Much to Sonrisa’s satisfaction, we did leave the next day. We said fond “catch you laters” to Richard, Dawn and S/V Por Dos then fired up Sonrisa’s engine and pulled away from her slip — air conditioner still installed.
“See, Sonrisa, as far as air conditioners go, it’s not so bad.”
She’s still not really speaking to us, but I’m sure she’ll get over it. The air conditioner is not a hatch installed unit, but a free standing cube located safely inside her stern bunk. It is vented out of the dodger protected port hole (window) so it does not need to be removed every time we wish to set sail. It neither prevents our freedom of movement nor should it cause any undue embarrassment for her. You can’t even see from outside; her visage remains salty and free.
To make matters even better, we are lucky to be enjoying a South Easterly trade breeze allowing us to actually sail a part of the world known for being rather light of wind. We hoist Sonrisa’s sails and let her enjoy a romp among trade wind puffy clouds.
We stop along side a small island for the night where we anchor right next to another Valiant, one of Sonrisa’s sister ships. This cheers her up heartily, and by the next morning she is indeed in a better mood.
“I bet she doesn’t have an air conditioner,” she jabs as her sister sails away headed South as we heads North. “Fair winds!” Sonrisa calls out to her sister’s wake.
We anchor a second night five miles off the City of Melaka amid fleets and fleets ghost ships from China, Arabia, Spain, Netherlands, and Portugal. These waters have drawn the likes of the most famous Captains the world over, and much of sailing history coverages at this point.
We combine my pickled peppers, our newly acquired chorizo, olives, garlic, tomato sauce, thyme, a dash of red wine, and a spot of honey to make a smoky rich pasta sauce topped with cream cheese. We sip red wine and enjoy our pasta from Sonrisa’s cockpit, looking across the way to the Melaka skyline. Sonrisa rocks in the wavelets curling around the protection of our little island, we listen to piano music and we breathe a haze of tropical humidity, stardust, and the spirits of explorers, traders, and pirates.
The next morning, we edge closer to the city hoping to anchor at the port itself and take Grin to shore. There, we find boats dredging up sand from one area of the ocean and blowing it in piles next to shore. Built on this reclaimed sand island is an intriguing skyline with a mosque, skyscrapers, and a building that depicts moving ocean waves on its facade, but we cannot access it’s shore. Still a mile out, Sonrisa’s depth gauge drops to two feet below her keel, tide steadily still dropping. We turn away and slide along Melaka’s coast, planning to place Sonrisa in the slip of her next dreaded marina and visit the world’s greatest sailing port by taxi.
Today’s weather isn’t as favorable, and so we jiggle and jangle to nine hours under motor. The sun is low in the sky as we reach the mouth of Port Dickson Marina. We slide Sonrisa to a stop and survey the luxury accommodations surrounding the area. A proper yacht club built in the style of Malaysian-British architecture, luxury homes built on the peninsula of land facing west, a swimming pool available for Captain’s use, and a sailor’s bar where live music plays each night, and even an “art space”. Fancy. First item of business, though: to plug in that air conditioner!
We decide we are too tired to enjoy all the festivities, so we raid Sonrisa’s liquor stores and find some delicious tequila hiding from our grasp. We shake up a new drink and rename it the “Melaka Muchacho.” (2 oz. reposado tequila, 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz honey, 1/2 oz grand marnier - yum!)
We slide all the hatches closed (to keep the cold air in, of course), set up our bean bags on Sonrisa’s deck, and then nestle in to watch the sun go down. All is well and peaceful aboard until we finish our drinks and head down below. I turn to take Andrew’s empty glass and see a flash of black flutter through Sonrisa’s cabin.
“What was that?!”
As Andrew turns I see a fuzzy brown bat the size of the palm of my hand, wide eyed and terrified in his own right, clutching the fabric of Andrew’s shirt in his tiny bat-fists.
“Yiiiiii-iiiigggg!” Andrew says.
“Get it off!” I squeal in time to Andrew’s instruction not to panic.
He makes his way to Sonrisa’s companion way stairs, opens the hatch, and slides his shirt up and over his head — bat and all. He leaves the shirt and bat in a pile outside Sonrisa’s door and close up her hatch. The bat flies away.
Disaster averted, Andrew and I breathe a few breaths of relief. “He must have flown in at sunset and got trapped when we closed the hatches to keep in the air conditioning.” Andrew says.
“Hmm! Serves you right.” Sonrisa says, giggling.