Monday, 31 December 2007

And 2007 comes to an end

Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious. - Ruth Reichl
After the Merdeka festivities it was time to head back to Langkawi for some quiet time and to arrange to check the keel more thoroughly after kissing the reef in Indonesia. We meandered among the islands finding waterfalls, visiting Mr Wilson again, catching water with all the rain, enjoying sun-downers with old friends, and trying to arrange a haul out. We also met a guy called Uvan who apparently owned the yacht in the Mangels Safari series. Oh, he didn't like Vegemite at all!
Cruising through the islands
Another Ozzie BBQ
Fire and Rescue again waving at Keith
It was also time for a visa run so back to the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club where our charger caught fire. This was quickly put out using our BCF extinguisher. We purchased a new one (Sterling Battery Charger) at Penn Marine and the antifoul we would need. 
On 26 September we caught the ferry to Satun for our visa run, once again staying at the Singkiat. We were also invited to dinner (ants on the menu) by the PSS owners, Gowan and Kim, and also enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at their home. We also received an invitation to Oh's wedding which unfortunately we didn't make.
The foreign section always seems empty
More Thai food
Back at RLYC, a lovely young man, Tit, had finished polishing all our stainless steel - this is a job I always try to farm out.
We had booked Tientos into Rebak Marina for its haul out and us into the Rebak Island Resort (much more comfortable). However, we received a phone call from the marina to say they couldn't fit us in. Okay, says I, cancel the Resort as well. Another phone call two minutes later they rang to say NOW they can fit us in, but nope, the messenger can explain to the Resort. So we spoke with Wavemaster, situated on Bass Harbour, who were only too happy to have us. 
Haul out at Wavemaster
We were a little concerned about any damage sustained after hitting the reef but the incident only removed some dynel from the keel and scratched the rudder. Whew!  That was a relief! With repairs completed, the antifoul on, seacocks in the head changed and the generator switch replaced, it was time to hit the water... 140 tonne travelift broken down and we could not fit the 500 tonne so a few more 'free' days in this spotless yard.  Time to service the outboard with new plugs and replace the prop. 
Kuah was still being hit with storms and a number of boats were dragging so we decided to return to Eco Beach for awhile.  Before leaving though, Bobo's (the little yachtie bar) needed me: I cooked a roast lamb dinner for 13 hungry sailors!!!
Bobo's was the yachtie hangout
On Melbourne Cup Day we cleared Langkawi to return to Thailand for more island cruising. 
Ao Chalong over a beer
Tientos through the Hong
Crystal waters

In Phuket we visited the Sail Loft of Rolly Tasker; this is the largest purpose built sail loft in the world! Designing our own gennaker was amazing and so much fun.  Pity the same can't be said for the price! 
The new gennaker
Looking good

As Australians went back to the polls, the Ao Chalong Yacht Club was a hive of activity as we watched the annihilation of the Howard Government.  

Once again we caught up with friends for sundowners all over Phang Nga Bay but we wanted to return to Langkawi for the xmas break back at our quiet place and to reflect on a very busy year.
The local boys came for a visit
Australian lamb rack for lunch
A present from Tientos to a little girl

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked! 

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Merdeka Malaysia

2007 was the 50th Anniversary of Independence for Malaysia and celebrations were planned all over the country. But Penang was our preferred port.
On August 31, 1957, Malaya's first Prime Minister, Allahyarham Tunku Abdul Rahman proudly declared the independence of Malaya (now Malaysia) by shouting out 'Merdeka' seven times at the Merdeka Stadium. The Federation of Malaysia, comprising Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore was to be officially declared on 31 August 1963. Singapore became an independent country in 1965.
Keith and I feel an affinity with Malaysia as both our fathers had military service in this country (and I spent time at Butterworth as a child).
Geoff from Pussyfoot caught the ferry from Langkawi and spent a couple of days on board waiting for his Thailand visa.
It was time to dress ship as we had prime position alongside the walkways.
Flags in celebration
Apart from food, celebrations and enjoying the colour and festivities, we managed to fit in some boat work. Remember the head (bathroom to non-boaties) we didn't complete in the last refit? Well it time to get rid of old brown cork tiles (again)and retro 'Bali' pictures.
Old tiles and pictures going
We started with small shelves which weren't exactly what we wanted...
Geoff supervises shelf building

then had them finished back in Australia...
Finally finished
The foot pump in the galley was replaced and after speaking with Marc at PCA about our HF not working, he suggested a possible lightning strike had taken it out. We will replace on the next trip to Singapore.
This was our first visit to the Penang Adventist Hospital recommended for dentistry.The prices are excellent, the service outstanding and it became a regular stopover for us.
Penang by night
Penang by day
The nightly markets were abuzz with tourists and locals and also added to the flair of being tourists again in Penang.
Great news! Team Australia won the Merdeka trophy at the first Malaysia International Fireworks Competition! They presented a showcase themed 'Aurora Australie'. 

With the festivities finished, the teeth finished and the boat work finished,(ah, hold that thought) it was time to head back to Langkawi for peace and quiet.

