An end of the first period like nobody could expect

This post was supposed to be like the others. A date with an indication of the main works executed in the meantime on the boat. In a very short timespan, things have changed though. The whole world has been shaken by a virus with the strange name of COVID-19. Malaysia was no exception to the victims of this pandemic.

I do not intend to elaborate on the virus itself and on what I think it is or is not. Who am I to come up with a narrative on this complicated and sensitive subject? I just want to illustrate how it affected the course of events for me and how it complicated my existence in the marina to a certain point.

The Malaysian government implemented a series of direct measures nation wide, nothing very much different compared to the countries that were a bit ahead in time of the COVID-19 pandemic. A global Movement Control Order was published and the complete country was forced into a policy of extensive confinement. Only the essential human lead activities were allowed, all the rest was halted for the simple purpose of stopping a further exponential growth of the infection cases.

In a pure selfish interpretation of these measures I could have thought that it would have no impact on me and my business: what’s better to be confined in a bubble where you still have tons of work to do? Well actually there were two essential side effects bringing a slighter different connotation to this thought.

  • The first side effect is the closure of all restaurants in the area. Grocery shops were still open but all food places and courts closed their doors right at the start of the MCO. Some were still allowed to keep providing meal deliveries but I was totally unfamiliar with that process in the area. It meant for me I had to buy enough supplies to prepare warm meals for myself in a continuous way. Not easy to do when you have a small top loading fridge and when you end work late in the day while you still have to cook. Murphy’s law was again proven to be correct: the carrot you are looking for has to be at the bottom of the cooler underneath all the rest! Bottom line, what I did was to prepare something simple in such a quantity that I could cover three days with it. At the end it meant being tired of eating spaghetti and wok preparations. Oh yes, try to do this in a 1m² cooking and preparation surface, because that is what the current galley represents for the moment…
  • The second side effect was a simple short to mid term showstopper for a boatworker: with all the stores and industries closed I was soon bound to run out of essential material and accessories. My reserves of fiberglass cloth, of polyester resin and other goodies was only limited. Of course, there is always something to do even in a situation of shortage of material. But to be honest, my motivation was decreasing day by day, guess I had slowly reached the point where it was time to take a serious break. Even in this climate of uncertainty concerning the next episode: at this stage who knows when Malaysia will open its borders again?

So I decided to proceed anyhow with the return flight to Belgium that I had initially cancelled. A difficult but not impossible enterprise . To keep a long story short it turned out to be essentially an expensive experience:

  • Buying a new airline ticket: one of the two major carriers of the Gulf region was still servicing the trip to Brussels but at different rates. I ended up paying 150% additional to what my initial ticket had cost. And that was the cheapest, on some days the prices were even up to 1000% above this same reference…
  • Getting to Kuala Lumpur: though I had a ticket for the usual bus shuttle, the company stopped operating in all silence, at least for me. I ended up in front of a closed door at the bus station on the day of departure, a new way of perceiving these words “I have a bus ticket to KL”! A taxi alternative ended up being 1000% more expensive as well, though still cheap compared to what a 3 hour taxi ride would have cost back home in Belgium!

During the next days I will publish a series of short posts summarizing the last experiences in the refit of the boat just before departing. Being subject to this 2 week period of quarantaine myself, there will be time enough to do so at ease. One of the partial conclusions I can already announce: it is time to change the name of this boat for reasons that will become clear once the posts are published… Stay tuned!