight pills of various sizes and colors.  “This will help.  Take these eight now, then eight more in two hours, then eight more in another two hours.  Those amoebas will be doing flips to get out!  Oh - and here’s one you need to chew... only this once.  Then, after you leave here, go to the shop next door and buy plenty of 100Plus rehydration drink.  You cannot drink plain water.  You need to replace all those minerals your body is losing.”

The nurse handed me a cup of warm water and poured the cocktail of capsules into my palm.

“What are these?”  I asked, feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland holding a vial of unknown potion.

The doctor smiled like the Cheshire Cat, “It’s my own combination.”

“Okay, but WHAT are they.  Like, what kind are these yellow ones?”  Was I really going to pop eight unknown, unmarked pills into my body?

“Don’t worry.  By this afternoon, you’ll be feeling better.  Stop taking pain relievers, and just take these.”

Yes.  I was really going to pop eight unknown, unmarked pills into my body.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I had had a splitting migraine, achy joints, fever, and, *ahem* toilet trouble - for days on end and something had to be done.

I sat at his desk and dutifully downed all eight pills and chewed a ninth.  Deed’s done!  So much for being an informed patient!  I went up to pay my whopping $30 RM ($8 US) for the consultation and the medicines.  Then went next door to buy a couple bottles of 100Plus.  Mark called the GRAB (SE Asian version of Über) and we were on our way back to the marina.

Sitting in the backseat of the car, I continued to untangle the details of what had just happened.

“That was just bazaar.  Eight pills three times in six hours?  That’s twenty-four pills!  None of which I can identify!  How did I agree to that?  What in the world??”  I flipped the tiny plastic baggies over in my hand to see if there was a label.  The pre-printed fill-in-the-blank label made specifically for this doctor had been left completely blank.  Nothing noted what the pills were, possible side effects, warnings, or dosage.  My mind was swimming as my stomach bubbled with its newly ingested concoction.  Have I gone mad?

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Weekly cruiser dinner
Madness it might have been, but I continued on the regimen until every last pill of the 24 pills was gone.  This was a battle against the viscious SE Asian Amoeba, and those little unmarked pills were my viligiant army.  I had given the order - CHARGE!!

For the next few hours I laid in bed while the war waged in my gut.  I sipped the syrupy 100Plus drink, fortifying my troops.  How would this all end?  What if my symptoms worsened and I had to go to a hospital?  I’d have to admit it.  I’d have to actually say to an actual doctor, “I took 24 pills earlier, but I don’t know what they were.”  That would be an interesting conversation.

By the afternoon, the aching in my joints had eased, thanks to the mineral-rich sips, and my stomach cramps subsided.  It seemed my battalion was gaining ground.  The intense headache held on for the next day or so, but acetamenophin kept it managed.  My amoeba infestation was being defeated, and I was slowly becoming myself again.

Yes, those outside elements threw us a few curve balls, but we know who’s ultimately in charge around here.  Amoebal armies, Chinese medicine, mis-measured hulls and monsoon rains?  It’s was all part of a bigger plan, and we’re continuing to trust Him and His schedule.  It might be ten days, we expect it to be ten days, but if it’s more or less, it doesn’t matter.  We’re just along for the ride.

Here is our video of the haul out at Pangkor Marina.


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