At a certain point, we realized we had to move on from Tanjung Roo. Our food stores were dwindling, and Sonrisa’s “Gotcha Day” is just around the corner. We need to get back to civilization in order to acquire at least one egg to make her cake. But, should we skip the waterfall we tried for a couple nights ago? We decide the anchorage by the waterfall is just too exposed to leave Sonrisa for any length of time, and so we sail forward to Datai Bay. The guide says, there, we can enjoy clear water, white sand beach resorts, and we can walk 2.5 kilometers (a little over 1 mile) round trip to the waterfall. We probably have time for a quick stop there before continuing on to an area with readily available eggs.
As we laid anchor in Datai Bay, we knew it would be a better home base for Sonrisa. Land curs around us in a protective fashion, breaking the rolling waves and smoothing the water to a hospitable calm. The sun is shining bright, the water glowing turquoise blue, Hobie Cat catamarans use Sonrisa as a rounding mark, zipping circles around us. I begin hanging the hammock when Andrew declares “This is a perfect anchorage to clean Sonrisa’s bottom in time for her Gotcha Day!” I wrinkle my nose. I’d much rather pretend I’m on a sailboat charter vacation with nothing to do but hang in my hammock and dip my toes in the water while I read.
Andrew dons his snorkel and fins, grabs his sponge, and goes overboard while I continue to swing with Sonrisa’s ever steady rock.
“Scritchy, scritchy, scritchy, glurb, glurb, blurb….snort!” I cannot escape the sound of Andrew taking a heaving breath, swimming deep to Sonrisa’s keel, scrubbing, scrubbing, and scrubbing until he and his bubbles return to the surface. He puffs air out the end of his snorkel, clearing all the water with a splash, then spends a few moments on the surface catching his breath until he dives below to repeat. I know this isn’t fun. I swing and read another sentence in the book I’m currently enjoying Snowball, the Biography of Warren Buffett. “BLURB BLURB SNORT!…huff, fuff, huff.” I read the same sentence again…SNORT…and again. I sigh, swing myself off the hammock and go put on my swimmers to help.
In an hour of work, Andrew managed to scrape the hard barnacles off all of her hull, and I had just scratched the surface of the green moss on one quarter of her starboard side. The water in the Melacca Strait has been so murky that we have been loathe to clean Sonrisa’s bottom. Now, she is growing an ecosystem. We make a date for more scrubbing tomorrow, dry off, grab a bottle of wine, and our battery powered speaker.
Donetes Minor and her crew arrive at Sonrisa’s hull to pick us up. Donetes Minor volunteered to shuttle all of us to the little island with the white sand beach for cocktail hour. Grin is bitter he isn’t invited, but we figure he’ll survive one night. We had just spread out our beach blanket, laid out salami and chips for a snack, and gotten our music set up when the hoard showed up to exact their toll. We try ignoring them. We try fighting them off. But when they start hissing and bearing their teeth, we decided the company made for a less than relaxing cocktail hour. We relocate to Sonrisa’s cockpit where Grin is happy to snuggle with Donetes Minor. I suddenly remember: “I have an engineer joke!”
The next morning, we gather up a bottle of water and sunscreen for our walk to the waterfall. I figure this will be a nice opportunity for some exercise, but generally well suited for those on the “water aerobics” plan like me. Over five kilometers (2.5 miles) and three steep ridge lines later, the troops are weary and complaining. The warm air is thick with humidity in my lungs, The morning shade has passed, and the tropical sun burns a hole through the top of my head. I am liquifying, and my bandana fails to function as a large enough mop.
“It’s just around the corner!” Andrew says, looking at the map on his phone. Linda is buoyed momentarily by his promise, but I groan. It’s never good news when we reach the ‘just around the corner’ phase of a hike. It’s a vortex from which we may never emerge. We round a corner, then another corner. As we start into the inner curve of another “corner” Linda becomes suspicious.
“I thought you said ‘just around THIS corner’” Linda inquires.
“No, no. He said its just around THE corner.” I explain. “Huge difference. Huge.” After fifteen years of hiking and mountain biking with Andrew, I know the code.
Linda looks at me. “So, he’s lying?”
“Depends on your definition of ‘corner.’”
Andrew looks back at us, lagging behind and debating the exact definition of a ‘corner.’ “Come on, guys, just around the corner! I promise.”
“Empty promises…” I say.
Eventually, we come upon a man made, fiberglass structure of faux rock with the water feature turned off. We read a plaque proudly extolling the virtue of one honorable politician and social patriarch who generously thought to build a “waterfall” and even procured the financial support from a series of generous donors.
“Is this the waterfall?” I ask. I am harboring complaints if I just walked all this way to see a man made, inoperable waterfall.
“It is A waterfall, but it is not THE waterfall.” Andrew explains. He points to a trail head leading upward over a series of stairs across the street. “There’s the trail to THE waterfall.” We’ve come so far we cannot stop now. So, we trudge skyward through jungle trees that stretch heavenward until we find THE waterfall. We peel off our shoes and dip our toes in the pool at its base.
Soon thereafter, we reverse course and trudge our way back. We share war stories of Death Marches Past in which each of us survived to tell the tale. We google and confirm that whoever wrote our cruising guide misspoke, it’s not 2.5 kilometers, it’s 2.5 miles, one way - pesky metric system. We all feel entitled to a mini burger and a cleansing ale at the beach bar upon our return to the anchorage.
All too soon, Captain Andrew stands and stretches, “Well! We must be off. We have to finish cleaning Sonrisa’s hull. Up you go, wench!” He slaps my back, and I regret encouraging the notion that I might help scrub Sonrisa’s bottom. I dust the sand from my shorts and wave goodbye to our friends. I suppose I did get my ration of grog.
With our tasks complete at Datai, we move along to a new anchorage (you guessed it: just around the corner) where we celebrate Sonrisa’s Birthday. S/V Donetes kindly provided the egg for Sonrisa’s home…(err) boat-made chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Donetes and her crew present Sonrisa with some new laundry-line hooks, and Andrew and I bestow upon her a gift we’ve been hiding away since we found it in Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia: a sailboat made of seashells. It’s a perfect “vessel” from which to pour Neptune’s share of ceremonial spiced rum. We light one of the giant incense sticks we picked up in Ketam and let it burn through the night from her flag holder. I don’t know if it wards off bad spirits, but it is rather effective at keeping mosquitos away.
It’s been a great six years together. She deserves at least a cake!