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Four countries in four months (and more maintenance)

Travel brings power and love back into your life - Rumi
Arriving back at Tanjung City Marina in downtown Georgetown, Penang, on the 13 August, we once more ponder our Malacca (Strait) Meanderings.
Mostly tranquil sundowners
This is our third trip anchoring nightly along this ‘allegedly’ pirate-infested haven. Nonsense! Not even during our roadside anchorages, often 8 miles from shore in 8m of water – literally the middle of nowhere – have we been concerned. With an occasional visit from Malaysia Maritim or the local fishermen to break the monotony, we enjoy the chance to get a good sleep each night before moving on.
We have affirmed a strange phenomenon however in our meanderings – irrespective of the monsoon season and no matter which way we are headed, the wind is ALWAYS from the direction in which we wish to go. 

So what have we been doing for four months?

(Country 1) Departing Phuket on the 5 April, now with a working gearbox, we had the chance to visit other islands, including Koh Mook's 'Emerald Cave' and Koh Rok Nok, in between playing dodgems with the fishing boats.
Hi there!
Limestone cliffs are stunning

The Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot) is a secret lagoon hidden inside the island, purportedly used by pirates eons ago. The only way in is an 80m pitch black tunnel with limited headroom. You have to row in as motors are not permitted.  Thailand really is a spectacular country. 
Inside the Emerald Cave
Koh Rok Nok is breathtaking
(Country 2) Arriving back in Kuah, we were just in time for the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA). This exhibition takes place every two years and attracts the military might of a number of countries.
Bombarded as we enter Bass Harbour
This was amazing!  What is it??
Aircraft carrier
Better dressed Destroyer

After this magnificent display, all from the deck of Tientos, we took on 773 litres of diesel at the fuel barge, stocked up with western goodies and alcohol at the Duty Free, caught up with friends at Bobo's for farewell drinks and headed south.  The video shows the massive storm that hit Kuah as we sat at the bar.

We ducked behind Pulau Song Song seeing a massive storm approaching. The anchorage got quite busy with the Malaysian navy and fishing boats doing the same thing.  Back in Penang, we returned to our same spot at Tanjung City Marina where we caught up with Jeff from Pussyfoot who brought our mail from Australia. 
A good omen?

Clearing out of Malaysia again at Admiral Marina, we were still beset with storms. 
Never ending storms

(Country 3) We returned to One 15 Marina in Singapore and caught up with promised drinks by Terrance the Marina Manager. The construction was coming along beautifully. As we had to collect our CAIT for Indonesia and our visas here it was another opportunity to spend money during our fortnight stay. 
Catching up with friends for dinner
The Merlion image by 'Sentosa'
The marina here makes it so easy to refill our gas bottles, and three needed replacing. We bought a new Bosch 120amp alternator and, as one of the house batteries had died, switched to the planned new 4 x 230amp Trojan AGM batteries, (remember the battery box we built in Thailand?) Lots of security in the Singapore Straits monitored our crossing to Indonesia.
Singapore Police Coast Guard
(Country 4) Clearing again into Nongsa Point Marina at Batam, we could see the devastation the storms had caused; the pontoons were badly damaged, but we still managed a berth. 
Limited berth options
Nothing wrong poolside

The Louisa Anne Hawker, a historic British Lifeboat dropped in for a visit. I was impressed with their bright-work and asked the Skipper if he had a full time crew. No, they just varnished periodically. This became the norm thereafter for all my bronze.
Louisa Anne Hawker
Ex Royal National Life Boat
Weddings are very big here with lots of pomp and glamour and photographers!
We graciously allowed Tientos to be used for a photo shoot provided they removed the high heels.
Our first wedding photo shoot
Sat Pol Air (the Water Police) came for a morning coffee and managed to spend the day with us but Keith had an amazing time (being ex Water Police in Melbourne) checking out their boat as well. They were to become firm friends, yelling 'Mama Lea' and 'Papa Keith' every time they saw us in Indonesian waters.  Love those friends in high places!
The local Water Police
Don't mess with these guys
Apart from finding other exotic locations in the Riau Islands, we thought about heading for Anak Krakatoa for a look. This was not to be. 

Tientos hits a reef! See our previous post.

While we waiting for our new winch, we also arranged new cushions and a new VHF. 
New cushions
Then it was back to the wonderful islands cruising through the Riau group and down to Pulau Tuju, enjoying meeting locals and having our private time. 
Local children aboard
Keith towed them home against the current
They all lived here
Location, location location
Another quiet beach
Private paradise
Until the neighbour dropped in
Another local among the rubbish
At the end of June, we had to return to Batam for me to fly to Melbourne to sort out a daughter's crisis. So for me it was a ferry to Singapore and First Class on Malaysia Airlines (they were running a special luckily).
Keith did a solo run with Tientos back to One 15 Marina to wait for my return. He hit 45 knots in the Strait with steep seas. Good one Keith! When I returned on 27 July, we had a problem clearing Singapore because I had flown in from Australia, but it was soon sorted.
Another rather uneventful trip back to Penang, with seemingly more avoidance tactics around fishing boats but we were ready to celebrate Merdeka.

May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!